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Georgetown’s Seniors Win At Providence

February 20, 2008 Columns No Comments

Georgetown Calls on Seniors in Win at Providence

by Phil Kasiecki

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Needing to get his team going, John Thompson III turned to some trusted personnel on Monday. It was a move that didn’t require a lot of intense thought.

“When I coach, I don’t necessarily coach with a script,” the Georgetown head coach said after his team’s 68-58 win at Providence. “I just felt like we needed that group out there today. It was pretty to watch, to tell you the truth, for long stretches in the second half.”

The Hoyas trailed by one at the half after shooting just over 34 percent from the floor. They entered the game with losses in two of their last three, and in the process no longer held sole possession of first place in the Big East. Even though they have looked shaky at times and haven’t dominated their way to the top of the standings, they have pulled out a number of wins. They didn’t want to make it three losses in four games.

Early in the second half, Thompson put seniors Tyler Crawford and Patrick Ewing, Jr. out on the floor with starters Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace. Together, they got the Hoyas going after Providence gained their biggest lead of the game at 41-35 with 15:51 left to play, and it was the least-known of the four who got it all started.

Crawford hit a three-pointer to start a 17-2 run, one fueled by five three-pointers, that gave them the lead for good. They led a dominating second half that saw the Hoyas take over the paint with 17 second chance points on 10 offensive rebounds, and come alive from behind the arc by making five of eight three-point shots.

“They’re seniors, and they understand what time of the year it is,” said Thompson. “You realize that your playing days wearing the uniform at Georgetown are finite, and it’s coming to an end. They played with a sense of passion, a sense of urgency, and in that second half it was really fun to sit there and watch.”

Wallace, who is best remembered for his clutch three-pointer against North Carolina in last year’s regional final, had a second half symbolic of his month of February. Starting his 127th game in a row, the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers is a career 43 percent shooter from behind the arc. But the month of February started with him going 0-9 in the first three games. Since that time, he’s gone 13-23 from behind the arc, including a 3-4 second half effort on Monday. All three good attempts came during the decisive run.

Thompson said he was never really concerned about Wallace’s shooting slump. No one can blame him, given the steady senior’s track record.

“As someone who’s been with him for four years, he can put it up whenever he wants because he doesn’t take bad shots,” said Thompson. “When he was going through that bad stretch, there was no need for any pow-wows or therapy sessions.”

Wallace, who has been accepted into the university’s School of Law, had plenty of help during the second half, and much of it came from his classmates. Crawford got the decisive run going. Hibbert remained a steadying force inside and led the paint dominance with 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Ewing added six boards, four on the offensive glass, and also had four assists with just one turnover. The Hoyas had 23 offensive rebounds, while Providence had 20 defensive boards.

The dominance inside was so spread out that no Hoya had more than eight rebounds and only DaJuan Summers had less than two (he had one) among those who got in the game. Vernon Macklin, who played just five minutes, had three boards, all offensive.

“Rebounding has been stressed a lot in our practices,” said Ewing. “A lot of people were killing us on the boards early in the season. From the jump today, they just seemed to be there.”

Only Ewing hasn’t been there from the start among the seniors, but he meshes so well with them that it can be easily forgotten. While freshman Austin Freeman now starts alongside two sophomores, it’s the seniors that are making this team go and keeping them in the race for the top of the Big East. They certainly did that on Monday.

“I think we felt confident in each other, and we pulled together and rallied,” said Hibbert. “We felt as if someone made a mistake, we’ll have someone to cover our back right there.”

In particular, the seniors had each other’s backs on Monday.


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