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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Hawks of Monmouth

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Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown get set to face the upstart Monmouth Hawks on Tuesday and as usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent.  Here with us to dish on all things Monmouth is one of the more casual folks in all of college sports media, Ms. Nicole Auerbach of the USA Today, who wrote this excellent piece on the Hawks earlier this month. Let's do this!

Monmouth has defeated UCLA, Notre Dame and USC but has also lost to Canisius. As someone that has covered the Hawks phenomenon this season, do you think this team actually good or have they simply caught bigger programs off guard?

First of all, "phenomenon" is the right way to describe the wonder that is Monmouth. Also acceptable: the pride of New Jersey, the greatest state in our great nation. But I digress. Yes, I think this team is actually good. You don't just catch three Power Five teams off guard, even early in the season. What's rare about a team like Monmouth is that it even had three opportunities to pull off this kind of upset in such a short span. I asked Monmouth coach King Rice how his team even landed in a holiday tournament alongside a ranked Notre Dame team and USC, and he explained that the MAAC hosts the tournament, and the Hawks got in when originally it was supposed to be Iona. My favorite quote from him? "You're supposed to be the sacrificial lamb." Obviously, Monmouth was more than that.

But Justin Robinson is really, really good. He's got a good supporting cast, too, and Notre Dame coach Mike Brey told me what surprised him most about the Hawks was their talent -- he said they have guys who look like Big East/ACC players. That's why they've closed the gap against high-major teams in buy games in recent years, and why they're off to a great start.

This team is like a Cinderella team in the NCAA tournament ... but the season isn't over yet. So I think after a few weeks of publicity and amazing wins, let downs are certainly possible. That's how I explain away the Canisius loss.

Much has been made of Monmouth's bench celebrations.  Which of their celebrations do you find the most imaginative?

Their favorite, for the most part, is the Trophy Fish.

So I will also say Trophy Fish.

(Casual Note: You can see all of these bench celebrations RIGHT HERE.

It recently came to light that the NCAA was considering policing bench decorum during games. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most ridiculous, where would such an initiative by the NCAA fall?

I'll clarify this. The NCAA was not considering policing bench decorum during games. It got a request for a rules interpretation regarding Monmouth's bench, and that was it. NCAA secretary-rules editor Art Hyland though it was fine, because the players aren't coming onto the court and interfering with the game itself. It's fun. It's fine.
I don't think the NCAA would ever ban bench celebrations. I mean, how could it?

In addition to covering college hoops, you have become one of the nation's leading college football reporters. We don't care much for college football around these parts, but which team was the best you have seen in person this season and who do you think wins the national title?

Oklahoma, and Oklahoma. I saw the Sooners come back on Tennessee really early in the year. I didn't necessarily think, "I just watched the eventual national champion play," at the time but I do now. I like Baker Mayfield (#ShakeNBake) and the balanced offense. I will also point out that I saw Ohio State look fantastic (and like a team that could contend for a national title) against Rutgers -- but it was against Rutgers. Still impressive in person, though.

Speaking of seeing things in person, which stadium or arena is the best you have been to and why? Is there a particular one that stands out for food spreads available to the media?

I get asked the first question a lot. I usually say Cameron or Hinkle, for obvious reasons. But I haven't seen a game in Allen Fieldhouse yet so I can't compare that one just yet. The food spread question is one I try not to answer -- I always try to get a bite before going into arenas.

If you could pick one game out of the hundreds you have seen or covered in person, which was the best or most fun?

Final Four games are always really fun, as the NCAA tournament in general. I predicted -- and then covered courtside -- Mercer upsetting Duke, which was cool because you could feel the energy build and build as the time ticked down. A few regular-season games that came to mind, in no particular order: Duke-Syracuse, the Boeheim ejection game; the "last" Syracuse-Georgetown game at the Verizon Center a couple years back before the Orange left the Big East; and a Gonzaga game against BYU a few years back. Spokane is underrated and awesome.

You have covered the Hoyas to some extent in recent years. What are your impressions of the Georgetown program under JT3? How far can this Hoyas team go in March?

I like this program a lot, and the way JT3 runs it. I spent some time around Otto Porter and Nate Lubick back in the day, and really enjoyed talking with both of them as well as watching them play. It's been cool to watch D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera develop -- I remember sitting courtside for his 33-point game against DePaul as a freshman. I know Georgetown ends up as a punchline sometimes in March, but I think there are a few programs like the Hoyas' which end up running into a series of bad matchups or have a couple of bad losses in a row in the NCAA tournament. (For example, Villanova last year and the year before; two years ago, it lost to UConn! That team won the title. But I digress.) I don't think a couple of losses should devalue what a program does or builds. I think JT3 is a great coach, and what's cool is he's really involved and invested in the game. He was a part of the push to work with the NBA on early-entry deadline/feedback process. He's always so insightful when we talk about the state of the game, the state of journalism or anything remotely tied to our industries.

I was at Georgetown-Maryland, and I came away really impressed by the Hoyas. They outplayed Maryland, and showed incredible depth even with injuries. I wasn't surprised how well they then played the following weekend against Wisconsin and Duke (games I also attended), or that they beat Syracuse. Isaac Copeland has been pretty terrific at times this season; so has Bradley Hayes. I like this team and how it survived a pretty daunting schedule so far. The top half of the Big East is really strong this season, but I think Georgetown will be right in the mix.

As for March, I'll say the Hoyas make it through the first weekend.

(Casual Note: This is a fantastic answer.)

If it's a Saturday night in NYC and you're hungry, which restaurant are you going to? Please document your order and take us through your drink selections, apps, main course, sides and dessert. Feel free to give as much detail as possible and note that you are being judged by your answer.

My absolute favorite spot in the city: UVA. Malbec. The restaurant has this amazing truffle honey ricotta bruschetta appetizer that I literally dream about. Either cavatelli pesto or a braised short rib. Tiramisu for dessert.
I literally just went there Saturday!

You have recently acquired a puppy that has taken instagram by storm. I love puppies as much as the next guy and yours is adorbs. Does the number of likes you may get on an instagram post make you feel good? Are there certain times when a pic gets fewer likes than you may have thought and that makes you feel bad?

As long as a photo gets double-digit likes, I'm happy. And that usually happens very quickly because my family and friends almost instantaneously like everything Red posts. (My parents refer to his Insta as his own. Like my brother told me my dad asked him once, "Did you see what Red just posted?")

Which teams in the Big East are making the Dance?

Xavier, Providence, Villanova, Butler, Georgetown, Marquette/Creighton? Both? I'm bad at predictions.

You are a Jersey girl. How excited are you for the new Springsteen tour? If you could pick like, 10 Bruce songs to listen to, what would they be?

I am a Jersey girl. #fistpump And I'm pretty excited for the new Springsteen tour! I have seen him live once, and although I am terrible at remembering to try to buy tickets to concerts when they go on sale, I'm going to try to catch an upcoming show, too. Ten is SO limiting but here goes:
1. Born to Run
2. Glory Days
3. Thunder Road
4. Badlands
5. Atlantic City
6. Jersey Girl
7. Brilliant Disguise
8. Rosalita
9. Born in the USA
10. Human Touch

If the college basketball National Championship was given to the school with the most casual blogger, which team would win and would it even be close?

Like you even have to ask.

Final score prediction for Georgetown - Monmouth?

Georgetown 77, Monmouth 68.