Growing Up Quick
Jan. 2, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) -If basketball doesn't pan out for Greg Monroe - and it seems that it most certainly will - he should consider taking his wonderfully mellow, bass voice on the road in a Four Tops revival tour.
"Once he starts talking," teammate Jessie Sapp said, "it's like, 'Dag, you're a little boy with this voice?"'
Monroe, however, insists the only performing he does is on the basketball court.
"I never really got into singing at all," he said. "I don't know how my voice got this deep."
Monroe is Georgetown's biggest freshman presence since Allen Iverson. He exudes a maturity on and off the court that screams one-and-done for the NBA. Yet it's that same maturity that suggests the 18-year-old player from New Orleans just might stay four years and earn a degree in his favorite subject, psychology.
"He's very mature to be a freshman," teammate DaJuan Summers said. "Like coach says, he doesn't have the luxury to act like a freshman, so we're not going to treat him like one."
But he is very much a freshman, and Georgetown does not allow freshman to speak to the media during their first semester, making Friday's practice a much-anticipated one.
Monroe got to speak, and the No. 11 Hoyas (10-1) are the early surprise of the Big East. They blew away No. 2 Connecticut on the road in their conference opener Monday in a game in which the 6-foot-11 Monroe outscored 7-foot-3 junior Hasheem Thabeet 16-4.
In a scene repeated many times at Georgetown, Monroe was coached before the interview session and given a critique immediately afterward. Coach John Thompson III interrupted one of his own answers to glance toward spokesman Bill Shapland and ask: "How'd he do, Shap?" Shapland responded with a slight affirmative nod.
Monroe said he came to Georgetown because Thompson didn't guarantee the moon, a pitch the consensus No. 1 high school recruit often heard elsewhere.
"That's exactly what it was," Monroe said. "A lot of promises were made, but he came in and told me, 'You're going to come in, you're going to work, you're going to get better.' He said he won't let me come in and not get better. That was the one thing that really stood out.
"Also, him saying that everything that you do is going to be for the betterment of the team, and I think that was the biggest point that he made."
On his adjustment to the college game: "Even though you see stuff on TV and think I fit in pretty well, I'm still growing, still trying to find out what Coach really wants out of me."
Is he able to dismiss all the hype? "Yes, especially with Pittsburgh next on the schedule. It's kind of easy."
Thompson will love that answer. Pittsburgh, ranked No. 3, visits Georgetown on Saturday.
Why psychology? "I've always been interested in people. I observe people at lot, just the human mind, why people do stuff, why they think about stuff."
Monroe had no explanation for his coolness under pressure at tough-to-visit UConn, although Sapp notes that today's top recruits already have dealt with big crowds before leaving high school. The remarkable thing about Monroe is that he didn't arrive on campus full of himself.
"Greg is poised," Thompson said. "He's poised on the floor, he's poised off the floor. He's intelligent. A lot of that goes toward the fact that he embraces helping his teammates. It's not just something that's he's good at, it's not just his God-given ability, but he gets pleasure in trying to help his teammates be better.
"I'm not sure whether it's unique, but for someone who is as ballyhooed as he is, someone who has gotten so much attention, he truly embraces the concept of team."
Team first is a prerequisite for running Thompson's Princeton offense, and it shows in Monroe's numbers. He is fourth on the team in scoring a 12.7 average, but that's less than two points per game fewer than leading scorer Summers. Monroe leads the team in rebounding (5.4), field goal percentage (57.9), blocks (1.9), steals (1.8) and has even heaved a pair of successful 3-pointers. He's also fourth in assists (2.0) and shooting 72.5 percent from the foul line.
"Everything we do is by committee in terms of the goals we want to accomplish," Thompson said. "The concept of team is something that's essential to how we play on the court as well as how we operate off the court. That's part of why he was a good fit. I think he walked in the door being an extremely unselfish kid."
Georgetown's early Big East schedule is brutal. After No. 2 Connecticut and No. 3 Pittsburgh, the Hoyas face No. 7 Notre Dame, Providence and No. 13 Syracuse. Then there's a nonconference game at No. 5 Duke.
If successful during that stretch, the Hoyas will certainly be a top-five themselves, and the number of NBA scouts watching Monroe will be even greater. The decision on whether to turn pro, however, can wait.
"You have to focus on the opponent that's in front of us," Thompson said. "Once the year's over, we'll go though that process."