By Jeff Goodman
PROVIDENCE - John Thompson III enjoys going under the radar.
"You don't need to write anything," JT3 said after his Georgetown Hoyas won their 20th game of the season, a 63-53 victory at Providence on Saturday night.
But this is a team worthy of more ink than it has received throughout a campaign that has taken it from 10th in the Big East preseason poll to one that has risen all the way to 10th in the nation. There's the veteran, Jason Clark. The breakout player, Henry Sims. The scorer, Hollis Thompson. But the freshmen have been as critical to this team's success as anything else.
"They've been as refreshing as hell," JT3 said. "They're just about winning. They aren't worried about their minutes or how many shots they get. Just how they can help the team win."
Clark admitted this isn't a team that will blow you away in terms of pure talent. There may not be a first-round draft pick on the entire roster, but they do it in a similar way as Syracuse: Power in numbers.
The veterans carry the load and the young kids don't just accept their roles. They thrive in them.
JT3 has had the identical starting lineup in 24 of the 25 games this season and the lone time he altered it was when starting point guard Markel Starks wasn't available.
There's Otto Porter, the kid from Missouri who didn't play AAU ball. He leads the team in rebounding. Then there's the versatile 6-foot-8 forward Greg Whittington from nearby Columbia, Md.,, 6-foot-5 guard Jabril Trawick out of Philly and ex-DeMatha big man Mikael Hopkins.
"They don't play like freshmen," Hoyas sophomore Nate Lubick said. "Or act like freshmen."
"It's not forced or fake," JT3 added. "And it's contagious."
This is a Georgetown team that has bowed out in the first round each of the last two seasons, but that was with Chris Wright and Austin Freeman as the vets. Freeman was too quiet to lead and while Wright had made progress, his focus was still too much on himself and his numbers.
Now Clark is the leader -- and he's always been a guy who has accepted being in the shadows.
"We don't care about who's going to score points," Clark said. "The chemistry is much better than it has been the last few years."
The Hoyas won their 10th Big East contest on Saturday night. They have won at Louisville, against Marquette and UConn -- and beaten Memphis twice and also knocked off Alabama in Tuscaloosa back when the Crimson Tide had a complete team.
Georgetown shares the basketball. The Hoyas rebound -- and they guard.
Providence made just 4-of-28 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes and wound up shooting below 26 percent in the loss. Teams are shooting 38.8 percent from the field against the Hoyas this season and 28 percent from beyond the arc.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in the eyes of many. Instead, Georgetown sits just a game out of second place in the Big East.
"It's still too early to start worrying about getting pub or attention," JT3 said.
Too early? That may have been the case in early-January after a 3-0 league start, but not now with just four regular-season contests left in the season.