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Big East POY Green struggles in Final Four loss

ATLANTA -- The No. 1 reason Jeff Green could use another
year in college was on display in the Final Four.

Even though he's the best player on his team, he still doesn't
know when his team needs him to take over.

The Big East player of the year was hard to find Saturday night
in the Georgia Dome, scoring only nine points on five shots in
Georgetown's 67-60 loss to Ohio State in the national semifinals.
Green is a team player who lets the game come to him, but this time
it never did -- and his team suffered as a result.

"I didn't want to force anything," Green said, "so I just
took what they gave me."

But all they gave him were four happenstance baskets -- all
coming off broken plays or long rebounds and never in the regular
flow of the offense. Officially, his first shot in the first half
came with 3:16 remaining. His first shot in the second half came
with 6:10 left.

The five shots were the fewest Green has taken in 23 games, and
he had scored in double figures in 17 of his last 18 games.

Coach John Thompson III likes to say that Green can dominate a
game without scoring, and Green likes to say his favorite stat is
the assist, but even those were few and far between. Green had only
three -- none in the first half. He did tie a career high with 12
rebounds, but those came mainly because 7-foot-2 teammate Roy Hibbert spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble.

Green's minimal impact was even more remarkable given he played
nearly the entire game, leaving for a sub only in the final
seconds.

"I trust Jeff Green's instincts," Thompson said. "He made the
decisions when to pass it out, when to shoot. Jeff Green usually
makes the right decision. The kid is an extremely intelligent
player. We put the ball in his hands and he decided not to shoot.
As I said, I'll live and die with Jeff Green's ability to make
decisions."

Throughout the postseason, Green had asserted himself late in
the game when necessary, but his efforts against the Buckeyes were
too little too late. He spent an entire possession trying to post
up Buckeyes reserve David Lighty -- who at 6-foot-5 is 4 inches
shorter than Green -- but Green never touched the ball and the Hoyas
were nearly whistled for a shot clock violation.

Later, Green missed a forced turnaround hook on the baseline. He
was then called for a charge while attempting a baseline drive with
2 minutes to go and the Hoyas trailing by four. Ohio State scored
the next five points to take command.

"I played OK. I'm not going to sit here and say I played bad or
good," Green said. "I could've done more things on both ends of
the court. I tried to be assertive, but you've got to credit their
defense. They made it very hard for us."

Green came in averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2
assists, and his all-around game would make him a certain NBA
lottery pick if he were to declare early for the draft. He has
maintained all along that he wants a degree from Georgetown, but he
hedged somewhat when asked about his future following the game.

"When the time comes for me to make a decision, that's what
I'll think about," Green said. "But right now, we're just coming
off a tough loss."

Green did say that the Hoyas' prospects for next season will
influence him "a lot." Everybody who played Saturday was an
underclassman.

"We have a great team, so that'll be in my decision," he said.

Green's only attempt at the basket in the first 16 minutes
didn't even count as an official shot because Hibbert was call for
offensive goaltending for touching the ball in the cylinder.
Overall, Georgetown's ball movement was slow and too methodical --
bad news for a team trying to run a Princeton offense -- and the 23
first-half points were the fewest by the Hoyas at the break this
season.

Georgetown committed 17 turnovers, and the Hoyas didn't have a
backdoor layup -- their signature play -- until the second half.
There wasn't a single point all night from the bench, and Hibbert's
foul trouble only served to compound the effect of Green's
disappearing act.

Even so, merely making the Final Four was quite an achievement
for Georgetown, a program that was sinking fast until Thompson was
hired three years ago.

"Before I came here, they weren't capable of making it this
far," Green said. "We did it in three years. It's a bad feeling
to lose, but you got to appreciate the positives."