Hibbert, Hoyas Too Tall an Order for Oral Roberts
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Roy Hibbert has been faced with this situation many times this season: The 7-foot-2 junior grabs an offensive rebound a few feet from the basket and then has to make a decision. Should he kick the ball back out? Or try a little floater or hook shot?
This time, roughly 6 1/2 minutes into Georgetown's game against visiting Oral Roberts yesterday, Hibbert went straight to the basket and threw down a dunk. That assertive play set the tone for both the Hoyas and for Hibbert, who was dominant in a 73-58 victory.
"My teammates have been getting on me for it; at practice I'm dunking, but I had to do it in a game," said Hibbert, who had five dunks. "I said I'm going to go right to the rim, right away. That helps me out, helps me ease into the game."
Hibbert, who had a four-inch height advantage over the tallest Golden Eagle, posted season highs in points (23), rebounds (11) and assists (three), four days after he took one shot and scored three points against James Madison. He was aggressive and confident, something he hasn't always been this season.
"He was incredible," said teammate Jeff Green, who had 15 points and six rebounds. "He made the little things -- rebounding, assists, hit the open guy, and whenever he needed to score, he scored. It was big for us for him to get a good start. We follow him. He's an emotional leader; when he shows emotion, it gets us fired up and we follow his lead."
The Hoyas (6-3) wanted to get off to a good start against Oral Roberts (4-4), which upset Kansas inside Allen Fieldhouse earlier this season. Georgetown opened the game in a zone press; that surprised the Golden Eagles, who committed five turnovers in the first seven minutes and helped Georgetown open up a 14-2 lead.
"That was huge," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III, whose team does not play again until Saturday against Winston-Salem State. "They're a team that can play, as they have shown, with any team in the country. We were fortunate to cause turnovers early. It was extremely effective tonight."
Georgetown also did a good job of defending senior Caleb Green, a 6-foot-8 forward who had 26 points and 11 rebounds in an 81-63 win over Georgetown in December 2004, Thompson's first season. The Hoyas rotated several players -- freshmen DaJuan Summers and Vernon Macklin, Hibbert and Jeff Green -- on Caleb Green, who finished with 15 points (5 of 15 shooting) and five turnovers.
In the first half, when the Hoyas essentially put away the game by building a 40-20 advantage, Caleb Green scored six points and had more air balls (three) than shots made (two). Midway through the second half, after Caleb Green missed a shot and then Jeff Green shook the backboard with a strong two-handed dunk, the Georgetown students in the Verizon Center crowd of 7,164 started chanting, "Our Green's better!"
The Golden Eagles had no counterweight to Hibbert. Shawn King, Oral Roberts's tallest player (6 feet 10), picked up two fouls in the first five minutes while trying to guard Hibbert in the post; King was limited to just 11 minutes, and as a result, Hibbert was often defended by Marchello Vealy -- who is seven inches shorter and 73 pounds lighter.
"He looked a lot more aggressive . . . and he posted up a lot more than what we had seen on film," Oral Roberts Coach Scott Sutton said of Hibbert. "You could just tell that after the first five or six minutes, he was very confident, and they did a nice job of getting him the basketball. He's a great player."
Sutton highlighted one pick-and-roll between Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace (12 points) in the second half as being particularly impressive: "For a 7-2 guy to catch the ball by his ankles and then finish the play, very few big guys that can do that, let alone 7-2 guys."
Hibbert also did a good job of setting up his teammates; two of Marc Egerson's three baskets came off of give-and-go's with Hibbert.
"If miss a couple of shots at the beginning of a game, I used to get down. Now I play through it," said Hibbert, who made his first five shots. "If I can't really score, I try to do other things. But if I start to go strong to basket early, it makes a lot of things easier down the road. I gain confidence."
Hoyas Notes: Freshman guard Jeremiah Rivers, who sprained his right ankle against Duke last week, was in uniform and participated in warmups, though he did not play in the game. . . . The game was the first of two yesterday that pitted the sons of Hall of Fame Coach John Thompson Jr. against the sons of Eddie Sutton. Four hours after the Hoyas beat the Golden Eagles, Ronny Thompson's Ball State team tipped off against Sean Sutton's Oklahoma State squad. The two fathers faced each other only once, when Georgetown beat Arkansas during the 1984-85 season.