Game 3: Georgetown Hoyas (2-0) v Robert Morris (1-2)
Series: Hoyas lead 1-0
Where/When: Verizon Center, Saturday noon
TV: Fox Sports 2 - a channel some people get, even fewer in HD
So what do we know about the Colonials?
Robert Morris can go big game hunting.
In their last contest against a BIG EAST school, they knocked off St. John's in the first round of the 2014 NIT. Sure they lost to known Georgetown NCAA punching bag Belmont in the next round but they advanced just as far the Hoyas.
Going back even another season, Robert Morris picked up probably its most famous win when the Colonials knocked off defending NCAA Champion Kentucky. This victory also came in the first round of the NIT.
Colonials lowdown: Much like TAMUCC the other night, Robert Morris is working with a lot of new faces this season. That being said the Colonials know how to win. They have won five of the last seven Northeast Conference regular season championships, making the NCAA Tournament in both 2009 and 2010.
And the league coaches agree as Robert Morris was picked to finish third in the league this season.
Three Colonials are averaging double figures in guard Rodney Pryor, guard Marcquise Reed, and forward Lucky Jones. Pryor - a JUCO transfer - is absolutely lighting it up from three-point land. In fact last game he hit as many three's (6-of-7) as Georgetown has combined to hit as a team through two games.
Reed - a freshman from nearby Largo, MD - isn't shy in his first season. He went off for 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the Colonials blowout loss in Chapel Hill.
Jones - probably the best returning player on the roster - is a steadying force for Robert Morris, having averaged double-figures since his sophomore season.
Defensively the Colonials will be the first team that throws a zone out against the Hoyas.
Last time out: Robert Morris picked up victory No. 1 on Wednesday night after erasing a 15-point first half deficit in defeating Bradley on the road. Naturally one of Coach Andrew Toole's eight new players - Pryor - led the way with 26 points.
After pouring over the box three things stood out to me. Nine Colonials played double-digit minutes, they rebound pretty well, and more people attended RMU - Bradley than Hoyas - Islanders. Really?
RPI: The best teams in the NEC usually finish around 100 in the final RPI rankings - at best they sneak into the 70's. Over the last five years the Colonials have finished between 99 and 131 which make them a pretty good non-conference foe to schedule.
Now on to your undefeated Georgetown Hoyas.
Coach John Thompson III likes to talk about the season in three different parts - pre season, conference season, and post season. If we wanted to divide that up even smaller we could say that the Robert Morris game concludes the pre-pre-season. Or we could just call it the NEC portion of the schedule. Either way it's important for the Hoyas to get through this early season homestand at 3-0 while giving JT3 as many looks and lineups as possible.
Versatility: For the second game in a row we saw a lot of bench minutes. We actually saw the bench minutes go up with Reggie Cameron joining the double-digit minutes club as D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's minutes went down.
JT3 commented on this during his Hoyas State of the Union on Thursday afternoon at McDonough.
"We are going to have the ability to look vastly different from half to half, from game to game. We can play different ways. More than last year, significantly more than last year."
PE JR Part II: So with Georgetown struggling in the first half and with Mikael Hopkins in foul trouble, JT3 turned to Aaron Bowen to start the second half. The other day I talked about the need for one of the backup bigs to get some minutes. Well it looks like Plan B is to go smaller and I'm cool with that as I was one of the founding members of the Bowen at the FOUR club last season.
Bowen didn't disappoint as he had 11 of his career-high 13 points in the second half to go along with five steals. In short, AB completely changed the game. Coming into the game the fifth-year senior had 40 steals in his career. To put a nice ribbon on his night he came out for the post game press conference and go to sit next to his coach while being compared to one of the most popular Hoyas in the JT3 ear in Patrick Ewing Jr.
Fouls: This was an issue last season and it only took three halves for Hopkins to get back into foul trouble this season. Now the good news is that this team is deeper than last season but the Hoyas still need Hopkins on the floor for his rebounding and defense - he did just become the 18th player in school history to reject at least 100 shots. In talking with Hopkins he understood that some of his fouls are ‘silly' and that he has to do better. His coach agreed.
Said JT3: "Certain fouls you can accept, certain fouls you can take. Both [Mikael] and Josh pick up too many touch fouls."
Something to keep an eye on this weekend will be the type of fouls Hopkins commits.
Acceptable: Just one game after what both he and JT3 considered an unacceptable performance, Joshua Smith went for 20 and 12 - his first career double-double for the Hoyas in 15 games. He did have four double-doubles during his time at UCLA.
Now that he's done it once, everybody is going to want to see it more often - particularly with the rebounds. In talking with Smith it seems as though his adjustment came after watching the St. Francis game film.
Said Smith: "Just looking back I didn't feel good at how I played. Looking back at the film, it was different actually seeing it."
He said most of his rebounding issues were easily fixable by just moving a bit or boxing a guy out better. In his opinion they were all effort plays.
Not looking ahead: With a pretty nice working vacation coming up next week - I'm sure at the very least that scenic views will be available at times - all of the players available at the media session on Thursday - Smith, Hopkins, Bowen, and DSR - were only focused on Robert Morris.
"We're not overlooking anybody this year," said Bowen who had no interest in fielding questions on Florida. "I feel like that was our problem in recent years here so Robert Morris is next on the list and that's the one we are going to prepare for."
Reason to be cynical: Even though everybody said the right things on Thursday, if the Hoyas have one foot in Atlantis, this game could end up being tougher than expected.
Reason to be delusional: Georgetown has been easily winning and DSR hasn't even gone off yet. If you had to pick a player to get off to a slow start, it would probably be DSR. He didn't suddenly forget how to play basketball so he'll be fine. He's the BIG EAST preseason player of the year and on the Wooden Watch List for a reason.
Also remember that the only other time Georgetown faced and defeated Robert Morris the Hoyas went on to the Final Four in the Superdome. Coincidence? Probably not.
Final thoughts: After one final sendoff before a Thanksgiving vacation, Georgetown will again ease to victory. It's probably unrealistic to expect 9 or 10 guys to play double-digit minutes all season but it should be the goal in games against the Robert Morris's of the world. Against the Colonials zone look for Cameron and DSR to each hit multiple three-pointers in an easy Hoyas win.
Personal final thoughts: The last time I saw Robert Morris was in 2010 in Providence. I woke up in the DC area about 4am and drove straight to the tournament site. When I walked into the Dunk the 15 seed Colonials were all over No. 2 Villanova and I loved my life. I remember thinking how great it would be if we could get the building upset out of the way early that day. Robert Morris lost in OT and I don't really want to talk about what happened in the 7pm game.