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Georgetown's Green: 'New-Age Scottie Pippen'

Jeff Green
Georgetown forward Jeff Green is the first great player in the new era of Hoyas basketball. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)

Junior guard Jonathan Wallace chooses a rebound: "Whenever we need a big rebound on a key possession, you'll see Jeff flying in out of nowhere and he'll come get it. We kind of count on him for those kind of things."

Thompson III picks a steal and an assist: "The play against Pittsburgh, where we were on defense, there's a loose ball, and Jeff went and got the ball. It was clearly not his possession, and he goes through a couple of people, got the ball, turned, pivoted and threw a perfect pass to his teammate [Jessie Sapp] streaking down for a layup. That's Jeff Green."

Green and Thompson III -- who both came to Georgetown in 2004, the All-Met from Northwestern High and the coach from Princeton -- are similar in temperament, focus and the way they approach the game.

In some ways, Green is an extension of Thompson on the court; not only does he know where he should be, but he knows where every one of his teammates should be as well. Thompson has said that Green is the smartest player he has ever coached, and from Day One, Green seemed to have an innate understanding of the coach's Princeton-style motion offense.

"Jeff knows the offense like the back of his hand," Hibbert said earlier this season. "Jeff sees things two or three plays down later. I'm just like, 'What's going on now?' He has some type of power."

"He's my security blanket to me being Linus," said Thompson, who was also a great passing forward as a player at Princeton. "Winning is important to Jeff. That is something that's been the case from day one. It's not statistics, it's not numbers, it's not what people are saying."

So Green brushes off questions about potentially becoming the sixth Hoya to be named Big East player of the year. ("I think about our team becoming the number one team in the Big East. I don't think about the individual awards.")

Or the possibility that he could skip his senior season and jump to the NBA. ("I don't think about that. I want our team to win a championship. I'd be satisfied with that. I'm still young. . . . The NBA will come when it comes.")

Or the notion that his statistics are depressed because of the offensive system he plays in. ("I can go into a game and get 9 points and 10 rebounds and 7 assists. To me, that's great, but to other people I have to have 20 points. I like to have an all-around game; that's what matters to me.")

Green loves Georgetown's offense, because it gives him a chance to show off his diverse skills. Sometimes he'll work out of the low block and post up his defender. Other times he'll bring the ball up against the press, or get open on the wing for a three-pointer (he is a career 36.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc).

He seldom forces shots; he is the rare player who says that he doesn't want to take 30 shots per game. Green is averaging four more points (15.1) and four more shots (11.5) in Big East games than he did in nonconference play, but he doesn't attribute that increase to more aggression on his part. Instead, he credits his teammates with finding him when he's open, and his shots falling.

"Oh boy, he can play. He is one of those players that keeps getting better each time I see him," said Dave Gavitt, the former Big East commissioner who continues to closely follow the conference. "He lets the game come to him. . . . He understands movement without the ball because they're so good at it. He's not going to make a lot of mistakes."

Green's signature performance may have come in last season's upset of top-ranked and undefeated Duke, the game that vaulted the Hoyas back into national prominence. Green outplayed all-American forward Shelden Williams, scoring 18 points and adding seven assists -- at least half of which came off of his beloved backdoor bounce passes.

But Green is quick to note that there is more to him that just bounce passes. Two weeks ago, he scored the game-winning basket against Villanova off a midrange pull-up jump shot. One of his most talked-about plays as a high school senior was a thunderous dunk -- in which he took off from close to the foul line and soared between two defenders -- during the decisive final moments of a region final win over Eleanor Roosevelt.

"I like to throw bounce passes, but I will dunk the ball if necessary," Green said. "I can be a lot of different ways. I have a lot of different characters inside of me."

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