CURRAN | GU Must Watch for Road Trap
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 02:02
Georgetown is riding pretty high right about now.
The Hoyas have made a triumphant return to the national rankings, clocking in at No. 20. They’ve won six of seven games. Otto Porter Jr. is a Big East player of the year favorite, and some now consider his team a dark-horse pick to win the conference.
Paging Admiral Ackbar.
Even the most optimistic sections of its fanbase can’t deny that the team has a penchant for spectacularly crashing and burning in a “trap” game, usually just after it has gained respect among national pollsters and talking heads.
In 2011, the Blue and Gray rose to No. 9 in the country and promptly face-planted at Temple. Last year, it was No. 9 again until a sloppy night in Morgantown. This year, No. 15 and a stinker at Marquette.
So you’ll have to forgive the Georgetown faithful for keeping their eyes peeled for a trap in the upcoming schedule. And Saturday’s game at Rutgers is as likely a candidate as any for the start of the impending collapse many traumatized fans are predicting.
The Scarlet Knights enter the game with a 12-9 record and a five-game losing streak, numbers that won’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of, well, anyone. But while Rutgers’ resume isn’t impressive at first glance, the Knights boast wins over St. John’s and then- No. 24 Pitt earlier this year, as well as close losses to then-No. 20 Notre Dame and then-No. 11 Louisville.
Add in Myles Mack — a diminutive guard who can light it up from downtown any given night — and you’ve got a recipe for beating a streaky Georgetown team.
The basketball pundits say differently — and hey, maybe they’re right. Each of Porter Jr.’s performances over the last month has been a thing of beauty, and the new, fast-paced offense seems to be clicking without Greg Whittington. Despite a 4-of-17 performance against Seton Hall, Markel Starks has emerged as a reliable second scorer with a deadly three-point shot. And against all odds, the Hoyas have been playing statistically better defense without their 6-foot-8 Plastic-Man patrolling the wings.
Unfortunately, this sound reasoning won’t be enough to convince most of the loyal fans who witnessed the trap games of the last few years that the Blue and Gray aren’t doomed for a jarring fall. Commenters on the popular Georgetown blog Casual Hoya bemoan any hype in the national media for fear of a rankings or popularity jinx.
I say bring it on.
It’s not that I think the Hoyas will have a cakewalk tomorrow. I think they’re in for a matchup that’s much tougher than it looks — and on the road, to boot — so there’s a very real chance they lose.
I scoff at the jinx only because Rutgers represents a test Georgetown needs to pass should it wish to join the ranks of the college basketball elite this season.
If the Hoyas want to join the land of the Michigans, Floridas and Kans — okay, maybe not the Kansases — of college basketball, the Rutgers game will be as important as any top-25 matchup.
Pat Curran is a junior in the College and a former sports editor of The Hoya.