After two trips outside of the continental United States, the permanent dismissal of a once-promising young star and the typical growing pains that come with erratic November basketball, you’ll have to excuse Head Coach John Thompson III and the Georgetown Hoyas if they’re grateful for a prolonged stretch of play on their home court.
“We were in South Korea, then Puerto Rico for a while,” senior forward Nate Lubick said. “To be home – to be able to play in our home arena – that’s always the best.”
Georgetown (4-2) aims to extend its winning streak to four games as it takes on High Point (3-3) at Verizon Center Thursday night, the second in a four-game homestand before winter break.
Georgetown will look to sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera to spearhead the offensive effort once again. He’ll expect more assistance from senior backcourt mate Markel Starks, who struggled from the field against Lipscomb. Junior center Josh Smith, who sat for much of the last game with foul trouble, will be fed early and often – especially if High Point’s senior forward Allan Chaney sits.
High Point is a .500 team in the Big South, hardly cause for concern among Hoyas fans on paper. But after a loss to Northeastern in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and a too-close-for-comfort first half against Lipscomb last weekend, it’s unlikely that the Panthers will catch the Hoyas off guard.
“They’re actually probably one of the more athletic teams we’ve played yet,” Lubick said. “They can really rebound, and that’s been a point of emphasis for us so far. It’s something we’re going to have to take care of.”
Through an unfortunate set of circumstances, that task may be significantly easier than expected.
Chaney, a transfer from Virginia Tech, has a serious heart condition that required the installation of an internal defibrillator in 2010. He played nearly every game last season – his first time back in game action since 2009 – and looked like a star for the Panthers early this year. But in the first half of a Nov. 24 game against Wofford, his defibrillator went off, and he was forced to leave for the remainder of the game.
According to CBS Sports, Chaney’s defibrillator worked exactly as intended. But the senior has yet to return to the court, and his status is in question entering the Georgetown game. When healthy, the High Point star is a high-major-quality player.
“We recruited him pretty hard coming out of high school,” Thompson said of the forward.
If Chaney remains sidelined, the Georgetown defense will key in on redshirt sophomore forward John Brown, who’s averaging nearly 22 points and 10 rebounds per game in the young season.
With finals approaching rapidly, the Hoyas want to make sure they don’t lose defensive focus against a team much more talented than a cursory look might suggest.
“[They have] a lot of players that can play at this level, they just don’t play at this level,” Starks said of High Point. “This is not a cakewalk.”
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