Games That Matter: Georgetown v. Providence

Games that Matter – February 4, 2011
ESPN / USA Today: 14
AP: 13
RPI: 5

 Hoyas Edge Louisville, Give Fans an Entire Week to be Happy
In one of the more ugly games of the season, Georgetown narrowly defeated the Cardinals in a turnover-filled game in which the Hoyas squandered an 11 point second half lead and then came back to defeat Louisville by three points, 62-59.  Chris Wright led all scorers with 24 points (plus 5 rebounds and 3 assists).  It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but style points don’t help your RPI, so nobody cares.  Not even you, Jerry Palm. 
I love winning on Big Monday.  It makes your entire week fantastic.  You can sit back, relax and watch other basketball games without having to worry about the Hoyas.  This has been the greatest week of the year.  Thanks fellas.  (Note: The last time we played Louisville at home on Big Monday, we got creamed.  And that led to the worst week ever in February 2009.  Yes, I still remember it.)
Thanks for coming out, Peyton Siva.   
Here are some thoughts on Monday’s satisfying win:
·         Talk about an ugly game.  Georgetown and Louisville combined for 32 turnovers (16 apiece).  Peyton Siva had more turnovers (8) than points (5).  Austin Freeman had more turnovers (6) than field goals made (5). 
·         This game reminded me of Georgetown’s victory at ‘Nova two years ago.  Yup, that was our team that didn’t go to the Tourney and lost to St. John’s and Cincy and Seton Hall.  But we also beat Final Four caliber teams like UConn and Memphis and ‘Nova.  Check out the box score from our February 28, 2009 game against Villanova:  When you compare box scores, Monday’s game pales in comparison.  In that 2009 game, Georgetown and ‘Nova combined for 45 turnovers.  DaJuan had 8 all by himself.  Scottie Reynolds had 6.   Nikita Mescheriakov had more points (11) than Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman COMBINED.  (Interestingly, just like Monday’s game, Chris Wright had a "crucial driving layup" at the end of the game for the Hoyas.)
·         Speaking of Chris Wright’s clutch layup…and Hollis Thompson’s clutch three pointer….and Louisville’s three consecutive offensive rebounds at the end of the game, how can you not be reminded of our regular season finale three years ago when Big Roy and Co. clinched first place in the Big East with a closely contested game against Louisville that Georgetown ALSO won by three points?  In that game, Jon Wallace hit a fade-away double-clutch jumper in the paint with under a few minutes to play (much like Chris Wright’s whirling dervish layup on Monday); DaJuan Summers hit a big-time three to give the Hoyas the lead for good (much like Hollis’s shot on Monday); and Georgetown fans waited and waited as the Hoyas in both games allowed Louisville to take several long shots before finally getting a rebound.  The comparisons aren’t identical, but it’s close enough.  Check it out:
·         Love how Hollis only had two baskets, but each of those baskets was a monstrous three-pointer to end the half.  If Hollis can start scoring on a more consistent basis, we are going to be hard to stop.
·         In the bad news department, what the heck happened to Jason?  No field goals on 6 attempts?  That’s not very good. 
·         What was with Chris Wright’s expression after the final buzzer sounded?  It looked like constipated happiness.  My guess is that Jason Clark was supposed to foul Peyton Siva as soon as he crossed midcourt (with under 5 seconds left), but Siva eluded Clark and then Siva got off a relatively decent three-point shot that was way off the mark.  So that may explain why Wright looked so sheepish after the game ended.  He knows they almost messed up.  Either that or he sharted.
·         How good has our defense been these last few games?  Against Louisville, we held the Cardinals to 59 points and 35% shooting, not to mention the 16 turnovers.  Louisville’s two best players – Peyton Siva and Preston Knowles – combined for 4 field goals and 9 turnovers.  Keep playing solid defense and the rest will follow.
·         Julian Vaughn continues to impress: 10 points on 4 of 4 shooting, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks.  And he keeps improving that left-handed baby hook shot.  Who needs Big Vern when you’ve got JuJu?
·         Note to Peyton Siva’s dad:  Please put on an undershirt.

Preview of Monday's Game: Georgetown v. Providence, 12pm

Georgetown has won 5 games in a row, and Saturday’s game is sandwiched in between big games against Louisville and Syracuse.  But forget about the whole trap game nonsense.  I don’t want to hear about that.  The Hoyas are the better team.  And even though Providence is no pushover (as evidenced by its wins against Villanova and Louisville), Georgetown should win this game.  Just stay focused, continue to get stops on the defensive end, and STOP MARSHON BROOKS.  

Providence is in a bit of a rebuilding season this year, but the Friars still have plenty of firepower in the backcourt.  The two stars are 6’5’’ senior Marshon Brooks and 6’2’’ sophomore Vincent Council.  Brooks (23.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) will be a first-team All Big East player.  He leads the conference in scoring and is dangerous from both the field (shooting 48%) and the free throw line (shooting 78%).  Georgetown needs to smother him.  Averaging 3.1 turnovers per game, however, Brooks definitely makes his fair share of mistakes. 
The other star for Providence has been Council (14.4 ppg, 6.3 apg, 4.7 rpg), the unquestioned floor leader.  Council is the best distributor on the team and usually has no trouble using his Brooklyn savvy to get into the lane.  Unlike Brooks, though, Council frequently struggles from the floor (shooting only 36%) and is decidedly less effective from the beyond the arc (shooting 30%).  He also averages a whopping 3.6 turnovers per game.  The Hoyas would do well to keep him far away from the basket.
The rest of the Providence team is an inexperienced group that has had its fair share of ups and downs.  Gerard Coleman (10.6 ppg), a 6’4’’ freshman, is Providence’s third-leading scorer and has improved gradually over the course of the season.  Manning the middle for the Friars are two 6’8’’ sophomores – Kadeem Batts and Bilal Dixon – who typically get their points on layups and putbacks in the paint.  The Hoyas should have the edge down low (which is something I never expected to say this season).

Keys to the Game:

1.  Stopping Marshon Brooks:  He’s a first team all Big East player.  And if Providence had a better record, he would get more consideration for Big East Player of the Year.  Yes, his numbers are that good.  He’s a veteran who the Friars need to score a lot of points if they have any chance of winning.  Whether it’s Hollis or Jason or Austin, I don’t care.  Somebody’s got to get a hand in his face at all times.  MARSHON BROOKS.  Stop him.
2.  Getting the Ball Inside:  If ever there was a game in which the Hoyas should dominate the paint, it’s this one.  Providence’s stars are on the perimeter, not in the paint.  Even though the Friars have a bigger backcourt than most teams, their two tallest players are 6’8’’ – Batts and Dixon.  Get the ball to Julian and let him work.  This is also a huge opportunity for Henry and Nate to develop their low-post "moves".  I want to see Henry look to score underneath.  And I want Nate to get at least 5 layups and dunks.  Go up strong.
3.  Playing Like the Favorite:  Providence has never been an easy out for Georgetown.  But playing at home, and with the confidence of a 5 game winning streak, the Hoyas need to pounce early and often.  If the 2010-11 Hoyas are going to take the step from a good team to a great team, they need to jump on the Friars and slowly pull away at the start of the second half.  The more Providence can hang around in this one, the more the Friars will gain confidence and scare the crap out of all of us.
4.  Hollis Thompson:  Just a hunch.  Hollis has only scored a combined total of 8 points in the last two games.  He’s better than that.  He’s a very good shooter when he has time to set his feet, and he’s good in transition.  I’m expecting big things from Hollis in this one.
Providence is better than its record would indicate.  With wins over Villanova and Louisville, the Friars have matched two of Georgetown’s best victories of the season.  But Providence also tends to struggle on the road. Georgetown needs to use its home court and its experience (and better players) to set the tone early and cruise to an easy win.  We could all use a snoozefest on Saturday afternoon.  Let’s just get it done and then move on to the Dome.
Start early, keep playing solid defense, and step on their throats early in the second half. 
 Let's go Hoyas.  Beat Providence.


Stay Casual, my friends.

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