The theme for the first month of the Georgetown men's basketball season will be Waiting Anxiously For Ruben.
Without the injured 6-foot-11 Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, the Hoyas still had enough front-court firepower to ease by an all-star team from Fort Hood, Tex., 98-85, in their exhibition opener last night at McDonough Arena. But not without some concern.
Very little else of significance could be determined, except that the Hoyas are much more muscular than last season and the outside shooting might be better. Every veteran spent lots of time in the weight room during the offseason, something Coach Craig Esherick hopes will lead to more stamina and better play near the end of games this season.
The Hoyas seemed to have Fort Hood under control early, jumping to a 32-16 lead on the three-point shooting of Nat Burton and superior floor play. However, guard Eric McLaughlin (27 points) kept pouring in enough three-pointers to pull Fort Hood not only back in contention but into a 55-50 lead with 15 minutes 32 seconds left in the second half.
Georgetown regrouped seven minutes later, and a 17-0 run that started with Kevin Braswell's three-pointer turned a 68-63 deficit into a commanding lead. For the game, guards Braswell and Anthony Perry and small forward Burton combined for 11 three-point baskets in 21 tries.
Center Jameel Watkins played a strong second half and ended with 16 points on 13 shots and 13 rebounds. As Esherick said, he will be playing an inordinate amount of minutes as the team's only true center with Boumtje Boumtje sidelined.
Boumtje Boumtje is suffering from an injury to the bone nearest the second toe of his left foot and is expected to play very little, if at all, during the Nov. 22-24 Maui Invitational. The injury could prove troublesome for the Hoyas starting with the first game against Memphis. Smallish Rhese Gibson will move from power forward now and then to provide relief.
"Jameel's going to be our workhorse," Esherick said. "If we don't get into foul trouble, we should be okay."
Freshman power forward Courtland Freeman has nearly the same injury as Boumtje Boumtje, but should be available for the Maui tournament. Esherick said Freeman would at least be in uniform for Georgetown's next exhibition, Saturday at 4 p.m. against a club team from Lithuania. Boumtje Boumtje's first full game might be Dec. 6 against Howard.