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Pregame Shootaround: DePaul v. Georgetown

Can the Hoyas open the Big East Tournament with a season sweep of the Blue Demons?

Jonathan Daniel

Georgetown has one option to make it to the NCAA Tournament: win and keep winning. How many wins the Hoyas will need to go dancing is anybody's guess, but they'll at least need to beat DePaul on Wednesday. Can they beat the Blue Demons for the third time this season?

The Big Picture. Oliver Purnell's fourth season at DePaul hasn't gone much better than the first three. After finishing last, last, and last in the Big East in Purnell's first three seasons, DePaul finished last again this year. Three-year leading scorer Cleveland Melvin was exiled from the team midway through his senior season, while other pieces aren't there yet or never will be. The Blue Demons achieved the dual indignity of finishing last in the conference in defensive efficiency and last in offensive efficiency. The good news for the Blue Demons is that they get to play in the new version of the Big East Tournament.

Roster Rundown. The DePaul roster is a tale of woe and inefficiency. The familiar name after Melvin's exit is guard Brandon Young (16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.8 stl pg). Young is a capable, if not terribly efficient, ball-handler, distributor, and scorer. Flanking Young is freshman Billy Garrett Jr. (12.4 ppg, 3.1 apg), a top-flight recruit who, like Young, has made up in volume what he lacks in accuracy. Down low, transfer Sandi Marcius (5.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg) contributes meh-worthy production. After that, things get uncertain, as Purnell has shuffled the lineup in search of production. Guard Durrell McDonald (5.6 ppg) provides the occasional outside shooting, freshman post Tommy Hamilton IV (7.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) gives a bit of scoring punch, though also hoists his share of bricks (39 FG%), and freshman R.J. Curington (4.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg) has occasionally erupted but mostly laid dormant.

When DePaul has the ball.

  • Blue Demon to watch: Garrett. Young has been the headliner since Melvin's departure, but Garrett has scored double figures in six straight games. If DePaul makes things uncomfortable for the Hoyas, Garrett will figure prominently.
  • Hoya to watch: Jabril Trawick. The junior wing enjoyed his best stretch as a Hoya right up until his trip home to Philly last weekend, when early foul trouble sidelined him. Georgetown will need Trawick to contribute on both ends of the floor to make a run in New York.
  • Number to watch: fouls. DePaul's offense has been terrible, but one thing the Blue Demons have done moderately well is get to the line. Georgetown's foul trouble has been well-chronicled, and the Hoyas need to avoid the whistles on Wednesday night.
  • Feeling delusional because...DePaul's league-worst offense hasn't been good against Georgetown, either. The Blue Demons have shot 40 percent from two in two match-ups against the Hoyas, 25 percent from three, and below 60 percent from the line.
  • Feeling cyncial because...Georgetown's defense has been shaky of late, and the Hoyas finished below the league average in turnovers forced, defensive rebounding, and, of course, foul rate.

When Georgetown has the ball.

  • Blue Demon to watch: Young. DePaul's defense is worse than its offense, but the Blue Demons force turnovers at an acceptable rate. Young's 1.8 steals per game lead the way.
  • Hoya to watch: Mikael Hopkins. Georgetown's big men have been offensively anemic, to put it mildly. The Hoyas will need one of their posts to step up if they stand any chance in New York. DePaul's porous front line yields nearly 56 percent from two-point range, meaning Hopkins and the other Hoya bigs should have plenty of opportunity Wednesday night.
  • Number to watch: three-point percentage. DePaul had some mild success in the first two Georgetown games by packing the paint with a two-three zone that forced the Hoyas to stretch the floor. Trawick's return to the lineup has given Georgetown a welcome boost from distance. Will it continue Wednesday night?
  • Feeling delusional because...Even without Trawick, Georgetown scored more than enough against DePaul. The Hoyas have earned an average of 34 free throws in the two match-ups to date, greasing an offense that otherwise has been up and down.
  • Feeling cyncial because...Games against DePaul always seem to get a bit ugly, what with all the turnovers and fouling.

Conclusion. Georgetown's tournament march doesn't come into play unless the Hoyas win on Wednesday. The Hoyas have had their share of success against DePaul, winning both match-ups this season and fourteen straight overall. Past success won't guarantee a win Wednesday night, but DePaul's woeful performance all season long might.