|Hibbert hopes to end first of two championship droughts|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 July 2007 21:06|
While the Hoyas haven't won a national championship since the 1983-84 season, the United States hasn't won the gold medal at the Pan Am games since the Michael Jordan-led team in 1983.
The 7-foot 2 Hibbert, who led the Hoyas in rebounds (6.9), averaged 12.9 points and blocked 90 shots last season, doesn't remember any of those long ago titles. He wasn't born until 1986. But his sense of history is strong enough for him to realize how much it would mean to bring home a championship for his school and his country.
``Both places have waited a long time, and I think it's about time they get to celebrate,'' Hibbert said. ``I think winning the gold would be a great start and winning a national championship would be a great ending.''
Hibbert and the rest of Team USA completed their training at Haverford College this week and finish with three more days of practice in Washington before leaving for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Team USA scheduled a pair of scrimmages before they open Wednesday against Uruguay in the preliminary round.
In the last Pan Am Games in 2003, Team USA went 2-3 for a fourth-place finish.
Team USA coach Jay Wright, the Villanova coach who led the United States to gold in the 2005 World University Games, said he still has some concerns about his team's physical and mental toughness, and their ability to keep their composure in a noisy, even hostile, atmosphere.
``We're playing like a bunch of college kids right now,'' Wright said. ``We have that college mentality. We have to change that, we really do.''
That's why Wright is counting on a veteran like Hibbert to emerge as a leader, maybe even a team captain. Wright usually schemes to shut down Hibbert in Big East games. Now he's pushing Hibbert to be as ``dominant as he can be.''
``This guy's going to play for a long, long time,'' Wright said.
The opportunity for Hibbert to compete for the gold medal was one of the fringe benefits of returning for his senior season. Hibbert and his Big East player of the year teammate Jeff Green led the Hoyas to the Final Four last year for the first time in 22 years. While Green opted to skip his senior season for the NBA, Hibbert wanted another chance at an NCAA championship.
``I had things to work on and unfinished business at Georgetown,'' he said.
Hibbert got an earful of boobirds over the weekend when his first pitch at a Phillies games hit the dirt like a player diving for a loose ball. Hibbert had some fun looking back at imaginary baserunners and shook off a few ``signs,'' then threw a pitch that showed why he should stick with basketball.
Hibbert had an excuse. It was the first time he ever threw a baseball.
``I've always had a basketball in my hand,'' he said. ``Coach Wright said he wanted me to do it.''
Wright, who watched with some of the USA players from near the mound, got a chuckle out of the toss while the Philly crowd booed him off the mound.
``I'm used to hearing the boos here, though,'' he said.
He might hear them in Brazil, too. But it will be worth it to bring back the gold.