Mike Wise: Georgetown Hoyas' Rapid Growth Results in Some Pains

By Mike Wise
Saturday, February 14, 2009

No one at Georgetown is blaming the recent losing and lethargy on chemistry or ego -- the dreaded Bad Locker Room Juju. None of the culprits that can often submarine a team once ranked in the top 10 nationally, once a virtual shoo-in for the NCAA tournament, is given any credence.

"It took us a while before we got to a Final Four, won a Big East tournament, won back-to-back regular season titles," said Roy Hibbert, the former Hoyas center who was on campus yesterday while on all-star break from the Indiana Pacers. "Give them time."

"The difference is, they're younger," said Coach John Thompson III, whose team of one senior and tons of teenagers has lost six of seven games for the first time since 2004-05, his first season with the program.

"Some lessons have to be learned . . . they have to experience some pain sometimes to grow."

But nation's toughest schedule and all, these Hoyas don't share or care like they did earlier in the season. They fall in love with the three-point line and forget their Selection Sunday meal ticket, Greg Monroe, is posting up on the blocks. How Georgetown went from rolling at 12-3 to reeling at 13-9 bears some closer inspection.

"I've had a couple teams where I look and say, 'We can't do it,' for whatever the factors are," Thompson said. "I've felt that with particular teams that couldn't get done what we wanted to get done. I do not feel that about this group."

Asked whether the 2007-08 team, knocked off by Stephen Curry and Davidson, was among that group, he added, "No, I didn't feel that last year."

Interestingly, a player from last season's team received a call from his mother in late December 2007. She said she was about to buy a ticket to San Antonio, site of the 2008 Final Four, before her son cut her off in mid-sentence.

"Don't bother," the player, on condition of anonymity, said he told his mother. "We're not going anywhere, Mom. We don't have the same chemistry as last year."

DaJuan Summers, then a sophomore, and Hibbert, a senior, the player said, were covertly feuding over who was Georgetown's No. 1 offensive option -- an issue the player said hurt the team as it entered the stretch run.

Hibbert, who opted to return to Georgetown for his senior season, wound up as the No. 17 pick in the NBA draft. He became a microcosm of the program under Thompson, maturing from a gangly, uncoordinated beanpole to a bona fide big man with a baby hook and drop-step move unseen from a 7-footer on the Hilltop since the late 1980s.

"People laughed at me when I told them I was going to Georgetown out of high school," said Hibbert, who maintains there were no chemistry problems between he and Summers. "Look where the program is now."

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