The past two seasons have seen a reestablishment of Georgetown's defensive identity. For all the focus on JT3's offense, defense was at least as responsible for the Hoyas' recent successes. During the Jeff Green-Roy Hibbert years, long-limbed forwards and a future NBA All-Star behemoth smothered opponents. That identity waned as the front line shrunk: eventually, a three-guard alignment and a small front line made Georgetown vulnerable defensively. In the past two seasons, renewed rim protection and a swarm of long-armed wings once again have stifled Georgetown's foes.
No one better personifies that renewed defensive identity than junior guard Jabril Trawick. The Philadelphia native arrived as a raw role player, a burly, 6'5", 210-ound athlete who, like his classmates Otto Porter, Greg Whittington, and Mikael Hopkins, held defensive promise. Over the past two seasons, Trawick has built a reputation as a physical, trash-talking defender who is unafraid to go toe-to-toe with the opponent's best perimeter scorer. As he becomes an upperclassman, can Trawick contribute the offense the Hoyas need?
Last Season's Statistics: 26.6 min. pg, 5.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 stl pg, 40.7 FG%, 29.9 3FG%
After a freshman year in which he contributed but hardly was a vital cog, Trawick figured to see more playing time as a sophomore, particularly with Jason Clark's graduation. Early in his second season, 'Bril served as the Hoyas' first substitute, injecting guard play to the Hoyas' super-big lineup without missing a beat defensively. Once Greg Whittington was ruled ineligible, Trawick replaced him, becoming a starter while also, like Whittington, complementing Porter as a defender. While Whittington and Porter offered long-limbed court coverage, Trawick was all muscle and grit, bodying his opponent then reminding him of it through his near-constant yapping. Those foes felt Trawick's tenacity, averaging a meager .728 points per possession against him, per ESPN.com.
On offense, Trawick remained very much the role player. He averaged just 5.8 points per game and rarely hunted his own shot. From three, he improved from an errant 24 percent as a freshman to a passable 30 percent last season. Unfortunately, his shooting inside the arc regressed slightly, as he made just one-quarter of his two-point jumpers and 54 percent of his layups, the lowest and third-lowest figures among Hoya regulars, per the Wizards at Hoya Prospectus.
Thankfully, Trawick was judicious in his shot selection, never attempting 10 or more field goals in a game and eclipsing six shots attempted just five times. Instead, he began to carve out a role as a distributor, finishing fourth on the team in assists despite a low usage rate. In particular, his passing helped puncture the defense in critical road wins at Notre Dame (6 assists) and Syracuse (5 zone-busting dimes). Some speculated that his limited shot selection was the result of conserving effort for dogged defensive play. Regardless, Trawick played a supporting role to an offense that slowly turned into the Otto Porter Show.
The Kenner League plays to the advantage of slashing guards, and Trawick appropriately took advantage, attacking the rim while also finding open teammates. Never the flashy offensive player (except for the occasional, and vicious, dunk), Trawick nevertheless was consistent, providing offensive punch and defensive effort.
Trawick enters his junior season as a presumed starter. Despite JT3's off-season statements to the contrary, Georgetown's three-guard alignment will be the best way to fill the hole Porter and Whittington left at small forward. As a result, Trawick should expect to see at least 30 minutes per game, and assume his share of that duty on both ends of the floor.
He also is the team's best perimeter defender, and a spark plug whose intensity his teammates have credited with improving their own defensive effort. Without Whittington's destructive athleticism and length or Porter's instincts and, again, length, Georgetown will need a team commitment to continue its run of defensive excellence. Trawick figures to be the vocal leader and example on that end of the floor.
The biggest questions for Jabril are on offense. Will his jump shot improve to be a true weapon? After shooting 30 percent from deep last season, Trawick is within arm's reach of being a dangerous perimeter shooting threat. And there's precedent here: another pugnacious shooting guard in the JT3 era, Jessie Sapp, made a leap in long-distance accuracy between his sophomore and junior seasons, while countless others have made smaller steps forward as they refined their strokes. With opposing defenders keying in on Markel Starks, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and the newly eligible Josh Smith, Trawick may find open spots on the arc and cutting lanes to the hole.
Trawick also will have to prove that he can locate open teammates while limiting turnovers (25.5 TO% last year, highest among Hoya guards and wings). His workmanlike performance in Kenner suggests that he's ever more comfortable running the show. A third question is whether he can convert effectively at the rim. Given his good size for a guard and his above-average athleticism, Trawick should be able to finish efficiently, but hasn't been able to do so thus far.
Finally, there's a question about coaching: given Georgetown's strength in the back-court, will more specific actions be designed to free the Hoya guards driving to the hoop?
An improved jumper from Trawick helps open valuable opportunities for penetration, where he's a threat to finish at the rim or draw a foul. He also continues his evolution as a distributor, finding teammates on the perimeter and near the rim for quality looks. On defense, he continues to body his opponents into poor shot selection and eventual frustration. More guard-centric sets turn the offensive focus to the back-court, and Trawick averages 8 or 9 points and three assists per game, to go with a handful of rebounds.
Trawick continues to be a mediocre offensive player, a sometimes entertaining but ultimately unreliable scorer. He also continues to turn the ball over at an unacceptable rate. A Georgetown offense that needs every catalyst it can find suffers without Trawick's contributions. His defensive heart, while admirable, isn't enough to support a Georgetown unit that lacks an elite wing defender and has to cover up for several offensively talented but defensively anemic Hoyas. A new officiating emphasis on hand-checks and other physical defensive play frequently lands Trawick in early foul trouble, limiting his ability to stay on the floor and exposing Georgetown's thin wing rotation.
Trawick's two back-court mates, DSR and Markel Starks, first emerged as offensive threats who only later came to apply consistent defensive effort and focus. That application came in part thanks to Trawick's infectious, dogged play and trash-talking. Whether he can anchor another excellent defense without last season's best defender and whether he can become a full-time contributor on offense, remain to be seen.