Big East Tournament Preview: The Kemba Show, Pt. 2

Kemba Walker is very good at basketball

Vox is in New York covering the Big East Tournament for as long as Georgetown lasts. In preparation for the Hoyas opening game today at noon, here’s a look at their first opponent, as well as some Big East accolades, and a preview of what the Hoyas will be doing on their summer vacation.

To no one’s surprise, eighth-seeded Georgetown will play Connecticut to begin its Big East Tournament. The Huskies easily dispatched perennial 16-seed DePaul 97-71 in the tournament’s opening game on Tuesday. In other completely expected news, UConn’s Kemba Walker led all scorers in that game with 26 points.

If you’ve paid any attention this season to college basketball played outside the Verizon Center, Walker needs no introduction. The junior guard has single-handedly made this UConn team a contender–at one point, Walker was the presumptive favorite for national player of the year. He and his team have seen their star fall somewhat in the latter half of the season (Walker wasn’t even named Big East Player of the Year), but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. The Hoyas know that well after Walker dropped 31 points on them during a 78-70 UConn victory three weeks ago.

That win was one of only two for the Huskies in their last six regular season games, however. But even though UConn isn’t playing its best basketball, its woes pale in comparison to Georgetown’s. While the Huskies have faltered, the Hoyas are reeling after the loss of Chris Wright. Georgetown lost its last three games by a combined margin of 41 points, shooting just 31.1 percent over that stretch. Needless to say, this is a different team without Wright.

Coming off the most lopsided of the John Thompson III-era, it wouldn’t matter if Georgetown was playing DePaul–the Hoyas have to prove themselves this afternoon. The Hoyas are already in the NCAA Tournament, but if they want to make any kind of progress in the Dance (not to mention earn a decent seed), they need to show they can play some semblance of the kind of basketball that they were during their eight-game win streak, even without their senior leader on the court. Players like Jason Clark and Julian Vaughn need to remind people that this team is more than just Wright and Austin Freeman.

Big East Honors

Speaking of Freeman, the Preseason Big East Player of the Year was named to the All-Big East First Team over the weekend. The senior guard didn’t hold onto his preseason title though, as Notre Dame’s Ben Hansbrough took Player of the Year honors. Wright was named to the All-Big East Third Team.

Hoyas headed to China

JTIII has developed a reputation for not being afraid to take his team away from home, but this is new territory even for him: this summer, the Hoyas will spend two weeks traveling through China. From Aug. 13 to Aug. 27, the basketball team will meet Chinese officials, perform community service, and play exhibition basketball in Beijing and Shanghai. Thompson had this to say in a statement:

“We are very excited at the opportunity for our team to experience a different culture and to use the vehicle of our sport to help build relationships in an international setting,” Head Coach John Thompson III said.  “This a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team and it is a trip that will allow the members of our program to experience the history of China.  We are honored to have the opportunity to represent Georgetown University.”

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