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Improved Hoyas dump Dragons

- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2008

If the improvement between Georgetown's first and second performances is a sign of things to come, Hoyas fans had better buckle up for one heck of a ride.

Looking nothing like the team that staggered through a season-opening victory against Jacksonville, No. 22 Georgetown squashed Drexel 81-53 Saturday at Verizon Center.

The Hoyas (2-0) face a significant step up in competition as they head to the Old Spice Classic on Nov. 27-30 in Orlando, Fla. Georgetown opens the event on Thanksgiving against Wichita State (1-1), but powerhouse squads like No. 14 Tennessee, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 9 Gonzaga might await deeper in the tournament's bracket.

"It's a pretty good tournament, but we're not looking past Orlando," senior guard Jessie Sapp said after matching his career high with five steals. "We're ready for Orlando."

If the Hoyas maintain their improvement curve, Sapp could be correct. Just as he did against Jacksonville, freshman Greg Monroe dazzled against Drexel. He stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points (7-for-9 from the field), eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks.

"He's a guy who will be a high draft pick," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said of the 6-foot-11, 250-pound center. "[Monroe] is a good basketball player, not just a good athlete. He knows what he's doing out there and he's going to be a special player."

In stark contrast to the Jacksonville game, Monroe's teammates joined him against the overmatched Dragons of the Colonial Athletic Association. To be fair, Drexel (1-1) lacks the experience, size and polish of Jacksonville. And Flint didn't do his charges any favors by exclusively employing man-to-man defense - a strategy that proved detrimental for virtually every squad but Connecticut since John Thompson III arrived on the Hilltop five years ago.

But softer competition doesn't do justice to Georgetown's wholesale improvement. The Hoyas clicked right from the tip, opening with a 15-2 run powered by a dizzying combination of pressure defense on the perimeter and a slew of transition hoops.

When Georgetown wasn't turning Drexel miscues into easy buckets, the Hoyas' halfcourt offense looked far more polished. Gone were the impatient jumpers early in the shot clock that plagued the team against Jacksonville. Instead, the Hoyas ran Thompson's traditional motion attack, earning a handful of easy backdoor hoops, attacking the rim off the dribble when Drexel overplayed and nearly always delivering the extra pass to open teammates.

The starting five of Monroe, Sapp, DaJuan Summers (10 points), Austin Freeman (16) and Chris Wright (11 points, seven assists) combined for 18 assists while shooting 63.9 percent.

"Relative to the last game, we made progress in that we stayed with [our offense] longer, so we were able to get better shots," Thompson said. "With this group, we have the ability to get into the paint and get to the rim off of cuts, off of post-ups, off of penetration and off of passes. We have been focusing on getting into the paint more than once a possession - and this group has been passing very well."

Georgetown finished with a 40-6 edge in points in the paint, claiming a 65-34 lead with 12:59 remaining before Thompson began wholesale experimentation with his lineup.