- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2006

When John Thompson III first arrived at Georgetown, he estimated it would take a season and a half for his players to grasp the nuances of his Princeton-based offense.

Perhaps “prophetic” should be added to the growing list of glowing adjectives and accomplishments on Thompson’s coach of the year resume.

Exactly as the young coach predicted, the Hoyas have erupted offensively at the midpoint of his second season. Entering tonight’s matchup against struggling DePaul, the No. 17 Hoyas (14-4, 5-2 Big East) are in the midst of an offensive roll perhaps unmatched by any previous blue and gray bunch.

“Someone asked when was the last time I saw a Georgetown team that was this efficient on the offensive end, and the answer is never,” said college basketball dean Dick “Hoops” Weiss of New York’s Daily News after watching the Hoyas dismantle Cincinnati 76-57 on Saturday. “Big John’s teams just overwhelmed people defensively, but they never had an offense this polished. This Georgetown team is just great to watch because they have such an outstanding grasp of the game on the offensive end. They’re for real.”

After a somewhat inconsistent first half of the season, something seemed to click into place for the Hoyas offensively in their 87-84 upset of then-No. 1 Duke 10 days ago. Suddenly, both the parts and the concepts have meshed into a seamless, daunting offensive machine.

“Hopefully, we have taken that step offensively,” said Thompson, whose team has eclipsed the 80-point barrier in two of its last three games after failing to hit that mark in Thompson’s first 47 games and collected a stunning 66 assists on 90 field goals in those games. “We have a very unselfish group, and the guys are starting to find comfort levels within the offense. I think we can now beat teams a lot of different ways.”

Few teams in the nation have a more diverse arsenal. Six Hoyas average at least 9.2 points. At 7-foot-2, 283 pounds, sophomore center Roy Hibbert (11.5 points) has blossomed into a legitimate Big East post presence.

Slashing 6-9 senior Brandon Bowman (11.7 points) is a matchup nightmare on the wing who has learned to function within the flow of the offense and limit his once maddening tendencies to improvise.

The backcourt trio of Ashanti Cook (10.4), D.J. Owens (9.7) and Jonathan Wallace (9.2) all are hitting at least 42.5 percent from 3-point range. That long-range shooting ability has extended defenses, creating both better passing lanes and more dribble-drive opportunities for all three players.

And then there’s sophomore forward Jeff Green (10.9), perhaps the Big East’s most versatile player. Over the team’s last three victories over Duke, Notre Dame and Cincinnati, the 6-9 point forward has exhibited an awesome all-floor command of Thompson’s offense, averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Think Ron Artest with a brain and without the ego.

“A lot of people who don’t understand this game equate playing well with scoring points,” said Thompson, who never seemed the least bit concerned when Green started the season in a shooting slump. “Jeff has been the focal point of our offense, and he will continue to be.”

When the ball is in Green’s hands in the high post, Thompson’s offense is at its most devastating, with guards flashing backdoor and then cutting off screens back toward the perimeter and Green surveying the options.

From this triggerman’s position, Green already is a master at delivering pinpoint bounce passes to backdoor cutters. His combination of size and quickness makes him an instant mismatch against most of the league’s forwards and centers when he elects to drive. Green’s turnaround jumper from the foul line is improving. If he ever starts consistently burying his 3-pointers — he’s still lagging at 29.4 percent for the season — Georgetown’s offense might be the nation’s most efficient.

“I really don’t care how much I score,” he said. “I like grabbing rebounds, throwing out assists. As long as we win, I don’t care. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

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