Games That Matter - February 15, 2013 - Georgetown v. Cincinnati Preview - A Tribute to Shawshank
ESPN / USA Today: 15
With only a few short weeks left in conference play, your Georgetown Fighting Bulldogs have somehow managed to claw their way to the top of the conference for the homestretch. Before this weekend's action, no fewer than six teams in the Big East have eight conference wins, and at least eight or nine teams have a legitimate chance to finish the season at the top. From here on out, every single game will be the biggest game this young Georgetown squad has played; and with two apocalyptic matchups against Syracuse looming, the competition is only going to get more and more insane.
If someone forced me to place a bet on Georgetown's finish, I wouldn't be able to. We could finish first, or we could finish eighth. Either outcome is just as likely. For now, let's just enjoy our little threesome at the top with Syracuse and Marquette (and really, does it surprise anyone that our casual three-way includes our best C-7 buddies from Milwaukee?). The storylines for the rest of February and early March are some of the most compelling storylines of the last several years. Georgetown and Syracuse will duke it out in two epic battles. Marquette and Georgetown will fight for the honor of the little Catholic schools. UConn, as it did on Wednesday night, will try to play the role of spoiler. And Mike Brey might actually ditch those mock turtlenecks for good. (If you missed it, Brey has recently been donning button-down shirts. Congrats Mike! So fashion-forward.)
For the Hoyas, the drama continues on Friday night, against the hated Cincinnati Bearcats, who have defeated Georgetown four consecutive times in two years, and in the process, have absolutely ripped our hearts out. At the center of it all has been Cashmere Wright, Cincy's feisty point guard, who is one steal shy of becoming the Bearcats' all-time leader in steals. In February 2011, Cash Wright made grown men cry when he played a role in breaking Chris Wright's hand (which effectively ended our season). In January 2012, Cash Wright's only two points of the game were his game-winning free throws, during a defensive battle that resulted in Georgetown blowing the game after committing too many turnovers. On Friday night, the Hoyas will try to get some measure of revenge against Cash Wright and the Bearcats.
In honor of Mick Cronin's striking resemblance to Boggs, one of the more memorable characters from "The Shawshank Redemption," today's GTM will include a preview of the Cincy game, with quotes interspersed from one of the greatest movies of all time. Enjoy.
Red: 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. He never said who did it, but we all knew...Every so often, Andy would show up with fresh bruises. The Sisters kept at him - sometimes he was able to fight 'em off, sometimes not. And that's how it went for Andy - that was his routine. I do believe those first two years were the worst for him.
Andy Dufresne is your Georgetown Hoyas. Only in this case, we all know where the bruises are coming from. The Sisters (Cincinnati), led by Boggs (Mick Cronin) have been absolutely sticking it to the Hoyas these last two years. Four consecutive defeats, lots of bruises, far too many turnovers, and one colossal injury. It's been awful to watch. During the "broken hand" game, we shot 25% from the field (including 5 of 23 from three-point range). In the next game, without Chris Wright, we were blown out of the building. In January 2012, we committed 17 turnovers and only scored one basket in the final six minutes. And last March, Cincy outdueled us in that epic double overtime BET game, preventing us from seeking revenge against Syracuse in the semis. "PAINFUL" just doesn't capture the extent to which Cincy has owned us these last two years. Only Andy Dufresne knows what it's like.
1967 Parole Hearings Man: Ellis Boyd Redding, your files say you've served 40 years of a life sentence. Do you feel you've been rehabilitated?"
Red: Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means.
1967 Parole Hearings Man: Well, it means that you're ready to rejoin society...
Red: I know what *you* think it means, sonny. To me it's just a made up word. A politician's word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?"
I don't know why, but anytime I think about Greg Whittington's hearing before the GU academic board, or whatever it's called, I envision Red's parole board hearing. Why do I think of a parole board hearing? BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKING IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON WITH WHITT. Don't get me wrong - if Greg missed final exams or cheated or plagiarized or stole bathrobes from a major department store, he deserves his suspension and/or academic ineligibility for the rest of the semester. But if Georgetown's appeals process is transparent (aren't there written rules and procedures for this process?), then we should know where things stands.
In the last couple of weeks, we've heard only mumbles from JTIII. First, we learned that Greg only has a "small, small chance" or returning. Next, we discovered that Greg will play "someday, but maybe not this year." And most recently, we were told that Whitt's chances of returning are "slim." I get it. We're a private institution and we take these things seriously. But c'mon man, people need to know. Should I recalibrate expectations for this year's team, or should I go into absolute delusional mode and start buying tickets to Atlanta? Which is it?
Part of me expects JTIII to do an interview next week and say "I've just been f*cking with you. Greg's gonna play at the Dome." It isn't unlike JTIII to be coy. For now, I'll just keep waiting patiently by my phone, waiting for someone to send me a magical text before every game that says "Daniel LaRusso is gonna fight." FREE COOL WHITT.
Also, Greg, if you haven't met with the appeals panel yet, I suggest you say something like this: There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullsh*t word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a sh*t.
Warden Samuel Norton: I have to say that's the most amazing story I've ever heard. What amazes me most is that you were taken in by it.
This is reportedly what Jim Boeheim said to the Syracuse academic panel that reviewed James Southerland's case. When asked whether Southerland did, in fact, plagiarize at least two paragraphs of a paper, Boeheim pointed his finger at the panel and started laughing. (Or something like this.) And let's be honest. If we extend this Shawshank analogy to others in the conference, is there any question that the warden is Jim Boeheim? No, there isn't.
Red: The man's been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he's an important man. He's an educated man. Outside, he's nothin'! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands.
I'm pretty sure this also refers to Jim Boeheim.
Captain Hadley: What the Christ is this happy horsesh*t?
It's the sound of the resurgent C-7 schools, which are fighting and clawing their way to the top of the Big East. We may not have as many people as the big football schools, or as much money, but dammit, we're going to fight until the end.
Andy Dufresne: How can you be so obtuse?
This one's for all of you horrible college presidents and athletic directors who are ruining college basketball. The money may seem like a nice little short-term solution now, but pretty soon you'll just need more and more of it, especially when your women's lacrosse team has to fly several hours for a hugely important tilt in South Carolina. Thanks for destroying these fantastic traditions and rivalries, everyone. Really, thanks. MONEY!
Speaking of money, I'm really looking forward to ESPN's "Rivalry Week" next year. Why not just call it Duke-UNC week? Which rivalries are left? Kansas-Mizzou? Georgetown-Syracuse? Rutgers-Seton Hall? Texas- Texas A&M? Duke-Maryland?
Red: I must admit I didn't think much of Andy first time I laid eyes on him; looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression of the man.
Truth be told, this is exactly the way I felt after watching Georgetown's first few games in the Big East this season. I didn't think we'd make the Tourney. And without Greg Whittington, I thought we might finish with a losing record. And now we're tied for first. Like Andy Dufresne, your Georgetown Hoyas are surprising the hell out of people.
I'm torn between Otto and Nate on this one. They both know how to get things. Nate gets layups, assists, rebounds and hustle plays. But Otto does a little bit of everything. Maybe we have two Reds on our team. I'm fine with that.
Captain Hadley: Uncle Sam. Reaching into your shirt and squeezing your tit till it's purple.
I think it's pretty clear that ESPN is Uncle Sam. ESPN is giving a purple nurple to the Big East.
Captain Hadley: What is your malfunction, you fat barrel of monkey spunk?
This is what Bob Huggins says to his players all the time. By the way, in case you're interested, West Virginia is 12-12, with a losing record in the Big 12. Hilarious.
Yup. Sounds about right for Georgetown and Cincinnati. The team that wins will be the first one to reach fifty points.
Warden Samuel Norton: I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
This is probably what Big John Thompson used to say to his incoming freshmen. Just replace "Shawshank" with "Georgetown". A basketball game consists of two punches. Make sure you throw both of them. I love listening to Pops every single time he's interviewed during a Gtown game.
"They leaving the Big East with a bad taste of UConn in their mouth."
I'm sorry. This quote isn't from Shawshank. It's what Ryan Boatright said about Syracuse after the Huskies pulled off the upset in Hartford on Wednesday night. Love the quote.
Boggs: Hey, we all need friends in here. I could be a friend to you.
Just stop it, Mick, or Boggs, or whoever you are. Your mind games won't work on us this time.
Andy Dufresne: You know the funny thing is, on the outside I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.
This is what Michael Carter-Williams reportedly said a couple of weeks ago, according to Andy Katz.
Red: I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright.
Let's see some Aaron Bowen out there on Friday night. AB wants to dunk on someone on national television. (By the way, let's not forget that most players on this team were involved in that brawl in Beijing. We couldn't let a week go by last year without hearing about how the China experience brought Georgetown's players closer together. One year later, most of the guys on this year's team are still benefitting from that experience. Aaron Bowen was the guy who was tackled. You want toughness? This team is plenty tough.)
Boggs: Now, I'm gonna open my fly and you're gonna swallow what I give ya to swallow. And after you swallow mine you're gonna swallow Rooster's cause ya done broke his nose and I think he oughta have something to show for it.
Andy Dufresne: Anything you put in my mouth you're gonna lose.
(Ummm....) I think this one is self-explanatory. Bite down hard, Hoyas?
Red: Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of sh*t smelling foulness I can't even imagine, or maybe I just don't want to....Andy Dufresne - who crawled through a river of sh*t and came out clean on the other side.
This is what Georgetown needs to do to gain its freedom. We're halfway there. Most of the "sh*t smelling foulness" won't be seen until we travel up to lower Canada next week. It's time to shock the world and make our move.
"You're an idiot, and really, a disloyal person."
Everyone knows that this is what Boeheim said to Andy Katz. Obviously, it was a dumb and quintessentially Boeheimian thing to say. For all you folks going to the March 9 game, you now have one more idea for a sign. We love you, Andy Katz. The more Andy Katz love at the Verizon Center, the more hilarious it will be (especially since Andy will presumably be there for ESPN Gameday).
Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.
Yes, Red, hope is a dangerous thing. But right now, it's what keeps us going. First place in the final season of the Big East is still a distant dream. But it's not as distant as it was two weeks ago.
Andy Dufresne: [in letter to Red] Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
Let's get serious.
Preview of Friday's Game: Georgetown at Cincinnati (9pm)
With only seven conference games left, Georgetown heads to Ohio for what promises to be a slugfest between two teams that play very good defense. This year's Cincy team plays the same brand of basketball that it's played under Mick Cronin for the last few years: the Bearcats rebound well, play stingy defense, and hit occasional threes. Without Yancy Gates, Cincy doesn't have a go-to scorer in the paint; instead, Cincy relies on its trio of guards for offensive production. Sean Kilpatrick (18.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is Cincy's best scorer, but Cashmere Wright (13.4 ppg, 3.4 apg) and JaQuon Parker (10.9 ppg) also provide some punch from the perimeter. The Bearcats' real strength lies in its interior defense. Guys like Cheikh Mbodj (2.4 bpg), Justin Jackson and David Nyarsuk comprise one of the biggest frontcourts in the conference. These three should pose a huge challenge for Hopkins, Moses and Lubick down low.
Keys to the Game:
1. Defend the Perimeter: Cincinnati shoots more threes than any other team in the Big East (21.8 per game). This doesn't mean that the Bearcats shoot well from long range; it just means they shoot a lot. The tendency to shoot from the perimeter can be partially explained by Cincy's inability to score in the paint. Because Mbodj and Jackson aren't exactly offensive juggernauts, Cincy's guards feel more pressure to contribute. Kilpatrick and Parker are the Bearcats' best shooters. Cash Wright started the season hot, but has struggled since re-injuring his shoulder recently (Mick Cronin has said he has trouble extending his left arm).
2. Win the Free Throw War: The thing that impressed me the most about our win against Marquette was our ability to get to the line. Marquette tends to beat us when they shoot lots of free throws, including when guys like DaVante Gardner flop in the paint. Last Monday, we didn't look pretty, but we gave Marquette a taste of its own medicine. We played tougher than they did. This may have been the first time Georgetown grinded its way to a win all season. It's what we need to do against physical teams, like Cincy and Pitt, that rebound well and play good defense. If we're going to grind out another win, we need to get to the line more than Cincinnati does.
3. Nate Lubick: We can't afford to have Nate get into foul trouble again. Something tells me we'll need him in this one. We're relatively thin in the paint, especially compared to Cincy. It will be a tough assignment for our bigs to compete with Mbodj, Jackson and Gyarsuk (who are all bigger). If Nate picks up two quick fouls, it could be a long night.
4. Cashmere Wright: He's actually been struggling recently. Since spraining his right knee in mid-January, and then re-injuring his shoulder, Wright has only converted on 14 of his last 67 field goal attempts (20.1%) and 8 of his last 41 three-point attempts (19.5%). What does all of this mean? It means that Wright has been really bad from the floor in his last five games. It also probably means that the Hoyas should focus on Kilpatrick and Parker on the perimeter, while forcing everyone else to beat us. The reality, unfortunately, is that Cash Wright will probably have a miraculous turnaround, while managing to hit a game-winning three. Dammit.
At this stage of the season, with only a handful of games left and a very muddled top of the conference, the season hangs in the balance. For a Georgetown team that was almost left for dead one month ago, things have changed tremendously. But let's not congratulate ourselves just yet.
It's mid-February. And we still have several tough games left. Which means only one thing for your Hoyas: it's time to get busy living or get busy dying. Which one will it be? We'll start to find out on Friday night.
Let's go Hoyas. Beat Cincinnati.