Whittington provides second chances in first year with Hoyas

Whittington provides second chances in first year with Hoyas
January 20, 2012, 9:49 pm
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updated 11:03 p.m.By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comMuch has been made of the lengthy look of this years Georgetown Hoyas. The recent road wins over St. Johns and DePaul demonstrated the long-armed ways this edition cleans the backboard glass and causes perimeter defensive havoc not lately seen on the Hilltop.Credit the athletic freshman class for this evolving dynamic.Without question Otto Porter, the No. 10 ranked Hoyas leading rebounder, has emerged as the starring force of the five-man freshman class. Lately the stat-stuffing forward has been getting a run for his money on the offensive boards from his fellow 6-foot-8 freshman Greg Whittington. Together they provide versatility and aggressive punch in ways that help the Hoyas claim victory not witnessed inrecent years.Looking to snap a two-game losing skid last Sunday against the Red Storm, the Hoyas field goal percentage chilled in the 30s much of the game.The Hoyas (15-3, 5-2 Big East) offset the misses by snaringseason-high 19 offensive rebounds, which led to 21 second-chance points and the much needed win. Defensively they held the Red Storm without a 3-point field goal, 10 misfires from beyond the arc.Two days later the Hoyas blew into the Windy City to face DePaul andcompensated fora season-high 18 turnovers with a massive 47-25 rebounding advantage, including 17 offensive boards. The 36 offensive rebounds in the consecutive road wins is the most prolific two-game stretch for the Hoyas in at least three seasons.Whittington grabbed 12 rebounds in the two wins, nine off the offensive glass. His team-high six offensive rebounds against the Red Storm led to a career-best eight points with six coming on putbacks. Statistics can often be misleading or not reflect determined effort, but rebounding results of this kind tell a legitimate tale, about Whittington and the teams mentality.They understand that when were going through stretches when were not making our shots, making perimeter shots, that we have a group of guys that can go get it and put it back in, said Georgetown coach John Thompson III. Greg understands that he can help in a lot of different ways as does the group."The Columbia, Md. native was even more succinct about purposeful offensive rebounding."It means you're getting second shots," said Whittington. "That's how you get wins."Porter grabbed 15 rebounds against the Blue Demons and 25 total in the back-to-back wins while averaging 8.5 points and two steals. "Otto, he's just everywhere," Whittington said, noting a difference between the fellow go-getters on the glass. "That's all that is. Other than that, me and Otto are the same player. We do the same things. We just to do things to the best of our ability."Noting their comparable effectiveness, Hoyas coach John Thompson III employs both forwards atop the Hoyas 1-2-2 pressure defense."My length messes everybody up," said Whittingtonas the Hoyas prepared for Saturday's noon tipat the Verizon Center against a resourceful Rutgers (11-8, 3-3) squad.The ScarlettKnights have wonthree of four andare to their best start since the 2003-04 season, but have dropped nine straight on the Hoyas home court.Whittingtons ability was discovered late in the high school recruiting process, not until the Oakland Mills High School star All-Met Player of the Year talents became loudly recognized.
Now, some with significant knowledge of Hoyas history suggest the forwards ability could have him surface as the programs premier performer when it comes to keeping opposing scorers silent. Speaking on his local sports radio show, former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. made such a claim, indicating the 6-foot-8 freshman and All-Met Player of the Years skill set could set him apart from even the most hallowed defenders to play for the Hoyas. Thompson III agrees."I think he has a chance to be, I really do. Now that's saying a lot. Obviously, Mike Riley, Gene Smith pop into my head immediately, and Greg is very different than both of them when you start talking about defenders. ... A lot of things about basketball he's just learning and being exposed to. But with time, he has the skill set and understanding and the caring to accomplish that."Whittingtons offense has been slower to develop, knocking down just 24 percent of his 3-point attempts. Thompson chalks up the current misses to freshman jitters and projects many makes in the future."I'm very comfortable when he takes a shot. He's going to be a big-time scorer before he leaves here," Thompson said.It speaks volumes about Whittingtons basketball character that despite his wayward touch, he continues to rise up in other areas. It says plenty about the Hoyas chances going forward that when it comes to that attentive mindset, Whittingtons not alone.