Thursday, February 09, 2006


AP - Ensemble cast has Georgetown primed for return to NCAAs

This is a wire story so it will be picked up by local papers all across the country. Very good for spreading the word that you can play an unselfish style of basketball with stars on your team.

Ensemble cast has Georgetown primed for return to NCAAs
Associated Press Wire
Joseph White

The most lasting image of Georgetown's season to date is the sight of 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert towering over the celebrating fans who stormed the court after last month's victory over top-ranked Duke.

Never mind that Hibbert, one of the Hoyas' top players all season, scored only two points in that game.

Brandon Bowman is Georgetown's leading scorer going into Thursday night's game against St. John's, yet a bar graph of his output over the last eight games would look anything but smooth: 4, 20, 5, 23, 8, 12, 10, 15.

Jeff Green, last year's Big East co-rookie of the year, has been more consistent lately and matched his career-high with 22 points Sunday against Pittsburgh, but he's had a pair of 2-point outings this season, including a game against Providence in which he went 0-for-4 from the field.

A consummate ensemble cast has led Georgetown (16-4, 7-2 Big East) to the No. 15 spot in the rankings in coach John Thompson III's second season at the Hilltop. The Hoyas have a six-game winning streak and are headed toward their first NCAA tournament bid since 2001, unless upcoming opponents can somehow find a way to figure out which player is going to have the hot hand on any given night.

"We have an unselfish group," Thompson said. "Depending on the matchups, depending on the game, depending on the day, we have different guys that can score, so I think we're fortunate that we don't have to go in and say, 'Hey, this person needs to get 25 for us to win.' We're just trying out how we're going to win the next game, and it could be much different from how we tried to win the previous game."

Until recently, the Hoyas were the only Big East team with five players averaging double figures. Bowman (11.8), Green (11.7) and Hibbert (11.6) are about as close as three teammates could be in a team scoring race, with Ashanti Cook (10.2), Jonathan Wallace (9.1), and Darrel Owens (8.9) not far behind.

Those numbers reflect Thompson's success in selling the motion-based Princeton offense to his players. On some days, the backdoor cuts work efficiently all game, as they did against Duke. If teams back off to shut the backdoor, then any of five players Bowman, Green, Cooke, Wallace, Owens are reliable from 3-point range. Green has also been used effectively as a point-forward, a different look that is difficult to defend and allows him to pick up more assists.

"Everybody can score," Owens said. "A lot of teams have one player they look to go to down the stretch. A lot of teams have one player they look to run their offense through. With five or six guys almost scoring double figures, it shows the teamwork."

The plan requires swallowing the team concept at the expense of individual accomplishment. Green is a much better player than he was a year ago, even though he's not averaging as many points or rebounds. Owens had three games in the 20s from late December to mid-January, yet he has eight points in his last three games combined.

"I guess you could say its tough," said Cook, who has a relatively stable eight points in each of his last three games. "But for the most part we've been winning that way, with different people stepping up. Every night it's going to be a different person. I'm just amazed that all of us are on the same page."

Winning does stave off a lot of problems. Green, Hibbert and Wallace are all sophomores who have a mission to restore the Georgetown mystique, while seniors Bowman, Cook and Owens want a taste of the NCAA tournament before they leave.

"I really don't care how much I score, as long as we win," Green said. "I like grabbing rebounds, throwing out assists, so as long as we win, I don't care."

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