- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No. 19 Georgetown emerged from an overwhelmingly optimistic season-opening victory at Tulane with one obvious question: Which version of junior lead guard Chris Wright will predominate as the season progresses?

Will it be the quick-triggered player who accumulated four turnovers and no assists in a sloppy first half at Tulane as the Hoyas took a tenuous 32-27 lead? Or will it be the steady veteran who didn’t commit a single turnover or force a single shot during a second-half run that allowed Georgetown to cruise to a 74-58 victory?

“You might look at the stats and jump to the wrong conclusions,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, defending the 6-foot-1 Bowie native. “I don’t think Chris was any different than the rest of us, and I thought there were some first-half jitters from everyone. It looked like the first half of the season. I was pleased because we rebounded from that slow start and played much better as a group in the second half.”

Perhaps Tuesday’s test against Temple’s far better backcourt will provide a more accurate barometer for Wright’s growth away from a shoot-first scorer and toward an assist-first setup specialist.

Wright’s transition into a facilitator hasn’t been smooth for a variety of reasons. First, he came from a prep program (St. John’s) where he was asked to carry his team, and he responded by averaging 30.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists en route to earning McDonald’s All-American honors as a senior (2006-07). After sitting out the bulk of his freshman season at Georgetown with a left foot injury, Wright then stepped into Jon Wallace’s slot as the point man for a young squad stocked with mostly deferential parts.

Almost by default, Wright often seemed to force the action last season simply because no other player could or would. On a 16-15 team on which intensity often seemed to be an issue, Wright’s effort was never in question during a season in which he averaged 12.5 points and led the team with 3.8 assists. But with fellow junior Austin Freeman emerging from a sophomore shooting slump and second-year center Greg Monroe poised to blossom into a Big East superstar, Wright finally finds himself surrounded by assertive scorers this season.

So the question becomes will Wright adapt, create for others and complement his teammates or compete with them for shots and headlines?

“He’s growing and learning,” Thompson said. “He’s a junior now, and he’s at a different place than he was last year, as we all are. Chris Wright is an extremely competitive player. He wants to win, first and foremost. I have every confidence in his abilities to run our team and put us in positions to be successful.”

If Tulane represented little more than a warmup, Temple’s backcourt duo of senior slasher Ryan Brooks and sophomore point man Juan Fernandez should provide a serious challenge. The Owls (1-0) crushed Delaware 76-56 in Newark, Del., in their opener, rolling to a 40-19 lead at the half. And Temple coach Fran Dunphy is as familiar with Thompson’s tactics as anyone in basketball after routinely scrapping with Thompson’s Princeton teams for the Ivy League title during his long and successful tenure at Penn.

“You watch them on film, and they don’t make mistakes,” Thompson said. “That was Temple’s personality under coach [John] Chaney and Penn’s personality under [Dunphy]. Nothing has changed. They don’t give you anything, and they capitalize on all your mistakes. That makes them very tough to beat.”


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