- - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One of the beliefs about basketball, or any sport, is that a team needs one player to whom everyone can turn when things get tough, or the one guy who won’t hesitate to speak his mind, either in motivation or anger, to fire up his teammates. 

In most cases, this player has been through the trials and tribulations, his experiences giving credence to his words.

In Georgetown’s case, however, leadership has little to do with seniority.

With no seniors on the roster and just two juniors, the No. 15 Hoyas (9-1) would seem to be lacking the pivotal guidance that last year’s team had in the form of guard Jason Clark, a savvy veteran who could take over games if need be and give his teammates a lift at the right moment.

But Georgetown coach John Thompson III doesn’t feel that anything is missing — yet — with his youthful lineup.

“I don’t think there’s a void,” Thompson said. “So far, this year has played out as I had expected in that the group is assuming that role.”

If the balanced Hoyas have a go-to player in the bunch, it would be sophomore Otto Porter, who has the potential to carry the team on his back. But Porter isn’t exactly the get-in-your-face type of player, projecting a quiet reserve on and off the court. Yet Porter says he has no trouble stepping into a leadership role.

“Obviously, we don’t have any seniors, but we have to fill in that void — me, Nate [Lubick] and Markel [Starks] — to try and get this team going,” he said. “Everybody is still learning. They come to me and ask questions about this, and this, and this. But I’m still learning, too.”

Starks and Lubick are the team’s most experienced players, but they had complementary roles during their first two seasons, making their junior campaigns the first real opportunity to slide into a position of power.

But Starks said that his tenure doesn’t trump anyone else’s opinion on the roster, and that, when the Hoyas have hit rough patches, different players have spoken up.

“The leadership thing, that will come,” he said. “We as a unit, we have many leaders in the facets of how we play the game. I think, collectively, we came together and said, ‘Let’s tighten up,’ and that’s what we’ve done. As the season progresses, we’ll continue to do that.”

With one game remaining — Saturday’s tilt against city rival American — before the Big East opener at Marquette, Thompson isn’t actively searching for someone to suddenly take charge.

“Sometimes it is, ‘This person is clearly the one that everyone looks to,’ but I think with our group different people, different days have stepped in,” he said.

“I think they are a sincere group in that a lot of times you don’t want to hear what you’re doing wrong from your peer. This group has been open to being coached and open to being helped by their teammates.”

Porter said that spirit of camaraderie with his teammates is one of the benefits of playing on a youth-oriented squad.

“We’re just helping each other out with everything — offense, defense — just trying to communicate better,” he said.

In the end, Thompson is fine with leadership by committee.

“Is there one particular person where you say, he’s really stuck his neck out? No, I don’t think so,” he said. “But on any given night, you see Nate fill that role, Markel fill that role, Otto fill that role, Jabril [Trawick] fill that role, and I can keep going. I think we’ve been pretty good in that regard.”

Note: Thompson was named Monday to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division I Congress. Founded in 1972 by legendary Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen, the NABC works to further the best interests of the game of basketball as well as the players and coaches who participate in the sport. This is the first time in his collegiate coaching career that Thompson has served on the NABC board.

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