MEN'S BASKETBALL | Huskies Waiting to Pounce
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 03:02
As hard as it may be, it is already time to move on.
The last time Georgetown beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome — Feb. 9, 2011 — the Hoyas dropped their next road contest to eventual national champions Connecticut one week later. The Blue and Gray are hoping that history does not repeat itself Wednesday.
Given that UConn is ineligible to compete in the Big East tournament due to concerns with the team’s Academic Progress Report rating, Head Coach Kevin Ollie stated in the beginning of the year that the Huskies’ goal is to win the Big East regular season title. Connecticut currently sits two games behind Georgetown in the standings, so a head-to-head win would go a long way in realizing that goal.
Do not be fooled by Connecticut’s seven losses: six of those were by single digits, and the lone double-digit loss — a 15-point defeat to then-No. 1 Louisville — was close until late in the second half.
Like the Hoyas, the Huskies start no seniors, instead relying on a lineup led by junior guard Shabazz Napier, whose 17.2 points per game put him at fifth in the Big East. Rounding out the backcourt are sophomore Ryan Boatright and freshman Omar Calhoun, while sophomore DeAndre Daniels and junior Tyler Olander down low.
The three guards account for over 60 percent of Connecticut’s scoring, so it will be important for sophomore guard Jabril Trawick and junior guard Markel Starks to stay out of foul trouble. Against Syracuse, Trawick picked up three early fouls after getting another starting nod and only played 20 minutes the entire game.
UConn runs a similar offense to that of Rutgers, whom Georgetown just squeezed past Feb. 9, 69-63, after doing a poor job of locating all of Rutgers’ shooters on the court. Napier in particular is a confident shooter for the Huskies, making 41 percent of his shots from three-point range; almost half of his shots come from beyond the arc.
Georgetown, meanwhile, has been tough to pin down on the offensive end. There is no denying that the Hoyas are starting to come together offensively, but their most recent performances have defied the trends that mark typical John Thompson III teams. Instead of spreading out the scoring relatively evenly and emphasizing team scoring, two players took turns scoring 33 points this past week: first, freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera against DePaul and then sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. against Syracuse.
Still, Georgetown was not a one-man show either night. Rather, the Hoyas committed to passing around Syracuse’s vaunted zone Saturday, often using 30 seconds of the shot clock or more until they found the best possible look. It just so happens that Georgetown’s best shot is often the one that Porter Jr. takes.
While the Hoyas are continuing to gain national attention — and Porter Jr. is gaining traction as a national player of the year candidate — Georgetown is also starting to develop a target on its back in its lofty perch atop the Big East standings. The Hoyas climbed the national rankings amid skepticism from analysts and fans, and they will need the same mentality in order to maintain their position there.
And that is what makes Wednesday’s contest at Connecticut so important. Both teams are talented and well-coached; the team that wants to win more will come out on top. To avoid a late-season collapse, Georgetown needs to prove it can continue to win games even after emotionally draining victories like its most recent one over Syracuse.
Tip-off between the Hoyas and Huskies is slated for 7 p.m.