Games that Matter – February 22, 2011
ESPN / USA Today: 11
Chris Wright’s Bullish Performance Helps the Hoyas Defeat South Florida; Georgetown’s Winning Streak Extends to One Game
Saturday night’s game couldn’t end soon enough. On a day when DePaul pushed ‘Nova to the brink, St. John’s upset Pitt, Rutgers almost stunned ‘Cuse, and multiple top ten teams lost, we all just wanted Georgetown to escape with a victory as quickly and painlessly as possible. Although the first half was painful, the result could have been worse. Now, with no more regular season games against the bottom feeders of the conference, Georgetown has (thankfully) avoided picking up a “bad” loss since the first round of last year’s NCAA Tourney, against a team which shall remain nameless.
It took a season-high 26 points from Chris Wright for the Hoyas to right the ship and get their first of what will obviously be thirteen consecutive victories to end the season. On a night when Austin’s shooting woes continued (four points on 2 of 10 shooting), Chris put the team on his back and did a little of everything. He had four assists, three rebounds and made all eight of his free throw attempts. Chris was the best player on the floor; if he wasn’t, Georgetown would’ve lost.
And now, with three Big East games remaining, the real fun begins. March can’t come soon enough.
Here are some other thoughts on the last two games:
· Sometimes stats are overrated. Before Wednesday’s loss to UConn, Georgetown had been undefeated whenever it hit eight or more threes in one game OR whenever the Hoyas had a halftime lead. (Against UConn, Georgetown hit eight threes and led by one point at the half...and still lost.) Before Saturday’s win at USF, the Hoyas had lost their last four games in which Austin Freeman scored 12 points or less. (Austin only had four against USF...but the Hoyas won.) So much for the numbers.
· What’s the deal with Austin Freeman? In his last three games, Austin has only made 13 of his last 40 field goals and, amazingly, only one of his last 16 threes. It’s a good sign that Georgetown is winning despite Austin’s shooting woes, but you have to think that Chris Wright won’t be able to keep up his torrid shooting forever. Chris has knocked down 12 of his last 21 three point attempts. Stunning numbers from a guy who has never really been that great from the perimeter.
· After taking a one point lead with four minutes to go against UConn, we didn’t score another field goal the rest of the game. UConn scored nine straight points to eke out a close win. Remember what happened when we finished off Syracuse on the road? The exact opposite thing happened against UConn. We didn’t play like the more veteran team.
· I’m actually fine with Kemba Walker scoring 31 points against us. (After all, he needed 23 shots to get those points, and he also hit some ridiculously tough shots.) I’m not happy about his ten assists, though. And I’m really mad about Jamal Coombs-McDaniel’s 23 points on 8 of 11 shooting. He’s the reason why we lost the game. Poor defense.
· Can we all agree that the “UConn. Great Pick.” commercial is the worst college commercial of all time? I mean, look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSO7iYAvoek .
· Losing to UConn wasn’t a surprise. We were on the road against one of the top teams in the conference. And Georgetown was due for a loss after reeling off eight consecutive wins. But the game still bothered me. Rather than being thankful for an entertaining game in which Georgetown battled back from multiple second half deficits, I was just bitter and resentful that we missed a huge opportunity to steal another win on the road. If anything, the game reminded me how much I hate watching Georgetown lose – no matter where or when it happens.
· In the last two games Hollis Thompson has grown up. If he can develop a little more of a midrange game, and learn how to drive to the basket without throwing up a circus shot, he’s going to be huge for us down the stretch. I love watching him improve.
· If it seemed like we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds to South Florida, especially in the first half, it’s because we did. South Florida had 14 offensive rebounds. Gus Gilchrist had five all by himself. That said, we did seem to figure out how to box out in the second half.
· Against South Florida, we had 15 assists on 22 field goals. I love when that happens.
· In the last two games, both against teams with solid post players, Henry Sims had 1 point in 24 minutes of action. I’m not going to blame it on his busy campaign schedule….yet.
· Here’s a fun game to play. It’s called: “assuming there are only five guys on the Big East first team and positions don’t matter, who will be on the team?” In my mind, there are six guys competing for five spots: Kemba, Marshon, Hardy, Freeman, Gibbs and Hansbrough. Steve Lavin says that Hardy is “definitely” the Big East player of the year and it’s not even close. That’s obviously wrong, but is Hardy now in contention for a spot on the first team? If so, who gets left out? If I had to guess, right now I’d say that Hardy is the odd man out.
· Here’s another fun game to play. It’s called “will Chris Wright make the Big East second team?” This is an even closer call. Assuming Hardy gets left off the first team, Chris would be competing against Corey Fisher, Rick Jackson, Kris Joseph, Peyton Siva and Casey Mitchell. And maybe others I’m forgetting. I think Hardy, Fisher and Jackson are locks for the second team. So it really comes down to Wright versus Siva and Joseph (and others I’m forgetting). Hmmm.
Preview of Wednesday's Game: Georgetown v. Cincinnati, 9pm
The Hoyas return to the Phone Booth for two big games after a sluggish last week of basketball. Georgetown is currently battling for a double bye with several other teams and it looks like the muddled middle of the Big East will remain muddled until the final games of conference play. For Georgetown, Wednesday’s game presents an opportunity to stay one step ahead of the pack and put pressure on some other contenders. For Cincinnati, this game presents an opportunity to impress the Selection Committee with a huge road win against a top team. It’s a big one for both squads.
Cincy’s strength lies in its balance. Yancy Gates is probably the headliner, but his minutes have waned in the last few contests as a result of selfish play and clashes with the coaching staff. Instead of a Kemba or a Marshon, Cincy has nine players averaging ten or more minutes. Here are the biggest threats:
Dion Dixon: The 6’3’’ junior (11.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg) does a little of everything. He hits threes, penetrates pretty well, and shoots well from the line.
Yancy Gates: The 6’9’’ junior (10.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is one of the best low-post players in the conference. Even though he has played reduced minutes in a few recent games, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. He’s big and strong and could give Julian fits in the middle. Nate and Henry can’t guard him. He’s too big for them. Gates doesn’t have much of a midrange game, but he knows how to use his body to grab rebounds and score in the paint. In Cincy’s last game (against Providence), he played better than he has in a few weeks. He scored 21 points in 35 minutes of action.
Rashad Bishop: The 6’6’’ senior (8.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg) is somewhat of an X factor. He’s not a great perimeter shooter, but he’s the Bearcats’ best free throw shooter and has really been stepping up his play in the last few weeks. Against Providence, he scored 23 points in 44 minutes. He’s provided steady leadership on a team that is clawing its way back to the NCAA Tourney.
Cashmere Wright: The 6’0’’ sophomore (9.6 ppg, 3.9 apg) is the closest thing Cincy has to a floor general. He leads the team in assists and steals and also shoots very well from the line. But he’s sometimes erratic, and leads the team in turnovers per game. Against Providence, Wright chipped in with 11 points and 11 assists.
Sean Kilpatrick: The 6’4’’ freshman (10.3 ppg) has been a welcome surprise for the Bearcats. Cincy’s most consistent perimeter shooter, Kilpatrick leads the team in three-point shooting (41%).
Keys to the Game:
1. Forcing Perimeter Shots: Kilpatrick aside, Cincy doesn’t shoot very well from the perimeter (34%). Georgetown needs to keep Gates and Bishop out of the paint and force the Bearcats to launch deep shots. If this game turns into a street fight down low, the Hoyas will lose. Yancy Gates, Ibrahima Thomas and Biggie McClain are too big and too strong. Make Cincy beat us deep.
2. Limiting Second Chance Points: Cincinnati is one of the better rebounding teams in the conference. We need to keep Gates and Co. off the glass and prevent easy putbacks. We can’t afford to play like we did in the first half against USF.
3. Bench Play: Outside of Hollywood Thompson, we haven’t gotten much production from our bench. If the refs are whistle-happy, Cincy will have the advantage with its deep and experienced bench. Guys like Henry and Little Markel and Vee need to start contributing meaningful minutes, especially as this team enters the homestretch.
4. Austin: It’s time for #15 to find that shooting stroke and start delivering again. Chris is bound to have an off night after being so hot for so long. Austin needs to play like Austin again.
This is the first of two games against Cincinnati in less than two weeks. It’s a game the Hoyas can’t afford to lose. With a gigantic game against ‘Cuse and a road trip to Cincy (on Cincy’s senior day) looming, we need to win this game.
Cincy needs a huge road victory, so the Bearcats will be hungry. Georgetown needs this game too – to keep pace with other contenders at the top of the conference – and also to gain a little momentum heading into the last week of conference play. Make no mistake about it. Wednesday’s game is big. Let’s worry about Saturday on Saturday. On Wednesday, let’s just get another W.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Cincinnati.