Junior becomes leader for young Hoyas
To get the most accurate temperature reading at Georgetown, it's best to seek out Nate Lubick.
Hoyas coach John Thompson III is typically guarded. Superstar sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. is dutiful but soft-spoken, and junior point guard Markel Starks is unfailingly positive.
But Lubick -- in words and in actions -- is the gauge of exactly how the Hoyas (15-4, 5-3 Big East) are doing. And right now the junior forward is as confident as he has been all season. He had his best game of the year in Wednesday's 74-52 thrashing of Seton Hall, which extended Georgetown's current winning streak to three and gave the team its fifth win in six games.
|St. John's at Georgetown|
|When » Saturday, 4 p.m.|
|Where » Verizon Center|
|TV » CBS|
"Earlier in the season we got some big leads that we blew because we stopped defending," Lubick said. "If we remain consistent with our defense, our offense will be totally fine. For this team, our offense comes from our defense, and our defense has to last for 40 minutes."
It's a straightforward summation of the Hoyas, who are too frequently described only in the context of their unique offense. Without any seniors on the team, Lubick has the most experience on the roster, having started every game since midway through his freshman season. Whether it's Georgetown splitting from the Big East or a quick peek at the rankings, the coach's son from Southborough, Mass., gets it.
"He understands what we're trying to do," Thompson said. "He understands where he should be and where the other four guys on the court should be, and he understands what we're trying to accomplish. That's a responsibility he has. He has some guys in that locker room where he has to make sure they're where they should be."
Lubick took a large step forward to get this point. While he never left the starting lineup as a sophomore, he often found himself on the bench at the end of games. But similar to Henry Sims last year, Lubick is reaping the dividends from redoubled offseason work. While the players around him assumed new roles and responsibilities, Lubick returned in better physical shape and more self-assured. As a result, he's leading the Big East in field goal percentage (.633) while averaging career highs in points (7.4 per game), rebounds (5.1) and assists (2.7).
Just as the pain of last year's 18-point loss to the Pirates in Newark lingered with Thompson, it manifested in Lubick's hustle on Wednesday. In the opening minutes, he made deft, trademark Georgetown-style passes to Jabril Trawick, Porter and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera for easy inside baskets, part of five assists, two shy of his career high.
He also bolted out of the lane to reject Brandon Mobley's 3-point attempt, stepped in to take a charge and corralled Starks' bullet pass for a fast-break layup. He was still fired up as he took a seat with the Hoyas ahead 20-4, and they never looked back.
Georgetown is riding the same kind of momentum after two early Big East defeats and the suspension of Greg Whittington.
"He's playing terrific -- making reads, rebounding, making great passes," Porter said. "He's doing everything right now."