Friday, March 21, 2008
Defending Roy Hibbert
No offense to my castlemate here at the Pretzel-life, but calling Roy Hibbert slow and soft is not the most intelligent argument against Georgetown's NCAA chances. This isn't just Phony, everyone seems to think Hibbert is defective. They seem to miss the excellent passing from the high post, the help defense, and the weak-side shot blocking that keeps the ball in play for the fast break. They miss the soft touch, the high-banks and the ability to screen the key. They miss the subtlety of John Thompson's system and how invaluable Hibbert is within it.
Furthermore, I got Georgetown winning it all because they form an offense/defensive scheme around strengths rather than to cover up weaknesses. Sure, Hibbert isn't the standard variety big man, but doesn't that bode well for him? If I am forming a team with their system, who do I want? Hansbrough? Hibbert? Beasley? Sure, Ty's the ultimate competitor and Beasley's upside is through the roof, but they wouldn't play in the kind of structured offense that Georgetown does. UNC runs and Kansas State bangs and penetrates. Georgetown, in a motion offense, needs a Hibbert more than they need a classic big man.
In thinking about Roy Hibbert, I consider him a power forward in the same vein I consider Tim Duncan a power-forward. No, I'm not comparing their skill level, but I am comparing their game. Timmy doesn't bang and buck nearly as much as a Shaq or any other "big-men", but he provides all the little things that makes the team a championship contender perennially. As does Hibbert. Georgetown has a threat to post up smaller forwards, turn and face larger guys and make them follow him out to his range (12-15) giving their guards a chance to get to the lane. Maybe he's not going to take that many midrange jumpers, but he sets picks all over the floor and forces the defense to extend and guard out of position. Beasley doesn't do that (not a knock-- he doesn't have to). Hansbrough does this occasionally, but Lawson doesn't really need picks. Aside from the game-winner over Virginia Tech, Hansbrough maybe took four jumpers in the entire NCAA Tournament. Good thing, too.
Defensively, he has some work to do, but who doesn't? He is not a monster shot-blocker or a complete rebounder, but he uses his size to make penetration harder and cuts off the baseline nicely. The knock on most big men is their lack of mobility from being pinned down the entire game. Using the two examples from before, Hansbrough typically does nothing to help his guards of forwards if they get beat. He's a great rebounder, though, and that makes up for it. Same with Beasley. Hibbert does everything fairly well rather than one or two things expertly. In last year's win over UNC in the Tourney, he hit a pair of bank shots, got a couple of rebounds and scared the shit out of Brandan Wright to the point that Wright stopped five feet short of a sure dunk to try and finger roll a ball on the break. ON THE BREAK. Brendan Wright 's arms can reach a rim from where I am sitting on 23rd Street and he tried, more than once, to finger roll from a few feet away.
While he may be softer than most, and maybe a step behind in running the floor or grabbing a rebound, Georgetown is just fine being within striking distance in every game they play. Since he's been there, they've been fantastic-- Final Four last year, top-two seeding, Big East champs (regular season) and a championship threat.
I seriously doubt anyone defending him or trying to shoot over him is worried about how soft or slow he is. If they are, it's more than likely an afterthought while Georgetown motors along toward another fantastic season.
Having said this, of course, I can guarantee they will lose to Baltimore County Community College Correctional Facility or whoever they play tomorrow. Of course.