- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 17, 2006

Perhaps Georgetown should permanently remove McDonough Arena from the schedule.

The Hoyas, who play most home games at Verizon Center, clanked their way out of exam week with a first-half performance befitting the decrepit, on-campus crypt before erupting after intermission to pulverize lowly Winston-Salem State 76-32 last night.

Georgetown (7-3), which plays host to Towson on Wednesday at Verizon, spent most of the evening playing like a team that had reported to the court directly from the library.

“Most of our guys are probably going to grab something to eat and then do some work right now,” coach John Thompson III said after watching his exam-minded team stagger to a 27-18 lead at intermission because of atrocious first-half 3-point shooting (3-for-14). “You get nervous as a coach during exams because practice times are sporadic, and when you do practice, so is attendance. But we’re not the only team dealing with that around the country.”

In the early moments of the second half, Georgetown briefly seemed on the brink of succumbing to exam-week syndrome. When Winston-Salem State guard Roy Peake parlayed a sloppy Georgetown backcourt pass into a steal and layup with 17:12 remaining, the Hoyas led just 29-23 against the painfully undersized, overmatched Rams (1-13), a longtime Division II power making its provisional D-I debut this season.

An eerie and uncomfortable feeling began creeping its way through a small but zealous crowd no doubt familiar with Georgetown’s last game at McDonough. In that galling outing, then-unbeaten and eighth-ranked Georgetown experienced a similarly hapless shooting night en route to a 75-62 loss to unheralded Old Dominion.

Tyler Crawford was in the hospital during that game, dehydrated and battling a strep throat. Crawford was dressed and ready last night. And when Thompson called a timeout and inserted the swingman into the lineup to give his team an emotional lift, the junior from Stuarts Draft, Va., almost single-handedly pulled the Hoyas out of the doldrums.

Crawford (12 points, six rebounds), maligned for his poor shooting in the team’s sluggish season-opening victory over Hartford, responded to the Rams’ 6-0 mini-run that cut the margin to six points by sparking a Georgetown tear of the monster variety.

Crawford entered after a timeout and immediately drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key. That was the capstone for a 30-1 run spanning more than 10 minutes that staked Georgetown to a runaway 59-24 lead with 7:07 remaining.

Fittingly, Crawford closed the burst with a 3-pointer as well, scattering in another during the tear as he opened up the middle for junior center Roy Hibbert (10 points, nine rebounds) and freshman forward DaJuan Summers (14 points).

“I told you guys Tyler could shoot,” Thompson said of his co-captain, who made four of five 3-pointers. “I think that Tyler and Patrick [Ewing Jr.] were the keys tonight. … Winston-Salem State cut the lead to six, but then those two guys came in and turned things around. They both bring great energy, and that’s contagious. And tonight Tyler also made shots.”

Surprisingly, Georgetown’s game-defining run took place with junior power forward Jeff Green on the bench. Green, for two-plus seasons the team’s most consistent performer, wasn’t noticeably out of sync on the floor. But it was Green (five points, six rebounds) who Crawford replaced before jump-starting Georgetown’s takeover streak.

“Jeff Green isn’t going to pout [about being benched in the second half],” Thompson said. “He’s going to go finish a couple of papers and his exams and come back ready to play better. It wasn’t as much what he was or wasn’t doing as the group out there was working.”

Actually, even Crawford conceded learning to survive without Green on the floor could be a very profitable experience for the Hoyas.

“Jeff and Roy are the focal points of this team,” Crawford said. “But at the same time, learning not to lean on them so heavily is a good thing and is part of our growth as a team.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide