Hoyas Come Up Small

Joevan Catran Roy Hibbert
Joevan Catran, left, and the Oregon Ducks keep No. 18 Georgetown and Roy Hibbert off balance all night. hibbert is held to just four points in just 25 minutes of work. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Georgetown's two preseason Wooden Award candidates, sat solemnly on the bench as the final 22 seconds ran off the clock during the 18th-ranked Hoyas' 57-50 loss to Oregon last night. Neither player was much of a factor for the Hoyas, who played poorly on offense as they lost their second home game to an unranked opponent.

During the final 15 seconds, a small group of yellow-clad Oregon fans shouted "Overrated" at the Hoyas, who began the season with their highest preseason ranking (eighth) in 11 seasons. A smattering of boos could be heard at the final buzzer.

Both Coach John Thompson III and junior guard Jonathan Wallace disagreed with suggestions that the Hoyas (4-2) have struggled with the higher expectations placed on what is still a young and inexperienced team.

"I look at it as both of those teams were very good teams coming in," said Wallace, who led Georgetown with 17 points. "We as a team just got to come in and play hard. I take it personally as a player, there were times when we didn't play as hard as we needed to. We've just got to step up and make plays. We've got to stop thinking so much and just relax and play basketball."

The Hoyas have little time to dwell on the loss; they travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face No. 11 Duke on Saturday night.

While Oregon comes from a major conference and is undefeated (6-0), this loss was in some ways more painful than the earlier one to Old Dominion. The Ducks didn't beat Georgetown (4-2) by hot shooting from three-point range, like the Monarchs did; Oregon shot only 38.9 percent from the field and 5 of 22 on three-pointers. The Ducks used a small, quick lineup to dictate play.

"That was the biggest key for us," said Oregon Coach Ernie Kent, who decided to use 6-foot-9 junior Maarty Leunen against the 7-2 Hibbert. "You've got the big guys, so do you go big to match their size? We said no. Do you go away from your up-the-line defense because they're going to back-cut you? No. Do what you do well."

The Hoyas, who looked sharp offensively against Ball State on Monday night, were stagnant and sloppy (season-high 17 turnovers) against Oregon. They made 44.9 percent of their shots, but most of their points came when Wallace or sophomore Marc Egerson (13 points) drove to the basket. Georgetown attempted a season-low nine three-point shots and made just one.

"Our offense was not good," Thompson said. "We have to figure it out. We're tentative, we're unsure, we are growing, we are working through that. We are a young team. We've got three guys out there that have experience, and we are trying to get a feel for it."

The crowd of 8,764 inside Verizon Center seemed to get impatient with Hibbert, who had at least a four-inch height advantage over the tallest Duck who played. He was hesitant when he got the ball inside, and when he did make a move to the basket, he missed several short shots. Hibbert, who dominated the interior when Georgetown won in Eugene last season, finished with four points on 2-of-7 shooting.

Green, Georgetown's second-leading scorer, had five points and took only four shots. The Hoyas wanted to get him the ball in the second half, but couldn't because of Oregon's defense.

"Oregon came out with a different kind of game plan, uncharacteristic of what other teams had been playing," said Wallace, who had three of the Hoyas' seven assists. "Of course guys are going to key in on Roy and Jeff, and what Oregon tried to do tonight is push us out and make us have to make plays off of the dribble instead of being able to sit back and throw the ball in and let those guys take over."

Wallace and Egerson combined for 20 points in the first half, and the Hoyas held a slim 25-23 advantage at the break. The Ducks felt fortunate to be in that position, considering that they missed 23 of 32 shots.

Oregon used a 6-0 run late in the game to take a 49-41 lead with 2 minutes 54 seconds remaining. Bryce Taylor (14 points) made an open jump shot from the right corner to start the run, and the Hoyas came up empty twice despite going inside to Hibbert. Georgetown also wasted two possessions with bad passes; Leunen intercepted one of them and wound up with a fast-break layup.

The Hoyas couldn't come up with a defensive stop down the stretch. Aaron Brooks (15 points) twice drove into the defense and scored on layups. In the final 1:15, Georgetown made only one shot from the field, a layup by freshman Jeremiah Rivers with 4.4 seconds left.

Hoyas Note: Junior swingman Tyler Crawford was in uniform for the first time since the season opener; he played the final 22 seconds. He had been battling strep throat.


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