Braswell getting to point for Hoyas

Georgetown: The Lake Clifton product has emerged as a prime point guard and has successfully shifted his priority from getting shots to running the team.

Ncaa Tournament

March 21, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

IRVINE, Calif. - Part of the story of Kevin Braswell's junior season is that he has help.

The Georgetown point guard not only has big men who can score, but also guards who can help him with his ball-handling duties.

As a point guard who finally shed his scoring guard mentality, Braswell knows how to use that help, and that's the other part of the story, one which has the Hoyas playing Maryland tomorrow night at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim.

"He's always had the skill level," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said of Braswell, who is averaging 11.2 points per game, but has also contributed 190 assists this season, to 98 turnovers. "From a mental standpoint, the difference is that a point guard has to run the team. A shooting guard has to worry about scoring."

His emergence as a point guard has led Georgetown to a 25-7 record, heading into a matchup against his close friend and Maryland star, Juan Dixon.

"I'm extremely happy for Kevin," Dixon said. "He's been a great leader at Georgetown, the type of player I knew Kevin could be."

In the past, Braswell's only way of running the team was to worry about scoring. It was the way he got through while playing at Lake Clifton High School in East Baltimore. It was the way he got through at Maine Central Institute, where he went after Lake Clifton.

And it was this way for most of his first two years at Georgetown, when he averaged 13.5 points as a freshman and 14.8 points as a sophomore.

"When you're on the playgrounds, it's just you scoring," Braswell said. "You shoot the ball all the time. You're trying to embarrass the person you're playing against, and I had that attitude of `I can do anything I want.' "

In Braswell's first two years, that approach was necessary for the Hoyas, who needed any kind of offensive punch in the past couple of years. When he tried to distribute the ball, teammates either dropped passes near the basket or didn't convert on the ones they caught.

Necessary isn't necessarily productive, however, and Georgetown got nowhere leaning on Braswell as its top dribbler, top passer and top scorer. At least nowhere near the standards that the Hoyas program set with three Final Four appearances during the 1980s.

Toward the end of last season, Braswell decided to shift his priorities toward running the team instead of getting his shots. The change wouldn't produce an NCAA tournament run -- a National Invitation Tournament bid instead - but it planted a seed for the future.

"I think the light clicked on, that I can play this position," Esherick said. "He accepted the point that he could play point guard and that he should play point guard ... and accepted what a point guard has to do versus what a shooting guard has to do."

Over the summer, a lot of the transformation came via tape, and Braswell took pains to study the best point guards in college and in the NBA, which could be his next step once his eligibility ends next season.

One of his greatest teachers, courtesy of the VCR, was Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton, considered to be one of the greatest professionals to play at Braswell's position.

"I would just watch to see how he would control the game," Braswell said. "I just wanted to make sure that I controlled the game, to make sure the game goes at the level I want it to go at."

Several factors have worked in Braswell's favor. His endurance has been enhanced by Anthony Perry, Demetrius Hunter and Trenton Hillier, who have all been able to pitch in for spells at point guard.

Secondly, Braswell has a bevy of big men to whom he can throw the ball. Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, Lee Scruggs, Wesley Wilson and Michael Sweetney are Braswell's options down low.

"This year, I've got Mike Sweetney, who catches everything I throw to him," Braswell said of the freshman, who leads the team with 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. "It makes me look a lot better. I've got to give my teammates credit, because they make plays, too."

Braswell file

Age: 22

Height, weight: 6-2, 190

High school: Lake Clifton

College: Georgetown

Year: Junior

Highlights: In his second season as the starting point guard, he averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 32 games. ... His six steals against Rutgers on Feb. 28 made him the school's all-time leader, surpassing Eric Floyd.

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