Sports

After years of struggles, Sims becomes a regular

December 9, 2010


New number, new identity? Sims has looked the part early this season. (Photo by Max Blodgett)

Coming into this season, the No. 9 Georgetown Hoyas (8-0) had a gaping hole to fill in the frontcourt. Fortunately, there were a couple of talented freshmen who were expected to shore up their depth down low.

New number, new identity? Sims has looked the part early this season. (Photo by Max Blodgett)

Hoya fans could be forgiven for mistaking Henry Sims for one of those newcomers. After a disappointing first two seasons, the junior center has been a revelation this year, finally realizing the potential that made him ESPN’s 32nd best prospect in the high school class of 2008.

The past two games have demonstrated just how far Sims has come, with head coach John Thompson III entrusting him with more minutes than any player besides the backcourt trio of Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Jason Clark. He rewarded Thompson by putting up 10 points and seven rebounds against Missouri and four and six versus Utah State. And those numbers don’t include the impact of Sims’s energetic defense.

“Coach told me over the summer, ‘Next season, Henry, your job is to play defense and rebound,’ and I’ve been trying to do that to the best of my abilities so far,” Sims said. “He said everything else will fall into place, which has been happening.”

His impressive development was hardly to be expected considering Sims’s career as a Hoya before this season. As a freshman, he suffered from inconsistency and struggled to adapt his play to the college game. Things got even worse during his sophomore campaign, with his playing time declining. Needless to say, Sims was not happy.

“He was frustrated with the situation,” Thompson said. “I was frustrated with the situation. But we moved on. Last year was a very difficult year for Henry Sims. That’s not a secret. He hung in there and fought through it and he’s seeing some of the fruits of the adversity that he went through last year.”

If Sims can continue to avoid that adversity, he could push an already talented Georgetown team over the top. He may never be a dominating big man, but as long as Sims can crash the boards and provide hustle off the bench, the Hoyas don’t need him to be. This team belongs to the aforementioned guards, who produce the vast majority of the offense. That’s fine by Sims.

“It’s great, because whenever they get the ball all the focus just goes straight on them and I’m able to move around and do what I want to do,” Sims said of his teammates in the backcourt. “I’m 6’10” but I’m a little agile—so I can sneak in there a little bit and get any passes they drop off.”

Sims’s role is hardly limited to cleaning up after Wright, Freeman, and Clark though. As the tallest player on the team, he has all the tools to become the kind of center Georgetown teams have historically relied upon. He’s not there yet, but his teammates have noticed how far he has come.

“He’s starting to feel confident and know that he can play with anybody,” Wright said. “That’s important. Once you have confidence at this level, a lot of things are possible. You’re capable of doing whatever you want.”

The Hoyas will need the confident Sims tonight against a Temple team (5-2) known for its grinding defense. Georgetown’s scorers may not be able to find many shots, making the bruising work Sims and his fellow frontcourt players in the paint all the more important.

In last season’s home opener, Georgetown barely gutted out a 46-45 win, shooting just over 35 percent from the field. In comparison, the Hoyas have yet to shoot worse than 42 percent this season.

This time, Georgetown travels to Philadelphia, for yet another hard road test in preparation for the rapidly approaching Big East season. But, as far as they are concerned, this is the only game to think about.

“I’m not looking at Temple as a test,” Thompson said. “This is a terrific team that we play on the road, again, and we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Sims will be prepared. Of course, he knows that on this deep Hoya squad, it very well could be Julian Vaughn’s big game. And with freshman center Moses Ayegba coming back from suspension this weekend, there’s no guarantee that Sims will continue to see the minutes he has been getting.

Don’t expect a return of the discontented Henry Sims should that happen. This is a new player, one with enough belief in himself to weather whatever comes his way.

“Focus and confidence is the key,” Sims said. “I can’t control what coach does. He does things for a reason. I’ve proved to myself already that I can compete at this level. All I can do is get better from here.”




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