|Greg Whittington was active at both ends of the floor, constantly making plays against UCLA. (US Presswire)|
NEW YORK – For most of the first half, UCLA was getting whatever it wanted on the offensive end. David and Travis Wear were creating matchup problems, and Kyle Anderson was pushing the ball effectively in transition.
Then John Thompson III went to a 2-3 zone defense -- with 6-foot-8 Greg Whittington alongside Markel Starks at the top. The game changed immediately, with Whittington grabbing two rebounds, blocking a shot and hitting a 3-pointer in the closing minutes of the stanza.
Whittington finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists, helping lead Georgetown to a 78-70 win over No. 13 UCLA.
|More college basketball|
|More college basketball coverage|
He didn't lead the team in scoring (Markel Starks had 23 points) or have the best all-around game on the team (Otto Porter went for 18 points, 11 boards and five assists), but Whittington could be the key for this team going forward.
At 6-foot-8, he's one of the most versatile defenders in the country. Whittington has the size to defend bigger forwards, but he also has the length and athleticism to harass opponents on the perimeter. Before going to the zone, Whittington made things difficult for Shabazz Muhammad in the highly touted freshman's debut.
Last season, Whittington was mostly a role player in the frontcourt, contributing a couple of transition baskets and the occasional 3-pointer. This year, though, he's averaging 13.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in nearly 37 minutes per contest. Moreover, he's hit four 3-pointers in three games. Hollis Thompson played the role of mismatch forward effectively last season, but Whittington is making plays as his replacement.
“We've had guys going into the season, maybe unkowns, that when opportunities come, they've been ready,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
The Hoyas are going to be a nightmare to play for most teams this season, as Thompson is going with four guys 6-foot-8 or taller in the starting lineup. When they go to a zone, it's nearly impossible to get the ball inside or get clean looks from the perimeter.
“I don't know if there are too many teams as big as that team,” Thompson said of UCLA. “I think our zone was effective. Most nights, we can be big. Between Otto and Greg, our wings are very, very big. We can be smaller inside because we're bigger at other positions.”
As a whole, Georgetown is going to field unorthodox lineups on the court.
And even though Whittington doesn't fit any classic role on the court, he fits the current Hoyas perfectly.