There are two things guaranteed tonight: an insane crowd of 30,000+ and Brent Musberger in a sweater (he’s calling the game with Bobby Knight). Past that, the tilt between SU and Georgetown could go many ways and with Doug Marrone’s National Signing Day behind us, it’s time to put on the basketball scout pants and break down what could be the last Big East game between these two at the Dome. That is, after all you sentimental saps stop crying at the last sentence. Yes, I’m talking to you D.A.
No one wants to hear this, but Georgetown has all the pieces to beat SU. Those same pieces could also lose by 30. The Hoyas are led by two very good guards and a surprising big man who holds the key to everything. Henry Sims produced diddly poo in his first three years at Georgetown. The 6′ 10″ Baltimore native averaged just 3 points and 3 rebounds a game last year. Not being a scorer is fine, but even Scoop Jardine pulls down 2 boards a game. This year Sims has exploded for 11 points and 5.5 boards per, but more importantly are his 3.6 assists.
Sims is the type of player that keeps Jim Boeheim up at night. Anybody who played youth basketball (and thus the 2-3 zone) knows that the ball has to stay out of the high post. While JB’s zone is waaaay more complex than your average 3rd grader’s, a big who can handle the ball and is a good decision maker from the high post is your worst enemy. See last year’s game in the Dome when Georgetown got the ball to the high post and backdoored SU to death in the final minute. The Hoyas do this naturally in their offense, and make it a priority against the zone.
Georgetown also has two guards that can fill it from outside. Hollis Thompson (48%) and Jason Clark (35%) shoot very well from three. Thompson’s number is just insane. That’s not human. In his best season, G-Mac shot 39%. Andy Rautins best year? 40%. Hell, J.J. Redick never got higher than 42% from deep. Needless to say locating Thompson is going to be a major priority tonight, but don’t sleep on Clark. He can get to the rim and just like a great high post presence, penetration also kills the zone.
Sims (senior), Thompson (junior) and Clark (senior) are the leaders on what otherwise is a very young Georgetown team. The Hoyas have played in two hostile environments all year: at Pittsburgh and West Virginia. They lost both games. With all due respect to Pitt, which might be 3rd in the country (behind Duke and Kansas) for best venue/student section in the country, and WVU (who has a bunch of crazy people with muskets), the young Hoyas haven’t seen anything like a lathered up Dome of 30,000 out for blood. Rivalry games are different. The place is going to be on fire and it’s going to matter.
Sims could be the reason Georgetown wins, or become Herb Pope. The Seton Hall star center came into the Dome averaging nearly 20 per game – and left with his tail between his legs after getting totally owned by Fab Melo. Sims hasn’t played a defender like Melo all year and perhaps the closest he’s come to a dominant big is Thomas Robinson from Kansas (who’s more of an offensive player). Sims was held to just 8 points on 2-9 shooting. Big men at 6’10” aren’t used to playing guys as tall as them, nevertheless multiple players who are just as big and guards as fast as Dion Waiters.
If the Orange cut off Sims, the rest of the offense is a question mark. Georgetown fully admits its offense runs through the big man. The first pass of nearly ever possession is in the direction of Sims whether in the high post or low block. Throw him off his game and the entire offense is off.
The offensive formula is simple for SU. Attack. No one can run with the Orange (possible exception of Kentucky), and the more running the Hoyas do, the less crisp their half-court offense will be. Running also leads to dunks. And the Hoyas also lack an elite rim protector. Ask St. John’s what its like to lack a shot blocker against the Orange. We will now pause 10 seconds so that you can watch Michael-Carter Williams give God’s Gift a present he never wanted.
In the end, the Orange has more talent, a raucus home crowd and should win this game. The Hoyas got the last laugh at Manley Field House and there is no way SU can can let the Hoyas have a final Big East laugh at the Dome. Your Fizz preview is now over. It’s 12:31p on Wednesday, February 8th… and Georgetown still sucks.
Posted: Craig Hoffman