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Shootaround: Georgetown v. Northeastern

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown will look to build on its 1-1 record when the team meets up with Northeastern this Thursday in the first round of the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-off. It will be the Hoyas' first game since November 13th.

Get to Know Northeastern.

Entering this season.

Predicted to finish 4th in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, Northeastern exceeded expectations and finished the season with a 20-13 record, including 14-4 in conference play to claim the regular season CAA championship. Northeastern advanced to the CAA tournament championship before ultimately falling to conference foe James Madison 57-70. As the CAA regular season champions, the team was an automatic qualifier for the NIT tournament. The devastating loss to James Madison proved a bit too much to overcome mentally for the Huskies, as their season ended in the first round of the NIT tournament with a loss Alabama.

What I learned from Wikipedia.

Northeastern was established in 1898 as the "Evening Institute for Younger Men" at the Huntington Avenue YMCA in downtown Boston, catering mainly to the needs of the city's immigrant population. In 1935 the school's name was officially changed to Northeastern University.

The original mascot of Northeastern was a live Siberian husky named King Husky I, who first appeared in the university in March of 1927. His real name had been Sapsut and his lineage was sled dog royalty. He was presented with an honorary degree from the University. The last live mascot, King Husky VII, died in 1989, and in 2003 students voted to replace their original mascot with Paws, a younger, fiercer canine. This is Paws.

Roster rundown. Northeastern's top two scorers from last season- Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee- both graduated, leaving the team with a dearth of consistent contributors.

Back court. The backcourt is by far the strength of this team, and if Northeastern is to find success this season, it will be through its guards. The Huskies best backcourt player is David Walker, who is currently averaging 11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.7 spg and 1.0 bpg for the team. Walker averages 10 more minutes per game than any other Northeastern player and will be a potential CAA player of the year candidate this season. Also on the radar is Huskies guard Demetrius Pollard, who propelled Northeastern to its first victory of the season this past Saturday against Central Connecticut State with a career high 27 points, including eight 3-point field goals to match a single-game school record. The first three players off the bench for the Huskies are guards T.J. Williams, Zach Stahl and Marco Banegas-Flores. Banegas-Flores started last game in place of the injured Quincy Ford, and will likely do so against Georgetown if Ford is again unable to play.

Front court. The Husky frontcourt is a bare cupboard. Not only does the team not have a true center, but outside of starters Scott Eatherton, Reggie Spencer, and Quincy Ford (a quasi-forward), the team does not play any other forward on the team more than 4 minutes per game. When one of the Huskies' bigs gets in foul trouble, the team is forced to play extreme small-ball by default. A big focus for the team will be keeping Scott Eatherton out of foul trouble, as he is certainly the team's best frontcourt player. Eatherton is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds through three games this season, and Northeastern will need him to stay out of foul trouble if they are to have any chance against Georgetown.

Northeastern on twitter. Okay, so this kid can fly.

What to watch when the Huskies have the ball.

  • Husky: Scott Eatherton. The junior forward has emerged as Northeastern's go-to scorer in the post this season, racking up two double-doubles in his first three games. Eatherton recorded 20 points and 13 rebounds in just 25 minutes in Northeastern's game against Stony Brook. His ability to hurt the Hoyas will depend on whether or not Georgetown is able to shift help defenders to control him in the post, as his skill level is such that he will be able to score against our frontcourt defenders in 1-on-1 situations without much trouble.
  • Hoya: Joshua Smith. Smith really needs to show defensive improvement if he is going to continue getting significant playing time this season. He has been a major liability on defense thus far and looks to be completely out of shape. Smith has a mind-boggling 2 defensive rebounds in 2 games this season, so all eyes will be on him to see if he can turn things around and become the force on the glass that Georgetown so badly needs him to be.
  • Number: Scoring Depth. The Huskies currently have six players averaging at least 8.5 points per game, and four players averaging over 10 points per game. The more scoring options a team presents, the better its likelihood of beating Georgetown.
  • Feeling delusional because... Northeastern may be without Quincy Ford, one of the team's top players. Ford was awesome for the Huskies as a sophomore last season, posting per-game averages of 12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 1.2 spg. This season, Ford has been dealing with back issues that have caused his per-game averages to dip dramatically and forced him to miss Northeastern's last game. Without him, Northeastern's frontcourt situation becomes even more desperate. He may ultimately suit up against the Hoyas, but this is clearly not a healthy player we're dealing with here.
  • Feeling cynical because... This team is sneakily athletic, and the video in the above twitter link brought memories of the FGCU game rushing back.

What to watch when the Hoyas have the ball.

  • Hoya:Reggie Cameron. Georgetown thankfully rebounded from its embarrassing 1-15 3-point outing against Oregon by going 10 of 22 from beyond the arc against Wright State, and a big reason why was Reggie Cameron. Cameron opened up the floodgates midway through the 1st half after hitting back to back 3-pointers (his first two collegiate shots), and added another before halftime. To have a big man (6-7, 210 pounds) that is able to consistently hit from beyond the arc is such an asset in today's college game, so hopefully Cameron is able to repeat last week's performance.
  • Husky: David Walker. Walker is an athletic 6-6 guard and by all means a defensive hawk. In the Huskies' most recent game against Central Connecticut State, Walker tallied a ridiculous 3 blocks and 4 steals. Walker is someone who can be a difference maker for his team defensively, and it'd be hard not to imagine him stripping the ball from Josh Smith/Nate Lubick at least a couple times.
  • Number: Free-Throws. At this point in the season, Georgetown has 64 free-throw attempts (tied for 44th in the country) to Northeastern's 60. The better news? Northeastern has played one more game than Georgetown. Georgetown's ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line will be a huge determinant not only for the outcome of this game, but for how they fair for the rest of the season.
  • Feeling delusional because... Georgetown's backcourt is silly good. With the rest of the team struggling against Wright State, Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera completely shouldered the scoring load for the Hoyas, dropping 23 and 25 points, respectively, which accounted for more than half the team's points. These two should be able to beat the Huskies with minimal help from the rest of the team. Through two games this season the dynamic duo has only turned the ball over a combined 6 times.
  • Feeling cynical because... I looked Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins statistics side-by-side. Lubick is averaging 26.0 mpg to Hopkins' 16.0 mpg, and is shooting 66.7% from the field this season while Hopkins is shooting 41.7%. Despite this, Lubick is averaging 4.5 points per game while Hopkins is averaging 8.0. Lubick has taken 6 shots and 4 free throw attempts on the season whereas Hopkins has taken 12 shots and 7 free-throw attempts. If Northwestern keys in on this and shifts defenders away from Lubick- and lets Hopkins shoot as much as he wants- this could be a long night.

Conclusion. Despite the issues Georgetown is currently dealing with, this game shouldn't be close. Starks and DSR should more than overwhelm the Huskies backcourt despite their depth at the position. I would go as far as to say both will surpass 20 points for the second straight game. Northeastern's frontcourt will be very overwhelmed from a physical standpoint, as they currently roster no player taller than 6-8 or weighing over 220 pounds. Georgetown, meanwhile, has six players who exceed these credentials. This will hopefully lead to good games for Josh Smith and Nate Lubick, two players who desperately need a boost right now.