Opening their home slate without the services of senior forward Julian Vaughn, the backcourt led the Hoyas to a 69-53 victory over the Green Wave. But in the process, Head Coach John Thompson III made use of his bench and showed just how many players can pitch in before all is said and done this season.
It has been no secret since Greg Monroe entered his name into the NBA draft that senior guard Austin Freeman, senior guard Chris Wright and junior guard Jason Clark would have to carry the scoring load for Georgetown to have success this season. On a night when Freeman (23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 4-of-6 from three-point range) was humming on all cylinders, his backcourt mates showed that Thompson’s guards can do much more than put the ball in the basket.
“More often than not, they’re going to lead us in scoring,” Thompson said of his three starting guards. “They’re going to score points. That is a given. For us to be successful, on top of the growth and progression of our younger guys, these guys have to lead us and set the tone in every other aspect of the game other than scoring.”
Clark, playing just hours after his grandmother passed away, had 17 points to go along with a team-high 11 rebounds and five steals.
“She wanted me to stay at school,” Clark said of his grandmother. “She didn’t want me to come home. She wanted me to keep playing basketball. . I knew she would want me to play today.”
Wright could not find a rhythm shooting the ball but was able to impact the game as a facilitator. He dished out eight assists, turned the ball over just once and grabbed five boards.
“My role is bigger than just scoring the ball,” Wright said. “I have to get people involved and Jason was shooting the ball really well, and Austin was shooting the ball well, so you have to keep getting them the ball. If I hit a shot every now and then, that would be pretty cool, but I have to keep playing and getting my teammates involved.”
eanwhile, as the guards were showcasing their full offensive arsenals, Thompson was busy displaying how different this team will be this season by tinkering with his rotation. He went to his bench early and often and employed a three-quarters-court defense when his team took its collective foot off the gas toward the end of the first half and into the second. Georgetown was able to get out and run and turned in its second quality defensive performance in as many contests.
“I think we got better at it today,” Thompson said of his team’s play in the three-quarter-court defense. “It gave us a little spark today when we hit a lull. We hit a lull at the end of the first half and a lull at the start of the second half, but when we went to that we made some plays, we got some steals and I think we improved at it today.”
With Vaughn out due to an undisclosed illness, junior center Henry Sims got the start alongside Hollis Thompson (eight points, five rebounds) in the frontcourt. Off the bench, freshman forward Nate Lubick and sophomore forward Jerrelle Benimon each played 22 minutes and combined for six rebounds, but each player’s offensive game was close to nonexistent. Lubick’s classmate forward Aaron Bowen saw his first action of the season and struggled to find his way in eight minutes on the floor. Still, even with no spectacular contributions outside of his backcourt, Thompson sees a deep roster that can get production from multiple places.
“They played like freshmen,” Thompson said of Lubick – who scored his first collegiate points – and Bowen. “As a side note, [freshman guard] Markel [Starks] has been sick and hasn’t practiced the last couple of days. . I think as the year goes on the whole freshman class, including [freshman center] Moses Ayegba when we get him back, will help add depth to what we have. They are all going to be players. They are all going to play a significant role as we go along.”
Showing that he can be a potential key off the bench, sophomore guard Vee Sanford played with confidence and lived up to his billing when he was a recruit – he can score the basketball. He knocked down a couple of threes and used the dribble to get to the basket and showed an ability to finish at the rim with both hands.
Looking beyond the stat sheet, which shows the impact of Freeman, Wright and Clark across the board, these Hoyas have the potential to be Thompson’s deepest team. This may have been an early-season win against a lesser opponent, but the way Georgetown won – with defense, an offense led by its star guards and use of the full roster – expect this winning style to be a recurring theme.
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