Games That Matter – March 11, 2010 (BET Semifinals)
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ESPN / USA Today: 22
Georgetown 91, Syracuse 84
"We didn't come here just to beat Syracuse. We came here to win the whole thing. It's not time to get excited yet." -Chris Wright
Wow. Just, wow. For only the second time since 2001, Georgetown secured a win in the Big East Tournament as an underdog (see the Marquette game in 2006, #5 v. #4, and the Syracuse game in 2001, #9 v. #1). After two tough games against its hated rival, the third one was finally the charm for the Hoyas on an electric day at the Garden.
For the second straight game, Chris Wright led the charge for Georgetown, scoring 27 points, dishing out 6 assists, and grabbing 6 boards in what was quite possibly the best game of his career. Simply put, Chris was a star on Thursday. He calmly weaved through Syracuse’s traps, pushed the ball whenever Georgetown had an advantage, and hit some huge shots in both halves. Once again, Chris was the floor general. Not to be outdone, #10 had a pretty good day himself. Monroe finished with a solid 15 points, 10 boards, 7 assists and 3 steals – easily one of his most complete games of the season, as he was only 3 assists shy of a triple double.
At halftime, even though Georgetown was trailing by three, you got the sense that this game was different, that the flow of the game didn’t resemble our last two games against the ‘Cuse at all. Unlike the way we played in those two losses, in this game we finally seemed to figure out the 2-3 zone. Wright and Clark did a nice job of feeding the ball to Greg on possession after possession. (Monroe’s 4 points at the half were misleading – when the offense runs through Greg, he doesn’t necessarily need to score. As long as our guards could actually get him the ball through that zone, you knew the points would come eventually.) Syracuse was also hitting almost everything it threw up – midway through the second half, the Orange were shooting a remarkable 67% from both the field and beyond the arc. You knew that couldn’t last the whole game.
What was unsettling at halftime, however, was Georgetown’s weak transition defense and inability to guard the perimeter. Clark was doing a decent job on Rautins, but Jardine and Wes Johnson kept pushing the ball down the court and slicing through the middle for easy buckets. If the Hoyas were going to have a chance, you kind of figured that their defense would have to improve in the second half.
And then, with about 13 and a half minutes to go, we saw the total package. Perfect offense, perfect defense. In a run that was reminiscent of Georgetown’s huge second half comeback a few weeks ago at the Phone Booth, the Hoyas erupted for a 19-2 spurt that erased a 9 point Syracuse lead and put Georgetown in the driver’s seat. It was remarkably amazing. Or, amazingly remarkable. Whatever it was, it was pretty freaking awesome. For a five minute stretch, we just wanted it more. And that was really nice to see.
Georgetown’s march to Saturday night continues tomorrow. In the words of #10, “Lego!”
Some quick-hitters on Thursday’s enormous win:
· The turning point of the game? That’s easy. Vee’s only bucket of the game. A beautiful baseline floater off the dish from C Wright to give Georgetown its first second half lead of the game. I didn’t even know he was in the game. Two minutes, two gigantic points. Vee for Victory. Congratulations to the fan who brought that sign.
· Jason Clark had easily one of his best games of the season (17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals). He hit timely threes down the stretch and, most importantly, he really shut down Rautins in the second half. Long Arms was the difference on defense. Nice work, Jason.
· We shot 57.9% from the field. That’s what happens when you figure out the zone and allow Greg to get easy baskets or find open shooters.
· What’s going on with Julian? Maybe the flu, maybe a stomach virus. Whatever it is, I hope he feels better. For the second straight game, JV didn’t play all that much. Against Syracuse, he played a mere 12 minutes and had 4 points. (It’s worth noting, by the way, that we went on that huge run with a smaller lineup. Hollis played the 4 really well in the second half. He defended the paint admirably and made smart decisions on the offensive end. His free throw misses aside, Hollis played extremely well. He contributed a solid 8 points and 4 boards.)
· Chris Wright is sometimes really good. Chris Wright is sometimes pretty bad. Against Syracuse, Chris Wright was magnificent. And right now, once again, everybody loves Chris.
· We had 22 assists on 33 field goals. The Princeton offense is back!
· Update on Tim Abromaitis’ acne: I thought his face had cleared up. It hasn’t.
· Let’s not overact about the poor free throw shooting. We shot 19 of 28 from the line (67%), which is right around our average. Yeah, Hollis and Greg missed some big ones down the stretch, but overall, we were okay. I’m just glad we had 28 attempts.
· Another sluggish, ho-hum day for #15, and yet, somehow, Austin still had 18 points and 4 rebounds. Pretty awesome that he wasn’t shooting particularly well (no threes) and still ended up with a solid 18 points. I can’t wait until Austin explodes tomorrow night.
· One of the biggest reasons we won this game was our interior defense. We really shut down Jackson and Onuaku – the two bigs combined for a mere 7 points and 5 turnovers. Credit Greg and Jason and Hollis for playing strong defense and stealing the ball down low whenever they had an opportunity. Syracuse’s perimeter shooting was the only thing keeping the Orange in the game for awhile – if not for their 11 threes, we would have won going away.
· In light of Julian Vaughn’s now famous puke move (i.e. walking to the sideline, vomiting in a bucket, refusing to wipe your face, and then re-entering the game immediately), I would like to announce a new technique. In honor of Julian, let’s call it the “JV” – it’s a good ol’ fashioned puke ‘n’ rally with a twist. You puke, refuse to wash your mouth or face, and get back out there and start drinking or eating (or doing whatever else it is you’re doing) without hesitation. I think this is a worthy honor for our sick Hoya friend.
· People need to stop complaining about the format of the Big East Tournament. How many times did we hear Sean McDonough or Boeheim complain that the format should be scrapped because the teams with double byes are now 3-5 in quarterfinals matchups? Who cares? The sample size is a whopping two years! Boeheim’s argument is that the Wednesday games allow the lower-seeded teams an opportunity to stay fresh and gain momentum. That’s just silly. Four years ago, when Syracuse was playing four games in four days, everyone applauded Gerry McNamara’s endurance. How is he not fatigued? Give me a break. You can’t have it both ways. If Syracuse played on Wednesday, we would have beaten them on Wednesday. If Syracuse played on Tuesday, we would have won again. Stop whining and go back to your snow. Maybe we should keep the double bye format for every team but Syracuse. The real problem with the BET’s format is that it doesn’t take into consideration the unbalanced scheduling; had we not played ‘Cuse and ‘Nova twice, we likely would have been seeded more properly (i.e. as a 5 or 6 seed). Everyone knew we were better than an 8 seed. Our win isn’t exactly shocking to most people.
· Note to people who still need tickets for Friday night’s game: Stubhub doesn’t seem to be working all that quickly -- too many Syracuse, ‘Nova and Pitt fans are selling their tickets. (I’m serious. That wasn’t meant to be a joke. Believe me, I’ve tried.) Note to ‘Nova fans: thank you for being reasonable about selling your tickets after your loss. Note to Syracuse fans: No, we do not want two tickets for $700 in the 300 level. P.S. You’re all fat.
· Some of my favorite quotes from the post-game interviews:
"I don't think this team lacks confidence. I just think we're ready to play." –Chris Wright
"We're in a very good place right now. Mentally, physically, emotionally I really like where we are. There's no doubt that we're clicking." -JT IIII
“[Georgetown is] an 8 seed in this Tournament that could win the NCAA Tournament.” -Sean McDonough (after reality had sunk in)
"When he plays like that, that's when they beat people," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of Wright
Here’s a whole paragraph from Dana O’Neil’s article. It was just that good.
“The sign on the locker room said ‘Georgetown.’ The players were wearing Georgetown uniforms. And the scoreboard said that Georgetown had won, that the Hoyas had just beaten the No. 1 seed and the prohibitive favorite in the Big East tournament, a team that a week ago was the No. 1 team in the country, a team that long ago inked its name among the top seeds for the NCAA tournament. So why did it seem like the Hoyas had just gotten run out of the gym? Minutes after the Hoyas' 91-84 victory over Syracuse, the Georgetown locker room had the celebratory feel of a funeral parlor and the noise level of a library. No one talked, no one laughed. Heck, no one even smiled. ‘We didn't come here just to beat Syracuse,’ Chris Wright said. ‘We came here to win the whole thing. It's not time to get excited yet.’”
“If Georgetown can shoot like they did in the second half, they can beat anybody in America.” -Bill Clinton
(Side Note: President Clinton attended the evening session, but it’s unclear whether he was there to cheer for his alma mater in the afternoon. It’s also worth noting that Clinton uttered these words after explaining why Syracuse still deserved a #1 seed despite the loss to Georgetown. He said that Syracuse is always good to him, so he always roots for the Orange except when they are facing his alma mater. Nice save, Mr. President.)
- It’s 12:44 AM. I was at the Garden for most of the day. Now I’m watching our game again on TV. Yeah, today was a good day.
Preview of Friday's Game: Georgetown v. Marquette, 7pm
“I don’t think Georgetown can match up with [Lazar Hayward.] –Hubert Davis
The Big East 2k10 payback tour continues tomorrow night for the Hoyas, as they try to avenge yet another loss against a feisty Marquette squad. Both teams will be playing their third game in three days, so if fatigue is a factor, it will be an issue for both teams.
The last time these two teams met, Marquette eked out a home victory in what proved to be a grueling matchup. Despite shooting only 38% from the field, Marquette got timely rebounds and knocked down some critical threes, particularly midway through the second half. Marquette hit an impressive 12 threes that night, as David Cubillan somehow managed to knock down all six of his three point attempts (remember that?).
Marquette was supposed to be a two-man operation coming into this season, with Lazar Hayward (18 ppg, 8 rpg) and Jimmy Butler (14 ppg, 6rpg) leading the way. For the most part, Hayward and Butler have proven to be this team’s core; but few people expected so much production out of Marquette’s supporting cast. Veterans Cubillan and Maurice Acker have given Marquette steady backcourt leadership (Acker has been the most consistent passer on the team). Meanwhile, guys like Darius Johnson-Odom (12 ppg) and Dwight Buycks (who killed us in the last game) have played hard and stepped up their games in the second half of conference play. Credit Buzz Williams with molding this team into a tough, hard-nosed squad that battles hard and finds a way to stay in every game.
Keys to the Game:
1. Defending the Perimeter: We can’t let them hit 12 threes again. Marquette has six or seven guys that can knock down threes. It’s fine to let Buycks and Hayward shoot threes, but we can’t let anyone else get wide open looks. Clamp down and defend the perimeter.
2. Hubert Davis is Silly: We don’t have anyone who can match up with Lazar Hayward? How about Greg Monroe? Or Hollis Thompson? I have a better question, Hubert. Who’s guarding Greg Monroe? Get serious. (So anyway, this “key” is that we have to limit Hayward’s production. I think we can, but we have to get it done. He’s one of the best mid-range jump shooters in the conference.)
3. The Foul Situation: Again, I expect fouls to play a big role in this game. Neither team is particularly deep, so if either squad picks up early fouls, it could go a long way in deciding the outcome of this one. If Hayward gets into foul trouble, we’ll be in great shape. Marquette lost to ND in overtime last week because the Golden Eagles were largely ineffective once Hayward fouled out at the end of regulation.
4. Crash the Boards: Marquette is a patient team that rebounds very well. The last time we played them, the Golden Eagles snagged lots of offensive rebounds to stay in front of us. Timely shooting and key rebounds proved to be the difference. We can’t get beat on the glass.
5. Austin: Let’s see Free knock down some threes in this game. I miss that smooth stroke.
I remember when we lost to Marquette. I wasn’t happy. I thought we were the better team. It’s time to avenge that loss. I want to see Buzz Williams’ face turn bright pink.
Friday night at the Garden is the hottest ticket in town. And there’s no place I’d rather be.
The Big East semis. It’s good to be back.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Marquette.