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Pregame Party: Duquesne at Georgetown

The Hoyas open the season (again!) on their home court

No rest for the weary as your mighty Georgetown Hoyas return from their naval exercise for their home opener Sunday night against the fearsome Duquesne Dukes. The Hoyas will be favored in this game, hopefully giving them the opportunity to sharpen some of the soft spots in Friday's performance while also giving some serious run to freshmen. Still, while the Dukes are not on the Hoyas', neither are they NJIT-level fodder, meaning Georgetown will have to take care of business early.

It's Been So Long Since Last We Met. Georgetown has played Duquesne 13 times in its history, and actually has won just 3. Then again, just one of those meetings has come since Paul Tagliabue's senior year. More recently, the Dukes have gone through a bit of tumult. An up-and-down last season led to the firing of coach Ron Everhart. Everhart's fate was sealed by last year's middling results-a steep decline from a brief top-25 ranking the season before-and the transfer of several players, including star point guard T.J. McConnell, who transferred to Arizona.

The new regime is led by head coach Jim Ferry, who previously helmed LIU-Brooklyn, where he instituted a frenetic, up-and-down pace that would cause the casual viewer to pause whenever flipping by a Blackbirds' game. Particularly with this thinned-out roster, it may take Ferry some time to implement the same system at Duquesne. In their season opener Friday night, the Dukes narrowly lost at Albany, 69-66

Dukes to Know. Graduation and transfer claimed four of the Dukes' top five scorers from last year. The lone holdover is senior guard Sean Johnson (13.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg). Against Albany, Johnson was flanked in the backcourt by guards Derrick Colter (17 pts., 3 asst., 3 reb., 6 TO v. Albany) and Jerry Jones (2 pts., 2 reb.). None of those trio measures above 6'4", suggesting Ferry might shuffle the lineup against the much larger Hoyas. Based on the Albany game, that sub figures to be Quevyn Winters (15 pts., 11 reb.), a freshman swingman who had an impressive debut against Albany. Up front, senior Andre Marhold (5.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.4 blk pg) and sophomore Kadeem Pantophlet (3.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg) provide athleticism but not much size.

When Duquesne Has the Ball.

  • Dukes' strength: pushing the pace and getting to the line. Ferry's LIU team got up and down (2nd in the country in pace) and was second in the country in getting to the line last year (FTA/FGA). While one game is tough to evaluate for broader patterns, Ferry's new squad seems to have picked up at least one trait quickly, earning 23 free throws against Albany. Freshman guard Colter in particular drew a number of fouls, getting to the line for 11 attempts and racking up 17 points against the Great Danes. Winters also is a gifted scorer off the bounce.
  • Hoyas' strength: size. Duquesne has size off the bench, but those players saw little action in the opener against Albany. Assuming Ferry sticks with a small, quick lineup, the Hoyas should be able to clog the lane with Mikael Hopkins and Nate Lubick.
  • What to watch: foul trouble. Georgetown avoided foul trouble for much of the first half against Florida, and will need to avoid cheap whistles Sunday evening as well.
  • What else to watch: three-pointers. When underdogs like Duquesne keep things close, they often do so with a barrage of three balls. The Dukes shot just 25 percent from downtown against Albany, but Winters (3 of 6 against Albany) and Johnson (37 3FG% last year) are the most likely candidates to heat up from the outside Sunday night, while Jones and Pantophlet are role-playing snipers.

When Georgetown Has the Ball.

  • Hoyas' strength:. ball movement. The half that was played last night did not feature the Hoya offense at its best. However, this year's squad seems to have two common elements with its predecessors: the ability to move the ball quickly and effectively to the open shooter, but the tendency to lapse into lazy or little ball movement resulting in poorly chosen three-pointers.
  • Dukes' strength: not fouling. Ferry's LIU teams wracked up huge free throw advantages by pressing the issue offensively while not committing fouls on the other end. Predictably, such a defense yields more than a few basket, which Ferry seems to be fine with as long as his teams push the pace offensively. Georgetown didn't shoot any free throws in the first half Friday night, and shouldn't expect a bunch more freebies Sunday.
  • What to watch: zone offense. The Hoyas faced a 2-3 zone against Florida Friday night, and looked lost for the first several minutes, swinging the ball aimlessly around the perimeter rather than seeking to find the seams within the zone. Duquesne likely will play some zone to try to cover up the Dukes' size disadvantages.
  • What else to watch: the posts. The offense from Georgetown's starting posts was a mixed bag Friday night. Mikael Hopkins looked confident moving through the Gator zone, but had most of his shots blocked or stripped. Nate Lubick converted three of his four shots, a welcome development from last year, but also tried to force passes into tight windows, leading to Hoya turnovers. Sunday, they should have more time and space to operate.

Prediction. The Hoyas didn't look their sharpest Friday night, missing defensive rotations while lacking crispness on offense. Still, they hung with Florida through a half, and seemed to be improving on offense, at least, as the half wore on. Sunday, they should be able to fine-tune both sides of the ball while pulling out a double-digit victory. Georgetown 70, Duquesne 56.