No more under the radar talk for Porter, Georgetown

No more under the radar talk for Porter, Georgetown
February 27, 2013, 10:15 am
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Speaking to a reporter earlier this month, but addressing the media collective, Georgetown coach John Thompson III said Otto Porter Jr. flew under the national radar, "because you don’t talk about him enough." Nobody can accuse the chattering class of such an oversight now, about the Hoyas leading man or the team itself.

Not after Porter's stunning 33-point, weekend performance on arch rival Syracuse's home turf put the Big East Player of the Year frontrunner loudly in the mix for similar national honors.

Not after said victory, Georgetown's ninth straight and 11th in 12 games put the Hoyas atop the Big East standings by week's end. Not after it helped Thompson's crew garner a season-high No. 7 ranking in the latest AP Top-25 poll.

Now the attention, coverage surrounding his team is on the rise, the coach must ensure his soaring club stays grounded. With Georgetown taking to the road again for Wednesday's 7 p.m. clash at Connecticut, time for bathing in the limelight was limited.

"Until the plane landed and then we started focusing on Connecticut," Thompson said following Tuesday's practice at McDonough Arena. "Now, it's much easier for me to do it. You hope - we talked about it with them. They're still kids; they're still young men who spent the last couple of days with everyone telling them how great they are."

The victory inside the Carrier Dome closed that chapter between the Big East charter members; Syracuse visits Georgetown as a conference foe for the final time on March 9. The ranking rise put the Hoyas, unranked during the preseason, back inside the Top-10 for a seventh straight season. Only Duke, North Carolina and Kansas can claim the same.

Usually dismissive of such rankings talk, Thompson admitted taking pride in the consistent achievement, but, "at the same time, I think we have bigger fish to fry. I don't want this season to be defined by Syracuse game at the dome; I don't want it to also be defined by it being the seventh year in the top 10. We have bigger aspirations."

His team understands the way to achieve big picture goals is by sticking with the one-game-at-a-time-approach.

"Our goal is to beat UConn tomorrow," junior forward Nate Lubick said. "Ultimately we want to win the Big East regular season title. We want to win the Big East championship, but that all starts by winning tomorrow."

The winning starts on the defensive end. Georgetown has held 10 of its last 11 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field.

"Our defense has been unbelievable," Lubick said. "We've allowed our defense to lead to our scoring. We're getting out a lot more on the break and I think that's helped us really create a flow on offense."

So has feeding Porter the ball even if the soft-spoken forward isn't the demanding type. In the 57-46 win at Syracuse, Porter made 12 of 19 shots including 5 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc. His teammates finished a combined 7 of 33.

"Some people when they get hot like that are like 'get me the ball, get me the ball.' He doesn't really do it like that," Lubick said of his fellow starting forward. "He just stays in the game, keeps being positive to all of his teammates...We're going to play through him when he's scoring the ball like that."

On the season, Porter averages 15.9 points, 7.7 rebounds while also leading Georgetown in steals (2.0) and 3-point shooting percentage (45.3).

In the 11 games since the Hoyas started 0-2 start in conference play and lost second-leading scorer Greg Whittington due to academic ineligibility, Porter has averaged 18.9 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting 48.9 percent on 3-pointers. For those new to the Otto Porter story, as a freshman he shot 22.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Not a ball hog on the court, Porter is media shy off it. Asked how he handles the flood of publicity now coming his way, the humble Porter said, "I just look at it as a continuing to work hard type of mentality. That's what I'm going to do."

"Otto Porter is every day, he's steady," Thompson said. "He honestly doesn't care - he wants to win. I can say that as much as any player I've had...As far as staying grounded and not getting caught up in himself, he's not built like that."

Based on how the team has concentrated on the next opponent and not the big picture, one could make the same claim about the Hoyas.