Games That Matter - January 13, 2012 - Georgetown at St. John's
ESPN / USA Today: 11
Let's all settle down. It's true that we suffered our first bad loss of the season. It's true that we committed way too many turnovers (17), including a whopping seven down the stretch. And yes, it's true that we were held to just one field goal in the final six minutes of the game. We also missed clutch free throws, committed too many fouls, and essentially blew a very winnable home game to the Bearcats. Articles have been written, bad words about the staff and the players have been said, and life goes on.
Playing two games in three days is only fun when you at least win the second game. Losing twice is miserable, and the five or six days you have to wait before the next contest makes it that much more painful. But it's Friday and it's time to move on.
Let me say five things that probably haven't been said about our loss to Cincinnati:
1. Give some credit to Cincinnati. Their defensive effort, particularly in the second half, was solid. When Hollis kept getting free for too many shots, they switched to a 2-3 zone. When Otto and Nate picked apart the zone, they switched to a 3-2 zone. And then they just kept going back and forth. Part of the reason we couldn't find any offensive rhythm was Cronin's decision to keep switching things up. On that last play of the game, Cincy switched its defense one last time, and it confused the hell out of our guys. Is this an excuse for our turnovers? No. But let's give credit where credit is due.
2. Cincinnati is likely headed to the NCAA Tourney this year. This loss stings, but when all is said and done, I think our third loss of the season will also be our third loss to an NCAA Tourney-caliber team. It's still a bad loss because we let this game get away in front of our home crowd, but it's not the worst thing in the world.
3. Mick Cronin's dad was picking his nose during the game. I saw it on the television.
4. You've heard a lot about our free throw shooting woes. But at the end of the day, Cincy is a 63% free-throw shooting team that somehow managed to hit 18 of 22 against us. If they shoot closer to their average, we win the game. Or, if we manage to take a few more foul shots of our own, we also probably win the game. Only taking one free throw in the first half was pretty terrible.
5. Mick Cronin looks exactly like Boggs from Shawshank. Click on the links below and then continue reading.
This is where analogies get fun. If Mick Cronin is Boggs, then your Georgetown Hoyas are Andy Dufresne. At this point in the season, Andy just got raped by the Sisters. ("I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight, and the Sisters let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but prison is no fairy-tale world.")
This season will be filled with a few feel-good stories (i.e. sipping beers like free men, winning at Alabama, enjoying classical music, winning at Louisville, building a library). But things will also get a whole lot worse before they get better (i.e. several weeks in the hole, blowing a lead to Cincy, Brooks hanging himself, Tommy getting shot). At the end of the day, your 2011-12 Georgetown Hoyas will have to crawl through a river of shit before they come out clean on other side. But you know what? Come March, it'll all be worth it because we're all going to Zihuatanejo....and stopping at the Super Dome on the way down.
(What I think I'm trying to say is that I'm still bitter about this two-game losing streak. But it's a long season. And if Andy Dufresne can wait thirty years, we can be miserable for a couple more days. HOPE.)
Preview of Tomorrow's Game:
The hiatus ends on Sunday afternoon as the Hoyas take the Bolt Bus up to the Garden for an early brunch against the Red Storm. (Note: Getting brunch in Midtown West is a horrible idea unless you're going to K-Town for some pho.)
As the youngest team in the conference, St. John's has had its fair share of ups and downs, and has spent the last few weeks just trying to see what works. The Johnnies crushed Providence in their Big East opener and eked out a last-second win at Cincy last week, but have also suffered bad losses against Northeastern and Detroit. It would be foolish, however, to confuse the Red Storm's inconsistency with a lack of talent. The Johnnies are talented. They will definitely win games against quality Big East opponents, even if they still finish in the bottom half of the conference.
St. John's is led by a pair of gifted freshmen: 6'8'' forward Moe Harkless (15.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and 6'3'' guard D'Angelo Harrison (15.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Harkless is a leading contender for Big East Freshman of the Year. He runs the floor well, has a decent midrange game and knows how to finish under the basket. Given the Johnnies' lack of depth, though, he frequently tries to do too much. Harkless still turns the ball over too often (2.5 per game) and struggles to hit shots from the perimeter (25.5% from three-point range). Despite these flaws, he's the focal point of the Red Storm's offense, and the Hoyas would be wise to keep him under control.
D'Angelo Harrison has seen his role increase significantly in the last month, especially when Nurideen Lindsey, the Johnnies' leading ball handler, decided to transfer. Harrison is the best shooter on the team and leads all players in free throws made, free throw percentage (80.9%), three-pointers made, and three-point field goal percentage (33.7%). He's a slippery guard who has a good handle and isn't afraid to shoot.
Down low, St. John's has a pair of quality players: 6'8'' junior God'sgift Achiuwa (12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and 6'6'' freshman Sir'Dominic Pointer (6.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg). Achiuwa is a workhorse: he's a banger in the paint and has thus far collected 52 offensive rebounds. He'll be dangerous on the glass. But he's still a work in progress, as evidenced by his staggering assist-to-turnover ratio (5 assists, 29 turnovers). Sir'Dom is a role player. He's a poor perimeter shooter (23.8% from deep) and one of the Johnnies' worst free throw shooters (47.4%), but he runs the floor well and plays hard. It's unclear when he was knighted.
Two other players worth mentioning are Phil Greene (6.1 ppg), a 6'2'' freshman from Chicago, and Amir Garrett, a 6'6'' freshman from Los Angeles. Greene is the Red Storm's leading distributor (2.4 apg), but he struggles to hit shots (30.1%). Garrett has a lot of upside, but he's still trying to find a role on this team.
Keys to the Game:
1. Force Perimeter Shots: This seems like a no-brainer. D'Angelo Harrison is the only guy who can stroke it from the perimeter, but even he shoots only 33% from beyond the arc. We should play a lot of zone and make St. John's beat us from outside. As a team, St. John's shoots 25.8% from deep.
2. Limit Transition Points: St. John's likes to run. Their guards will push the tempo any time there's an opportunity for a quick bucket. The Red Storm aren't the biggest team, but they have a lot of guys who can run the floor and score in transition.
3. Limit Turnovers: Thank you, Captain Obvious. I know we'll turn it over at least eight times. I'm just hoping for two things: (1) no unforced errors leading to fast break dunks, and (2) no more than two turnovers by Henry. That's it. Take care of the basketball.
4. Get to the Free Throw Line: Turnovers really killed us against Cincinnati, but so did our inability to get to the foul line. We need to get the ball inside early and often and make our way to the line. We can't let undersized teams shoot 15 more free throws than us. Henry needs to show that he's a force to be reckoned with in the paint. He's great when he catches the ball at the foul line, but he needs to get more touches closer to the basket.
St. John's is a young and exciting team to watch. They have lots of talent, but they struggle to play consistently for two halves. We need to develop a lead early, dampen their spirits and play smart. We're better than St. John's and we should win this game.
It's time to give Georgetown fans a reason to smile again. The next winning streak begins on Sunday.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat St. John's.