- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

This is Roy Hibbert’s time to act his 7-foot-2 height and shed the enigma label that has dogged him this season.

Hibbert does not have to score in bunches to be one of the principal elements in the NCAA tournament. But he will have to be more active underneath the rim if Georgetown is to return to the Final Four. He will have to lead the way in rebounds. He will have to contest more shots.

Hibbert sometimes comes down with a bad case of passivity in long stretches of a game. This is partly the result of how college basketball games are officiated.

College referees are obsessed with whistling the touch foul or incidental contact that grants no one an advantage.

Understandably, Hibbert is leery of the officials and programmed not to pick up a second foul early in the game.

But some of the passivity is a reflection on Hibbert. He has endured too many games in which he was either too slow reacting to the ball or lacked the fortitude to go get it.

That is a product of his easygoing nature, which is the antithesis of Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning.

Ewing and Mourning were all rage and intensity on the court. Hibbert plays as if he is trying to be selected the game’s most huggable athlete on the floor.

He could be the next-door neighbor who is always ready to lend a friendly hand and smile. He is the gentle giant who probably cries at the end of chick flicks.

He does not play with a chip on his shoulder. He plays with a peace symbol on it. He probably tells good jokes during the team’s huddles on the court.

Hibbert has demonstrated in four seasons with the Hoyas that he is more skill than brawn. His game is predicated on subtlety and nuance. He has a soft shooting touch and a vision that allows him to set up his teammates with deft passes. He is often unselfish to a fault.

But now, in the waning stage of his college career, Hibbert should feel compelled not to defer to anyone. He should feel compelled to add an exclamation point to his worthy career.

And a deep run in the tournament just might be worth a few dollars to him if the NBA mock drafts projecting him to be a mid-first-round pick are vaguely accurate.

Hibbert has shown he can be an immovable force, as he was in the Big East semifinals against West Virginia. But too often he has shown he can be indifferent to the hard work that is required around the basket.

He has had a number of statistically curious performances this season: one rebound in 20 minutes against American University, three rebounds in 26 minutes against Syracuse. And so on.

He possibly leads the nation in three-rebound games, which is not a distinction any center wants.

The inclination to want more from someone so large is unavoidable. No one ever pities Goliath, even one who has evolved as much as Hibbert.

Hibbert may not be cut in the fierce mold of Ewing and Mourning and he may not have the shot-blocking tenacity of Dikembe Mutombo, but he is the only Georgetown center to have more than 150 career assists. And he is among the school’s career leaders in points, rebounding and blocked shots.

This is a remarkable transformation of the one-time project whose minuses far exceeded his positives at the start of his college career.

Still more is expected from Hibbert, starting today in Raleigh, N.C.

If further motivation is necessary to unleash his inner “monster,” Hibbert ought to know that one of the favorite upset specials of the bracket-obsessed is Davidson defeating Georgetown in the second round, assuming both teams win today.

It is his time. His time to be a “monster.” Or not.

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