- Associated Press - Thursday, February 24, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - Georgetown expects to have point guard Chris Wright back by the start of the NCAA tournament after recent hand surgery, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Wright had surgery Thursday on a broken bone in his nonshooting hand. He broke his left hand in a loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Hoyas anticipate having Wright back in time for Georgetown’s first NCAA tournament game in mid-March. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school did not want to publicly commit to a specific timetable.

“Our medical staff is optimistic, and although we do not have an exact timetable, we expect to have Chris back before the end of the season,” coach John Thompson III said in a statement released by the school.

Thompson and his players were not made available to the media on Thursday.

While Wright’s college career apparently isn’t over, his injury represents a serious challenge as the Hoyas wrap up their grueling Big East schedule and prepare for the conference tournament. He is the team’s emotional leader and second-leading scorer, and his play is often a barometer of Georgetown’s success.

Wright was hurt when he lost possession of the ball, went to the floor and committed a foul as he reached to try to get the ball back in the second half of the 58-46 loss.

He is averaging 13.1 points for the 11th-ranked Hoyas. Wright had been playing especially well recently, averaging 21.7 points and shooting 50 percent from the field his last three games.

However, he struggled against Cincinnati, missing all six of his field goal attempts before getting hurt. He tried to return, but officials stopped play when they saw him wincing in pain.

The loss dropped Georgetown (21-7, 10-6) into a tie for fifth in the Big East. Without Wright, it will be difficult to move back into the top four and receive a double-bye in the conference tournament.

The Hoyas host Syracuse on Saturday and wrap up regular season play with a game at Cincinnati a week later. Then comes the Big East tournament March 8-12 in New York.

Wright plays heavy minutes, averaging 32.8 per game. His backup is freshman Markel Starks, who averages 8.2 minutes and has just 32 points and 16 assists for the entire season. Until Wright returns, the Hoyas will have to rely on Austin Freeman, the Big East preseason player of the year, and Jason Clark to carry more of the scoring and leadership roles.