No matter how thrilling and enjoyable Tuesday night's win against Missouri was, I will take a game like today every single time. After a back and forth first half, the Hoyas came out of halftime and tore the Aggies apart, winning 68-51 in Washington, DC. Chris Wright was the best of Run DMV The Holy Trinity our dynamite three guards that have yet to be named. Wright attacked the basket time and time again, getting easy layups while scoring 21 points on 9 shots. He added 4 steals and 2 assists. No other Hoya was in double figures, but 5 other players had 6 points or more.
I'm not sure what happened to Wright over the summer - whether it was the departure of Greg Monroe or the Chris Paul camp he attended - but it is impossible to overstate how spectacular and composed Wright has been. He is controlling games on both offense and defense, hitting enormous shots, and providing the right type of fiery leadership that last year's team lacked. It would be silly to say that the Hoyas are more talented without Monroe, who was arguably the best passer in the nation last year. A team never gets better losing a lottery pick. But this team is just different. Part of the reason is because there is one unquestioned leader this year - Chris Wright. His desire to lead this team allows more soft spoken guys like Austin Freeman and Jason Clark to just focus on playing basketball. Wright wears his emotion on his sleeve, which is a nice on-court contrast to John Thompson III's measured composure on the bench.
After The Jump, more thoughts about today's game.
While noting Wright's maturation from last season to this season, I can't overlook JT3's maturation as a coach. This is his first team at Georgetown without a dominant big man. I thought before the year that this season would be an interesting one for Thompson, who at times earlier in his tenure seemed very rigid in his coaching beliefs. So far this year, we are playing at a faster pace than any previous season. We are consistently playing 9-10 guys compared to the usual 6-7 man rotations we saw before. We have instituted an effective press for the first time. We are utilizing pick and rolls much more this year as well. This Georgetown offense looks significantly different than the 2007 and 2008 versions, where we methodically wore teams down late in the shot clock. The ESPNU announcers mentioned today, in one of their few cogent points, that Georgetown is looking to speed the game up. That is a coach adapting to his roster, not making his players adjust to fit his system. It's early in the season, but this will be JT3's best year on the bench at Georgetown.
What I am really enjoying about this team is its ability to take what a defense is giving it and adjust accordingly. We beat Missouri by hitting 15 threes this Tuesday. We beat Utah State today hitting 2 threes, but got to the free throw line 27 times. Georgetown has beat 4 tournament teams from last year already. When March comes, there's a good chance our out of conference schedule will yield nine tournament teams. It is especially impressive to beat two teams in a week that are as contrasting in style as Missouri and Utah State.
Starters Hollis Thompson and Julian Vaughn played limited minutes again today, which will pay dividends for the Hoyas come February and March. The more time Henry Sims and Nate Lubick get now, the better prepared they will be for Big East play. Sims continues to be a revelation, to the point that I feel as comfortable with him on the court as I do with Vaughn. Markel Starks and Vee Sanford continue to impress in limited minutes as well. I hope both get 10 minutes each against Temple and Memphis before Big East play starts. Just like Sims and Lubick are counted on to spell Vaughn and Thompson, there will be times Run DMV The Holy Trinity our three dynamite guards will be off or get in foul trouble, and we will need Starks and Sanford to play well.
I've decided, as a fan, to take a more composed approach to this year's team compared to last year. I believe that if I am composed and take one game at a time, the players will take the same approach. Yes, I have that much hubris. Compared to last year's sweeping delusion and downtrodden cynicism - which seemed to be that squad's M.O. - this is much more enjoyable. That said, I am very, very optimistic about this team's chances in both Big East play and in March.