Fast Friends, Big Rivals

Former Teammates Hibbert, Dorsey Face Off

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2007; Page E01

MEMPHIS, Dec. 21 -- Georgetown's Roy Hibbert and Memphis's Joey Dorsey didn't need long to become good friends this summer, as they practiced and played together for the USA Basketball team that finished fifth at the Pan Am Games.

After all, as the 7-foot-2 Hibbert said, "Big guys got to look out for each other."

Georgetown's star senior center Roy Hibbert finds himself facing off against Joey Dorsey, a fellow post star with whom he became close friends while playing for U.S.A. Basketball at the Pan American Games.
Georgetown's star senior center Roy Hibbert finds himself facing off against Joey Dorsey, a fellow post star with whom he became close friends while playing for U.S.A. Basketball at the Pan American Games. (John McDonnell - TWP)

So Hibbert and Dorsey bonded over their shared love of the television show "Martin," and Hibbert even attempted to teach the 6-9 Dorsey how to shoot a running jump hook.

"But then I told my [Georgetown] teammates about that," said Hibbert, "and they said, 'Don't show him that!' They didn't want him to learn any of our stuff."

Sensible advice, considering that Hibbert's fifth-ranked Hoyas face Dorsey's second-ranked Tigers here on Saturday in one of the marquee nonconference games of the college basketball season. And at the center of the contest will be the matchup between the two friends: Hibbert, a preseason all-American, and Dorsey, the reigning Conference USA defensive player of the year.

"I think you can be intimidated by this kid [Hibbert] unless you know him," Memphis Coach John Calipari said. "He can intimidate you with his size. At least Joey knows the speed, quickness and athleticism Hibbert has since he played against him."

On the surface, the friendship seems odd: Dorsey is chatty and prone to say and do outlandish things, while Hibbert is more measured and thoughtful. When the United States played Argentina in the Pan Am Games, Dorsey encouraged Hibbert to be extra aggressive and dominate. Hibbert did just that and even attempted a scream after one emphatic dunk. Dorsey laughs at the memory, because "he didn't scream that loud. It was so funny."

"I got to learn some screaming from him," Hibbert said. "He's a loud guy that likes to talk. I'm usually the quiet guy that likes to sit back. We're two different personalities, but I think we mesh well."

The difference in personalities was never so evident as it was during last season's NCAA tournament, as each player prepared to face Ohio State's Greg Oden, the future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick.

In the days leading up to the national semifinal, Hibbert praised Oden's abilities, and expressed admiration at the way he was able to lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four as a freshman. In Georgetown's 67-60 loss, Hibbert was terrific, posting 19 points and six rebounds after weathering early foul trouble. (Oden had 13 points and nine rebounds.) A week earlier, prior to the South Region final, Dorsey famously described Oden as overrated, proclaimed that he would be Goliath to Oden's David, "the little man," and predicted he would have 15 points and 20 rebounds against the Buckeyes. Dorsey didn't take a shot and grabbed just three rebounds in Memphis's 92-76 loss. (Oden had 17 points and nine rebounds.)

"He just says stuff," Calipari said.

But Dorsey doesn't always follow through, which is one reason Calipari, who loves the charismatic and charming Dorsey, is often so frustrated with him. Dorsey claims his goal is to play in the NBA, and then switch to the NFL (he hasn't played football since high school in Baltimore). He says he is trying to pattern his game after Ben Wallace (he even switched his jersey number to 3 this season) and that he wants to be the Ray Lewis of the Tigers: "I'm so aggressive, and I got that rage on defense," he said.


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