- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beware Harvard’s Lin-chpin.

Just four days after Old Dominion bounced Georgetown from college basketball’s unbeaten ranks, the Crimson come calling, and they boast Harvard’s hottest commodity since Matt Damon.

Fresh off lighting up two of the more hostile hoops environments in New England (Connecticut’s Gampel Pavilion and Boston College’s Conte Forum), senior guard Jeremy Lin and the Crimson (7-2) roll into Verizon Center for a Wednesday matinee against the 14th-ranked Hoyas (8-1).

Those who haven’t heard of Lin should ask Jim Calhoun or Al Skinner. In the Crimson’s recent two-game split with Connecticut (a 79-73 loss) and Boston College (a 74-67 victory), the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lin averaged 27.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Calhoun raved about Lin after he almost single-handedly knocked out the Huskies by scoring 30 points and adding nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.

“There are a lot of teams that come through here,” Calhoun said. “I can’t think of a team that he wouldn’t play for.”

After playing and coaching at Princeton, Georgetown’s John Thompson III perhaps has an even greater appreciation for an Ivy League player blossoming into an NBA prospect.

“He’s spent the last four years proving that he can play with anyone in the country,” Thompson said. “He’s terrific, and it’s not just his scoring. He does everything well. He’s extremely unselfish. It seems like he’s always involved in every play - whether it’s an assist, a rebound, a deflection, a stop, whatever.”

Lin was the only player in Division I last season to rank among the top 10 in his conference in every individual statistical category. In his 95-game career, the native of Palo Alto, Calif., has averaged 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals.

“Earlier in his career, I think he was kind of a trendy topic because of his [Asian-American] background and Ivy League status,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “People have finally realized he’s no fad. He’s a superb player with an all-around game that translates very well to the NBA.”

He’s in the most torrid stretch of his career after shooting better than 64 percent in his past two games. Throw in the tutelage of third-year coach Tommy Amaker and a solid supporting cast highlighted by rugged forward Keith Wright (11.1 points), and Georgetown has ample reason for concern, particularly after Saturday’s poor defensive performance.

The Hoyas entered that game seventh in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.360) but let Old Dominion carve apart both their man-to-man and zone packages with penetration and interior passing. The Monarchs shot 45.6 percent and actually missed a handful of uncontested layups in their 61-57 victory.

“It was the first game, if not this season [then] certainly in a while, where I thought we weren’t properly attentive on the defensive end,” Thompson said. “Not only did we allow ODU far too much dribble penetration, our slides and rotations were slow. All credit to Old Dominion because they did a great job exploiting the situation. And Harvard will do the same thing if we don’t play with better positioning and passion.”

Note - Georgetown announced Tuesday that junior forward Nikita Mescheriakov will transfer after the semester. The 6-foot-7 swingman from Belarus had his role minimized this season, a year after he started nine games for the Hoyas. He was averaging 0.9 points in 6.3 minutes.

Mescheriakov is the ninth player to transfer from Georgetown during Thompson’s six-year tenure. Only Marc Egerson, who left during the 2006-07 season as an expectant father, averaged more than 3.5 points.

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