The Van Buren Boys

The Blogosphere's best source for the latest analysis and
commentary from the world of Georgetown Hoyas basketball.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Out Of Great Silence

Silence. Stone cold silence. For the last couple of weeks that is what you’ve gotten out of old Jester. I could have written. In fact, I had a couple of solid posts in mind. I had a “We’re Just Not That Good Post” already penned in my brain. And I had a “The MSM Gives Us No Respect” article. But I was taking a stand. My co-contributors weren’t posting, and I wasn’t going to carry the load myself. The Iceman offered to step in. But, no offense to Iceman, if he was the only one posting then it really wouldn’t be the VBB, would it?

But the Stallion came to the rescue. The guy works all day, goes to school all night, and has an infant to take care of. Yet he still found a way to post. If that isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is.

Oh wait, yes I do – The Hoyas.

What a game against Louisville! The Phone Booth was jumping on Saturday afternoon my friends. I can’t even remember a game that loud at Verizon. And despite some of the worst dunking that mankind has ever seen during the first half (DaJuan missed his third dunk in the last two games, and Macklin missed a dunk on an otherwise good move), Georgetown was playing some very good basketball. Their defense was insane. Louisville only managed 19 points in the first half. By my count they were 8 for 21 from the field (38%). And they made only one three-pointer in eight attempts. The Hoyas went into halftime up six. And after a barrage of excellent shots from Austin Freeman towards the beginning of the second half the Hoyas were up 11 and I started to day dream about how a blow-out of the Cardinals would change the public perception of Georgetown’s chances in the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, I was getting ahead of myself. The Hoyas went through an eight-minute stretch where they only managed four points, and the Cardinals tied up the game at 44 all. But the Hoyas did what they’ve done well all season. Louisville took a 51-50 lead with a little over three and a half minutes remaining and Georgetown ratcheted up its defense to close out the game, limiting the Cardinals to only one more point. They worked methodically on the offensive end of the floor and found an open DaJuan Summers for an open three point shot with 40 seconds to play. It wasn’t the blow out I had dreamed of with 15 minutes to play, but it was another classic, JTIII win — a close game where the Hoyas came out on top.

Now, this is not a game that is going to prove to the MSM that they’ve been wrong about Georgetown this year. The powers-that-be have suggested that Georgetown is overrated, and have consistently picked against them in all of their big games. Against Marquette two weekends ago I couldn’t find anyone who thought the Hoyas would win. But they did. This weekend everyone expected Louisville to write the final chapter in the story of their heroic comeback from injuries to become the team everyone thought they would be at the beginning of the season. But they came up just short. But in both of these Georgetown victories, like so many Hoya victories this year, it wasn’t clear that Georgetown was going to win until that final buzzer sounded. When a shot or two falling the other way could turn a victory into a loss, people say that you are lucky. Sometimes that’s true. But when a trend develops where you are always winning those close games, you can’t call it luck. Georgetown is now 6-0 in games decided by 5 points or less.

I’m almost a believer. I used to panic down the stretch. We’d approach the final minute or two of the game, we’d be up by one, down by two, or whatever, and I would start to say to myself “we’re going to lose; I know it, we’re going to lose.” But we wouldn’t. Time and again we’d pull out a “W.” I’ve grown so use to it that in the final minutes of the Louisville game I never had that thought. Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous as hell. I still cheered until I was horse when DaJuan’s three-pointer fell. My heart was still racing. But I didn’t expect to lose. I had faith. Just like the Hoyas’ players do.

The players, led by their corps of outstanding seniors, trust in the system and trust in each other. The Hoyas are consistently balanced in their offensive attack. All of the starters had between 6 and 15 points. Austin Freeman led the team with 15 and had one stretch where he scored eight straight points for the Hoyas. Hibbert did not score until the final seconds of the first half, but came alive in the second and finished with 12. Summers had 8, including that huge three-pointer. The point is you never know where the knock-out blow is going to come from with these Hoyas. A lot of people have faulted the team (and Roy Hibbert) because there is no “go-to guy.” But that’s the genius of what JTIII has developed on the Hilltop. All of the players are go-to guys. You just don’t know who that guy is going to be until after it happens. Georgetown doesn’t have to worry about their star having an off night. No one player is expected to carry the load.

All that being said, I still have concerns. Rebounding. It’s been one of our Achilles’ Heels all year. We out rebounded the Cardinals by 4, but I think it should have been by more. Why can’t Roy Hibbert have a 10-rebound game? He’s only had four this season and his last one was a month and a half ago against WVU. How on earth Jessie Sapp ends of the teams leading rebounder (7) is beyond me. This could be a problem come tournament time.

Of course, Achilles only had one weak heel. Georgetown has several. Turnovers are also a problem. We still had 17, against the Cardinals. Though I thought we were much more effective against the full-court press than we had been in previous games, this is still outrageous. We need to learn to take care of the ball.

The next week will be very telling. Despite getting the number one seed in the Big East Tourney, I think the Hoyas have a tough draw. They will have to play the winner of the Syracuse-Nova game, and I know that both teams believe that they can beat the Hoyas. The Orange already did once. And Nova might have had it not been for the last second (or, should I say, last fraction of a second) foul called with Jonathan Wallace 70 feet from the basket. I think either team can give Georgetown a fun for their money. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the Big East after all. There shouldn’t be any gimmees. If Georgetown wins that one, it’ll probably have to play West Virginia or Connecticut – two more teams that undoubtedly feel like they should have beat Georgetown. Against the ‘Neers the Hoyas survived thanks to a last-second block by Pat Ewing that some (wrongly) believed was a goal tend. Against UConn Georgetown escaped thanks to a last-minute three-pointer by Big Roy Hibbert. And who knows, if we can make it to the finals we may have to take on Louisville for a third time…this time on a neutral court. One thing is clear. If Georgetown can run the table again and win the Big East Tournament they will have proven themselves to be a formidable team going into the NCAAs.

If that doesn’t earn us at least a two-seed, there is no justice.


Joshua said...

Glad you've returned, Jester. It was a great win on Saturday, topped off by having the Big East regular season trophy brought out to center court. C'mon VBB -- you're my go-to source of G-town information, so you need to step it up now that it's March! Looking forward to reading you guys all month.

Italian Stallion said...

Jester, thanks for the props. I felt the need for the VBB to break from radio silence. How 'bout this for a show of confidence in the Hoyas - Baby Stallion was so confident that the Hoyas would pull away with the game, that he left the room in the final 30 seconds for a diaper change. He bleeds Hoya blue; although I can't say that's what was found in the diaper.

Agree with your points. Rebounding looks to be the main area that will do us in. I'm as excited as the next Hoya fan about the win on Saturday, but let's face, it L'ville got 3 chances to hit a tying shot in the final seconds. That's a horrible showing. You need to grab the other guy's rebound in a one possession game. Quite frankly, we got lucky given that a couple of the shots were good looks. Which leads me to another issue, yet another down to the last possession game where the opponent gets a great look for a game tying shot. This will not fly in the Dance, especially against some would-be Cinderella. Also, Macklin looks to be putting together his own dunk blooper video.

Aside from the above, can't say enough about the defense. While maybe we had some scoring droughts, L'ville was kept at bay all game. Impressive stand by the D when L'ville seemed to get hot during the final 5 or so minutes in the first half and then again squashed L'ville's attempted come-back in the 2nd half. To me, defense is what wins games down the strech. Scoring lots of points is great, but doesn't do you any good if they other scores more. To quote Johnny Shades from the weekend, the overall tactic for the Hoyas seems to be to play suffocating defense and then score just a little more than the opponent. This time of year, a "W" is all you need. I think a BE tourney victory = a # 2 seed.