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Back-Court Depth Has Helped Keep The Hoyas Afloat

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 22, 2009; Page E01

Georgetown's 76-67 loss at Duke on Saturday exposed two undeniable truths:

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· The Hoyas have limited options when center Greg Monroe accumulates fouls early in a game.

· But when Georgetown's back court struggles, the Hoyas' young bench appears ready to help.

Coach John Thompson III can't do much about the former, but he showed against Duke that he's prepared to be more bold and shake up his lineup of guards, if need be, to get the offensive spark the team lacks when its starters fall flat.

With the Hoyas trailing 40-29 at halftime, Thompson tapped freshman Jason Clark and sophomore Omar Wattad to start the second half while starters Jessie Sapp and Chris Wright, who had been held scoreless to that point, were relegated to the bench.

Thompson, whose team is 12-4, 3-2 Big East, declined to say yesterday who would get the nod for tonight's return to conference play against West Virginia (13-4, 2-2).

"I think that who starts is irrelevant," Thompson said. "It's who plays, and when they play, and who is playing well, and what combinations are playing well at a specific time. Who parades out there when the score is 0-0 and there are 40 minutes on the clock is not that big of a deal."

But Thompson made clear, just as he did after the loss to Duke, that he feels the disparity between his starters and backups had diminished, giving him more latitude to experiment with his lineup.

"Right now, we're not necessarily thinking of our freshmen as freshmen," Thompson said, adding that he included Wattad in that group, given his limited minutes last season. "They're settling into a comfort level, so we have more options."

Clark, in particular, has impressed in the last four games. In that span, he has played more minutes than Sapp, scored more than twice as many points (36 to 17), posted almost the same assist-to turnover ratio and pulled down an equal number of rebounds (12).

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