Greatness Deferred; Georgetown's Success This Season Simply Will Depend on Monroe's Willingness to Become Assertive on the Floor

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

Greatness Deferred; Georgetown's Success This Season Simply Will Depend on Monroe's Willingness to Become Assertive on the Floor


Byline: Barker Davis, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Georgetown's version of the Monroe Doctrine is even more unequivocal than the original document.

We'll go as far as the big fella takes us, junior point guard Chris Wright said.

The big fella is center Greg Monroe, the 6-foot-11, 247-pound sophomore who returns for his second and perhaps last season on the Hilltop, hoping to improve upon the performance that made him last season's Big East rookie of the year.

Even though I thought I knew what to expect last year, you don't totally understand it until you actually experience the physical and mental pounding of the Big East season, said Monroe, a New Orleans native who hopes to make a victorious homecoming when the Hoyas open their season Friday night at Tulane. This year does feel different. I know what's coming for both me and the team, and I'm ready.

It would be difficult to argue that the versatile big man failed to live up to expectations last season after arriving at Georgetown as one of the nation's top-ranked recruits. Monroe collected the newcomer of the year award in what may have been the most loaded league in college basketball history by averaging 12.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals.

Yet Monroe's individual success was overshadowed by the team's failures: The Hoyas' promising 12-3 start unraveled during a 4-12 finish. Georgetown missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since John Thompson III's debut season of 2004-05.

While Monroe's numbers held steady during the team's second-half devolution, supporting the big man's repeated assertion that he never hit the proverbial freshman wall, conference coaches did notice a change in his game during the team's slide.

As the season went on, teams figured out that he would defer somewhat to the older guys on their roster, a Big East coach said at the league's media day. If you pressured Monroe, he wouldn't force things, but some of his teammates would. I expect that dynamic will change some this season.

And despite his superb freshman campaign, some form of that critique comes from every corner. A survey of 19 NBA mock draft Web sites shows Monroe projected anywhere from the first to the 13th pick in June's draft.

Nobody questions his skills or upside, said one NBA scout, who asked to remain anonymous. His body and talent alone make him a lottery pick, but I think how high he goes depends on how assertive he is as a player this season. Does he have the passion to be a nightly game-changer, or is he simply supremely gifted? …

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