12 Şubat 2008

Hibbert savors his final Georgetown games

There are times, when Roy Hibbert is in class at Georgetown, that he allows himself to briefly daydream about what the future holds. Walking across the stage to shake David Stern's hand. Starting a new life in the NBA, a life that will pay him millions.

And then he remembers why he stayed a Hoya for his senior season: getting to be a senior.

"I just try to focus on [thinking] I have three or four more home games at Georgetown," Hibbert said. "I just try to make the best of it right now. The memories are something I'll have the rest of my life."

Hibbert's leadership has been a big part of why the Hoyas have national championship aspirations this season. But Big East-leading Georgetown is coming off its third loss of the season Saturday, at Louisville, as it hosts Villanova tonight at the Verizon Center.

The 19-3 Hoyas are unbeaten (12-0) at home this season, with their other losses at top-ranked Memphis and 25th-ranked Pittsburgh.

Hibbert, the preseason Big East player of the year, has continued his rapid development, though his offensive numbers are by no means dominant (13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds per game). He and his teammates make their bones at the defensive end, where Georgetown is among the best defensive teams in the country. Before losing Saturday, John Thompson III's team led NCAA Division I in field-goal percentage allowed (35.5) and was fifth in points allowed (56.7 per game).

"I just do what Coach needs me to do, and rebounding is one thing I have to do," Hibbert said. "It's not [forward Jonathan Wallace's] responsibility; it's my responsibility. It's not DaJuan [Summers'] responsibility to get it done. I do the things that need to be done that nobody really knows about."

Last year's Final Four team was led by junior forward Jeff Green, who went to the NBA and the Seattle SuperSonics. With Green gone, Hibbert, forward Patrick Ewing Jr., and Wallace have led the way, and the Hoyas have been a more balanced team.

"His growth and his understanding have been tremendous," Thompson said. "If someone were to pick up a stat sheet and look at that, you may not see that. But his game has really grown. And then you get what you get from seniors. You get to this point of the year, and there is definitely an understanding, a sense of urgency. Roy's going to have a lot of years to play basketball in his life, but his time here is coming to an end. Seniors understand that."

That Hibbert has an NBA future still amuses many of his Georgetown teammates. To say he was not expected to continue the Georgetown big-man tradition of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo - or even, for that matter, lesser Hoyas frontcourt lights like longtime pros Don Reid or Othella Harrington - is among the grander of understatements.

Mourning chuckles when he recalls Hibbert's early steps on the McDonough Arena court where the Hoyas now practice. John Thompson Jr. - "Big John," the longtime Hoyas coach and father of the current coach - has often said that Hibbert was the least-coordinated big man he'd ever seen as a freshman.

"I was one person who can say I didn't think Roy was going to become as gifted as he's become," said Ewing Jr., who should know, being the son of the Hoyas and Knicks legend.

In his last two seasons, Hibbert has worked to become better at everything - including hitting an improbable three-pointer in the final seconds that beat Connecticut in January.

"It was a shocker," Ewing Jr. said. "I'm glad he took it when the score was tied, rather than when [Georgetown] was down."

But it's no longer surprising to see Hibbert doing surprising things on the court. And as the calendar gets close to the end of his amateur career, Hibbert gets more determined to try to stop time, for just a little while.

"Obviously, the top of the mountain is winning the tournament," Hibbert said. "I think we're on the side of the mountain right now, looking up, trying to make our way up. Coach tries to stress we want to keep improving. We don't want to take any steps backward. We don't want to go back down that mountain."

kaynak : NBA