We Are Georgetown and You’re Not: Time to play
PORTLAND, OREGON—Vox is coming to you from the Pacific Northwest to cover the fourth-seeded Georgetown men’s basketball team (21-10, 12-6 Big East) during their NCAA Tournament run, as they will face 14th-seeded Eastern Washington (26-8, 14-4 Big Sky) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night. Tip-off is set for approximately 9:57 p.m.
After departing the Hilltop early Tuesday morning and arriving in the Rose City, the Hoyas had a team workout later that afternoon at the practice facility of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.
On Wednesday afternoon, they had a closed practice at Portland State University before heading over to the Moda Center for media availability and a 40-minute open practice session.
During their session with reporters, the Blue and Gray were faced with numerous questions surrounding the program’s recent struggles in the NCAA Tournament. In their last six tournament appearances, the Georgetown has fallen victim to double-digit seeds, and lost in their first game five of those six times.
“The facts are the facts,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III told the assembled media about his program’s recent tournament woes. “That being said, this is a different team than we have here now. This is a different year. So we’re ready for this group to play.”
The most egregious of those losses came in 2013, the last time the Hoyas played in the tournament, when 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast downed the second-seeded Hoyas led by future NBA player Otto Porter, Jr. Senior guard Jabril Trawick, who started for the Hoyas in that contest, is thankful that he has another opportunity to play in the tournament and prove the team’s doubters wrong.
“It wasn’t something that I enjoyed,” Trawick said of the Florida Gulf Coast loss. “I was just happy that I had another year to come play. “I think we worked hard enough to get in this spot to make it back to the Big Dance. We’re just ready to play tomorrow.”
Their opponent tomorrow, Eastern Washington, presents a unique challenge to the Hoyas. The third-highest scoring in all of college basketball, averaging 80.8 points per game, and are 19th in field goal percentage, shooting percent 48 percent from the field this season.
Sophomore guard Tyler Harvey, the nation’s leading scorer this season, leads the Eagles, averaging 22.9 points per game, a remarkable accomplishment considering he did not receive a single Division 1 scholarship offer in high school.
Thompson says that Harvey’s scoring ability reminds him of Stephen Curry, who while playing at Davidson in 2008 torched the Hoyas’ in the second round of the tournament, the initiating loss of the Hoyas’ struggles with double-digit seeds.
“He shoots from anywhere, from any angle, different position, different ways, different kinds of shots, and they go in, and they go in,” Thompson said. “That’s the same confidence… Steph had confidence and produced results.
But the Eagles are not a one-man show. Five other players average more than 7.9 points per game. Junior forward Venky Jois averages 16.6 points to go along, on 60 percent shooting, with a team-high 7.7 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Ognjen Miljkovic averages 10 points while senior guard and three-point specialist Parke Kelly shoots 44 percent from downtown. Due to their arrays of offensive weapons, their defensive play will be key, according to Thompson.
“It’s easy to talk about Harvey because he’s the number one scorer in the country,” Thompson said. “Even when you take him out of the equation, they still can put five guys on the court that can really hurt you. From our perspective, defensively our communication is going to have to be there, our effort is going to have to be good because it’s not just him, it’s the other four guys on the court with him also.”
But Trawick and the Hoyas know that if they stick to their game-plan, they will advance to the third round on Saturday.
“I think we’re just going to come out and play Georgetown basketball,” Trawick said. “Doesn’t matter what team we’re playing, we’re going to come out and do what we need to do to win. Share the game and have each other’s back.”
For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @GUVoiceSports for live updates from Portland. And be sure to stay tuned to Vox for more posts during the Hoyas’ NCAA Tournament run.
Photo: Georgetown University