- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 13, 2007

Erratic Georgetown needs to get in touch with the beast within.

Which Hoyas team will step on the floor tonight at No. 7 Pittsburgh (15-2): the efficient one that completed a seven-game streak of routs with a 66-48 savaging of 17th-ranked Notre Dame last Saturday at Verizon Center or the bumbling bunch that gave away Monday night’s game to hapless Villanova?

The key to consistency for one of the nation’s most schizophrenic teams lies inside in more than one way. When Georgetown’s frontcourt tandem of Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green come out fiery and focused, the Hoyas (11-4) are a daunting force. When both fail to post, physically and emotionally, the Hoyas are a deficient farce.

Against the Irish, the pair combined for 33 points on just 20 shots, and Georgetown looked like a team with a Final Four in its future. Against Villanova, the tandem managed just nine points on five attempts, and Georgetown didn’t look NIT-worthy.

On the surface, Georgetown’s loss to Villanova looks like the result of a backcourt issue; the Hoyas looked helpless against the Wildcats’ fullcourt press, committing a season-high 22 turnovers, as the team finished with a season-low 38 field goal attempts.

But given the perfect opportunity to impugn his guards during Thursday’s meeting with the media, coach John Thompson III also fingered Hibbert.

“Literally half of those turnovers were on trying to throw the pall into the post,” Thompson said. “The receiver has to be better. The passer has to be better. And the way we do things has to be better. It’s everyone.”

The 7-foot-2 Hibbert, who has struggled throughout his career presenting as an entry-pass target, had obviously already digested the lecture.

“I need to post up stronger and get low,” said Hibbert, who didn’t manage a single official field goal attempt against the Irish, though he did get to the line several times. “Teams are going to throw double teams and other looks at me — smaller guys, quicker guys, stronger guys, whatever — and I need to adjust quicker. … I’m going to have to work a lot harder to get open in the post.”

And if execution and fundamentals were an issue against the Wildcats, perhaps so too was effort. Both Hibbert and Green admitted that the team was emotionally flat against Villanova after Saturday’s rout of the Irish.

“I’ve just got to come out and be a whole lot more aggressive than I was against Villanova,” said Green, who attempted just five shots against the Wildcats. “We can’t come out and have all those turnovers we did. We had 22 turnovers and gave them 16 offensive rebounds, and we just can’t have that in Big East play. We’ve got to come out more focused.”

Quite frankly, that lack of aggression and focus has been a recurring theme for Hibbert and Green in the team’s losses this season.

As Green himself said Thursday concerning the standard demeanor of the team: “We’re a laid back group of cats.”

Perhaps occasionally too laid back.

Fact is, Georgetown is 8-0 when Hibbert and Green combine for 20 points, an extremely modest sum given their skills.

There’s little doubt that a Pittsburgh bunch with a bevy of talented guards will press the Hoyas tonight after watching Georgetown’s Monday night debacle. But that’s not likely to change the frontcourt-based formula for Georgetown success. If Hibbert and Green win their matchup with Pittsburgh’s duo of likely Big East MVP Aaron Gray (14.9 points, 10.2 rebounds) and power forward Levon Kendall, history fancies the Hoyas.

“I’ve been looking forward to this one all season, but I’m not going to try and make it personal,” Hibbert said. “It’s Georgetown vs. Pittsburgh, not Roy vs. Aaron Gray.”

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