Double Byes and Good Byes

Feb. 26, 2012

Double-Byes and Good-Byes!! 

Fresh from their blowout, Gray Out victory against Villanova on Saturday, the Hoyas face Notre Dame on Monday at Verizon Center with a great chance to improve their standing in the Big East Tournament double-bye sweepstakes.  Notre Dame helped make this possible by their 61-58 loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.  And South Florida did its part by squeezing by Cincinnati on Sunday.  Now, the Hoyas can control their own destiny by winning their two remaining games, beginning with the Irish on Monday night at Verizon and then beating Marquette in Milwaukee next Saturday.  If they do, the Hoyas will finish no lower than third in the Big East regular season standings.  

Monday’s game is also Senior Night when we honor senior leaders Jason Clark and Henry Sims.  It does not seem possible that Jason and Henry will be playing their last home game for the Hoyas.  I still remember Jason, the O’Connell High School star and D.C. Met Player of the Year, sitting behind the Hoya bench for so many games in high school.  And I remember Jason, Henry and their fellow class recruit Greg Monroe playing in the Kenner League as incoming freshmen almost four years ago now.  Monroe, of course, has gone on to star for the Detroit Pistons, and it is almost frightening to think how good this year’s bunch of overachievers would have been if he had stayed for four years.  

Henry Sims arrived on the Hilltop in summer 2008 from Mt. Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore where he averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds as a senior and was named Baltimore Metro Player of the Year.  He led his team to three Baltimore City League and Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships.  As Hoya fans know, his progress on the Hilltop has seen its ups and downs, with the downs coming from his freshman through junior years, and the ups coming in this his senior season.  Upon arrival at Georgetown, Henry’s favorite offensive move was a long-range jump shot, which he missed with regularity.  He also was reluctant to mix it up in the middle despite his 6’09, 230 pound frame, leading certain Hoya fans to chant with some regularity - - “Be Mean, Henry!!” 

As a freshman, playing behind Monroe and Julian Vaughn, Sims averaged 1.9 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 9.8 minutes in 28 games.  As a sophomore, his numbers actually declined to 1.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 6.8 minutes per game.  With Monroe off to the NBA but still playing behind Vaughn, Henry’s numbers picked up as a junior to 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.  He also led the team in field goal percentage with 57.8%.  The good-natured Sims also dabbled in campus politics as he ran unsuccessfully for Student Body Vice-President, perhaps adding to the impression that basketball was not first and foremost among his extracurricular activities.  With this three-year body of work, few could have imagined the transformation that Henry has enjoyed during this his senior season. 

Rededicating himself to basketball, Henry has dramatically picked up his offensive game during his senior season and is now a central wheel in the Hoyas’ offensive game plan.  He leads the team in assists with 3.5 per game, most coming on backdoor cut passes he makes from above the free throw line to streaking teammates.  He is averaging 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.  His offensive arsenal now includes a sweet hook shot, a quick first step blow by to the hoop, a medium range jumper, racing down the floor in transition after snatching a rebound, and a free throw percentage of 71.9%.  A consistent double figure scorer, he achieved his career-high point game against Memphis in the Maui Invitational with 24 points.  He also notched a career double-double against Rutgers with 12 points and 10 rebounds.  While he still struggles at times with more powerful big men, Henry has learned to use his quickness, speed and agility to become a key component of the Hoyas offensive and defensive arsenals.  His keen passing ability has also caught the eye of NBA scouts.  All in all, Henry has enjoyed a transformative senior season to date and there is hope for more to come in the remaining regular season and post-season tournament games. 

While there has been much talk this season about the youth of this year’s team and the development of Sims, there is little doubt that senior Jason Clark is the team’s heart and soul.  A three-year starter, Clark, former D.C. Met and Virginia State Player of the Year at O’Connell, has always been willing to step up, both offensively and defensively, when the situation called for it.  During the Snowmageddon game against Villanova as a sophomore, he notched 6 of 7 three-pointers in tallying 24 points in the Hoyas’ rout of the Wildcats.  As a junior, Jason scored 26 points in the overtime victory against Missouri.  This season, he has scored 31 points against DePaul, 28 points against Chaminade and 26 points each against Memphis and Marquette, on his way to a team-leading 14.5 point per game average.  Defensively, Jason’s arms that seem to go forever and his quickness make him a formidable presence. 

Jason’s statistics have improved each year that he has been with the Hoyas.  As a freshman, he averaged 5.2 points per game, 2.6 rebounds per game and 30 steals.  As a sophomore, his numbers improved to 10.5 points per game, 3.9 rebounds, and 49 steals.  As a junior, his scoring average reached 12.0 points, his rebounds increased to 4.1 and he notched 41 steals.  This season, to date, he is scoring at a 14.5 per game clip, rebounding again at a 4.1 carom per game pace, and has already garnered 47 steals.  Jason’s 1293 career points ranks him 22d in points and his 177 three-pointers ranks him fourth behind Austin Freeman with 187, Kevin Braswell with 189 and Jonathan Wallace’s 240. His 161 steals is tied for 16th with Anthony Perry.  He also has played 3548 minutes, ranking him 15th all time.  With lengthy tournament runs, he could end up in the Top 10.  More importantly, Jason seems to have that sixth sense to know when his team needs him to step up and hit a big shot.  Villanova Coach Jay Wright paid tribute to Jason after Saturday’s rout of the Wildcats: “I think he is one of the best players in the country. If his goal was to get 30 tonight, he could have. He’s just an assassin.”  

Thank you Jason and Henry for the enjoyment you have given Hoya fans the past four years.  Best wishes for the rest of the season starting with Notre Dame and for your future careers.  You have made us proud!!

________________________

The Hoyas game against Notre Dame is a must win!!  Notre Dame has had an extraordinary Big East season but they are not quite as good away from South Bend.  Led by Jack Cooley, who is the Irish’s latest clone of Pat Garrity, Troy Murphy, and Luke Harangody, the Irish play basketball the way Irish football is meant to be played.  They are tough inside and very hard to beat when they are hitting their 3’s.  In other words, they are the kind of team that can give us trouble if we don’t come with our “A” game.  I look for a war on Senior Night with the Hoyas, led by Jason and Henry, beating the Irish.

Mike Karam

Proud Member of Generation Laughna

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