- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

ATLANTA.

It could have been Roy Hibbert’s game at the Georgia Dome last night.

Instead, he picked up his fourth foul with 8:50 left, and it all started to go wrong for the Hoyas from there.

The Buckeyes scored seven consecutive points in Hibbert’s absence to take control of what had been a tie game and wound up defeating the Hoyas 67-60.

Hibbert will rue his fourth foul in the offseason, for it was an unnecessary foul. It was a foul prompted out of fatigue on a long rebound. Hibbert was grabbing Othello Hunter, for whatever reasons. Neither player was in a position to retrieve the ball.

But there was Hibbert pulling on Hunter’s arm. Or maybe he was using Hunter’s arm to stay upright.

Whatever it was, Hibbert lost an opportunity to impose his will on the proceedings with that fourth foul.

Otherwise, Hibbert was mostly impressive in his highly anticipated showdown with Greg Oden.

Hibbert finished with 19 points, six rebounds and one blocked shot, Oden 13 points, nine rebounds and one blocked shot.

Oden succumbed to early foul trouble, playing a grand total of 2:21 in the first half.

As expected, Oden showed he is considerably more athletic than Hibbert.

But Hibbert’s good positioning and technique around the basket allowed him to maneuver against Oden.

Both players had to be tentative at times on defense because of referees Ted Valentine, Richard Cartmell and Mike Kitts.

As usual, college referees never quite grasp a potentially significant moment in college basketball, in this case the meeting between two old-fashioned big men, the 7-foot-2 Hibbert and the 7-0 Oden.

The referees have to stick by the book, which means they call minimal body contact, despite its incidental nature. The result: Hibbert was limited to 24 minutes because of foul trouble and Oden to 20 minutes.

No one came to witness the artistry of Valentine, Cartmell and Kitts, shocking though that conclusion may be to them.

The show within the game was Hibbert and Oden.

Unfortunately, the throng was treated to only bits and pieces of the mini-drama.

Hibbert undoubtedly helped his positioning in the NBA Draft in June, if he elects to leave Georgetown after his third season there.

Hibbert may lack Oden’s long-term prospects. But he has the size and skill to be an adequate center in the NBA, depending on where he lands, of course.

As much as Hibbert helped his professional aspirations, Jeff Green hurt his with an especially curious performance.

Appearing on college basketball’s largest stage, Green was content to stay in the background.

That is perfectly fine if you are the fourth or fifth option on a team.

That is just not acceptable if you are the Big East player of the year, your big guy is in foul trouble and the Buckeyes are building the lead to six points, then eight and then nine.

Green had only five field goal attempts in finishing with nine points.

His lack of production was self-induced.

As Hoyas coach John Thompson III said: “It was clearly a factor [in the loss]. They did a good job of taking it away from him. We had to do a better job of getting him the ball.”

Green touched the basketball plenty of times. He just didn’t seem intent on attacking the Buckeyes.

Green likes to think that being unselfish is a high-minded quality. But there comes a point when being unselfish is selfish if it becomes more important than helping your team cope against the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

Hibbert incurred his fourth foul with 8:50 left, and Green refused to shoot the ball out of principle. By the way, have you heard that Green is an unselfish player?

We were left wanting more Hibbert and Oden and a furious finish.

Instead, we incurred a full dose of Valentine, Cartmell and Kitts and an unexciting close.

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