Georgetown turns to Hopkins to fill some big shoes

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Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

Sophomore replacing Sims at starting center

In case there was any question about what Georgetown would do at center following the departure of Henry Sims after a breakout season last year, Hoyas coach John Thompson III made it clear: it wasn't going to be big man by committee.

Mikael Hopkins was his starter.

There's also no question that the 6-foot-9, 223-pound sophomore from DeMatha is eager to embrace the role. But desire is only one part of the difficult task of being a big man for a program that has been defined by its post players and runs on a system that requires them to be at their versatile best.

Up Next
Liberty at Georgetown
When » Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » MASN
Note » It is unclear whether sophomore forward Otto Porter will be able to play against the Flames. As of Tuesday evening, Georgetown said Porter was still being monitored for a concussion by the school's medical staff after suffering a head injury against Duquesne on Sunday. Porter played six minutes and left the game midway through the first half with one rebound and one assist.

"I thought he did OK," Thompson said when asked about Hopkins' performance in Georgetown's season-opening 61-55 win over Duquesne. "We're going to need him to be good, not just OK."

Hopkins was Georgetown's second-leading scorer in the game, putting up 10 of his 13 points in a second half that was far more competitive than expected, including six points during a critical 8-0 run. His moves in the low post were both determined and athletic.

"I feel like I've grown a lot, learning from players in the past," Hopkins said prior to the Hoyas' first two games. "Sims taught me a lot of things about the offense. I'm ready to go out there and show what I learned and what I have."

But Hopkins was also guilty of a misguided 3-point attempt while the Hoyas had only a one-point lead just after halftime. None of his four rebounds came in the second half, he racked up four turnovers, and he was also the only Georgetown player without an assist. While that was in part a product of the Hoyas' struggles to get the ball in the lane against the Dukes' zone, Sims led the team in that category last year.

"From where I was sitting the middle was open, but we just weren't throwing it in there," Thompson said. "You have to get the ball inside and down and play out of that. I thought that we didn't get the ball in. The same thing happened in Florida."

For the time being, the Hoyas (1-0) have little choice but to continue to rely on Hopkins in the middle. Junior Moses Ayegba played just three minutes against Duquesne in his first action in two years and Brandon Bolden and Bradley Hayes are both inexperienced freshmen.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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