For Green, No More Mr. Nice Guy
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Georgetown junior forward Jeff Green generally is a mild-mannered guy, but all of the pushing and grabbing by the Navy defenders yesterday afternoon was starting to get to him. And with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half of the Hoyas' game against the Midshipmen, Green snapped.
Navy sophomore Adam Teague was called for a foul against Green, but Green wasn't satisfied; he said something to the official and then deliberately bumped into Teague, drawing a technical foul.
That exchange lit a fire under Green, who dominated the final 27 minutes of Georgetown's 65-44 victory in front of 7,143 at Verizon Center. Green scored 18 of his season-high 20 points after the technical.
"It was just when the guy elbowed me in the stomach when I was trying to walk up the court, that kind of flipped me off a little bit and got under my skin," Green explained after the game. "It made me play harder and it was worse for them, so it kind of helped us out in a good way."
Georgetown (9-3) won its fifth straight, a streak in which the Hoyas' average margin of victory has been 28.8 points. The Hoyas don't play again until Saturday, when they travel to Michigan for their final nonconference game.
Navy, which was off to its best start since the 1998-99 season, fell to 9-4 and lost to a third Big East opponent. The Midshipmen don't have Georgetown's size or athleticism, so they needed to have a good shooting game in order to have any chance.
But Navy missed 12 of its first 13 shots (including nine misses from three-point range) and shot a season-low 31.3 percent. The Midshipmen, who rely heavily on their three-point shooting, were just 4 of 22 from beyond the arc; most of their points came off hard drives to the basket. Junior Greg Sprink led Navy with 16 points, but he was 4 of 11 from the field and was hampered by foul trouble.
Green and 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert had been quiet in the Hoyas' past two games, but both were aggressive against the Midshipmen. Hibbert had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks, and he made a brilliant drop-step and spin that caused Navy's Brian Richards to fall to the floor in the second half.
"That's the thing about Georgetown's front-court line: their skill," Navy Coach Billy Lange said. "You can pressure them and harass them, and they might not shoot it, but they're so poised they make so many good plays. Hibbert's drive was unbelievable; Green handled the ball out top. Our plan coming into the game was to not let Jeff Green get going in the first 10 minutes."
Navy succeeded in that. Green didn't do much in the first 13 minutes of the game; he attempted only one shot, a dunk attempt that bounced out but was ruled to be defensive goaltending, and had only one rebound. But after the technical foul, Green took over.
He scored eight straight points as his teammates looked to get him the ball; sophomore Jessie Sapp (eight points, three assists) made two nice passes that led to a layup and to a foul. He was aggressive, driving hard to the basket or charging after missed shots. A one-handed baseline dunk midway through the second half was punctuated by a scream. Green finished with nine rebounds, four of them offensive.
"I love it. That's the Jeff I see every day in practice," Hibbert said of the angry Green. "Jeff is always the leader out there; it starts with him. It's scary for other teams to see Jeff like that, because once he gets it, he's either going to score or make somebody else score. He's getting every rebound, blocking shots -- even the goaltend he had today set the tone, no easy buckets inside. We feed off of that."
Georgetown is going to need that kind of fire from Green, especially once Big East play begins in January. The Hoyas open with No. 20 Notre Dame on Jan. 6, then face Villanova and No. 7 Pittsburgh.
"Hey, if we can get someone to hit Jeff Green every game, he might play like that," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said with a smile. "He did get going [after the technical]. He did get excited. He did get animated and played very well for the rest of the game. He got a little upset and decided just to go to work."