HOLLANDER | Rebounds Pace GU In Victory
Published: Monday, January 14, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 17:01
After falling in its first two Big East games, contests marred by horrendous shooting, Georgetown headed to New York Saturday in need of a pick-me-up. It got one by easily dispatching St. John’s 67-51 in a less-than-half-full Madison Square Garden.
While offensive woes were the storyline going into the game — Georgetown failed to crack 40 percent from the floor against Marquette and Pittsburgh — the tale of the tape against St. John’s was about a different matter: rebounding.
The Hoyas outgrabbed the Johnnies 42-28, an effort that looks better considering that sophomore forward Greg Whittington, who has been averaging seven boards a game, sat out due to an unspecified violation of team rules.
In 14 games, the Blue and Gray have averaged 33.5 rebounds per game. But in its three losses, the team has done considerably worse. Georgetown snagged 21 rebounds against Indiana, 25 against Marquette and just 20 against Pittsburgh. That allowed the Hoosiers and Golden Eagles nine more opportunities apiece, while the Panthers got seven more possessions off the glass.
That may not explain the shellacking that Head Coach John Thompson III’s team received at the hands of the Jamie Dixon-coached Panthers, but the rebounding figures should give pause to those who believe the Hoyas’ lackluster scoring will hinder the team in conference play.
It’s easy to see why sitting 261st in the nation in points per game is a concern. While a pithy response might be that “defense wins championships,” there are more sophisticated reasons to believe that Georgetown’s offense is not as much of a problem as many think.
Except for the Panthers, the Hoyas have held all of their opponents to under 50 percent from the floor. In fact, Georgetown actually outshot Marquette from the field, but the Golden Eagles were able to overcome the Blue and Gray at the charity stripe.
If you hold offensive and defensive efficiency equal, three factors — rebounds, fouls and free throws — become the key to determining who wins and who loses.
That assessment is still not all sweetness and light for Georgetown, however. Despite its length, the Hoyas have a frontcourt that seems light on rebounding and heavy on fouling.
The worst performer has been junior center Mikael Hopkins, who has not scored in double figures for over a month. In those last six games, Hopkins has more fouls (18) than he has rebounds (nine). Instead of creating opportunities for his squad to score, he has given opponents a freebie at the charity stripe.
Junior forward Nate Lubick and sophomore forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Whittington have made more meaningful contributions in the frontcourt although Lubick and Whittington are both foul-prone.
This all screams for Thompson III to emphasize the fundamentals over the shooting percentage. Georgetown’s stifling defense allows for a lower-octane offense. But there is little room for too many fouls or missed shots that end up in the opponents’ hands. Fix those things, and this team will prosper.