The Final Four banner has been hung and the lineup has been set, but there is one last thing that the Hoyas need to prepare for before tip-off against William and Mary tomorrow: the targets on their backs.

The college basketball season has been underway for hardly a week and giants have already started falling to little programs that could. No. 8 Michigan State lost an exhibition game to Grand Valley State 85-82 in double overtime, No. 20 Kentucky dropped its match against Gardner-Webb 84-68 and Connecticut barely scraped by organ State in a 69-65 final.

For William and Mary, the chance to battle No. 5 Georgetown in its first regular-season game has been a motivating factor all summer.

“It’s a tough opener for us and one we’re excited about,” Tribe Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “We used it to try to motivate our guys. . Whenever they thought they couldn’t take some extra shots or spend some more time in the weight room we told them to think about the game versus Georgetown.”

Perhaps no one is more mindful of this than Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III.

“The difference between the teams that the public thinks are very good and the teams that the public doesn’t think are very good is so small,” Thompson said. “It’s so small. . No matter who you’re playing you have to have a certain level of preparedness and a certain level of intensity and awareness.

“It doesn’t matter what the name is on the opposition’s chest, because they can beat you.”

Although William and Mary finished last season with a middling 15-15 record (8-10 CAA), it was the school’s best finish since 1998. For Shaver, it is the first step to building the Tribe into a league contender.

The Tribe returns four of its starters, led by senior forward Laimis Kisielius, who averaged 11.3 points per game last year. Junior Alex Smith, who spent the summer playing in the Pan-Am Games for Panama, will likely join Kisielius and Peter Stein in the frontcourt.

Georgetown senior center and AP preseason all-American Roy Hibbert will have a distinct advantage on the glass against William and Mary – the Tribe’s leading returning rebounder, Kisielius, averaged just 3.8 last season and is only 6-foot-8.

The Tribe’s game is more perimeter-based, with guards Nathan Mann, a senior, and David Schneider, a sophomore, always ready to take a three-point shot. According to Shaver, Mann has an injury that will probably limit his playing time on Saturday.

On the Hoyas’ side, freshman guard Chris Wright, who broke his foot in a pick-up game in late September, will be ready to play, as will sophomore guard Jeremiah Rivers, who suffered the loss of his grandfather last weekend. Missing though will be freshman forward Nikita Mescheriakov, who will have to sit out the first 10 games of the season because he participated on a European pro team while he was still in his native Belarus.

While Thompson is quick to remind reporters that no one can fill Jeff Green’s shoes, the question of who will take his spot in the starting lineup, for the first game at least, has been answered. Fifth-year forward Patrick Ewing will get the nod to make his first start at Georgetown.

The bigger question, though, of how a Hoyas team without Jeff Green will “go about skinning the cat,” as Thompson says, will begin to be answered tomorrow.

Tip-off is set for noon at Verizon Center.

– HOYA Staff Writer Bailey Heaps contributed to this report.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.