Sophomore's defensive game is much more refined

The rules are a little different for Greg Whittington. By any stretch, the sophomore forward did not have his best game for Georgetown in last week's 64-41 win over Texas.

He committed a career-high seven turnovers. He missed seven of nine shots from the field. But with the crucial role he plays for the Hoyas defensively and on the boards -- he finished with six rebounds and three blocks -- coach John Thompson III wasn't about to yank him off the floor.

"Offensively [he] had a rough day, was bumbling around out there, and I left him out there on purpose just so he can continue to talk himself through it, literally, which he does a lot," Thompson said.

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Longwood at No. 15 Georgetown
When » Monday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center

Thompson is willing to suffer through the growing pains. Given that his team has scored fewer than 50 points in two of the past three games, he has no choice. But while Whittington has shown tantalizing glimpses of a devastating arsenal of offensive weapons, he hasn't done any of them well enough to become the scoring force the Hoyas need him to be.

"We're not necessarily trying to focus on Greg Whittington shooting the ball or Greg Whittington driving to the basket or Greg Whittington on post ups," Thompson said. "He's got to do it all for his sake and for ours."

At 6-foot-8, Whittington can run the floor like a point guard -- with or without the ball. But he has struggled at times finishing strong at the rim. He can shoot easily over most defenders on the wing. But he has hit just 27 percent (9-for-33) from the arc. He has the athleticism to score on the interior but doesn't get into the paint nearly enough. He's second on the team in scoring (11.5 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and minutes (36.8 per game).

"I know I've got to let my game come comfortably and just work through it," Whittington said.

Thompson insists it doesn't mean that Whittington needs to trade growth in one skill for consistency in another. But it hasn't been easy to bear the extra responsibility for a player who Thompson said last year had the chance to be one of the best in program history defensively.

"Sometimes I think we want guys to grow up so fast," Hoyas guard Markel Starks said. "It's still early. We haven't even played 10 games yet. The first couple of games, he started off hot, which is expected, and I'm not taking anything away from him, but sometimes we got to let the game come to us."

Against the Longhorns, Whittington turned a missed dunk into a rejection at the other end six seconds later. In Saturday's 46-40 win over Towson, he jumped out to block Mike Burwell's 3-pointer and then finished the ensuing fast break with a wide-open slam with five minutes to play.

"Certain players, little Billy is a shooter, all little Billy can do is shoot, so if little Billy is missing, he doesn't really affect anything," Thompson said. "Greg can be bad in one part of the game but still have an impact in every other part."