By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Even before the Georgetown men's basketball team received its highest preseason ranking in 11 seasons and two of its players were featured on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated, Coach John Thompson III insisted the Hoyas were very much a work in progress.
That point was driven home in Georgetown's surprising 75-62 loss to Old Dominion on Sunday night, a game in which the Hoyas (2-1) were outshot, outrebounded and outworked by a less heralded opponent. The result caused Georgetown to drop six spots in the national rankings to 14th.
"I don't think our group needs a wake-up call. Our group has a long way to go, despite what people write about you, what people say about you," Thompson said Sunday, after Georgetown's first defeat at McDonough Arena in 24 years. "I think our group is an honest group. We have questions that need to be answered. . . . We've got a lot that we need to work out. We are in the process of working through that. Can [the loss] help in the long run? I sure . . . hope so."
The Hoyas, who tonight play Fairfield (1-5) in Bridgeport, Conn., are still trying to find a consistent outside presence to balance their inside strength. Junior 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert -- the Sports Illustrated cover boy -- is averaging 17 points and 7.7 rebounds in 25 minutes per game, and junior forward Jeff Green is averaging 12.7 points and 6 rebounds. Both players had their most effective performances against Vanderbilt, which played almost exclusively man-to-man defense.
Georgetown has struggled against zones. The Hoyas are making just 29.6 percent (16 for 54) of their three-point attempts, and only junior Jonathan Wallace (8 for 16) has shown he can consistently make shots from that range.
Hartford managed to keep the Hoyas close by playing a compact, changing zone, and Georgetown shot just 26.1 percent (6 for 23) from three-point range. Old Dominion switched into a zone once it built a lead in the second half, and the Hoyas seemed hesitant to try long-range shots. It didn't help that one player who has shown that he is not afraid to shoot-- junior Tyler Crawford, who took 12 shots, many of them open three-pointers, in the season opener -- was out with the flu and strep throat.
"It's still early," Thompson said of the Hoyas' difficulties against packed-in defenses. "We've got guys that have to step up and make some shots. We've got to go get the ball; we've got to run down some of those rebounds."
Thompson was not happy with the way Georgetown ran its offense against Vanderbilt, even though the Hoyas made 52.5 percent of their shots, had 15 assists and scored 86 points (their second-highest total under Thompson). The offense was not smooth.
"A lot of it is, guys just need to get into a position where they continue to get a feel for each other and what we're doing and how we're going to score," Thompson said last week. "But that's normal for this time of year."
Thompson, not surprisingly, was upset with the way the Hoyas played against Old Dominion, and he let them know that after the game.
"He told us that every game is going to be like this," said Wallace, who is averaging 14 points on 51.9-percent shooting. "No matter who we play, everybody is going to try to come out and beat us and give us their best punch. So he told us we've got to step it up and work harder. Right now we can't look back; we've got to go on and move forward."
The Hoyas will have to do so, for the time being, without Crawford, one of the co-captains and a player often referred to as the heart and soul of the team by the coaches. Crawford was hospitalized over the weekend because of dehydration, and he was released into his parents' care yesterday. Richard and Angela Crawford took their son home to Stuarts Draft, Va., to recuperate, and the Hoyas are unsure when he will be able to return to the team.