WOMEN'S BASKETBALL | Transition Stressed Against UC
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 23:01
The Georgetown women’s basketball team (12-8, 3-4 Big East) is nearing the end of a soft stretch in its schedule, and in order to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive, the Hoyas must take advantage. Coming off a 69-57 win against reeling Pittsburgh (9-10, 0-6 Big East), the Blue and Gray will face Big East cellar-dwellers Cincinnati (8-11, 0-6 Big East) tonight at McDonough Arena.
Georgetown will hope to avoid a letdown game as it finishes a run of four straight games against Big East teams with losing conference records. However, Head Coach Keith Brown warned that the Bearcats will likely play better than their record suggests.
“Cincinnati is not a bad basketball team. They haven’t won a Big East game yet, but that kind of scares me,” Brown said. “For some reason, we get everybody’s best game, so they probably think that there is no better place to start winning games than at Georgetown.”
The Hoyas have faced a brutally unbalanced Big East schedule this season, suffering routs at the hands of No. 3 Connecticut, Syracuse and No. 2 Notre Dame in three straight games earlier in the season. Since then, they have rebounded by sandwiching a tough away loss to Rutgers with a victory against Seton Hall and Saturday’s win against Pitt.
On Saturday, Georgetown also saw its standing in the Big East improve as Seton Hall beat Rutgers and Villanova topped Syracuse. The Hoyas can bring their conference record to .500 and further climb up the standings with a win against the Bearcats.
“I think our girls do understand that we’re still in [the Big East race],” Brown said. “So I don’t look at this as being a trap game. I think they see it as a game where they can get back into contention in the Big East.”
The Hoyas will like their chances at home today, as they have racked up a 7-2 overall record in McDonough while only managing one away win in conference play so far.
“When you play in the Big East, you always tell your kids, ‘Win all your home games, and let’s hope that we can steal one or two on the road,’” Brown said. “It’s just hard to win on the road in the Big East because there are so many good teams.”
Still, Brown noted that the Hoyas could find success in that difficult endeavor if they focus on improving their transition game, both on the offensive and defensive sides.
“We want to be able to get up and down the floor, and we want to be able to defend. We want to be able to get back and stop the ball,” he said.
Even with improved fast-break play against Cincinnati, however, Georgetown will still continue to rest much of its hopes on the play of star senior guard Sugar Rodgers. Rodgers ranks second in the nation in scoring with 24.1 points per game — a figure bolstered by her 25-point outing against Pitt — and added to her accolades when she was named to the midseason top-20 list for the prestigious Wooden Award for the third time in her four years on the Hilltop.
Brown said that he believes Rodgers should be a serious contender for the honor.
“Sugar’s been doing some terrific things on and off the court. She probably should get more publicity than she actually gets because she’s that good of a player,” Brown said. “I think that she’s one of the top two or three best basketball players in the Big East. The Big East is a conference that sends eight to nine teams per year into the tournament, so she’s doing it against the best competition.”
And Rodgers’ on-court actions aren’t all that has made Brown happy to have No. 14 on his side.
“She’s been great at being a captain with the younger players because we have such a young team,” Brown said. “She also does a great job with the media and with the kids that come to the game. Everybody loves Sugar, and she’s mentoring kids all over the place because so many of them admire her.”
Although Cincinnati has no players with Rodgers’ star power, they do boast a guard who can score in bunches in redshirt junior Dayeesha Hollins, who is averaging 15.7 points per game. Due to Rodgers’ and Hollins’ talents, tonight’s game could become a head-to-head battle — one where Rodgers and Georgetown would appear to have the advantage.
The game will tip off at 8 p.m. in McDonough Arena.