The contributions Georgetown reserve Jabril Trawick makes don’t necessarily show up in the box score. But his gritty defense, hustle plays and hard fouls are necessary to win, particularly in the rugged Big East.
Trawick, a versatile freshman guard, does all of that. He’s also one reason the youthful Hoyas (12-1, 2-0) have continued to surprise, rising to No. 9 ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with Darius Johnson-Odom and No. 20 Marquette (12-2, 1-0) at Verizon Center.
“He brings a level of competitiveness that we needed,” Coach John Thompson III said Tuesday of Trawick. “Physically, as much as any freshman, he’s not going to get pushed around because he’s physically ready to play.”
Although Trawick’s numbers — four points, 1.7 rebounds and 14.2 minutes per game — don’t sound all that imposing, glimpses of a much higher ceiling have become apparent, particularly in clutch moments. His breakout performance, after all, came in Georgetown’s biggest win of the season — last week’s 71-68 road victory at then-No. 4 Louisville.
Trawick scored all nine of his points in the first half to help the Hoyas stay within striking distance of the Cardinals. His season-high point total, however, told only half the story. He also used his 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame to play tough, physical defense on Louisville’s guards.
And also send a message.
With about seven minutes remaining and the Hoyas clinging to a six-point lead, Trawick hammered Cardinals leading scorer Kyle Kuric as he drove the lane, looking for a potentially crowd-igniting dunk. Trawick, though, wasn’t having it.
“I seen him coming through the lane,” he said. “It looked like he was going to try and dunk it. I wasn’t trying to be on ‘Top 10 Plays’ or anything like that. If he could have dunked on me, that could have given his team momentum.”
Jon Rothstein, a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports Network, described Trawick as a player who “does everything that affects winning” and, thus, was not surprised by the foul that left Kuric on his back.
“He’s never going to give anything easy,” added Rothstein, who is familiar with Trawick from observing the AAU circuit. “He’s always about one thing: toughness. He has a chip on his shoulder.”
Trawick said that chip comes from growing up in West Philadelphia and, in particular, the the court where he spent much of his youth, “The Pit.” When he wasn’t playing organized basketball, he said he was on that well-known blacktop, often competing against older, stronger players.
“I could come out of my house, and the court was five, 10 steps to the left,” he said. “Everybody came to play there. Growing up in Philly, it’s a tough place to play, a tough place to grow up. That’s all I knew.”
Senior captain Jason Clark acknowledged the edge Trawick brings to the floor is something the Hoyas lacked in past seasons.
“I went over and told him that was a great foul,” Clark said, referring to Trawick’s foul on Kuric. “This is the Big East. You can’t be soft in the Big East. You have to let people know that scoring isn’t going to be easy.”
Clark also praised Trawick’s basketball IQ.
“Even when he’s not in the game, he pays attention,” Clark said. “Against Louisville, Jabril noticed that when we cut hard, it opened up a guy in the corner. The next two plays, after someone made a cut, Henry [Sims] made a pass to the corner and the guy was wide open.”
On Wednesday, the Hoyas will need Trawick’s tenacity off the bench against a Marquette team that’s ranked 25th nationally in points per game (78.6) and 11th in assists (17.4). The up-tempo Golden Eagles are led by Johnson-Odom (17.9 points per game) and Jae Crowder (16.6).
While defense is what Trawick’s best known for these days, Thompson expects his dribble-drive skills and emerging jump shot to help him make an impact at both ends as he matures.
“He brings a lot to the table,” Thompson said. “In Louisville, his offense kept us in the game in the first half. So I don’t think he’s one that needs to be put into that box of, ‘Oh, he’s a tough, energy guy.’ ”
“But,” Thompson added with a chuckle, “he does do those things.”