- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2006

A season ago, Duke provided Georgetown with its coming out party.

Tonight in Durham, N.C., the Hoyas would simply like to see their frontcourt come out of hibernation.

If a list was made of the most startling developments of the first four weeks of the college hoops season, Georgetown’s 4-2 record and two home losses to unranked, overmatched opponents would rate as one of the top items.

And if a similar list of the most disappointing players to date was made, Georgetown big men Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert would both merit serious consideration.

Fact is, one is a result of the other. The Hoyas have slumped to one of the game’s most disappointing starts because their supposed dynamic duo has thus far been a titanic dud.

Correctly or not, this was supposed to be a monster season on the Hilltop primarily because of the team’s monsters: its 6-foot-9 power forward (Green) with point guard passing skills and its 7-2 center (Hibbert) with soft hands and a history of making huge strides. Green and Hibbert appeared on a number of All-American teams and opened as first-team All-Big East favorites. As a result, Georgetown opened at No. 8 in the preseason poll.

Six games into the season they were expected to define, Green and Hibbert have not only failed to shoulder the load, but their combined numbers are actually down from last season in a staggering eight of 11 key categories, including scoring and rebounding.

And perhaps most disconcertingly, neither seems all that inflamed about the regression.

After neither player scored in the first half of Wednesday night’s loss to Oregon, quite an accomplishment given the Ducks’ lineup of undersized players, one would have thought Green would still be spitting fire on Thursday afternoon. Not so.

“I already put it behind me,” Green said. “After the game was over, I put it behind me.”

And Hibbert?

“We’re just going to have to learn,” he said. “We’re a young team.”

In actuality, the Hoyas aren’t even remotely youthful by today’s standards. Only one other team in the 16-team Big East Conference — St. John’s — has three third-year starters.

The problem is that unlike Wallace, who has greatly increased his productivity and leadership in spite of his athletic limitations, Georgetown’s other two experienced players are still playing like inexperienced players.

Green and Hibbert don’t act or play with either go-to player or captain’s mind-sets. They’ve both got the straddle-and-glare routine down after opponent-felling blocked shots. But neither exhibits much fire or intensity otherwise.

Though he’s more reliant on teammates to get him the ball than Green, Hibbert doesn’t play the post like a man possessed. He stands too tall, instead of spreading out his massive frame to provide a better target and carve out space. He doesn’t demand the ball once he does forge his position. And once he gets the ball, Hibbert’s moves involve too much finesse and not enough fury.

“We have to go about getting him, as well as Jeff, the ball in different ways,” said coach John Thompson III, certainly aware that he needs far more production from his big men. “They have to be more aggressive in trying to get the ball. And [they] have to put the ball in the basket.”

Green’s shots a game are way down this season despite the fact that his shooting percentage has improved. The junior from Hyattsville, Md., always has been a bit too unselfish for his own (and the team’s) good, but this season Green has looked downright tentative.

“Jeff has to get more looks and more touches,” Thompson said. “And he has to be more aggressive.”

Green’s move toward the perimeter this season has caused some issues, pulling him away from the basket and leaving him guarding and defended by smaller players. Defensively, he has been slow to adjust and routinely finds himself in foul trouble. Offensively, he has tried to drive on his quicker opponents too often instead of backing them down or shooting over them.

The good news for the Hoyas is that the season is only six games old. There’s more than three months and at least 24 more chances for Georgetown to change the complexion of its season. The Hoyas hope their big men begin their breakouts today at No. 11 Duke (6-1).

“This is my first time playing there,” said Green of Duke’s famed Cameron Indoor Arena. “From looking at games, it looks crazy. The fans are into it, so it should be fun.”

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