Freshman aren't supposed to walk into Madison Square Garden for the first time in their lives and put on a dominant performance. Not in the Big East Tournament, not ever.
But nobody told Georgetown's Otto Porter. Maybe he just didn't know any better. The native of Sikeston, MO, a town with a population of just under 18,000 people, isn't used to big city lights or the grandeur of the Big East Tournament.
"New York is amazing. Playing in Madison Square Garden is a dream come true," said Porter, who scored a career-high 20 points on Wednesday in the second round against Pittsburgh. "I've never really experienced anything like this."
Freshman aren't supposed to get blinded by the bright lights. It's part of the learning process. But so far, Porter has showed little signs of growing pains.
Maybe he's just too consistent to get rattled by even the grand stage at "The World's Most Famous Arena". "I just stay level-headed. I don't get into a 'zone' or anything, I just try to play at a consistent level all game. Consistency is really important"
Consistency is something that Porter does best. While he may not put up gaudy scoring numbers, he's turned into one of the best "stat-sheet stuffers" in the the league. He never has an off night. When he only scores four points, he makes up for it by grabbing 15 rebounds, like he did in the Hoyas 83-75 win at DePaul earlier in the year. Widely considered one of the best freshman in the conference, he was left off the All-Rookie Team, despite ranking eighth in the conference in terms of rebounding. Porter has logged three double-doubles and has grabbed at least ten rebounds in seven games this season.
On Thursday night, in the Hoyas'double-overtime loss to Cincinnati, Porter scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds, had four assists, two blocks and two steals. "Whatever my team needs is what I will do. Tonight it was a couple of shots late in the game. "Sometimes it's a rebound or a steal, or playing defense. But we didn't do enough tonight, so we have to go harder." The loss was tough on all the Hoyas, who sat in disbelief and in disappointment in the locker room. They weren't silent, as much as they were empty. There was nothing in their eyes.
They had let a ten point second half lead dwindle away, and were forced to spend ten extra minutes fighting to get back the victory that they thought was theirs. "I'd rather be in here talking about a win," said senior Jason Clark. "But they did a better job tonight. I can say a lot of things, but I'd just rather be in here talking about a win."
Porter made the tying basket in regulation and overtime, but a Henry Sims 3-point attempt caromed off the rim at the buzzer, ending Porter's short but productive experience in New York.
"Every game is a new experience. But I just have to do my best to replicate it the next time out."
Consistency. Few freshman have it, and even fewer realize how important it is. Maybe that's why Otto Porter has been such a valuable part of Georgetown's unexpected success this year.