- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If Jeff Green had a trophy case, he would be running out of room soon.

The Georgetown junior was named the most outstanding player of the East Region after scoring 22 points in yesterday’s 96-84 overtime victory over North Carolina, an honor that complements his Big East player of the year award and conference tournament MVP honor.

Green was stunned by his latest honor when informed outside the Hoyas’ locker room, presuming it would go to dynamic freshman guard DaJuan Summers. Instead, Green added another piece of hardware — for whatever place he opts to stash it.

“I don’t keep my trophies,” Green said. “I give them to my grandmother, my mom or I leave them in the office of coach [John Thompson III],” Green said. “I’m not about the awards. I want to be holding up that nice trophy that they hand out after the national championship.”

He could earn that chance next weekend at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, where the Hoyas will meet Ohio State in Saturday’s first national semifinal. UCLA and defending champion Florida will meet in the second game.

Green shot 10-for-17 from the floor and added nine rebounds as the Hoyas (30-6) advanced to their first Final Four since 1985.

“It feels great just to bring Georgetown back,” Green said. “Me, Jon [Wallace], Tyler [Crawford] and Roy Hibbert, when we came into this, our coach’s dad told us we were going to have to take control of this. We took that as a challenge, and I think we handled it well. We’ve been thrown into the fire in our freshman year, and as the years progressed, we just got better and better. I think it’s just showing how much better we’re getting.”

The foundation for Green’s latest award was laid Friday night when he capped a 15-point night with an 8-foot bank shot with 2.5 seconds left to clinch a 66-65 victory over Vanderbilt.

Ultimately, it enabled Green to produce an even better outing against the Tar Heels (31-7) and secure his place in program lore.

Nearly every time the Hoyas needed a critical basket, Green was there to deliver. He hit a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the first half as North Carolina was poised to put Georgetown away, instead closing the margin back to a more manageable 40-33. And it was his layup with 5:06 that brought the Hoyas within 75-70.

Green scored only once in overtime, but even that was significant. As North Carolina was mired in an 0-for-14 drought, Green banked one in to give the Hoyas an 87-81 lead to solidify the victory.

It was the latest in a string of sublime performances from the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder, whose improvement over the last three years has mirrored Georgetown’s rise from decade-long mediocrity to a place on the sport’s biggest stage.

He scored 24 points in a victory last month over a ranked Marquette team in the midst of the Hoyas’ 11-game winning streak. His 30 points in a Big East semifinal shootout against Notre Dame further solidified his status as one of the country’s best players.

“Jeff got tremendously better over the year,” guard Jessie Sapp said. “He’s played well for us all year.

“We appreciate him a lot. Every game he comes in, and sometimes everybody wonders, ‘What is he going to do?’ He does everything. That’s why we love him so much and appreciate him so much.”

Those feelings should extend to a much larger group after this weekend. Though Green has solid averages in scoring (14.4), rebounding (6.2) and assists (3.2), those numbers do not do justice to a multifaceted player who is thriving in the Hoyas’ precise offensive system.

“People criticized me about my style of play, being so calm and not showing emotion, but look where my team is right now,” Green said. “I just want to laugh at what they say right now. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and do things to help my team win.”

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