Despite a typically indecisive performance in a season opener for a team replacing two multiseason starters, No. 22 Georgetown posted a halting 71-62 victory against Jacksonville on Monday night at Verizon Center.
The Hoyas (1-0) enjoy one more glorified tune-up when they host Drexel on Saturday before jetting off to Orlando, Fla., next week to face a superb field in the Old Spice Classic.
Georgetown did receive a standout debut from freshman Greg Monroe, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Seamlessly moving into the starting slot vacated by All-American Roy Hibbert, the 6-foot-11 center from Gretna, La., dominated on both ends in a manner rarely seen from Hibbert until his junior season.
“He’s a McDonald’s All-American and everything you guys write and say about him is true,” Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren said. “He can score. He can face up. He can rebound. He can defend and block shots. He’s a player.”
Demonstrating a passion he was often criticized for lacking in high school, the rangy lefty displayed soft hands, excellent athleticism, explosive quickness and offensive polish in the post before second-half foul trouble curtailed his evening.
“I think we’ve got a lot of experts out there who decided his intensity was an issue,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “That wasn’t true tonight, and it won’t be true tomorrow.”
But the Hoyas seemed to forget that the player who spent most of his career ranked as the top player in his recruiting class was anchored in the post against the smaller, slower Dolphins (0-2) of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Monroe made five of seven field goal attempts in the first half but took just three shots in the second half.
“We took too many 3s tonight,” Thompson said after watching his team finish 5-for-23 from beyond the arc. “We have to put the ball in [Monroe’s] hands. Good things will happen when he touches the ball, but I think our taking quick 3s didn’t give us the opportunity to get it in to him.”
The result was an ugly game in which poor shot selection and poorer rebounding allowed the Dolphins to scrape back into contention after they trailed 45-29 early in the second half.
After mounting a similar comeback against Florida State two nights earlier before falling 59-57, Jacksonville cut Georgetown’s lead to 55-51 with 5:19 remaining on the strength of 19 offensive rebounds and a second-half explosion from Ben Smith. He scored just two points before halftime, but the junior point guard scored 15 points in the second half.
With the game on the line, Thompson finally received some help from his upperclassmen; senior guard Jessie Sapp (13 points, six rebounds) and junior forward DaJuan Summers (13 points) helped the Hoyas pull away.
Sophomore Chris Wright (16 points) led the Hoyas in scoring, but the first-year starting point guard vanished during Jacksonville’s second-half run.
Note - Georgetown confirmed that the program received signatures from 2009 commitments DaShonte Riley (6-11, 230 pounds) and Hollis Thompson (6-6, 180) during last week’s early signing period. Both are consensus top-100 players. The last player on the Hoyas’ recruiting board for next season is Arizona decommit Solomon Hill, a 6-6 forward from Los Angeles expected to choose between the Hoyas, Southern Cal, Kansas State and Kentucky.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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