In this year of transition for Georgetown, coach John Thompson III has stressed that everyone on the roster is still learning their way, tasked with making sense of new positions, greater responsibilities and increased pressures to perform.
Perhaps the player, who, on the surface, might have had to adjust the least to a state of flux is Nate Lubick. The 6-foot-8 forward saw minutes as a freshman and found his way into the starting rotation as a sophomore.
But those seasons had their ups and downs for Lubick, so he, too, has been embracing the fresh start of playing in the Hoyas’ revamped roster as one of just two juniors on the team.
“So far this year, he’s working extremely hard and has been productive,” Thompson said. “He has to continue to do the things that he has been doing and make sure that’s there every night, every game, with consistency. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be, but it’s a process.”
In Monday’s 89-53 victory over Longwood, Lubick filled up the stat sheet, registering six points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes, drawing rare praise from Thompson, who has been taking a wait-and-see approach in assessing nearly all of his players.
“I thought Nate was very, very good in every aspect of the game, to tell you the truth,” Thompson said.
The No. 15 Hoyas (8-1) will need that continued growth and all-around play from Lubick in their Saturday contest against Western Carolina and as the competition steps up in Big East play. Lubick is one of the team’s best passers, and the offense thus far has run much better when Lubick is at the top of the key, as he has shown to be better at identifying the back-cut and open shooters than fellow big man Mikael Hopkins.
Last year, even as his scoring numbers dipped, Lubick developed into a solid passer, ranking second on the team in assists (2.0) behind departed center Henry Sims. This year, Lubick is up to 3.4 assists per game, part of a spate of statistics in which the junior is trending upward, including points (8.0), rebounds (4.8) and steals (1.3).
“I’m somebody who’s been in this system for years,” Lubick said. “At this point, I wake up and know it like the back of my palm. So I’m somebody who can help the younger guys and assist them in learning it, assist them in reading it.”
A change that can’t be quantified is from a confidence standpoint. That element of Lubick’s game was notably missing down the stretch last season, when he struggled and found himself out of the rotation for long stretches. Now, if things aren’t going his way, he vows not to let it get him down.
“I’m confident, and I’m going to be confident going ahead,” Lubick said. “I just keep working every day like the rest of team. We have to keep improving in all aspects. We need to be able to identify what’s not working and fix it, and fix it fast.”
Lubick tallied a career-high 14 points in the Hoyas’ win over Texas on Dec. 4, but the forward has endeared himself to his teammates and fans by doing the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
“He does the dirty work for us,” Hopkins said. “He’s not afraid to throw his body around.”
On several occasions during any contest, you can find Lubick sprawled out on the floor, trying to grab a loose ball or draw a foul against an opponent, sometimes to his own detriment. In his haste to grab a rebound in the Hoyas’ victory over Tennessee, he swung his elbow into the head of the Volunteers’ Jarnell Stokes, causing Lubick’s arm to go numb and forcing him out of the game.
But those kind of mishaps won’t slow his go-for-broke style.
“I’ll do it every day,” he said.