It’s February now, which means it’s time for the Big East basketball season to start really getting serious. It’s also a good time for Vox to get serious with its coverage, so we’ll have previews of every game from here on out. First up, the biggest home game of the season.
When we last left our Hoyas
After breaking off a three game winning streak, Georgetown suffered a setback on Saturday when the lost to Pittsburgh, 72-60. While the Hoyas were nearly upset by Rutgers a game earlier because of lackluster offense, it was their defense that let them down in Pittsburgh. The Panthers shot 52.1 percent from the field and would have been even better had they knocked down some of the open threes the Hoyas gave them. Communication seemed to be part of the issue for Georgetown–multiple times they missed switches and failed to play help defense.
Georgetown last saw UConn in the Big East Tournament, where the Hoyas became some of the first shreds of carnage on the Huskies’ path to the national championship. That young championship team remains mostly intact, save for star guard Kemba Walker, now dropping triple-doubles for the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA.
For most teams, losing a player of Walker’s caliber would mean a rebuilding year. But Jim Calhoun had plenty of talent coming in to make up for the loss, starting with 6-foot-10 center Andre Drummond. The big man was one of the top recruits in the nation, and he’s lived up to the billing, averaging 10 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
“You’re not going to play against too many people that literally are as big as he is,” head coach John Thompson III said. ”You look at the package of a big guy, I don’t know if there’s anything he can’t do.”
UConn is somewhat similar to Pitt in that both teams have underachieved this season and come to play Georgetown desperate for a win. The only difference is that the Huskies are a much better team. They have a presumptive top-5 NBA draft pick in Drummond and a preseason All-American in sophomore Jeremy Lamb, along with plenty of talent to back them up. The Huskies may have lost three in a row, but all three games were decided by one possession–UConn’s still dangerous.
Key to the game
Getting off to a fast start. Except for against DePaul, Georgetown hasn’t held a lead at the 10-minute mark in its last seven games. In general, the Hoyas have a shown a need to be more consistent on both offense and defense, suffering dry spells and allowing open looks that keep opponents in games. But it would be a lot easier for them to do that if they weren’t worried about making up a deficit.
“That’s something we’ve got to work on, being even more ready to play, having more energy,” senior Jason Clark said. “Maybe energy is what the problem is. Some teams do seem like they have more energy as a whole, as a unit coming out.”
Just don’t expect JTIII to try to catalyze an energy boost with any drastic changes. There have been debates about swapping Otto Porter into the starting lineup, but the coach offered an emphatic “no” when asked directly about making a change.
Player to watch
Hollis Thompson. The junior sharpshooter has been held mostly in check for the past two games, posting just four points against Rutgers and superficially improving an abysmal statline with eight points in the final minute against Pitt (he was 1-of-7 before that).
“He knows that teams are keying on him–we all know that,” Clark said. “He’s a great scorer so they’re definitely going to do that. But we have a lot of wrinkles in our offense that will get him easy shots that I don’t think any teams can guard.”
When asked about his team’s perspective on the season, JTIII deferred to the great and powerful Cos
“The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.” – Bill Cosby