Hoyas hope to heat up in conference games

It's reached the point in the season where John Thompson III is frequently asked if he's pleased with where Georgetown sits in the Big East standings.

While Thompson always refuses to answer, there was good reason to avoid the discussion after starting 0-2 for the first time in his nine-season tenure. But five games later, and especially after consecutive wins over ranked teams, the Hoyas (14-4, 4-3 Big East) have plenty of reasons to like where they are and where they're going.

"We're just playing some good ball," junior guard Markel Starks said. "Let's not get too excited; we just won two straight games. I guess that's exciting for everyone else, but obviously we're looking for more. Hopefully we can obtain it."

Up Next
Seton Hall at Georgetown
When » Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center

While No. 6 Syracuse (18-2, 6-1) and No. 25 Marquette (15-4, 6-1) are tied at the top of the conference, Georgetown is one of six teams right behind them with three losses. The Hoyas, who have won four of their last five games, were inconsistent at times early in the year, but they've never been alone in their struggles.

"You literally have to play well every night or you're going to lose in this league," Thompson said after upsetting then-No. 5 Louisville last weekend.

The 53-51 victory over the Cardinals was the first time in five games that the Hoyas shot under 40.0 percent, their best such stretch since the opening five games of the season. To the untrained eye, the unique Princeton-style offense was a source of frustration for a number of players in new roles. Thompson has been steadfast that there have been constant tweaks and adjustments along the way, but the Hoyas also have simply gotten better at their execution, too.

"At the beginning of the year, people are talking about how we're struggling with our offense," junior forward Nate Lubick said. "[The recent success] really has come from staying with it. Coach is always preaching, 'stay with the offense.' Every time we stay with our offense, we get a good shot."

Lubick's six points and four rebounds against Louisville were described by Thompson as "quality stats," not "quantity stats." He was 3-for-3 from the field, and three of his boards came at the offensive end of the floor.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Hoyas have also improved despite the loss of suspended Greg Whittington's lengthy 6-foot-8 frame and ability to guard multiple positions. They've held opponents under 40.0 percent from the field in six of their seven Big East games, limiting Louisville and Notre Dame to 34.8 and 34.7 percent, respectively, in the last two games. As a result, they've moved up to 10th in the nation in opposition scoring (55.5 points per game) and 24th in opposition shooting (38.1 percent).

They'll also be tested by Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5), who arrives Wednesday with one of the Big East's more efficient offenses, sixth in field goal percentage (.455) and second in 3-point shooting (.376), averaging a league-high 8.2 three-pointers per game.

"I think our guys are doing a better job of helping each other," Thompson said, "particularly at the defensive end."