The Georgetown men’s basketball team hosts local rival Maryland today in the second installment of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, as the Hoyas (1-0) look to rebound from last year’s 75-71 defeat at College Park.
While last year’s Maryland team (1-0) boasted current NBA players Jake Layman and Diamond Stone, the Terrapins now rely almost exclusively on junior guard Melo Trimble, a preseason second team All-American. In the team’s season-opening win against American (0-2), a 62-56 contest, Trimble scored 22 points, using 37 percent of possessions during his 34 minutes of playing time.
“What we’ve been focusing on for the last two days is staying in front of him,” junior guard and Washington, D.C. native Tre Campbell said of the game plan to slow down the Terrapins’ star. “Just playing defense.”
On the other hand, Georgetown evenly distributed playing time and floored the USC Upstate Spartans (0-1) 105-60 in the team’s first game as 10 players played 10 minutes or more, none playing more than 30.
Graduate student guard Rodney Pryor, named Big East Player of the Week on Monday, made his debut after transferring from Robert Morris (0-2) and scored 26 in the first half, finishing with 32 points.
His performance, however, came under criticism for its one-dimensional nature. Pryor finished with zero assists and zero steals.
“It’s tough because we won by 40, and everything looks like it’s going good,” Pryor said of his performance. “I pride myself on the defensive end, bringing activity, bringing energy. To not have those stats — and we gave up 20 offensive rebounds, and I only had one rebound — I feel bad about that because on those offensive rebounds, I probably could have gotten a deflection or gotten my hand in there a couple times.”
Pryor and the rest of the team recognize the importance of the season’s first nationally televised game, not to mention a rivalry bout against a top-tier team. Maryland started the season No. 25 in the country, only just slipping out of the polls this week.
Head Coach John Thompson III has resigned himself to the immediacy of the game and implied wanting more time for the Blue and Gray to find their stride.
“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t play a team this difficult this soon, with so many new guys,” Thompson said of the test Maryland poses to Georgetown’s inexperienced roster. “When they put the games together, one of the main premises behind it was getting tough, difficult games on your schedule early in the season. So that’s the reason for the union of the two leagues, and here we are.”
Still, much fanfare is made of the local rivalry, with the teams renewing their historic rivalry last season after a seven-year hiatus.
“It means a lot,” Campbell said, referring to a victory in the game beyond just the win-loss column. “They were ranked top-25, and that’s something that we’re trying to get to. Being from here — Maryland-Georgetown just came up two years ago — it’s big. A lot of people don’t know it’s that big because of Georgetown-Syracuse, but Georgetown-Maryland is big, too.”
As the two flagship basketball programs of the immediate D.C. area, the two schools have battled for recruits and media attention for years. While Georgetown went to four Final Fours during the 1980s and captured a national title in 1984, Maryland made headlines in the 2000s with back-to-back Final Four appearances and a national title in 2002.
Maryland holds the all-time series lead with a 37-27 record against Georgetown.
In the larger season picture, however, the Terrapins mark the midpoint of a stretch in which the Hoyas play three games over the course of five days. While Thompson has urged his players to play their hardest, he also recognizes their imminent fatigue.
“We’ve had practice the last two days. They haven’t been your typical grind-out practices, but when our schedule was put together, some we had control over, a lot we didn’t,” Thompson said of the short turnaround in between games. “It is what it is, we have to make adjustments. We do have some depth at the same time. You have to be conscious of guys getting their rest in practice and hopefully at night.”
While Thompson’s exact rotation remains unclear after a one-game blowout, its depth and versatility look to help weather the test that lies before the Blue and Gray on Tuesday evening.
Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m., with the doors scheduled to open at 5 p.m. — a half hour earlier than usual. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
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