Games That Matter – December 1, 2011 – Georgetown at Alabama
Let's Go, Hoyas. via www.princetonbasketball.com
ESPN / USA Today: N/A
Preview of Tonight's Game:
So now we get Alabama. A nice little flight to Tuscaloosa for THE FIRST BIG ROAD GAME. Alabama comes into this contest undefeated, with decent wins over Oakland, Maryland, Wichita State, Purdue and VCU. After getting denied entry into the NCAA Tourney last year, Anthony Grant beefed up this year’s schedule with some quality opponents. The Hoyas are next in line.
More Games That Matter after The Jump:
With two legitimate NBA prospects – 6’8’’ senior forward JaMychal Green and 6’6’’ junior Tony Mitchell – the Crimson Tide are probably the third best team in the SEC behind Kentucky and Florida. JaMychal Green (15.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) is more than just a load in the middle. Over the last year he has developed a solid mid-range game and is also an excellent free-throw shooter. Henry and Nate will definitely have their hands full. Green is probably the most skilled big man in the conference, and there’s a lot more finesse to his game than you might think. Tony Mitchell (14.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg) is arguably Alabama’s most important player. At 6’6’’, he’s a strong rebounder and defender. His offensive skill set has improved tremendously, and he’s developed a decent outside shot to go along with his ability to penetrate and score. Mitchell has been hobbled recently by a sprained ankle, so he may not be as explosive as usual.
Alabama’s third most important player is Trevor Releford, a 6’0’’ sophomore guard (11.6 ppg) who leads the team in assists (2.4 apg). He’s not the quickest guy, but he takes smart shots and he’s an excellent defender and leads the team in steals.
The Crimson Tide are just as young, if not younger, than Georgetown. Four Alabama players average over ten minutes per game, and their development throughout the season will go a long way in determining how far this Alabama team can go. Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper are tall guards who, thus far, have shown a good ability to rebound and defend. Neither is a particularly good shooter, though, so the Hoyas would do well to force these guys to launch from deep. Trevor Lacey is probably the most highly touted of the freshmen. He’s definitely Alabama’s best ball handler and will likely be a factor in this game if Alabama struggles to get the ball up the court. Nick Jacobs, a 6’8’’ freshman, is still a work in progress, but he’s the most "traditional" big man on Alabama’s team. He’s a decent rebounder and shot blocker and he does most of his work in the paint.
Fun fact: Alabama has players on its roster from Sweden, Senegal and Belgium. Who knew that Tuscaloosa was such an international city?
Keys to the Game:
1. Forcing Perimeter Shots: As a team, Alabama shoots 28% from beyond the arc. I expect the Hoyas to employ a lot of zone in this game to force Alabama to shoot over the top. Green and Mitchell are dangerous in the paint and have excellent mid-range games. Georgetown should force them to the perimeter and dare them to hit threes.
2. Limiting Second Chance Points: Alabama does an exceptional job of collecting offensive rebounds. The Crimson Tide aren’t the biggest of teams, but they do have Green and Mitchell, in addition to a number of oversized guards who rebound well and like to pound the interior. Nate and Hank, in particular, need to do their thing. Alabama still isn’t very effective in its half-court sets, so Georgetown shouldn’t allow them to get easy buckets off of misses.
3. Limiting Turnovers: We’ve done reasonably well so far and tonight is not the time to reverse the trend. Alabama is one of the best defensive teams in the country. It doesn’t mean they will be able to shut down our offense, but it does mean we shouldn’t help them out by throwing errant passes and giving the ball away. We need to be careful.
4. The Press: VCU’s press was extremely effective against Alabama earlier this week. The problem is that we don’t have VCU’s press. But it doesn’t mean our press can’t be a factor. With a very young backcourt, Alabama might get rattled. At a minimum, our press might slow Alabama down and give them even less time to develop their half-court sets. The downside, of course, is that if our press is weak, they might be able to exploit it for easy buckets. We should pick and choose carefully.
I’m excited for this game. Alabama has won 24 consecutive home games. They are a good team that will definitely make the Tournament this year, but they’re not exactly a powerhouse. I expect a relatively even matchup and a low scoring affair. And frankly, I expect to win. I really think we have the better team. Let’s hope I’m right.
Recap –Georgetown 81, IUPUI 58
Some quick-hitters on Monday night’s win over the Jaguars:
- Hooray for Nate. After a sluggish start in Maui, Nate was the most active player on the court and filled the stat sheet with 8 points, 5 assists and a career-high 14 rebounds. It was clear that Nate wanted a strong start to this game and he seemed to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. Good. For Nate to be effective, he needs to play mean. I’m not talking about "smacking a Chinese player in the face with a chair" type of mean, but he needs to be aggressive. If he’s not diving on the floor for loose balls, he shouldn’t be on the court. A solid game for Nate. And I’m not going to back away from my earlier comment: he’s the best passer on the team. He directs traffic, finds open cutters and knows where people are supposed to be. Sometimes we overlook this, for two reasons: he can’t shoot and he has terrible hands. Nate probably should’ve had at least 6 more points – he kept fumbling the ball and missing layups in the first half. On the bright side, missing layups helped him pad his rebound totals. Can’t complain, though. I’ll take 14 rebounds every game. And thanks for that monster dunk. That was awesome.
- It’s nice to see that we can win comfortably when Jason and Otto only combine for four baskets. That can’t happen against Alabama, but it was still nice to see.
- I can’t stop rooting for Greg Whittington. He only had 7 points, but he’s starting to get a lot more comfortable in our offense. His development is going to be a real key to the season. With each passing game, he just looks better and better. If he can knock down threes on a more consistent basis, and score on little floaters in the lane, we’ll be a much more dangerous team. Love his length on the defensive end, and love seeing him on the court. It’s only a matter of time before Cool Whitt is averaging ten points a game.
- I had my doubts about Super Hank. Thought his performance against Memphis was a mirage. It wasn’t. He looked good. His 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists were solid. Bonus points for the dunk. Love how it prompted Mark Tillmon to make a Dikembe reference and talk about how "back in his day, there were no finger rolls or layups, only dunks." Good. That’s the way it should be. Now, will Hank be able to do this against one of the best big men in the country? We’ll find out tonight.
- Hollis had another solid game. He didn’t force any shots; he looked patient and comfortable. His 10 boards might be one of the more impressive stats of the game. Good to see him aggressive on the glass. We’ll need that kind of effort throughout the season.
- I was also really impressed by Little Markel. His confidence is up, he’s not afraid to shoot, and his passing has improved significantly. His 4 assists were a huge help. If he can penetrate regularly and find Henry and Nate under the basket, or Hollis and Jason on the perimeter, we’ll score a lot of points this year.
- We had 20 assists on 33 field goals, and only 7 turnovers. Please let us see similar numbers throughout the season.
- Otto had a quiet 6 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. And that’s exactly what we needed.
- I’m fine with Aaron Bowen’s three at the end of the game. The kid deserves it. If he hurt some poor IUPUI kid’s feelings, so be it. Bowen was hit with a chair in Beijing. He’s allowed to hit a meaningless three in a game against IUPUI. Deal with it, people.
- We finally got our first real steal as a result of the press. Mazel tov. Let’s hope for a lot more of that.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Alabama.