Game 1: Georgetown Hoyas (0-0) vs USC-Upstate Spartans (0-0)
Series: First meeting
Where/When: Verizon Center, Saturday noon
TV: FSN regional networks such as MASN2 in the DC area.
The longest offseason of our lives officially comes to an end this Saturday as Georgetown plays host to USC-Upstate in the first ever matchup between these two schools. We’d be silly to call this a warmup game after what happened last year with Radford but by all accounts the Spartans are nowhere near as dangerous as the Highlanders ultimately proved to be in the last opener. Of course it’s hard not to get a little nervous when the opposition is from the dreaded Atlantic Sun that also is home to Florida Gulf Coast.
Georgetown seems poised to improve on last season’s 15-18 disaster as Jonathan Mulmore, Rodney Pryor, and Jagan Mosely have been brought in to improve the guard situation after all-time Hoya great D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera moved on after graduation.
Coach John Thompson III believes this roster could be his deepest team yet and it’s hard to blame him as Bradley Hayes, LJ Peak, Isaac Copeland, Jessie Govan, Marcus Derrickson, Kaleb Johnson, Tre Campbell, and Reggie Cameron all return as players who started for the Hoyas at some point last season.
Ok let’s size up the Spartans real quick:
Meet the Spartans: Coach Eddie Payne is in his 15th year coaching USC-Upstate. He’s the only coach they’ve known in the Division 1 level as this is their tenth season at the highest level.
Payne brings back his top five scorers and 90 percent of last season’s offense. All that being said the Spartans were picked to finish 8th in the Atlantic Sun. For your frame of reference there are only eight teams in the conference.
Michael Buchanan is a fifth year senior who gives USC-Upstate something unique for a mid-major as he’s a seven-footer weighing in at 280 lbs. JT3 said he’s bigger than Hayes and that you can’t move him.
Deion Holmes is a sophomore guard that returns as the team’s leading scorer while Mike Cunningham is another sophomore guard who had a great freshman season. Cunningham played his high school ball locally at DuVal.
Last time out: USC-Upstate finished last season a disappointing 10-22 (4-10) after having posted winning records in three of the previous four seasons that landed the Spartans in the CIT.
Numbers: None of these numbers are any good. The Spartans finished last season at 323 in the RPI and 324 in KenPom. USC-Upstate plays four non-division 1 teams this season.
Even though Rodney Pryor is one of the newest Hoyas his above quote really rings true.
Ok let’s talk about the Hoyas.
First of all there’s something to be said for Georgetown getting off to a good start. The Hoyas are 9-3 in season openers under Coach John Thompson III but they’ve lost two of their last three including last year’s stunning defeat to Radford. And from a recent historical standpoint the Hoyas have failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament under JT3 when dropping their first game of the season
So Georgetown has all this great depth this season which begs the natural question of, Who Starts?
Let’s try and back into this.
With Bradley Hayes suspended the first four games you know that Jessie Govan will get the nod. It’s also hard to imagine a sixth year grad transfer not starting so now we’re up to two with Rodney Pryor. Everything that JT3 has said this offseason and even the end of last season lead you to believe that he’d rather start LJ Peak than bring him off the bench.
The hard part seems to be where we are now as you have Isaac Copeland, Marcus Derrickson, and the possibility of starting a point guard in either Tre Campbell or Jonathan Mulmore. I think he goes with a guard and I think he goes with Campbell at first because he likes veterans. Last year Reggie Cameron was the veteran he went with for a while. The last one is a tossup and I think he goes Isaac Copeland.
Being a great team in March starts now – Rodney Pryor
Even though he’s new that’s a very fitting quote from Pryor. You can’t win games in March this early but you can sure as hell put yourself in a bad position right out of the gate as we found out early last season.
Focused on every opponent: Both Isaac Copeland and Rodney Pryor said all the right things on Thursday afternoon with regards to playing supposedly lesser opponents.
Said Copeland: “We’ve learned from our past experiences that mid major means nothing. Obviously you can’t take any team for granted seeing last year’s game. We’ve learned to attack every game like it’s the Dukes and Carolinas.”
Pryor then weighed in on what it’s like to come into the game as a mid-major after his experiences at Robert Morris.
“I think it’s a higher level of energy for mid major programs. I know for myself being a leader at Robert Morris when we were going into those games we wanted to go out and compete, have fun, leave it all out on the floor. Now being at Georgetown and being a bigger team we want to go out and out do their energy. I think sometimes when you play mid-majors your energy isn’t as high as it needs to be so you’re making errors that you normally wouldn’t make. Just coming out and out doing their energy and just playing Georgetown basketball we’ll be fine.”
Reason to be delusional: It’s Allen Iverson Bobblehead Day. The sky is the limit. Also, we have guards.
Reason to be cynical: You’re worried that it’s going to take too long for all of these new guards to fit into the program.
Final Thoughts: This is going to be over at the half with everyone playing and most scoring. We won’t have a good feel for the rotation for tougher games but that’s OK. This team needs to get rolling and they picked the perfect opponent. Hoyas 91, Spartans 48.