Monroe Has Big Game, Hoyas Romp Past Drexel

Georgetown freshman center Greg Monroe flushes home two of his game-high 20 points against Drexel. He also had eight rebounds.
Georgetown freshman center Greg Monroe flushes home two of his game-high 20 points against Drexel. He also had eight rebounds. (By Evan Vucci -- Associated Press)
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By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 23, 2008

As athletic contests go, Georgetown's first-ever meeting with Drexel wasn't particularly gripping entertainment.

The Hoyas took the lead 2 minutes 18 seconds into yesterday's game at Verizon Center and romped to an 81-53 victory that was more lopsided than the score indicates.

But it served as a telling window on the competitive heart of the young Hoyas -- particularly star-in-the-making Greg Monroe -- and the challenge Coach John Thompson III faces in managing the expectations that are sure to be heaped on the freshman phenom as the season unfolds.

The 6-foot-11 Monroe led the Hoyas in scoring (20 points), rebounding (eight), blocks (three) and minutes (31). He also was flawless from the free throw line (6 of 6) and added four assists.

Even more notable is his maturity, which verges on preternatural for an 18-year-old. Monroe plays as if basketball is a game to be respected, and each facet of it -- the thankless work of defending and distributing, as well as the scoring that appears to come so easily -- is worth doing well.

"His instincts are great," Thompson said of Monroe, a McDonald's all-American from Gretna, La. "And not just his instincts -- it's his instincts coupled with intelligence, coupled with the fact that you tell him something once, and he understands what you're saying and how to apply it."

But as reporters clamored for elaboration (Thompson bars freshmen from granting interviews until second semester, so Monroe can't offer perspective himself), the coach cut the hosannas short, mindful of the danger that a bloated sense of self can do to an athlete's development and to team chemistry.

"Let's slow down! It's the second game," Thompson said. "He's got to be a better dribbler, passer, shooter, defender and rebounder. Let's not get confused here: He's got a long way to go."

But Georgetown (2-0) took a big step forward from its first game to its second, shoring up the weaknesses that kept its season-opening victory over Jacksonville from feeling like a triumph.

Against Drexel (1-1), the Hoyas ran their offense in more deliberate fashion, working the ball inside for high-percentage shots. Nearly half their points (40 of 81) were scored inside the paint. Their outside shooting was closer to the mark, with Austin Freeman adding 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

Their rebounding improved but could stand more muscle.

Most encouraging, their defensive intensity never waned, even after taking a 42-25 lead at halftime.

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