CURRAN | Unsung Lubick at the Center of It All
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 00:02
Georgetown’s bizarre but convincing win over Seton Hall Wednesday night provided scores of ready-made storylines for the Phonebooth press corps.
There’s John Caprio’s inexplicable jump from human victory cigar to effective backup wing. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s offensive slump. The team’s mental block at the free throw line. Markel Starks’ ridiculously hot hand.
But given that Seton Hall played worse than any team Georgetown has seen this season, I don’t want to spend too much time analyzing Wednesday night’s blowout. The Pirates committed 25 turnovers and 29 fouls while shooting under 33 percent from the field. You don’t win games that way. End of story.
So let’s take this opportunity to talk about why the Blue and Gray have looked so good lately.
The easy answers are the emergence of a reliable bench and the scoring prowess of Starks and Otto Porter Jr. But as well as the two stars have been shooting, there’s only one guy who has played a near-perfect game every time out in the recent streak. And that guy is Nate Lubick.
Lubick is the quiet, efficient engine at the center of the Hoyas’ offensive and defensive strategies, the Leo McGarry to Porter Jr.’s Jed Bartlet. What he lacks in flash and scoring ability he makes up for in pinpoint passing, perfect defensive positioning and a nose for tough rebounds. As Lubick goes, so goes the team.
Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. For the better part of his three years on the Hilltop, Lubick’s been valued for his prolific rebounding and — cliche alert — scrappiness. But on the offensive end, the workmanlike forward was such a liability that he was often benched early in games last season in favor of then-freshman Porter Jr.
That’s not the case anymore. This year, Lubick has taken on a crucial role in the Hoyas’ offense, one that isn’t always clear from a glance at the stat sheet but that becomes apparent when studying the tape.
Lubick doesn’t take bad shots. He tips contested rebounds out to teammates. His passing acumen makes the Princeton offense run. His jump hook has become a viable weapon in the low post when Porter Jr. and Starks can’t get open. On defense, his positioning against the pick-and-roll is flawless, and he successfully draws charges where frontcourt mate Mikael Hopkins would foul.
These recent developments have combined with his well-established scrappiness to make Lubick the Hoyas’ second-most important player on most possessions. For example, in one first-half sequence during Wednesday night’s game, Lubick threaded a pass to a cutting Porter Jr. for an open layup and then flew out to block a three-point attempt by Seton Hall’s Brandon Mobley on the ensuing Pirate possession.
At only 6-foot-8 with average speed, Lubick will never be a star in the traditional mold of the Georgetown big man. A good game from him can’t carry a team to victory, especially if Porter Jr. and Starks aren’t shooting well. But the Hoyas can’t win if Lubick isn’t doing his job effectively — that is, making the passes only he can make and hustling on the defensive end.
Luckily for them, that almost never happens.
Pat Curran is a junior in the College and former sports editor of The Hoya.