We Are Georgetown and You’re Not: Kansas
While most Hoyas will be spending their Thanksgiving breaks in the continental United States, our men’s basketball team is in Hawaii this week to play in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Check out our preview of the Invitational over on the main Voice website.
Here on Vox, we focus on the Hoyas’ first matchup tonight (11:50 p.m. ET on ESPN2) against the college basketball heavyweight Kansas Jayhawks.
For two storied basketball programs, it may come as somewhat of a surprise that Georgetown and Kansas will do battle for just the second time on Monday night. Add to that that the fact that they will be playing almost 5,000 miles away from Washington DC in the EA Sports Maui Invitational and we’ve got an intriguing matchup for both sides. Their first meeting was in the 1987 Sweet Sixteen, when the Hoyas defeated Kansas 80-57 before losing to Providence in the next round. That team was led by Hoya legend Reggie Williams, while the Jayhawks were led by Danny Manning.
This season, the Jayhawks are veteran-heavy, compared to Georgetown’s mere three upperclassmen. The Hoyas are unranked and Kansas dropped a few spots to 14 in the Coaches Poll after falling in a tough game against Kentucky. An early-season victory against KU would do wonders for the Hoyas’ expectations this season and likely propel them into the national rankings. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, are looking to come back strong after the Kentucky loss, led by senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor and junior power forward Thomas Robinson.
Here’s a breakdown of the matchups:
Backcourt: Whether Head Coach John Thompson III puts Jason Clark or Markel Starks on Taylor, they are going to have trouble keeping up with the senior’s speed. They cannot focus on him too much either, as Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford provide two dynamic scoring options next to him. The three-headed backcourt might face problems with Georgetown’s newfound length and athleticism. Clark and Hollis Thompson will be able to drive on these three as needed, but if the Jayhawk trio starts hitting from downtown, it will be a long night for the Hoyas.
Frontcourt: For Henry Sims and Nate Lubick, this is their first real test this season – and it’s a significant one. Though Taylor is the only returning starter, Kansas’ forward Robinson has first round potential and has been a monster in the paint this season. He and seven-footer Jeff Withey are going to present difficult defensive matchups for the Hoyas. Sims and Lubick will need ample help from freshmen Mikael Hopkins and Tyler Adams to contain them. The Hoyas would be wise to drive at these two big men early to neutralize their effects on the game, as both have been susceptible to foul trouble so far this season. If they stay in the game, however, it will be extremely difficult for Georgetown to establish any inside presence.
Bench: Though losing out in the experience department, the Hoyas have the clear advantage depth-wise. Kansas features two former walk-ons in Conner Teahen and Justin Wesley and one freshman in Naadir Tharpe. KU will rely heavily on their starters, much like the Hoyas of last season. This year’s Georgetown team, conversely, will need strong performances from the freshmen on their bench. Jabril Trawick and Otto Porter will need to play a significant role in containing the Kansas backcourt if Georgetown hopes to pull off the upset.
Keys for the Hoyas:
–Steady Diet of Clark and Thompson: The Hoyas’ two leading scorers need to be aggressive early and often to prevent any kind of offensive lull. The Kansas defense is very strong, meaning their two main scorers need to drive to the paint and establish themselves, optimally while getting the Jayhawk big men in foul trouble. The last thing this Georgetown team needs is for the Princeton offense to stagnate for an extended period of time under extreme defensive pressure.
–Competition on the Boards: Georgetown easily won the battle of the boards in their first two games, but did so against smaller and weaker opponents in Savannah State and UNC-Greensboro. Again big men like Robinson and Withey, they will need constant activity from their bench players in Porter, Greg Whittington, and Mikael Hopkins. Lubick and Sims will try their best, but they will not be able to contain Withey and Robinson on their own.
–Guarding the Perimeter: With Bill Self’s Hi-Lo motion offense, the Hoyas will need to be extremely wary of closing out on the perimeter, as Taylor and company will exploit open three-point opportunities if presented to them. This seemed to be a bit of a problem against Savannah State, though Georgetown looked to be headed in the right direction against UNC-Greensboro.
Sean Quigley, Editor-in-Chief: The Hoyas start out strong and hang with the Jayhawks in the first half, as Thompson and Starks lead a surprisingly fast-paced Georgetown team. But in the second half, Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson gets going, getting Nate Lubick in foul trouble and forcing JTIII to play a smaller lineup, which falters under relentless defensive pressure from Kansas. The Jayhawks, eager to make up for last week’s loss to Kentucky, prove themselves a mentally tougher team and pull away late. 72-62 Jayhawks.
Dan Kellner, Sports Editor emeritus: Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson find their stroke, giving the Hoyas an early lead. Georgetown’s methodical offense frustrates Kansas, whose shooters struggle as they look to overcompensate for their loss to Kentucky with too many threes and forced shots as they try to speed up the tempo of the game. 65-62 Hoyas.
Kevin Joseph, Sports Editor: I actually had the Hoyas coming up short yesterday, but I had a change of heart overnight. I think the Hoyas’ lack of experience will affect them here, but I think Otto Porter has his coming-out party in a tough win. 80-76 Hoyas.
Photos: Max Blodgett