The Van Buren Boys

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Some Thoughts on Georgetown-Memphis

Unsurprisingly, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about the Hoyas’ impending trip to Memphis. After all, many people have had this game circled as the biggest contest in the early NCAA season since it was announced. Both teams have held up their end of the bargain by remaining undefeated thus far and, as a result, Georgetown-Memphis will be the year’s first match up between two teams in the top 5.

I’ve bee going back and forth about how I think Georgetown will perform. Let’s be honest, we’re still early into the season, but this game will be viewed as a bellwether for two squads that came into the year with a lot of hype and expectations. Much has been made of Georgetown’s decision to run a little more in the last two games. The pundits declared that these Hoyas were showing that they could beat you multiple ways. I say, “not so fast.” We ran with success against Jacksonville and Radford. That does not mean we will be able to run against elite competition (read: Memphis, UNC). Indeed, we tried to play a more up-tempo style in the beginning of the game against Alabama and it did not go particularly well.

Given the athleticism of Memphis and our proven track record with grind-it-out, half-court sets, my initial thought was slowing the game down would be the key to our success. But many have pointed out that Memphis does not necessarily run a more efficient offense at a faster pace. The key to their success has been defense. So, I am no longer scared of the Hoyas’ pushing the ball against Memphis when they have the opportunity to do so. A fast game doesn’t necessarily hurt us. But the key will be not forcing opportunities to run.

The more I have thought about it, the more I have become convinced that this game is going to be offensive efficiency and tough defense. For the first time this season, Georgetown is going up against a team that is at least as athletic as the Hoyas. They will play lock-down man-to-man defense against the Hoyas. Open looks will be hard to come by. Thus, I think that the key to a Georgetown win will be working to find those open shots; whether it is via a back-door cut in a half-court set or on a breakaway. That being said, I think we will be more successful in the half-court. Memphis is a collection of athletic freaks and has a trio of tall/long guards. I have also been less than impressed with the Blue and Gray’s ability to rebound this year. Because of that, I don’t think we will have much of an opportunity to get breakaways. I think we will be spending a lot of our time just trying to keep Memphis from getting easy second-chance shots. And given our problems turning the ball over, I think that JTIII might feel more comfortable reining the team in a bit.

I also think we will be more successful in the half-court because of Mr. Roy Hibbert. Memphis doesn’t have a true center to match up against Roy. Thus, it is possible that Roy might be able to have a big day. That being said, Roy will have to be prepared to fight against the Tigers’ post players. And if Memphis can get Roy in foul trouble, or can make him a liability on defense by really pushing the tempo, they might be able to negate this advantage.

Defense, as always, will also be important. For Memphis’s motion offense to work, they have to be able to hit outside shots. They have been less than spectacular in doing so, shooting only about 33% from behind the arc. Given that fact, they are left with attacking the basket. If we can play tough interior defense we definitely give ourselves the advantage.

All that being said, I really have no idea how this is going to shake out. But I’m excited/nervous as hell to see what happens.

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