Games that Matter – February 16, 2011
ESPN / USA Today: 9
From Inspiration to Perspiration: Chris Wright’s Inspired Play Causes Buzz Williams to Sweat through His Suit
On a day when the Hoyas shot only 25% from three-point range and Austin Freeman sprained his ankle, Chris Wright spearheaded a gritty Georgetown comeback against a team that was in desperate need of a Big East road win.
Prior to Sunday’s game, all signs were pointing against the Hoyas. Marquette needed this game, and the Golden Eagles’ physical, slashing style of play always gives Georgetown fits. The Hoyas were riding a 7 game winning streak, so they were due for a loss. And with a win over Syracuse in its rearview mirror and a game at UConn coming up next, it was easy to lose sight of Marquette.
But here’s the thing: Georgetown actually won. Despite trailing by nine points late in the first half and losing Freeman to an ankle injury, the Hoyas came back, impressively. Chris Wright was the leader. With Austin struggling, Chris engineered a comeback with his shooting (20 points, including five of nine from beyond the arc), his rebounding (four) and his passing (5 assists). Chris was everywhere and just seemed to will this team to a victory it wasn’t supposed to get.
When all was said and done on Sunday, Georgetown had dealt Marquette its worst loss of the season (albeit by only a nine point margin) and secured its eighth consecutive victory in the toughest conference in the universe. Oh yeah, and Buzz Williams sweated through his suit. Gross.
Here are some other thoughts on Sunday’s gritty come-from-behind win:
· I don’t remember Chris ever hitting five threes in a single game. I’m not sure why he was left wide open for most of the game, but it doesn’t matter. When the opportunity presented itself, Chris took advantage. He was Mr. Clutch on Sunday.
· The runner-up for MVP of the game has to be Hollywood Thompson. The “undersized” power forward pulled down a career high 13 rebounds. Love the toughness against a team that is known for its own brand of toughness.
· Austin had an off-night (1 of 8 from beyond the arc), but still finished with 17 points. We don’t win this game unless Austin plays through his ankle injury. People keep wanting Austin to show more leadership on the court. There’s your leadership.
· Georgetown has now won eight consecutive games in the Big East for only the fourth time in its history. How did the Hoyas fare those other three times (1984, 1989, 2007)? They won the Big East Tournament and advanced to at least the NCAA regional final.
· Jason Clark had one of those games that he seems have once every three contests. He didn’t score a single field goal. Significantly, though, he made all six of his free throws, had four assists and ZERO turnovers. If he’s not hitting shots, he at least needs to play under control and try not to force things. That’s exactly what he did on Sunday.
· Rebounding was a problem for the Hoyas in the first half. Glad we fixed that problem in the second half. Special thanks to Hollis.
· The most important stretch of the game was when we battled back in the second half and then Julian picked up his fourth foul. Henry filled in nicely for Vaughn and Georgetown actually managed to stretch its lead. Henry’s seven points and six rebounds in 16 minutes were a big reason why the Hoyas held on.
· In case you haven’t seen “The Most Interesting Man at Georgetown” video, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16B6bwt4uo0 . Why is Nate supporting another candidate in the GUSA election? Does he have something against Henry? Will this lead to in-fighting? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. As long as Georgetown keeps winning, I don’t care. But if they start going on a losing streak, Nate’s gonna have to fix this.
· Marquette only had five assists. That’s just sad.
· Free throw shooting. We hit 16 of 18. They hit 18 of 27. That’s a huge reason why we won. Special thanks to Jae Crowder for missing all four of his free throw attempts.
· Yet another impressive defensive performance. We limited the Big East’s #1 offense to 60 points on 40% shooting from the field. When we get after it, we’re very good.
· Baylor played Wayland College on Tuesday night. Nice February scheduling. What the hell is Wayland College?
· According to this website: http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Stop-Excessive-Back-Sweating---The-Top-5-Tips-to-Get-Rid-of-Excessive-Perspiration&id=1226862, here’s one way to deal with excessive back sweating: “[Y]ou need to have a right set of clothes you can wear during the day. Wear only loose clothes so less heat can be trapped. Also, you should make sure your clothes are not dark in color. Another good guideline to make sure you are able to get rid of back sweating is to make sure your clothes are made of materials that give great ventilation.” Buzz Williams did not follow this rule at all. He wore a dark, tight-fitting suit that was probably made of cotton. Poor wardrobe decision, Coach. Next time, please wear baggy velvet.
Preview of Wednesday's Game: Georgetown at Connecticut, 7pm
Georgetown takes its eight-game winning streak to Connecticut on Wednesday for a battle with the Huskies. The prevailing wisdom is that Georgetown will lose this game. The game is on the road and Georgetown hardly “needs” this victory as much as it has needed other wins this season. UConn, for its part, has struggled recently, losing three of its last five contests. So if UConn is looking to right the ship, gain some momentum as the season nears the homestretch, and remain in contention for a double bye in the Big East Tourney, then it really needs this win.
And Georgetown? Well, Georgetown just needs to win because the Huskies are the next team on the schedule, and winning is just what we do. (And it’s very easy to root against Jim Calhoun.)
Who is Great on UConn
· Kemba Walker – He’s the leading scorer (22.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg), the best passer and the savvy veteran all wrapped into one. He’s also the best defender, with a team-high 46 steals. His numbers aren’t as amazing as they were two weeks ago, but that shouldn’t make a difference. The offense runs through Kemba. When he’s off, the team’s off.
Who is Good on UConn
· Alex Oriakhi – The 6’9’’ sophomore is UConn’s leading post player (10.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg). He’s also the best interior defender (averaging over two blocks per game). Oriakhi is UConn’s only player averaging five minutes per game who shoots better than 50%from the field. Julian will have to keep a body on him at all times.
· Jeremy Lamb – A candidate for Big East Freshman of the Year, Lamb has really stepped up his game in the last few weeks. He has emerged as the clear third best player on the Huskies (10.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg). His mid-range game and post presence are still much more advanced than his outside shooting (he shoots only 31% from beyond the arc).
· Shabazz Napier – When Kemba isn’t directing traffic, it’s the 6’0’’ Napier who’s in control. Another freshman. Napier averages 8.8 points and over three assists per game. He will likely be the starting point guard for this team for the next three years. Napier can penetrate and kick or step back and shoot from the perimeter. He’s not a great shooter, though, and often forces his shot. He only shoots 38% from the floor.
· Roscoe Smith – He’s the guy who passed over Georgetown for UConn. A 6’8’’ freshman, Smith has a decent midrange game (7.3 ppg), but still hasn’t developed much of a post game and often forces too many shots (39% from the field, 29% from beyond the arc). He has a solid skill set, though, and Georgetown definitely needs to pay attention to him, particularly on the offensive glass.
· Jamal Coombs-McDaniel – The 6’7’’ sophomore is the X factor. He only averages a little more than five points per game, and he often quarrels with Calhoun for more minutes, but at the end of the day, Coombs-McDaniel can score in a hurry. He had a big game in UConn’s win on Sunday night against Providence, and he’s the only guy not named Kemba who’s a threat to score over 20 points. He’s terrible from long-range, though, so the Hoyas shouldn’t give in to ball fakes behind the arc.
Keys to the Game:
1. Stopping Kemba Walker: Kemba will score his fair share of points. What Georgetown needs to do to truly limit his effectiveness, though, is keep him out of the lane and off the free throw line. Walker is the best distributor on the team and does a great job of driving into the paint and working the ball to Oriakhi underneath the basket and Lamb and Napier on the wings. When he’s not passing, he puts his head down and tries to draw contact. He shoots over 78% from the line and has attempted almost twice as many free throws (169) as any other UConn player. Georgetown can’t let him shoot more than seven or eight free throws in this game.
2. Forcing Perimeter Shots: UConn doesn’t have a single guy averaging ten or minutes per game who shoots 40% from beyond the arc. And yet, the Huskies still take a ton of deep shots. Keep them out of the paint and make them beat us deep. Period.
3. Playing Like the Better Team: No one should underestimate the experience factor in this game. Georgetown is, without question, the more experienced squad. UConn typically starts three freshmen and a sophomore. The Huskies are supposed to be getting a little tired as the season progresses, and they’re supposed to lose to more veteran squads like Georgetown. The Hoyas need to play smart, focused basketball and use their defense to rattle the baby Huskies.
4. Forcing a Half Court Game: UConn will run whenever its gets an opportunity. And with Walker on the outside and Oriakhi in the middle, UConn has the defensive presence to get stops and look for quick points off turnovers. Georgetown needs to continue playing solid defense and take care of the ball. The less the Huskies can run, the better it will be for the Hoyas.
5. The Julian Vaughn Show: Georgetown needs Julian to stay in this game and put up quality numbers. Against teams that feature taller, more physical post players, Nate and Henry have struggled. Georgetown needs Julian to body with Oriakhi and Okwandu and provide Georgetown with the interior presence that it definitely needs to win this game. No cheap fouls, no long stretches on the bench for Julian. He needs to bring it.
This is a game that no one expects us to win. We’ve won eight games in a row, but we’re playing on the road against one of the better teams in the conference. That said, we are the better team, and there’s nothing wrong with us winning nine in a row, right? If we’re serious about contending for a double bye in the Big East Tourney and contending for a #2 seed in the NCAA Tourney, then we need to win games like these. Don’t look now, but Georgetown and UConn are both projected to be #3 seeds in the NCAA Tourney, so this game is hugely important for both sides.
We’re playing well right now. We’re beating teams that we should beat and winning games when we’re not shooting well. This is all good. But I think we all want a little more. I’m not about to sit back and wait for us to lose. I want another quality road win to cement our position in that #3 slot heading into the homestretch. Let’s beat Jim Calhoun and then go on a nice relaxing vacation to Florida. Win on Wednesday and the Hoyas will deserve it.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Connecticut.