By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 23, 2006
BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Nov. 22 -- For the final four minutes of the first half of 14th-ranked Georgetown's 73-60 victory over Fairfield on Wednesday night, this was the lineup that the Hoyas had on the floor: junior transfer Patrick Ewing Jr., sophomore Marc Egerson and freshmen DaJuan Summers, Vernon Macklin and Jeremiah Rivers. Only Egerson played for the Hoyas last season, and he averaged just seven minutes in 21 appearances.
"It was scary," admitted Georgetown Coach John Thompson III, when asked what it was like watching those five players on the floor. "But we have to go through that."
Putting those young, relatively inexperienced players on the floor was by design; Thompson wanted to use this game as learning experience. So the sizable contingent of Georgetown supporters among the 5,627 fans inside the Arena at Harbor Yard got a better look at Summers and Macklin -- two high school all-Americans -- than juniors Jeff Green (eight points) and Roy Hibbert (nine points), the Hoyas' two preseason Wooden Award candidates.
Summers, who made his first start, led the Hoyas (3-1) with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting in a team-high 31 minutes. (Entering the game, he had played 34 minutes this season and was 3-for-8 shooting.) Macklin added five points, and Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, had four points and three rebounds. All three freshmen played the most minutes of their careers. Sophomore guard Jessie Sapp had 14 points and three steals and was effective running the offense.
"We have a lot of pieces to get ready right now," Thompson said. "We're trying a lot of different sets and stuff; hopefully, it'll pay off in the long run."
Summers, a versatile forward from Baltimore who was rated among the top 25 high school players in the country by Rivals.com, had shown flashes of his potential in the first three games despite air-balling his first collegiate shot. He showed a nice shooting touch against the Stags, though Thompson said that he expects Summers to shoot better than 1 for 4 from three-point range. The coach added that Summers ought to grab more than three rebounds in 31 minutes.
But Green clearly was pleased with the play of Summers, who scored seven points -- on a layup, a three-pointer and a soft baseline jumper -- in a 17-2 run that opened the second half. At the end of the game, Green gave him an affectionate pat on the back of the head.
"That's little Mini-Me," Green (6 feet 9, 235) said of Summers (6-8, 241). "He's learning things as we go on, and I think that will give him more confidence as we go on."
At Georgetown, freshman players are not permitted to speak to reporters until after Jan. 1.
The Hoyas seemed to be feeling the aftereffects of Sunday's dispiriting 75-62 loss to Old Dominion at the start of the game. Six of Georgetown's first 13 possessions resulted in turnovers, and nine and a half minutes in, Fairfield (1-6) held an 18-13 lead.
"I think we were a little bit too antsy," Green said. "It's been a long, long two days because we didn't think we should've lost that Old Dominion game. Coming out in this game, we were a little sloppy, but we got ourselves together."
And it was the Hoyas' younger players who helped them take control of the game. Rivers scored on back-to-back possessions, pulling up for a jumper and then driving hard to the left for a layup, and Summers scored on a layup following a steal and nice pass from Egerson (seven points).
The latter basket gave Georgetown a 34-24 lead with 91 seconds remaining, but a sloppy final 20 seconds allowed Fairfield to cut the score to 34-30 at halftime. The Hoyas thought they came up with a steal and started to break, but failed to pick up the ball, which led to an easy layup. Ewing rushed a long inbounds pass that was stolen and led to another layup.
"We've got to live with some of the mistakes that these guys will make now, and not worry about the outcome, because we have to prepare now for later," Thompson said. "It may be tough -- it is tough as a coach -- to make the decision to do that. But we have some guys that need to get experience, which down the line will make us a better team."