Games that Matter - March 18, 2011
ESPN / USA Today: 25
The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World:
"Everybody wondering if im playing in the NCAA's. Yes i will be playing."
Twitter is terrible. It's usually just a bunch of nonsense that makes me feel infinitely dumber whenever I read it. But sometimes it can be magical. On March 12, at 11:39am, I smiled for the first time that day. Because Georgetown got its swagger back. SMH.
(More after the Jump)
Coverage of the NCAA Tourney:
I don't really know what's going on with TruTV. I don't get it, and the commercials aren't helping (except that JTIII Dove commercial). "It's not reality. It's actuality." I have no idea what that means. In an effort to dig deeper, though, I continued watching TruTV minutes after the Tourney coverage ended on Wednesday night. Some show called "Operation Repo" came on the screen. Quick summary of what the show is all about: Fat people with tattoos yelling at each other while they repossess cars. (Or at least that's what I think it's about after seven minutes.) It's like "Jerry Springer" meets "The Fast and the Furious" meets "Jersey Shore" meets "Miami Ink". In other words, it's about to become the #1 show on television. On an unrelated note, congratulations to the Turner exec who decided to change Court TV to TruTV. Bonus points for misspelling "Tru". It's the newest thing to do in the TV biz. It worked for the "Scyfy" channel. Until they stopped airing reruns of "Lost".
The addition of the "First Four" has thus far been a disappointment, for five reasons:
1. No one really cares about these games. No matter what they call them, they are still play-in games. And that won't change even if Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg (and Steve Kerr!) are announcing the games (see Tuesday night), or even if excitable Gus Johnson is announcing (see Wednesday night). No one cares. This is an appetizer - but it's not even like potato skins or mozzarella sticks - it's like a boring house salad with vinaigrette dressing. I'll eat it, but it doesn't get me excited.
2. Stupid Labeling: You've probably heard this elsewhere, but it's worth repeating. Why the hell are we calling these games the "First Four"? The "Final Four" consists of four TEAMS playing three games. But the "First Four" consists of eight teams playing four GAMES. How does that make any sense? It's a cute marketing ploy, until you realize that it's terrible.
3. Early Decisions. I don't like being forced to fill out my brackets by Tuesday afternoon. It's a personal preference, but that's just the way I feel. Interestingly, espn.com and other websites are having a hard time figuring out how to accommodate the extra four teams in their brackets. If you were to look at the ESPN bracket on Monday, for example, you'd notice that there isn't even a place for you to choose the winners of the First Four games. (Compare that to cnnsi.com's bracket, which seems to have gotten it right.) If the First Four games aren't factored into your pool's payout scheme (i.e. you don't get any points for guessing the right winners), then what's the point? The message we are sending is that the First Four teams aren't REALLY in the Tournament. And you know what? That's not a bad message to be sending.
4. The games on Thursday and Friday are first round games. Period. The games on Tuesday and Wednesday are either play-in games or opening round games. You're not fooling anybody by calling the First Four contests "first round" games. Please. ESPN had so much trouble with this concept during their preview show on Sunday night. They would refer to the Thursday/Friday games as "second round" games, but the bracket display on their magic screens would still say "first round". I don't like the new format.
5. If the NCAA is going to insist on having these games, they might as well make them fair. Clemson played in the late game on Tuesday night, and now they have to fly to Tampa and face WVU on Thursday at noon. How is that fair? Also, why do these games always need to be played in Dayton? I'm getting a little tired of that venue. I mean, I realize that Dayton represents the heartland of America and is right smack in the middle of our great country (completely false), but please. Dayton is terrible. But not as terrible as Mike Brey.
Preview of Friday's Game: Georgetown v. VCU, 9:50pm (NCAA Tournament - "First" Round):
Ever since we lost that miserable contest to Ohio last year, I've been waiting for this game. And so have my friends Chris Wright and Austin Freeman....
The Rams of VCU are not a team to be taken lightly. They're experienced (four seniors), they hit lots of threes, and they like to press and run. And they've already proven that they can beat some of the better teams in the country (wins over UCLA, Old Dominion, George Mason, USC and Wichita State). Plus, thanks to Jay Bilas, they have a huge chip on their shoulder because most people don't think they should be in the Tourney. (But hopefully, they blew off some of that "us against the world" steam in that win against USC.)
Who is Good on VCU
Jamie Skeen - The 6'9'' senior leads the Rams in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). He's a big boy who runs the floor well, has great hands and is pretty solid from the free throw line (73%). He's also a very good defender. The key to stopping Skeen is keeping him away from the basket. It's no surprise that Skeen shoots 53% from the floor because he gets most of his production in the paint. He's not as good when you turn him into a jump shooter. Performance against USC: 16 points and 9 rebounds in only 29 minutes (limited minutes due to foul trouble).
Bradford Burgess - A 6'6'' junior, Burgess is second on the team in both points (14.0 ppg) and rebounds (6.1 rpg). He's also excellent from the floor (47.8%) and the foul line (75%). He's not as built as Skeen, but he's almost as good at rebounding and he's got a little more range than Skeen (he's made 55 threes on the season). Georgetown will need to keep him off the offensive glass. Performance against USC: 9 points and 10 rebounds; only 3 of 13 from the floor (missed all 4 three point attempts).
Juvonte Reddic - A 6'9'' freshman, Reddic averages just over 11 minutes per game. He tends to get more minutes against bigger teams, particularly when Skeen and Burgess are in foul trouble. He's wiry and doesn't shoot very well, but he's the type of player who can distract some of our bigs in the paint (read: Julian and Nate). Performance against USC: 5 points, 4 rebounds (1-4 from the foul line).
Joey Rodriguez - Rodriguez, a 5'10'' senior (10.6 ppg), is the Rams' floor leader and by far their best distributor (4.8 apg). He's at the top of VCU's press and is an overall nuisance, despite his size, on the defensive end. He does a good job of getting into the lane and finding Skeen and Burgess in the paint or Rozzell on the wing. His biggest weakness is that he has a tendency to force the issue a little too much (2.3 turnovers per game) and he's not the best shooter (35% from the floor). Performance against USC: 8 points, 5 assists in 38 minutes.
Brandon Rozzell - A 6'2'' senior (11.3 ppg), Rozzell is probably VCU's best perimeter defender and one of its better three-point shooters. The Rams shoot lots of threes, and Rozzell is the most likely candidate to attempt long-range shots. Performance against USC: 6 points (2-3 threes).
Ed Nixon - A 6'4'' senior (7.4 ppg), Nixon is decent from long-range and is a deceptively good rebounder. Performance against USC: 7 points, 3 rebounds (1-7 from the floor).
Keys to the Game:
1. Limiting Perimeter Shots: VCU likes to shoot threes. Rodriguez, Rozzell and Burgess are the three guys Georgetown will have to pay attention to. Rodriguez knows how to penetrate, but the Hoyas shouldn't double him when he gets into the lane because that's when he's at his best. It's better to force Rodriguez to throw up a shot than to allow him to draw a double and then find open shooters on the wings.
2. Breaking the Press: We are more or less guaranteed to see VCU's diamond press in this game. In fact, we'll probably see it after the Rams' first made basket. Think Louisville or Florida. (Shaka Smart was formerly an assistant under Billy Donovan, so it's not surprising.) I'd be less concerned about the press if I could be sure that Chris was 100% comfortable and effective with both hands. Alas...
3. The Hand: The Hoyas will only go as far as Chris Wright can take them. Put differently, it's all about #4's hand. Last week Jay Williams said that if he was tasked with guarding Wright, he would constantly slap at his left hand just to see if he can take the pain. Reason #457 why Jay Williams should not be on television. But yeah, we're all nervous. We can't afford to have a handicapped Chris Wright. We need the guy who carried us to a win at ‘Cuse. We'll know how effective Wright is in the first five minutes of the game. If he makes his first shot, I'm going to shout, very loudly.
4. Limiting Fouls: VCU does a great job of getting to the foul line, where the Rams shoot a solid 71% from the line (and even that stat is misleading, because the three guys who get to the line the most - Skeen, Burgess and Rodriguez - all shoot better than that). If we commit fouls, we give up cheap points. Plus, I really don't want to see Moses in this game.
5. Julian Vaughn: In the last four games, Julian has been the worst player on a team full of underperforming Hoyas. He's made only ONE of his last 18 field goal attempts. If that happens on Friday night, Georgetown will lose. Plain and simple. Against a scrappy team like VCU and solid defenders like Skeen, I can easily see Vaughn fumbling the ball repeatedly and turning it over four or five times. That can't happen. Nobody expects JuJu to be Greg Monroe. We just want him to play like he did against Syracuse. The big fella needs to discover his inner swagger. Now. DUNK THE BALL.
So, we're back. It hasn't been pretty these last two weeks. Losing four games in a row tends to have that effect. But with a new Tournament comes a new beginning. The weather is improving. We're not facing a Big East team for the first time in two months. And, most importantly, Chris Wright is back.
VCU is an experienced, hungry team that is led by a group of seniors that doesn't want to end its season on Friday night. But you know what? Austin and Chris don't want to end their careers on Friday night either.
Chicago is the perfect place to begin a winning streak. It all starts with that first little W. Our seniors aren't going out like that.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat VCU.