Fresh­man Porter picks up the slack for Hoyas

He scores 20 in win over Pitts­burgh

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY NATHAN FENNO

NEW YORK | Quiet filled the locker room.

Past ice packs and half-full bot­tles of fruit punch Ga­torade and sleeves of bright orange crack­ers, Otto Porter re­clined Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. Near pol­ished wood cov­ered with New York Knicks lo­gos, the Ge­orge­town fresh­man spoke in a voice that could drown out a whis­per.

Min­utes ear­lier, Porter sent Madi­son Square Gar­den into an “Otto-matic” chant­ing frenzy and No. 13 Ge­orge­town into the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Big East tour­na­ment af­ter beat­ing Pitts­burgh, 64-52.

“I was a lit­tle ner­vous,” Porter said. “But once the ball went up, that all went out of my sys­tem.”

Ge­orge­town, seeded fifth, faces fourth-seeded Cincin­nati at 2 p.m. Thurs­day in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Not picked for the con­fer­ence’s all-rookie team ear­lier in the week, the unas­sum­ing for­ward from Sike­ston, Mo., re­sponded on the court. The smooth, in­stinc­tive play that be­lies Porter’s youth thrust him into Ge­orge­town’s start­ing lineup four games ago. And Wed­nes­day against the Pitts­burgh team that dealt Ge­orge­town an ugly de­feat in Jan­uary, Porter couldn’t be stopped.

That didn’t sur­prise the fresh­man. He ex­pected Pitts­burgh’s de­fense to sell out to stop Ge­orge­town’s lead­ing scor­ers, se­nior Ja­son Clark and ju­nior Hol­lis GE­ORGE­TOWN VS. CINCIN­NATI To­day: TV: Ra­dio:

Thompson. That duo man­aged one field goal in 62 com­bined min­utes. So, Porter be­lieved the of­fen­sive bur­den be­longed on his lanky 6-foot-8 frame.

“They were go­ing to find me open the whole time,” said Porter, who fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 20 points and six re­bounds while leav­ing the game for a lone minute.

Porter may have been the only one who re­al­ized how open he would be. As Ge­orge­town clung to a slen­der lead in the sec­ond half, Porter sank an open 3pointer off an in­bounds pass. That ig­nited a stretch in which he scored 14 of Ge­orge­town’s 16 points and pushed the ad­van­tage into dou­ble dig­its.

Porter dis­cov­ered a soft spot in the mid­dle of Pitts­burgh’s zone de­fense. And he re­al­ized he was in an­other kind of zone, one where even an off-bal­ance put-back of his own miss rolled in the bas­ket. That left Porter nod­ding his head, no loud words needed.

All week in prac­tice, coach John Thompson III preached com­mu­ni­ca­tion, hav­ing each other’s back. So big man Henry Sims passed like a point guard, set up mul­ti­ple Porter bas­kets among his five as­sists, and added 20 points and 13 re­bounds of his own. That made cer­tain the of­fen­sive ab­sence of Clark and Thompson, who av­er­age a com­bined 27.3 points per game, didn’t mat­ter.

The quiet locker room be­lieved Porter be­longed on the all-rookie team. Per­haps, Clark of­fered, Porter’s nine points per game hand­i­capped him. But Porter is a glue guy, some­one who stuffs a sta­tis­tics sheet in­stead of de­mand­ing 15 or 20 shots per game. Ge­orge­town’s sixth man much of the sea­son, Porter showed he is much more.

“Un­be­liev­able,” sopho­more Markel Starks said of the per­for­mance.

In the locker room nor­mally used by the Knicks and New York Rangers, Clark looked around. Travel bags spilled jer­seys, high-tops scat­tered on the car­pet, play­ers tapped on cell­phones. No one cel­e­brated. It felt busi­nesslike.

Clark re­mem­bers last year’s post­sea­son fade, when Ge­orge­town lost to Con­necti­cut in the Big East tour­na­ment and VCU in the NCAA tour­na­ment. The fade was sud­den and ugly.

And Clark said Porter’s 20 points showed one rea­son this team is dif­fer­ent.

“Ev­ery guy in this room can score the bas­ket­ball when we need him to,” Clark said. “Any given night when my shots, Hol­lis’ shots, Henry’s shots might not fall, there’s al­ways go­ing to be some­body else who’s go­ing to step up.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ge­orge­town’s Otto Porter shows his sat­is­fac­tion af­ter scor­ing dur­ing the Hoyas’ 64-52 win over Pitts­burgh in the Big East tour­na­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.