Games That Matter - Georgetown v. Marquette Preview

Games that Matter – February 11, 2011

ESPN / USA Today: 11
AP: 11
RPI: 4


A Taste of Hollywood in Syracuse:  Hollis Thompson and his Skinny Jeans Squeeze the Orange, 64-56 
“His West Coast thing, coming here with the skinny jeans and real colorful stuff, that’s not us.  It’s a little different, but he has his own style, his own swagger.”  -Chris Wright, on Hollis Thompson
Hollis Thompson’s 11 points, including 3 huge three-pointers, along with Chris Wright’s 9 assists, propelled the Hoyas to their biggest win of the season and seventh consecutive victory.  The age-old question of what happens when you combine East Coast swagger with West Coast swagger has finally been answered: Syracuse loses, and JTIII gets his first of many victories at the Carrier Dome.  It wasn’t exactly a union of Biggie and Tupac, but the music was just as sweet.  Georgetown now has sole possession of third place in the best conference in the world.
Here are some other thoughts on Wednesday’s gratifying, amazing, spectacular win:
·        As much as I love watching Austin and Jason attempt wide open threes, I get much more excited when Hollis is standing all alone behind the three-point line.  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s his magic stroke, or maybe he just has a penchant for hitting big-time threes.  Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of it.  His shots are picture perfect.  Plus, he had 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and ZERO turnovers.  The best word to describe his performance isn’t even an adjective.  It’s “Hollywood”.
·        Riding the New York subway on weekday mornings during rush hour offers you the privilege of seeing exhausted and unhappy faces.   Some people are tired and in dire need of a nap.  Others hate their jobs and ponder killing themselves on the way to work.  One guy’s listening to loud music while grimacing; another guy is pretending to read a book.  Nobody is happy, except maybe that homeless person.  But even they are slow to act (they only beg for change in the afternoon).  So Thursday morning, when I am sitting on the train with a huge smile on my face, humming the lyrics to Usher’s “Oh My Gosh” in my head, people must have thought I was a psychopath.  That’s what happens the morning after Georgetown beats Syracuse.  The world just seems like a much better place.
·        You’ve all read this multiple times by now, but it’s worth repeating: we had 20 assists on 24 field goals.  That’s why people like watching Georgetown play.  It’s so pretty it makes you cry.  Needless to say, when we get 20 assists or more in a single game, we don’t lose.
·        And yet, as pretty as our offense looked, it was our defense that got the job done.  For the fourth time in the last five games, the defense was the key.  We limited Syracuse to 56 points (its lowest total in Big East play this year) on 39.6% shooting.  And somehow, we forced Syracuse, a team whose strength is pounding the ball inside, to shoot 16 threes.  Say what you want about Rick Jackson’s foul troubles.  He still played 31 minutes.  And in those 31 minutes, he scored a grand total of ONE BASKET.  The so-called best big man in the Big East was effectively stopped by a collection of Julian, Nate, Henry and Jerrelle.  That’s why JTIII got his first win at the Dome.
·        Syracuse shot more free throws than we did….and lost.  So much for that theory.  Speaking of free throws, we continued our hot shooting by making 7 of 13 (53%).  Keep it up, fellas.
·        Anybody look at other scores during our game on Wednesday?  You notice Maryland beat Longwood by 50?  Longwood!  Who the hell plays Longwood in the middle of February?  Probably a team that needs a confidence boost after having yet another mediocre season in the ACC.  Longwood.  Does Gary Williams understand that even though Maryland won the game, their RPI took a big hit?  Longwood’s RPI is #329.  What a dumb game to play. 
·        Much has been said about Syracuse’s lethargic response to Georgetown’s decisive run at the end of the second half.  Aside from the fact that the Orange didn’t make a field goal in the final 6 minutes of the game, they just looked tired and slow.  Most noticeably, what the hell happened in the last 30 seconds?  With Georgetown up 6 or 8 points, Syracuse didn’t even try to foul.  They just gave up.  It was bizarre.  On a night when Rutgers came back to beat ‘Nova after trailing by 10 with less than 2 minutes to go, and 5 with 11 seconds to go, Syracuse just didn’t seem to care.  I guess that’s what happens when you realize that you’re just not as good as the other team.
·        Henry Sims is running for GUSA vice-president.  What an amazing decision by the guy who asked Henry to be on his ticket.  Who the hell is going to vote against big Hank?  With his improved passing skills this season, Henry is clearly a man of the people.  If he could only develop his low-post play, he would be an unstoppable force, or more appropriately, a slightly worse version of Wesley Wilson.  For you young readers out there, Wesley Wilson played for the Hoyas from 2000 until 2003, during the very heart of the Craig Esherick era.  (Craig Esherick was a former head basketball coach.)  He was a key part of Georgetown’s triumphant march to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2001-02 season.  People always forget about him.  He was not as charismatic as Hank Sims. 
·        How many “Hank for Vice-President!” signs can we expect at the next home game?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  If Biden shows up for the Syracuse game, he might get really confused and upset (which is fine, considering he did get one of his degrees from that terrible place).
·        Congratulations are in order for Little Markel for his most productive 10 minutes of the season.  A helpful 6 points on 2 of 2 shooting and some quality time on the court.  He’s all growns up.
·        Georgetown is now 10-0 when hitting at least 8 threes in a game and 15-0 when shooting at least 33% from three-point range.
·        Ever bite into a taco or a Vietnamese soft bun and think “Wow, that tasted really good, except for something that I can’t really put my finger on”?  Here’s a hint.  It was the cilantro.  Cilantro is DISGUSTING.  Want to read haikus written by fellow cilantro-haters? .  Big thanks to long-time reader New Herz City for that exciting piece of news. 
Here’s our favorite one:
Ah! Satan’s nut moss
scattered all over my plate,
a dump on my food.  
·        Here’s what Rick Jackson had to say after the game: "The refs really took me out of my game. After you've been sitting out and you come back in, you don't want to foul, so you play a little timid. In a game like this, a rivalry like this, you'd think the refs would let you play your game. They blew the whistle a lot. What can you do?”  You know what you can do, Rick.  Keep your mouth shut and stop whining.  Also, you can STOP FOULING.  You know who didn’t complain about playing “timid” with 4 fouls?  JULIAN VAUGHN. 
·        Eamon Brennan: “If you look up ‘impressive conference road win’ in the imaginary multimedia dictionary I just made up in the confines of my own brain, you would be immediately greeted by an replay of Georgetown's 64-56 win over Syracuse….  No, Big East road wins don't get much more impressive than that.”  Yup.
·        Bad numbers from our big win: Nate Lubick, Henry Sims and Jerrelle Benimon combined for 3 points, 3 rebounds and 5 fouls in 37 minutes.  Their defense was good.  Their offense was terrible.
·        Love how we broke down the zone.  We wondered if it was going to be Nate or Julian or Henry or Austin standing at the foul line in the middle of that zone.  It was all of them.  Plus Chris and Hollis.  We used all of them.  People highlight the fact that Chris was often the man in the middle, and he was able to make quick passes to perimeter shooters, or drive to the basket and kick the ball out.  This is true.  And our smaller lineup was extremely effective – we were just too fast.  As good as Chris was in the middle of the zone, though, the reality is that we still had to make deep shots to win this game.  Outside of Clark’s last two layups, we didn’t score very much in the paint.  Something to consider for the next time we play them. 
·        We beat Syracuse on the road and Austin Freeman didn’t even have a good game.  It’s scary how good this Georgetown team can be.
·        JTIII sounds like Coach Taylor: "We did a good job at the end of getting the rebounds we needed to get. We had a few timeouts where all we talked about - if you can call it talking - was, 'That's the game. That is the game.' We're causing them to miss. Are we going to get the rebound or not? Do we want to win or not?"  Clear eyes, full hearts.  Can’t lose.
·        Julian Vaughn is a man.  His hook shot is the ugliest thing of beauty I have ever seen.
·        Have you noticed that ESPN Insider now features blog postings from six current college basketball players?  Have you noticed that one of those players is Scoop Jardine?  Here are some excerpts from Scoop’s last post (just before we won at the Dome).  I’ve included my own commentary, naturally:
o   I didn't name Marshon Brooks as a guard to watch for earlier in the season and I apologize for that one. He's becoming that scorer in the Big East, like when [former Rutgers guard] Quincy Douby was in school. Brooks is our best scorer, overall.  (Yes, Marshon is very good.  And yes, so was “I Douby Lieve”.  Love how he calls Brooks “our” best scorer.  Big East pride. Unfortunately for Scoop, Brooks is not Syracuse’s best scorer.  And that’s why Syracuse lost on Wednesday.)
o   [Georgetown is] coming into our building as the No. 11 team in the country on a six-game winning streak. Me personally, I get up for every game but I'm excited to be part of this rivalry. Playing the first game at home helps, too. We've got the best fans in the country and that boosts us. They do a great job of giving us energy. Rivalry games are usually games with runs and when the other team is on a run the crowd does a great job of getting us back into it.  (We’re excited that you’re excited.  Two comments: (1) You don’t have the best fans in the country.  Utah State does.  (2) Your fans don’t do a great job of giving you energy.  And that’s why Syracuse lost on Wednesday.)
o   You always want to be ranked as high as you can going into the tournament. Last year we were seeded sixth and we lost the first game [to Georgetown].  (Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure Syracuse was the #1 seed in the Big East Tournament last year, not #6.  And yes, Georgetown did win that game.  And it was glorious.  Totally understand why it’s more memorable for me than you.)
o   The time off doesn't matter. Personally, I'd rather sit two days [in the Big East Tournament]. If you get the right to sit two days it means you're one of the best teams in the conference. That should help you in the NCAA tournament because you've played fewer games.  (Really?  Tell that to your coach, who proceeded to whine and cry about how awful it was that Syracuse had two days off before playing its first game in the BET.  He was whining and crying because HE LOST.)
o   Personal thought:  Scoop should spend more time shooting the ball in practice instead of sharing his thoughts with ESPN. 
·        Baye Moussa Keita had 5 blocks in only 18 minutes.  He’s going to bother us for the next few years.  If he ever develops an offensive game, he’ll be very good.
·        Reason #376 why you may want to foul the guy with the ball when you are up 3 points and there are under 5 seconds to play:   (And a foul! And a foul! And a foul!)
·        We just beat Syracuse at the Dome.  WE JUST BEAT SYRACUSE AT THE DOME.


Preview of Sunday's Game: Georgetown v. Marquette, 1pm

This game scares the crap out of me.  It’s the type of game that, were we playing on the road, we would definitely lose.  Glad that the Hoyas are at home, but I also know that Marquette is much better than its record.  Marquette has the best offense in the conference, and has a bunch of players who are tough, solid rebounders and really good at penetration.  Because I’ve already exceeded my 565,000 character limit for this newsletter, I will try to keep this preview short.
Who is Good on Marquette
·        Darius Johnson-Odom – He’s the leading scorer (16.0 ppg, 2.6 apg) and he can score from the perimeter or in the paint.  He’s a 6’2’’ junior who has tremendous range.  That guy named Chris Wright on our team needs to stay close to him at all times.
·        Jimmy Butler – He’s the senior leader (15.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.3 apg).  He does a little of everything.  He can post up on smaller players or take bigger guys off the dribble.  He shoots very well from the field (49%) and the free throw line (79%).  I can’t wait until he graduates.
·        Jae Crowder – He’s the new guy who transferred from junior college.  He’s been a sparkplug for Marquette’s offense (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg).  At 6’6’’, he rebounds like he’s much taller, and he shoots 53% from the floor.  He has a very good handle and loves to put his head down and charge.  We might see a little 2-3 zone to prevent Marquette’s guys from penetrating as easily.
·        Dwight Buycks – He’s the savvy veteran (10.2 ppg, 4.3 apg).  He’s yet another guard who likes to penetrate and run.  He’s dangerous because he shoots over 43% from three-point range, but he’s also Marquette’s leading passer.  He does turn the ball over a lot, though.
·        Vander Blue – He’s the young gun (7.0 ppg).  A 6’4’’ freshman, Blue has been inconsistent.  He’s only made 4 of 22 threes on the season (18%), so please let him shoot.  You’re my boy, Blue. 

Keys to the Game:

1.  Rebounding:  We outrebounded Syracuse.  That was good.  But can we collect more rebounds against a team that is smaller than us?  Marquette is not a big team, but the Golden Eagles are a feisty bunch.  And everyone on the team rebounds because everyone has to rebound.  That’s what happens when your players are undersized at almost every position.  For Georgetown to win, the Hoyas have to show that they want it more.  (Side note: When Georgetown’s bigs step into the lane to help defend a guard who is on his way to the rim, make sure somebody boxes out the weak side rebounder.  Our help defense cost us in the St. John’s game.  Don’t make that kind of mistake again.)
2.  Scoring in the Paint:  Despite their size, the Golden Eagles do a great job of limiting points in the paints.  Julian and Nate need to score in this game.  After hitting nine threes against ‘Cuse, I’m not optimistic that the Hoyas will have another amazing night from beyond the arc.  It’s going to take more than 5 baskets in the paint to beat Marquette.  Whether we get those buckets on putback shots or pretty Julian hook shots, I don’t care.  But we need to score down low to win.
3.  The Foul Situation:  Marquette knows how to get to the line.  They drive to the basket, try to draw contact, and attack the glass after missed shots.  Julian and Nate need to be smart.  I can easily see one of them drawing two quick fouls, going to the bench, and then watching Henry get abused by a smaller, faster guy like Jae Crowder.  Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.  Play strong defense, and don’t commit silly fouls. 
4.  Austin:  We all know Austin is going to score 24 points in this game.  Obviously.  And Jimmy Butler’s good for around 15 or 16.  Those aren’t keys to the game.  They’re just facts.  
Marquette is better than you think.  Take a look at their losses.  Not a bad one on the schedule.  Now take a look at their wins.  They’ve defeated Syracuse, West Virginia and Notre Dame.  Not too shabby.  This is a team that’s fighting for their at-large lives and in desperate need of a quality road win.  They will play hungry and tough and they will be ready.  Georgetown can’t afford a letdown on its home court after that huge win at ‘Cuse.  The Hoyas need to be patient, play smart and maintain that same commitment to defense and rebounding that has propelled them to 7straight wins.
Let’s get past this game.  It scares the crap out of me.  Left side.  Strong side.
Let's go Hoyas.  Beat Marquette.

Stay Casual, my friends.

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