On this night, it was senior guard Chris Wright.
Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III likes to say that any player in his locker room can be the star in any given game, and in the Hoyas’ 62-59 win over Louisville on Monday, it couldn’t have been more true.
Scoreless at Villanova on Saturday as he willingly deferred to senior guard Austin Freeman, Wright played a smart game on both ends of the floor and finished with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting against the Cardinals, including 8-for-8 from the charity stripe, and had just two turnovers in a game that saw 32 of them.
“I’ve said this all year and it’s true,” Thompson said. “It’s not coach speak, it’s not just me standing here. We have an unselfish group. On different nights, we’re going to have different mismatches. Our team collectively does an outstanding job of getting the ball to the open man when he needs it. Chris had opportunities today and he made his foul shots.”
A characteristic of the Hoyas’ 1-4 start to Big East play was Wright’s tendency to revert to old habits: forcing long three-pointers, making wild drives into the lane and turning the ball over. But in turn, a key component to Georgetown’s climb to 6-4 in the conference has been Wright’s cool decision-making and his recognition that he needs to be a true point guard for his team to succeed consistently.
“My role is to see how the game is going,” Wright said. “In the [Villanova] game, Austin was hitting shots all over the place early and often. Why force something? I have to be a play-maker and whatever that implies is what I have to do.”
The senior captain took only three shots on Saturday in Philadelphia, finding other ways to contribute to a vital road win in a hostile environment. Instead of letting his lack of scoring impact other aspects of his game — as he has done in the past — Wright embraced his responsibility to guard senior guard Corey Fisher, help out on the glass and find Freeman and other open teammates.
“The opportunities were there for him,” Thompson said of his point guard’s performance against Louisville. “I said it following the Villanova game — he played very well without scoring a point. Tonight he played very well by scoring points.”
At one point in a defense-dominated, choppy first half, Wright and Freeman had accounted for all nine of the Hoyas’ points. The Villanova script was temporarily flipped, as it was Freeman assisting Wright on two layups during that stretch.
“Today I was open and I got a few transition buckets early,” Wright said. “I just felt like if I kept attacking good things would happen, whether I was scoring or kicking it out.”
An indicator of the kind of game Wright played is his 0-for-3 stat line from three-point range. When Wright is struggling offensively, it often includes him settling for long jumpshots, but when he is on, he attacks the rim, under control, and either gets to the free-throw line or finds open teammates. Case in point: With 2:56 to play in the game and the Hoyas trailing, 55-53, Wright got into the lane, drew contact and somehow made a game-tying right-handed scoop shot as he fell to the hardwood.
“I work on that, that’s something in my repertoire,” Wright joked. “No, it just went in. I thought the ref was going to call a foul, but I’m just glad it went in.”
If the Hoyas fall out of their offensive rhythm, it is easy to blame the point guard, and at times, Wright deserves that blame. But on nights like Monday night — when Jason Clark has two points, when the Blue and Gray get outrebounded by a much smaller team — he reminds you that the Hoyas do in fact have more than one player that can will them to victory.