ESPN / USA Today: 14
Preview of Wednesday's Game:
Let's get right to it. The last Big East Tournament As We Know It is finally underway. Four teams have already been eliminated. Georgetown's glorious march to Saturday night begins in Session 3, as Revenge Tour 2K12 kicks into high gear on the very first day, with a huge rematch against the hated Pitt Panthers. And this one comes with a little added motivation, as we can finally send off the Pittsburgh faithful with a proper beating as they depart for the finer pastures of Greensboro.
It won't be easy. But revenge tours never are.
More GTM after the jump.....
The Last Time These Teams Met
The last time these teams met - on January 28 in Pittsburgh - the Hoyas played one of their worst games of the season and let an underachieving Pitt squad run all over the court en route to a twelve point victory. But the game was never even that close. Nasir Robinson made all nine of his field goal attempts while scoring 23 points and pulling down eight boards. Lamar Patterson may have been even better, hitting six of his eight field goal attempts for 18 points and an impressive seven assists. And Tray Woodall, in only his second game back after an injury, chipped in with ten assists. Pitt shot layups and free throws the whole freaking game. It was the first time all season that our defense was absolutely shredded. (If this doesn't sound familiar, it should. Marquette did the same exact thing to us in our last game.)
For the Hoyas, Otto Porter (14 points, six rebounds) and Henry Sims (ten points, four rebounds, five assists) both showed up, but no one else did. Jason missed all five of his threes. Nate was held scoreless. And Hollis completely disappeared until the final two minutes, when he scored eight points when the game was already out of reach. And oh yeah, we made 7 of 12 free throws. Pitt out-rebounded us, had 20 assists on 25 baskets, hit 19 of 22 free throws, and just looked like the better team.
And we looked young and inexperienced.
How Pittsburgh Has Looked Since January 28th
Pitt's win against Georgetown was in the midst of a four-game winning streak against Providence, West Virginia and Villanova. Since then, Pitt has two wins and six losses. Both wins were against St. John's. So Pitt's midseason post-Woodall injury resurgence was nothing but a mirage.
But that doesn't mean that the Panthers are a pushover. They're obviously not. Led by three upperclassmen and a bevy of hard-nosed role players, Pitt will be amped up for this game. Led by seniors Ashton Gibbs (15.4 ppg) and Nasir Robinson (11.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 56.2 FG%), Pitt has a pair of guys who have secured several victories at the Garden. Gibbs is a good three-point shooter (he hit four threes against STJ on Tuesday), but he's also capable of putting the ball on the floor and getting to the free throw line (where he shoots an impressive 85.6%). Robinson is a banger - he's only 6'5'', but he has 90 offensive rebounds and always seems to be on the receiving end of passes from Woodall and Patterson.
Tray Woodall is the little point guard who always seems to give us problems. The 5'11'' junior (11.5 ppg, 6.1 apg) frequently finds a way to get into the lane and set up easy layups for Pitt's bigs. Like Gibbs, he's also deadly from the line (86.8%).
Lamar Patterson (8.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.3 apg) is kind of like a baby Nasir Robinson. He's also 6'5'' and he does a little bit of everything. He can rebound, knock down mid-range jumpers, and he's dangerous as a passer. He's a real pain in the ass to guard.
Dante Taylor (6.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Talib Zanna (5.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) are both 6'9'' bangers. They're solid on the defensive end, and although limited offensively, they shoot extremely well from the floor and are dangerous on the glass. Taylor is a little more polished.
Keys to the Game:
1. Keep Pitt Off the Free Throw Line: Even when the Panthers have trouble scoring, they always find a way to get the ball inside and get easy points from the charity stripe. That can't happen. Gibbs, Woodall, Patterson and John Johnson are all excellent free throw shooters. We can't give this game away by being lazy.
2. Force Perimeter Shots: Pitt has a couple of good shooters, but on balance, the Panthers are more dangerous in the paint than along the perimeter. Expect a lot of 2-3 zone and hope that certain guys don't go off. Pay particular attention to Gibbs, but don't forget about Lamar Patterson (41.6%) and John Johnson (39.1%), two guys who have improved their strokes recently.
3. Attack the Glass: We can't afford to get out-rebounded again. It happened once; it can't happen again. We need to play with the same sense of urgency and toughness that Pitt always seems to play with. No time to be cute. We need to be physical. Nate and Whitt - I'm looking at you.
4. Jason: Jason struggled the last time these teams met. He only made three shots and missed a couple of free throws. He needs to be patient, try not to force his shot and work the ball inside whenever possible. If he struggles again, it could be a long day.
Why This Game Matters
Georgetown always struggles against bigger, tougher teams that go after it and rebound really well. Georgetown also struggles to defend savvy guards who have the ability to penetrate and find open shooters. Pitt has both of these things, which is exactly why this game will be a dogfight.
The Hoyas are not only seeking revenge against an old foe; they are also trying to lock up a 3 seed in the NCAA Tourney and kick off Revenge Tour 2K12 with that all-important first victory.
At this point, Pitt is playing for nothing but pride (and a better seed in the NIT). Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson don't want to go out like this, so the Hoyas need to be ready. Georgetown already knows what it feels like to lose on the Wednesday of the Tourney (see last year's ugly loss), so expect the Hoyas to be fired up too.
Wednesday at the Garden is traditionally my favorite day of the year. The crowds, the improving spring weather, the expectations, and the beginning of the greatest two weeks in sports. And this year I might try one of those Carnegie Deli sandwiches!
Let's get excited about Otto and Whitt's first game in the BET. And let's give the Pitt Panthers a goodbye kiss on their way out of the conference. The magic begins on Wednesday.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Pittsburgh.