Thursday, January 1, 2009

Monroe, Wright Torch Huskies

Greg Monroe, Georgetown’s highly-touted 6-foot-11 freshman, delivered a message to the Big East basketball landscape in Monday’s 74-63 victory over UConn: He is for real. Monroe scored 16 points and put his full offensive arsenal on display, as the Hoyas’ well-balanced offense and swarming defense threw no.2- ranked and previously unbeaten Connecticut into a frustrating funk.

Monroe gave an accurate account of himself, dishing out four assists and collecting four steals. His also added a pair of three—his first two of the season.

DeJuan Summers, who’s emerged as the go-to-guy so far, scored a game-high 18 points. Chris Wright went to the basket early, often, and with efficiency, scoring 16 points. Austin Freeman chipped in with 13, and the Hoyas shot a splintering 18-for-21 from the charity stripe.

After misfiring on their lone two free throw attempts in the first half, the Hoyas didn’t fold. Under the pressure of a jam-packed and rowdy 16,294 at the XL Center in Hartford, they were cooler than Snoop Dogg. They shot 18-for-19 in the second half, en route to snapping a 12-year drought on Connecticut hardwood.

The Hoyas, who now own a 32-27 all-time record against the Huskies, won at Connecticut for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign.

“We came out ready to play, and just as important, UConn’s a team that, as I told our guys-- they make runs. When they made a run, we were able to stay composed and get back together and regroup,” said John Thompson III.

Thompson’s team catapulted to 10-1, but the Hoya game general reminded everyone that this is just the beginning.

Any Big East guru will tell you that a journey of over 10,000 miles starts with one single breath.

Don’t count on Thompson or any Hoya player being content with their first resume win of the season.

“We have to, as if we had lost, go back and see if we can get better, see if we can learn from it. The commissioner isn’t handing out any trophies after tonight. We have a long and difficult road ahead of us. It doesn’t get any easier from here. We can’t sit and dwell on this and enjoy this too much, because we have Pitt coming up (Jan.3).”

The highly-anticipated matchup between Monroe and UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, a 7-foot-3 behemoth and blocksmith, had a heavy billing. Google UConn Georgetown tickets, view how many results show up, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Hype surrounding the eyeball-to-eyeball battle between the two super-sized bags had been hanging around Hartford all afternoon and was supposed to be an intriguing subplot. It wasn’t.

The freshman from New Orleans out-dueled the junior NBA prospect, who racked up seven blocks but scored a meager four points on offense. The Hoyas kept Thabeet at bay, limiting him to just four shot attempts.