Georgetown Coach John Thompson said yesterday that for the Hoyas to have any extended success in the Big East and NCAA tournaments, they will have to get consistently assertive inside play from a pair of 6-foot-8 underclassmen, freshman Johnathan Edwards and sophomore Ronnie Highsmith.
"We have to get Ralph Dalton [6-11 senior center] some help inside," Thompson said. "I'm talking about power help. We need power and bulk. Both these kids, Ronnie and Johnathan, have that. If we can get the inside stuff taken care of, we'll be all right. But the big boys have got to be a factor."
With a career-high 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, Edwards clearly was a factor in Georgetown's 90-76 victory over Boston College Wednesday night at Capital Centre.
As fine as Georgetown's perimeter players are -- probably only top-ranked Duke rates even in perimeter talent -- Thompson knows the inside game is crucial. Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said on Sunday he and his team didn't even talk about Georgetown's inside players in preparation for that day's Big East game, in which Syracuse won by only one but outrebounded Georgetown by 13.
The perimeter players realize that to make a complete team, the big men must produce. Guard Horace Broadnax went to Thompson at one point this season and volunteered to give up some playing time. Swing man David Wingate said, "We need some knocking and some boardwork out of our big guys. They've got the talent, so they're going to have to step up . . . "
Grady Mateen, Georgetown's 6-10 sophomore, has seen his minutes decrease lately. "It's not because Grady isn't playing well," Thompson said, "but we need bulk." Mateen, the best shooter by far among the front-court players, doesn't lend the kind of inside presence Thompson is seeking.
Edwards does. "He's done some positive things in two successive games," Thompson said. "He's still green. And basketball is something that's still new to Johnathan. He'll tell you, and he'll get Perry McDonald [from his native New Orleans] to verify, how bad he was as a [high school] sophomore.
"But he gets in the way of a lot of shots; he's a good shot-blocker. He just has to be as good consistently. He's strong . . . and quick off his feet. And one day, as I told him recently, he'll be the leading rebounder in the country."
Edwards is very aware he gets a little frantic at times: "I get excited because I want to win so bad. I just lose control at times, but I'm getting the feel a little more."
A lot of Georgetown fans got excited at Highsmith's brilliant but brief contribution in a 73-70 January victory over Syracuse and wonder why he doesn't play more. Capital Centre grows loud every time he gets off the bench. But Highsmith -- nicknamed "The Sarge" because of his stint in the Army -- has to become more consistent also, Thompson said.
The crux is that Georgetown can't survive on rebounding just from Dalton (7.4 per game) and Reggie Williams (8.3).
"Ralph has done just an amazing job," Thompson said. "I look at the tapes and hear commentators talking about his lack of quickness. I wonder how many people wearing a metal brace in a regular street shoe are as quick. He's quick as hell as far as I'm concerned. We've just got to get him some help."