Games That Matter - December 30, 2011 - Georgetown v. Providence
ESPN / USA Today: 12
Preview of Tomorrow's Game:
I'm nervous. This one has "trap game" written all over it. Georgetown is coming off only two days rest after a big-time road win. Providence is reeling after a blowout loss to St. John's in its Big East opener. The Friars will be looking to make a statement and show that they've got more fight than you think. The Hoyas will just be looking to survive and start the new year with a Top 10 ranking. (Big thank you to Rutgers last night for making that possible. Eli Carter outplayed Erving Walker in a double OT thriller at the RAC.)
Despite finishing 14th last season, new coach Ed Cooley has led the Friars to nice wins this season over South Carolina and BC, and Providence has a good core of young talent. Providence is led by do-everything junior Vincent Council (16.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.7 apg), who is by far Providence's best playmaker and facilitator. The ball will likely go through Council on every offensive possession. Despite his ability to get into the lane and find open guys on the wing and in the paint, Council is not a very good shooter (42.4% from the floor, 26.8% from three) and he struggles from the charity stripe (59%). More importantly, Council is prone to committing turnovers (3.5 per game); his seven turnovers against the Johnnies killed the Friars earlier in the week.
Providence also has a number of key role players, most notably 6'4'' sophomore Gerard Coleman (16.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg). Coleman has a surprisingly good mid-range game and is more of a threat to score in the paint than you would think. Like Council, though, he struggles from the perimeter (23.1% from three) and turns the ball over way too much (2.9 per game and 4 turnovers against St. John's). Sophomore Bryce Cotton (15.1 ppg), a 6'1'' guard, is an emerging talent and probably the Friars' best shooter. He shoots over 40% from long-range and leads the team in three-point attempts. Whereas Council is more of a slasher, Cotton is a set shooter.
In the paint, watch out for 6'6'' freshman LaDontae Henton (13.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who is already off to a tremendous start in his first season. Henton has pulled down 42 offensive rebounds and has been tough to handle in the middle. Expect the Friars to also rely on 6'9'' sophomore Kadeem Batts. Batts, who was suspended indefinitely by Cooley, was recently reinstated and will likely play about 15-20 minutes against the Hoyas. He's a big body who doesn't stray much from the paint and should at least give the Friars another banger in the post.
Fun Fact: Providence coach Ed Cooley looks exactly like Prop Joe from The Wire. But that's ok because we've got Jabril Trawick (aka Marlo Stanfield) on our side.
Keys to the Game:
1. Force the Friars to Shoot Threes: Providence is not Louisville. With the exception of Cotton, Providence doesn't really have anyone who can knock down perimeter shots consistently. I'd be fine with a fair amount of 2-3 zone in this game. Make them beat us from the perimeter.
2. Get the Ball Inside: Providence doesn't have a lot of frontcourt depth. Henton is a nice player, but he's only 6'6'', and Batts is still finding his way after a month-long suspension. Henry, Nate and Otto should be able to do their thing in this game. Let's see if we can dominate a smaller team.
3. Work on the Press: This game presents a good opportunity for the Hoyas to work on their burgeoning press. Providence really struggled against the Red Storm's full-court pressure. The Friars won't be expecting similar pressure from us, so it could be effective. Against a turnover-prone team, Georgetown should force the issue a little bit. We don't need to press Providence to win this game, but it'd be nice to see us actually use a press to create scoring opportunities, instead of just slowing opponents down and trying to control the tempo. I'd love to see a few fast breaks for a change.
4. Avoid the Hangover: Big win against Louisville. A game on New Year's Eve. An empty Verizon Center. People will be thinking about their late-night plans instead of focusing on the game. The Friars won't. Providence will enter this game with a hungry "us against the world" mentality. Georgetown needs to bring it. Providence is better than you think.
With a team full of freshmen and sophomores, tomorrow's game will be a real test. Can we beat the teams we should beat? Can we avoid letdowns against inferior opponents? Can we match Providence's intensity? Let's usher in the new year with a comfortable win.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Providence.