After their first home win of the season, 77-47 over the Bryant Bulldogs (2-5), the Georgetown Hoyas (2-3) will again play at home Tuesday against the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (1-4). The Hoyas will look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Not unlike the Bulldogs, the Hawks have a porous defense and rank near the bottom of all Division I schools in two-point defense, allowing their opponents to shoot nearly 58 percent inside the arc this season, per KenPom.com. They are also one of the worst-ranked teams in the nation in terms of defensive rebounding. The Hoyas were strong on the offensive glass during Saturday’s win. Freshman forward Marcus Derrickson led the way, grabbing four of the team’s 11 offensive rebounds.
“[Derrickson] decided to go get the ball,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “You could tell he had been listening. We need everyone to take that mentality, but I [think he is] very good in that regard.”
Derrickson has shown promise early in his freshman season, not just in terms of rebounding, but also shooting. Though his scoring has been inconsistent, he is perfect from the free throw line on the season to go along with his five rebounds per game, good for third on the team behind sophomore forward Isaac Copeland and senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes.
Copeland has continued to lead the Hoyas in scoring, averaging close to 15 points per game along with his team-high 5.8 rebounds per game. Moreover, he is one of the most efficient players in the country. According to true shooting percentage, which measures how efficient a player is as a scorer, Copeland is at 66 percent — the national average is around 55 percent.
After another productive day against Bryant, Copeland and his teammates will look to exploit the Hawks’ weak interior defense, much like they did against the Bulldogs. Georgetown shot 19-of-31 from inside the three-point line, opening up the perimeter for shooters like Derrickson and junior forward Reggie Cameron.
Against the Hawks, who are, statistically, even weaker on the interior than Bryant, Georgetown should have little trouble scoring at a similar efficiency, which bodes well for Hayes and freshman center Jessie Govan.
The two big men enjoyed great success early this season but have since struggled. They will look to use this game to bounce back before the Hoyas’ marquee matchup Saturday against an old Big East rival, the No. 14 Syracuse Orange (6-0).
In addition to Hayes and Govan, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera also looks for his first big game of the season. After tallying 20 or more points on several occasions early last season, Smith-Rivera has yet to notch more than 15 in a game this year. Moreover, the senior captain has shot well below his career averages from the field, three-point range and the free throw line. Despite his struggles from the field, Smith-Rivera is averaging a career high in assists at just over four per game and looks to continue to lead the offense.
Several missed shots against Bryant came as a result of rushed three-pointers in the first half, because of the team’s inability to crack the Bulldogs’ 2-3 zone early in the game. Like Bryant, Maryland Eastern Shore plays both zone and man-to-man defenses, and will likely rely on zone defense to counter Georgetown’s size and speed. With yet another matchup against a zone-oriented team, the Hoyas are likely to utilize the second-half strategy that helped them pull away against the Bulldogs.
“We [stress] to make cuts; we have to get the ball into the overload, into the middle. We have to get the ball into the short corner and we have to get some penetration,” Thompson said of the Hoyas’ plan to beat zone defenses.
The short-corner jumper is one of Copeland’s specialties, and it allows the rest of the offense to function because of it. In addition to practicing its zone offense, Georgetown will have its full rotation for the first time this season Tuesday as sophomore guard Tre Campbell is expected to return from an illness.
“We’re anticipating him being able to play Tuesday. He will play Tuesday; he’s practiced the last couple of days,” Thompson said of Campbell’s return.
The return of Campbell should bode well for Georgetown’s backcourt, as it has played the last three games without a traditional point guard. Between an improving offense and a full rotation for the first time this season, Tuesday’s game offers the first chance to see Georgetown at its full potential. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
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