We are Georgetown and you’re not: Hoyas to defend the charge of the Highlanders
The Blue and Gray will try to bounce back after an emotional loss at home to #10 Kansas Wednesday night 75-70 when they take on Radford (5-3, 0-0 Big South) this Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center. Tip-off is slated for 12:00 p.m.
While the Hoyas are coming off a tough loss against the Jayhawks, Radford Head Coach Mike Jones and the Highlanders are coming off of three straight wins. The Highlanders seek to continue their momentum after last Sunday’s hard-fought 68-66 victory against Virginia Tech.
Georgetown’s loss to Kansas was the Hoyas’ first home loss of the season. Radford is only 1-3 away. Odds are not quite as many Highlander fans will invade the Verizon Center as Jayhawk fans did Wednesday night. Look for a blue and gray crowd.
Hoya star D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera struggled against Kansas, putting up 10 points off 3-of-15 shooting. Center Joshua Smith had a productive night, going 8-of-13 for 20 points, along with five rebounds, two blocks, and two steals to boot. Freshman L.J. Peak had a big game as well, shooting 50 percent from the floor for 18 points. His pesky defense earned him three steals as well.
Hoya fans need not worry over senior guard Jabril Trawick’s early exit from Wednesday night’s game with an knee inury.
“He’s good. Nothing serious. He just banged it on the ground,” says senior forward Mikael Hopkins. Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson corroborated Hopkins’ statement. “He went 100% yesterday,” said Thompson. “He went 100% today.” Expect to see Trawick in full force on Saturday.
The Highlanders will try shut down a Hoya offense that is averaging 72.3 points per game off 48.8 precent shooting. On average, Radford allows 60.6 points per game. While the Highlanders will focus on limiting Georgetown scorers, Georgetown will attempt to adjust from a poor defensive performance against Kansas.
The Jayhawks could not be stopped from three-point range, hitting on 58.8% of shots. This is largely due to sophomore guard Brannen Greene, who went a perfect 5-5 on three-point attempts, several of which were uncontested.
“They’re good three-point shooters, so we’ve got to do a better job at closing in, and not allowing them to get shots off,” says Hopkins.
The Hoyas have no choice but to tighten up their perimeter defense against a Radford team that likes to shoot from distance. Highlander scoring leader R.J. Price connected on five three-pointers against Virginia Tech. The team as a whole shot 40.9% from behind the arc for 27 points. Price is averaging over eight three-point attempts per contest. The Georgetown defense must limit Price and the rest of the Highlanders from deep to avoid a repeat of the disappointing Kansas loss.
For senior center Joshua Smith, the timing of the Radford game couldn’t be better after the upsetting loss. “It kind of feels good to have games close back to say, the Kansas game is in the past, let’s move on to Radford,” Smith said.
With only three non-conference games remaining before the start of Big East play, the Hoyas have three weeks left to tighten up the screws. Three Big East teams are now ranked in the AP Polls Top 25 in #7 Villanova, #15 Butler, and #24 St. John’s. About a month into the season, these three teams have dropped two games combined. With a highly competitive Big East conference, the Georgetown window for experimentation is quickly collapsing.
“Right now, I don’t want to say we feel good about where we are, but we know we can get better. We know we’re right there…Now, we’re just going to get better,” says an optimistic Smith.
After their game against Radford, the Hoyas have only one home game left, against Charlotte on Dec. 20, to finalize strategy and roster rotations before an exciting matchup with Indiana in Madison Square Garden and the beginning of conference play against Xavier on New Year’s Eve.
But Radford has proven that they are no simple stepping-stone in downing the ACC’s Virginia Tech. Two 5-3 teams will enter the Verizon Center this Saturday afternoon. None will come out.
Photo: The Georgetown Voice via flickr