- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 17, 2007

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — There’s definitely a bad-blood feel to today’s matchup between Georgetown and Big East defector Boston College.

For anyone who had forgotten the once-visceral animosity between the Eagles (21-11) and their former conference brethren, Boston College’s Jared Dudley showed up yesterday with a few timely reminders.

“I think the ACC is so much more athletic,” Dudley said yesterday when asked to compare the two leagues. “UConn and Syracuse are both good teams, but when you say North Carolina and Duke, it’s different — star power, Tobacco Road, Coach K and everything. No disrespect to the Big East, it’s just different here.”

Since the day he set foot on the campus at Chestnut Hill, Dudley — who left out Georgetown, arguably the Big East’s most storied program, when listing the respective leagues’ signature schools — has been pushing his own athletic limits … and opposing players’ buttons.

One of the fascinating aspects about today’s matchup between the No. 2-seeded Hoyas (27-6) and No. 7 Eagles is that the game features two of the nation’s more dynamic players in Dudley (19.0 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Georgetown junior forward Jeff Green (14.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists).

Dudley and Green, both of whom earned MVP honors from their respective leagues, are similar on many levels. Both are extremely versatile, dominate in the intangibles category and lauded by coaches and teammates alike for their extraordinary basketball IQs.

“Jared is the smartest player I’ve ever played against,” Boston College guard Sean Marshall said of his fellow senior. “He’s going to help you be in the perfect spot when you’re on the court with him.”

But there is a somewhat darker side to Dudley’s demeanor, on and off the floor. Never known as one of the game’s more athletic elite players, the 6-7, 225-pound grinder from San Diego is a player most Big East players and coaches regarded as borderline dirty in his two seasons in the league. But Dudley has since transformed into a senior revered for his savvy play.

“As much as any player I’ve watched, he has the ability to impose his will on a game just by the sheer strength of his personality,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

And that personality, without question, is confrontational. It’s not just his rule-stretching, blue collar style that engenders angst. It’s also his mouth, which rarely stops moving on or off the floor.

Yesterday’s ACC-trumpeting barbs were followed closely by another typically pointed Dudley remark. Though Boston College has no defensive post presence, plays almost exclusively man defense and struggles against zone defenses — all supremely negative indicators against Georgetown — Dudley calmly delivered the following breakdown of the game while barely avoiding a smirk:

“The [NCAA] tournament isn’t about who’s better, it’s about matchups,” he said. “And I like how we matchup with Georgetown.”

But Dudley’s matchup comment was in direct contrast to the thoughts of his own coach.

“There’s not a lot about the matchups I like,” Boston College coach Al Skinner said.

And Dudley’s approach was the antithesis of the kill-them-with-compliments mentality of Boston College center John Oates, who authored the quote of the day when asked how he planned to defend 7-2 Georgetown junior Roy Hibbert: “Lock him in his hotel room.”

Of course, Dudley was just doing what he’s always done best — intentionally trying to rile up the Hoyas with his comments. It was a classic example of gamesmanship at its best; a veteran player hoping to emotionally goose his opponents into changing their customary emotional approach to the game.

“He’s entitled to his opinions,” Georgetown sophomore guard Jessie Sapp said upon hearing Dudley’s proclamation about the less athletic Big East. “I completely disagree with him, but talking about it isn’t going to prove anything. Let’s just say his talking makes tomorrow’s game even more interesting.”

Given the beating Boston College gave Georgetown two years ago in Chestnut Hill (64-49), it would have been hard to imagine anything adding more electricity to today’s tussle. But give Dudley credit. On or off the court, he always seems capable of providing a few more amps.

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