Decisions. Decisions. Georgetown Coach Craig Esherick is in the process of making several, among them returning center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje to the starting lineup for today's game against Marist at MCI Center, and he wants point guard Kevin Braswell and the other players to be quicker with the decisions they make on the court.
Boumtje Boumtje started all 31 games last season, but has come off the bench for an average of more than 18 minutes while recovering from a foot injury suffered in late August. His most recent performance was 18 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots during 23 minutes of a victory over Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night that lifted Georgetown's record to 4-3.
Elevating the 6-foot-11 1/2 junior to starter means that 6-11 graduate student Jameel Watkins moves to power forward and senior Rhese Gibson reverts to a reserve role. The Boumtje Boumtje-Watkins combination started every game for the Hoyas last season.
"We're getting to know each other better," Watkins said, "anticipating what each of us is going to do."
For instance, if a guard gets past a Hoya and drives to the basket, Watkins senses when Boumtje Boumtje will move to cut off the opponent and possibly try to block his shot. Rather than going in that direction himself, Watkins will maneuver into position for a rebound.
Braswell has been a starter in his 38 games at Georgetown, but still is in transition from being primarily a shooter in prep school to directing the team. He was Georgetown's second-leading scorer last season while accumulating more than twice as many assists as any other Hoya. This season, his scoring average of 14.5 points leads the team--and he is the only Hoya with significant minutes who has more assists than turnovers.
"This is a lot to put on a sophomore," Esherick said. "And because he's such a good shooter it's not an easy transition. A point guard has to make decisions on the court a coach would make in terms of organizing things. Learning to sacrifice at times will make us better, and him better as a point guard."
The inside players, Boumtje Boumtje and Watkins, must make better decisions when Braswell and their other teammates get them the ball. Frequently, opponents have rushed an extra player to help--and neither Boumtje Boumtje nor Watkins has been especially effective handling those double-team situations. Watkins had six turnovers and Boumtje Boumtje five against Bethune-Cookman. Neither had an assist.
Braswell (four turnovers, four assists), shooting guard Anthony Perry (six turnovers, six assists) and backup guard Demetrius Hunter (six turnovers, one assist) also failed to be consistent enough against Bethune-Cookman's pressure and frequent traps.
With Gibson and freshman forwards Courtland Freeman and Victor Samnick, Esherick has the flexibility to field very large lineups and very fast ones. The Hoyas have nine players averaging at least 15 minutes, although Esherick may well alter that once Big East Conference play begins, Jan. 5 at Providence.
Marist (5-3) will counter Georgetown's size with 6-10 senior center Tom Kenney and 6-9 Tomasz Cielebak, who leads the team in scoring at 10.9 points per game. The leading rebounder is 6-5 Drew Samuels (six per game) and guard Sean Kennedy averages 5.4 assists. Marist has won its past two games, over American and Army, but lost to Harvard, Bucknell and Iona.