Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Little Three Emerges as Vital Force

Following junior guard Austin Freeman’s 33-point explosion against Connecticut, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said that if it wasn’t Freeman, it would have been someone else. The sixth-year head coach began spouting off numbers like four (Chris Wright) and 10 (Greg Monroe). Then, after a moment’s pause, he threw one more number out there: 21.

On a night when Monroe, hampered by foul trouble, managed a season-low eight points on four field goal attempts, Georgetown desperately needed someone to step up and carry the scoring load. That’s where Clark came in, lifting the Hoyas, along with Wright and Freeman, to 4-1 in conference play with an 85-73 victory over Seton Hall’s Pirates.

If Freeman, Monroe and Wright are the “Big Three,” then tonight we got a glimpse of another dynamic for Georgetown, the Little Three – capital L, of course.

None standing taller than 6-foot-3, the Little Three did it on both ends of the floor, outshining Seton Hall scoring machine Jeremy Hazell with laser-guided shooting and tenacious defense.

“Their guards shot the ball,” Seton Hall Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “We knew Austin Freeman was capable and Chris Wright’s a good player, but Jason Clark really surprised us because he had an incredible night.”

In fact, while Gonzalez noted that guard play is his team’s strength, the advantage was clearly Georgetown’s on this night. The trio combined for 57 points on 20-of-28 shooting from the floor.

Freeman picked up where he left off on Saturday, dropping 11 points in the first 20 minutes. He did a little bit of everything, nailing a trey two minutes into play and driving for a tough layup moments later. In the second half he did it with his passing, dishing out three assists, all to the other two members of the trio.

“Jason, Chris, Greg – they’re good players,” Freeman said. “I trust them. I know they can make the right plays. Tonight, Chris and Jason were making the plays. They were open, and they took the shots.”

Wright, having elevated his play considerably since the beginning of conference play, was a versatile force for the Hoyas. The junior captain went 9-for-14 from the floor for a game-high 21 points, dished out six assists, had three steals and did not turn the ball over. He was also charged, along with Clark, with the task of stopping Hazell.

Never afraid to pick up the tempo, Wright, on the defensive end, got things going in transition, where the Hoyas had 22 fast-break points.

“I said . to them at some point during one of the timeouts that I thought we were very solid,” Thompson said. “We were getting the steals because we were supporting our teammates. It was not because we were out there taking risks.”

Then there was Clark.

Given the job of guarding Hazell for much of the first half, the quick, rangy guard got the Pirates’ star out of sync and virtually took him out of the game in the first half.

“I knew [guarding Hazell] was a big challenge coming into the game,” Clark said. “He can shoot from anywhere, he can score from anywhere. We knew in order for us to win, me and my teammates had to play good D on him.”

While Clark prides himself on making the little plays on defense and going after loose balls, he has struggled on offense since the start of Big East play, averaging just 6.8 points per game in the four contests preceding Thursday’s, including a shutout against Connecticut. A quick jumper in the paint four minutes into the game shook him out of his funk, however, and he never looked back. He finished the day with 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 4-of-4 from three-point range. Quite a few times, it was Freeman and Wright on the drive kicking out to an open Clark beyond the arc.

“I think the guys are doing a very good job of sharing the game and helping each other and reading the game,” Thompson said. “We’re maturing, we’re getting to a higher level of understanding where the reads are becoming more natural, and we’re having some success.”

That is what makes this team different from last season, so far. They can survive a sub-par day by their best player without missing a beat. With a road date with guard-heavy No. 4 Villanova looming on Sunday, Georgetown can take solace in the fact that its guard trio is no slouch.

Sometimes you can’t overpower teams and have to resort to small ball. In that case, Georgetown is lucky to have the Little Three.”

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