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

Defensive-Minded Clark Aims for Expanded Role

Much of the preseason buzz surrounding the Hoyas has focused on the Big Three – sophomore center Greg Monroe and junior guards Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. These top three returning scorers are expected to bring Georgetown back to the upper tier of the Big East.

Whether or not the Hoyas can significantly improve on last year’s 16-15 record, however, depends almost as much on the emerging roles filled by the other two players on the floor.

One of the players in the mix for the third starting guard spot is Jason Clark, a lanky sophomore who logged more minutes than any other reserve last year. Coming off the bench to provide energy and a defensive spark, the local product showed signs of becoming an offensive threat with 5.2 points per game.

Clark said he will look to score more this season, but that his priorities will remain similar to last year’s.

“Last year I was kind of an energy guy and I still want to be that for my team,” Clark said. “I want to add a little bit of scoring in, but I don’t want to look for that first. I just want to be that energy guy, that defense guy.”

For one week in mid-January, Clark had an offensive explosion for a backup guard. He scored 10 points, including a three-pointer that put the Hoyas ahead for good in the second half of an 82-75 win over Providence. Four days later, Clark shot 5-of-6 from the field against the Syracuse zone for a career-high 12 points. The guard netted nine points in the Hoyas’ next game at Duke.

From there, Clark’s output returned to its normal level as his minutes became less consistent.

Clark’s main weakness in his rookie campaign was his ball handling. The guard often appeared flustered when faced with full-court pressure, and he finished the year with an awful ratio of 25 assists to 46 turnovers.

In the offseason, Clark hit the weight room to fill out his frame, something that should make him stronger and more fluid with the ball.

“I was [at Georgetown] all of the summer. I was focusing on getting a lot stronger and trying to gain a little bit more weight,” Clark said. “Other than that I was in the gym working hard, shooting [and] dribbling.”

His teammates took notice of the work.

“Jason had a great summer, he worked really hard,” Wright said. “He was in the gym all summer. He really put the time in and I think he’s going to benefit from that during the season.”

Head Coach John Thompson III put an emphasis on shooting in the offseason, and he singled out Clark, along with his other two starting guards, as someone who put in a lot of work on his shot. Clark connected on nearly 50 percent of his field goal attempts his freshman year, but he has room for improvement from beyond the arc, where he hit 34 percent of his shots.

In addition to backing up Wright and Freeman at the one- and two-guard positions, Clark will vie for minutes at the three-guard either as the starter or a backup. He will split time with Hollis Thompson, the smooth-shooting freshman who enrolled in the spring, and redshirt sophomore Nikita

escheriakov, who started nine games last season. Clark stands five inches shorter than both Hollis Thompson and Mescheriakov, but his wingspan and nose for the ball offset any potential defensive or rebounding disadvantages. In fact, the tenacious Clark seems to be the likely pick among the three to become a defensive stopper in tight situations.

Whether his role is as a starter or off the bench, Clark is looking forward to getting on the court.

“It’s going to be really fun because all of us [in the backcourt] are different players so we all have different things to contribute to the offense,” he said. “So working with them, we’ve been getting a better feel for each other and knowing what each other is like on the court.”

When the Hoyas open their season at Tulane a week from today, the main storylines will be written about Georgetown’s three former McDonald’s all-Americans, but it will be up to Clark and the role players to make sure the Hoyas return to prominence.”

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