Games That Matter: Syracuse at Georgetown

This is a NYHoya joint:

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This one matters more than most.  via www.princetonbasketball.com

Rankings:
 ESPN / USA Today: 9
AP: 9
RPI: 6

Chris Wright Breaks His Hand, Our Hearts – Georgetown’s Season on the Brink 
 
This was supposed to be a nice little win in advance of a rivalry game against Syracuse.  It wasn’t.  It was the opposite of that.  We fell behind early in the first half, were severely outplayed in the second half, and then, just as it looked like things couldn’t get any worse, Chris Wright broke his hand.  There isn’t very much for me to say that hasn’t already been said.  Normally I am angry after Georgetown loses.  On Wednesday night (and Thursday), I was just sad.  Sad for Chris Wright being unable to lace up on Senior Day or for the Big East Tourney; and sad for all of us, because now we can’t look forward to watching Chris play.  The result against Cincy was not only the most poorly played game of the JTIII era, it was probably also the most depressing game I’ve seen.  (Or maybe it was the 4-OT loss to Notre Dame?  I can’t decide.  They were both terrible.) 

Analysis after The Jump:

Here are some other thoughts on Wednesday’s disgusting, terrible, ugly and miserable loss:
  • This is the paragraph you should skip if you want to forget about Wednesday.  For whatever reason (closure maybe?), I find it necessary to document just how horribly we played against Cincinnati.  You’re familiar with the score and the overall lethargy that characterized the Hoyas on Wednesday night, but the numbers take it to a whole different level.  We scored 46 points (fewest points in a home game in over 20 years).  We shot 25% from the floor (and 21% from beyond the arc).  It took us over ten minutes to score our first basket in the second half.  We only scored 12 field goals IN THE ENTIRE GAME.  Julian Vaughn was 1 for 9.  Markel, Henry and Jerrelle combined for ZERO points and three turnovers in a combined 25 minutes of action.  Chris Wright for 0 for 6 from the field before breaking his hand.  Also, we looked terrible.
  • Ok, now that that’s out of the way, back to Chris.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been telling people that, depending on what happens in the postseason, Chris Wright may go down as my favorite Hoya of all time.  Despite Wednesday’s 0-6 night from the field (and possible end to his season), I think I can honestly say that #4 is my favorite Hoya ever.  The kid tried playing with a broken hand.  (That bears repeating, plus the addition of all caps and bold face.  THE KID TRIED PLAYING WITH A BROKEN HAND.) But it’s not just the toughness and the heart.  It’s the whole package.  The fiery personality.  The clutch shots.  The tremendous play in the postseason.  The fact that he nearly carried us to a Big East championship last year.  And even in some of our worst defeats, he was clutch.  Against Davidson, he scored nine points and played a solid overall game in just 19 minutes.  Against Ohio last year he led the team with 28 points.  He is my favorite. 
  • More on #4: Why I’ll miss watching the kid play these next (couple of) weeks.  Chris can avoid a press single-handedly (see Seton Hall game), break down a 2-3 zone (see Syracuse game), penetrate to the basket for a tough bucket (see Louisville game), lead the team with great passing (see ‘Nova game) and only recently, knock down big threes when we need them (see Marquette and UConn games).  Chris is everywhere we need him to be.  And that’s why his injury just makes me sad.  He deserves better.  We deserve better.  And now I’m just rooting like hell for him to come back and give this team just one more chance to be great.
  • Watching Chris clutch his hand while crying on the bench was the saddest I can remember feeling during a Georgetown game.  
  • Why do Jerrelle and Nate continue to shoot threes?  It boggles my mind. 
  • Why does it seem like all of these injuries and sicknesses only happen to us?  At least once a year, the whole team has the flu.  Last year, we were calling doctors to find out everything we could about diabetes.  And now we’re researching the third metacarpal bone and we can say things like "The dorsal aspect of its base presents on its radial side a pyramidal eminence." (Thanks Wikipedia.)  Seriously.  Why does this keep happening to us?  When Austin went down last year, it was during our second-to-last home game of the season, against Notre Dame, and he returned miraculously for our last game against Cincy.  With Chris, the timing of his injury is very similar; he went down in our second-to-last home game – the difference is that he has no chance to return for our season finale against Cincy.  And that’s pretty terrible.
  • I really don’t want to think about the fact that Austin and Chris could graduate without ever advancing past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  So I won’t. 
  • Little Markel for Congress.  (Yeah, I definitely remember one of the announcers saying that Starks wants to be a politician.  Hopefully he doesn’t decide to run for GUSA VP next year and ruin our whole season.)
  • I have nothing else to say about that game.
  • Actually, one more thing.  Remember that time Chris returned early from his injury and carried the Hoyas to a miraculous run to the Final Four?  Get serious, people.  

 Why You Should Go to the Game on Saturday

  1. Because you hate Syracuse.  Obviously.
  2. Because even though you’re depressed right now, you might as well be depressed with thousands of like-minded people who will all be wearing gray and shouting like idiots.
  3. Because it’s Senior Day and Austin and Julian and Chris deserve your support.  
  4. Because the only thing better than beating Syracuse with Chris Wright on the floor is beating Syracuse without Chris Wright on the floor.
  5. If you’re going to the game, look at your ticket.  It’s a picture of #4 and #15 embracing.  Chris has a big smile on his face.  They both love Georgetown.  Get to the game to show them that you love them too.

 How to Support Chris Wright
 
Wear a cast to the game.  Raise your cast in solidarity with our point guard.  Hold up signs that say "We all have broken hands."  And cheer your ass off when he jogs out to center court to hug his parents.

Preview of Saturday's Game: Georgetown v. Syracuse, 12pm

Senior Day at the Phone Booth against our biggest rival.  Definitely the biggest celebration of seniors since 2008 (Hibbert, Ewing Jr, Wallace, Crawford) when the crowd willed the Hoyas to a narrow win over Louisville and a second consecutive Big East regular season title.
 
Syracuse comes into this game rejuvenated, coming off a narrow win over Rutgers and a solid road victory at ‘Nova, plus an entire week to rest and prepare.  The Orange will be looking for payback against a Georgetown team that defeated them at the Dome this year for the first time since 2002.  They will be hungry, but so will the Hoyas.
 
For Georgetown, it’s about pride.  The heart and soul of the team will be stuck in a cast on the bench, but that doesn’t mean the season over.  Wright’s injury creates an opening for a handful of guys who didn’t think they would have to step up their games until next year.  For Jason, it’s a chance to show that he can help bring the ball up the court without getting flustered.  For Austin, it’s a chance to show he can lead without his partner in crime on the court.  For Little Markel, who wants to run for Congress someday, it’s a chance to lead and delegate.  For Hollis, it’s a chance to show that he’s got more than a pretty stroke – that he can create shots for himself and get the ball to other scorers.  And for Veeeeeeeee, it’s a chance to finally get some much deserved playing time in the backcourt.  (We’ll no longer keep asking why Vee Sanford isn’t on the court.)
 
Our victory against Syracuse a few weeks ago was the high point of the season.  We displayed poise, balance and just enough fire to embarrass the Orange in their gym.  In that game, Julian had 12 points and 8 boards and outplayed Rick Jackson in the middle.  Hollis chipped in with 11 points, including three gigantic threes at the most crucial times.  And Chris Wright did a little of everything – six points, five boards and NINE ASSISTS.  He worked his way into the middle of that 2-3 zone and moved the ball around to guys who could make shots.  We won the game for, basically, two reasons: we took away the paint and we successfully used a combination of players to get into the middle of the Orange zone.  These two things will definitely be a lot tougher on Saturday.
 
Keys to the Game:

  1. Forcing Perimeter Shots:  Syracuse struggles from the outside.  I said it the last time, but it’s worth repeating.  There’s no Andy Rautins or Eric Devendorf or Gerry McNamara or Lawrence Moten on this team.  Jardine, Triche and Joseph are all decent shooters, but they’re erratic.  If Georgetown can take away the middle again and make Syracuse hit perimeter shots, Georgetown should be able to stay in this game.
  2. Points Off Turnovers:  This applies to both teams.  Syracuse’s half court offense is occasionally stagnant, but the Orange typically use their extended zone to get deflections, push the tempo and run after steals or long misses.  That’s how they score – they need transition buckets.  For Georgetown, Wright’s absence will probably cause some confusion in our half court sets.  We’ll need to rely on our defense to push the pace and run a little more after getting stops.  
  3. Bringing the Ball Up the Court:  Sounds basic, yes.  But Chris Wright is the only player on our team that can break a press all by himself.  Syracuse doesn’t usually press, but they might try it now that #4 is sitting on the bench.  Jason Clark gets rattled, Austin gets winded and Little Markel is too inexperienced.  Syracuse is bound to test our ability to bring the ball up the court.  If we can’t handle that, then we’ll have no chance in this game.
  4. Breaking the Zone: Big problem without Chris.  I suspect we’ll use several different players in the middle.  Hollis and Austin and Henry and Nate and Jason and Juju.  Don’t care who it is, but we just need to move the ball as quickly as we can.  Hit the foul line jumpers, take advantage of the short corners and go up strong.  If we just pass the ball around the perimeter and jack up contested threes, we’ll lose by 20.  Chances of that happening: 50%, unfortunately.
  5. The Seniors: Austin and Julian.  It’s no secret that we need Austin to score at least 20 points for us to win this game.  The problem is that Syracuse knows this too.  They’ll be focusing on him, and Austin will have to do his best to score when it’s there, pass when it’s not, and provide the overall leadership that the Hoyas will need in Chris’s absence.  As for Julian, he needs to shake off Wednesday’s performance and prove to Rick Jackson that the game at the Dome was no fluke – that Juju can hold his own against the guy most people believe is the best post player in the conference.  It’s the last time Austin and Julian will be playing on this court.  They should be hungry.

Last time we played Syracuse, the Hoyas  were determined to make a statement – that they were one of the elite teams in the conference.  This time around, the mood will be a bit more somber, but the intensity won’t change one bit.  It’s still Georgetown and Syracuse.  And we’re both still competing for double byes in the BET.  And yeah, we won’t have Chris.  And sure, it’s gonna be much more difficult for us to win this game.  But on Saturday afternoon, after Georgetown bids farewell to three of its stars, it ain’t gonna be that easy for Syracuse either. 
 
Chris Wright’s hand may be broken, but this team’s will isn’t dead just yet.
 
Win it for Chris.  Win it for Austin.  Win it for Julian.  It’s time to get serious about Saturday.
 
 Let's go Hoyas.  Beat Syracuse.

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