CURRAN | Porter Jr. Frees GU From Past
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02
With Syracuse’s loss to Connecticut last night, Georgetown’s long ascent to the top of the Big East standings was finally realized; at 8-3, the Hoyas are tied with their archrivals for the No. 1 spot in their last year in the Big East together.
And yet the prevailing mood of Hoya nation isn’t the brashness one might expect from fans that have watched their team go on its second six-game tear of the year, taking out three ranked opponents in the process and vaulting itself into the national top 15. Instead, we see a cautiously optimistic outlook emerging — a timid acknowledgment that this team might be the real deal, rendered all but silent by the fear that any open display of confidence will trigger the inevitable late-season collapse.
You can’t blame the Georgetown faithful for this outlook; the Hoyas’ penchant for inexplicable breakdowns is well documented and has colored the fan experience of virtually every current undergrad.
But this year could be different.
It’s not that this team is any more talented than the late-season disappointments of recent years. The modern Hoyas have no pure scorer of Austin Freeman’s caliber, no big man who belongs in the same discussion as Greg Monroe. If anything, the current Georgetown squad looks comparatively weak on paper.
In years past, the very real prospect of an off night from Monroe, Freeman or Jason Clark sent chills to the core of every die-hard fan, and things aren’t necessarily any different this season. The Blue and Gray don’t have a dominant big or a high-volume wing scorer, but they have a superstar. And they might be more reliant on him than on any player in recent memory.
The difference, then? He doesn’t really “do” off nights.
Otto Porter Jr. has been an absolute force of nature in Big East play, averaging 17.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting .500 from the field and .447 from three-point range, all good enough for top-six marks in the conference.
Even when the sophomore star starts slow, he’s bounced back and come up with a solid or even spectacular line. Last weekend at Rutgers, for example, he scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting in a mediocre first half but finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
Porter Jr. is the first Hoya since Freeman to be seriously considered for the Big East player of the year award. Unlike Freeman, he’s exceeded expectations, peaked at the right time and has the good fortune of playing in a national down year for dominant players. In the midst of a tumultuous season in which the No. 1 spot seems cursed, Porter Jr.‘s surge has made him the favorite for conference player of the year and in the running for the Wooden Award.
As I’ve written here before, many other, less well-known players deserve credit for the Hoyas’ resurrection after an underwhelming start to conference play. But the biggest difference between this year’s team and the flameouts of the past is the consistently spectacular — and spectacularly consistent — play of Otto Porter Jr.
PAT CURRAN is a junior in the College and a former sports editor of The Hoya.