Hoyas' Mourning back at center stage Mutombo's departure forces lineup shuffle

October 16, 1991|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Once again, The Twin Towers has become a comfortable high-rise. Once again, Alonzo Mourning will be the center of attention for Georgetown, rather than an uncomfortable power forward.

The departure of Dikembe Mutombo to the NBA has left the Hoyas without his more than 15 points and 12 rebounds a game, as well a formidable presence who blocked 151 shots last season. But it has brought Mourning back from whence he came: the middle.

"Last year and in my sophomore year, it gave me an opportunity to explore other parts of my game which will help me later on," Mourning said yesterday at McDonough Gym, where Georgetown openedpractice for the 1991-92 season. "But I feel a little more comfortable and a lot more effective when I have my back to the basket."

Now with Mutombo gone, the expectations for Georgetown again will focus around Mourning. It is not an unusual position for the 6-10, 245-pound senior. It is what was predicted since he came out of Chesapeake, Va., four years ago, and what seemed on the verge of being fulfilled as a sophomore. Then came last season.

"I've kind of tried to put last year behind me," said Mourning, who averaged a respectable 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds. "This is a brand-new year. I'm going to try to develop into a leadership role."

"Even if he had a good year, Alonzo would want to prove himself," said senior forward Ronny Thompson. "He definitely knows it's a money year." Green might be Mourning's color this season, but it won't necessarily be Georgetown's. Though the roster is dominated by underclassmen -- 12 of the 15 players are freshmen and sophomores.

Whether the Hoyas are more competitive will depend largely o Mourning returning to the form that made him the Big East's defensive player of the year as a sophomore, and others making up for the loss of Mutombo. Coach John Thompson kidded yesterday that he has six players to replace Mutombo, and he might not be far off.

Without Mutombo, the Hoyas will rely more on their perimeter players -- and Mourning -- to generate offense. They will also have to pick up their defense a bit further from the basket, since the 7-foot-2 Mutombo won't be protecting the basket. But don't forget that Mourning still holds the school record for rejections (169) in a season, set as a sophomore.

"He'll be in his most natural position," Thompson said yesterday about Mourning.

Asked how his health was, Mourning said, "Perfect."

He smiled. The comfortable high-rise was looking forward to his first day back at work.

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