- - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In his year-plus at Georgetown, Nate Lubick has earned a reputation as a grinder — one of those invaluable players who doesn’t hesitate to do the dirty work in the post.

Banging the boards. Calling out defensive assignments. Tipping wayward passes. Little things that the discerning basketball viewer might see but which largely remain absent from the stat sheet.

However, in the Hoyas’ 81-58 triumph over IUPUI on Monday, the numbers clearly told the tale of Lubick’s efforts, as the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward posted a career-high 14 rebounds and game-high five assists to lead the way in a contest that was more difficult than the final score indicated.

“It was a good night for me,” Lubick said. “I got after it on the boards, so it was a good night for my confidence.”

Lubick came into the season with every right to be confident after playing in all 32 games as a freshman and averaging 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds. But after a solid game in the opener against Savannah State, Lubick did not play particularly well in the Hoyas’ next four games, with the nadir coming in a 0-for-6 shooting, four-rebound effort against Memphis at the Maui Invitational.

“In Maui, I think he got down on himself a little bit,” sophomore guard Markel Starks said. “It was tough.”

But Lubick is an even-keeled kind of guy, and so he won’t admit to feeling pressure to produce once the Hoyas got back to the mainland.

“That’s the best part of basketball at this level — you’ve got a ton of games to play and a ton of practices to get better,” he said. “If you get down on yourself, that’s when everything really goes wrong.”

As the Hoyas prepare to visit No. 12 Alabama on Thursday, Lubick is an integral part of the team’s success - a label usually not afforded to players who average just five points per game.

But Georgetown coach John Thompson III has stated on numerous occasions the importance of numbers beyond scoring, and he realizes he has an asset in Lubick.

“Nate is a helper,” Thompson said. “We need him as a helper, but we need him on the boards like he was the other day. We need his presence defensively. And we need his communication level, because he has a good understanding of what’s going on during the course of the game. Those are things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”

Thompson added that he would like Lubick to become more of an offensive presence as well, shedding some of the selfless nature Lubick has shown with his passing.

“I do think we’re going to need Nate to score points,” Thompson said. “You find yourself as a coach telling him, ‘Nate, try something.’ Some people you tell to try something, and they’re going to chuck it up come hell or high water. With Nate, you can say ‘Nate, be more aggressive,’ and at the end of the day he won’t force anything. He’ll make the right decision.”

That’s heady stuff for just a sophomore, but Lubick said the influence of Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson has been key in shaping his do-anything attitude.

“You have to credit them,” Lubick said. “Whatever guy I have to be that night, it doesn’t matter, as long as we win.”

About the only thing unsettled in Lubick’s game is his nickname. A fan favorite, Lubick has earned several distinct monikers, from “Thundersnow” to “Nate Dogg.” Senior center Henry Sims chimed in during an interview that Lubick should be “The Great White Hope.”

But Lubick remains partial to one given to him by ESPN.com writer Dave Telep during his high school days at St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts.

“Vanilla Gorilla,” Lubick said with a laugh. “It’s been around for a while. I’ll stick with that one.”

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