Jeff Wolf Scouts the Georgetown Hoyas

No. 10/11 Georgetown comes to the Bradley Center Saturday looking to climb one step closer to the Big East regular-season title.

No. 10/11 Georgetown Hoyas

(23-4, 13-3 Big East)

Head Coach: John Thompson III (Fourth Season)

 

Probable Starters:

Sr G Jonathan Wallace – 6-1, 188

Fr G Austin Freeman – 6-4, 210

Jr G Jessie Sapp – 6-3, 205

So F DaJuan Summers – 6-8, 241

Sr C Roy Hibbert – 7-2, 278

 

Key Reserves:

So G Jeremiah Rivers – 6-4, 205

So F Vernon Macklin – 6-9, 225

Sr F Patrick Ewing, Jr. – 6-8, 238

 

Scouting Report:

 

After the Colorado Rockies won the NL Wildcard on a miraculous slide by Matt Holliday, outfielder Willy Taveras explained the ending as a case of "every hero, different night."

 

That quote also seems to sum up the season for No. 10/11 Georgetown as well.  The Hoyas have had six different players lead them in scoring this season, and all five starters are averaging nine points per game or more.  Four or more players have scored in double figures on 13 separate occasions for Georgetown.

 

They may not be the best collection of athletes, but they are a strong team that works well together and trusts in a system that allows any scorer to lead the team on any given day.  Georgetown's 64-52 win over St. John's on Wednesday left them a half-game ahead of Louisville for first place in the conference, and the Hoyas have maintained their place atop the Big East thanks to a strong cast of contributors.

 

The most publicized of these contributors is senior center Roy Hibbert, who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, at 13.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg, respectively.  Hibbert has steadily improved his offensive game every year, developing his post moves and his ability to maneuver in the paint.  His scoring numbers have steadily increased as a result, and this season he is shooting over 60 percent from the field, third-best in the Big East.  However, his rebounding leaves a lot to be desired – he is not good at boxing out in space, and collects most of his rebounds by simply reaching over people with his 7-2 frame.  Hibbert averages a little over two blocks per game and shoots only 64.9 percent from the free-throw line (85-131).  He is also 2-of-2 on three-point shot attempts on the season.

 

 

Senior Jonathan Wallace is more of a scorer than a true point guard, averaging only 2.5 apg, but scoring 10.0 ppg.  Wallace's scoring numbers are down somewhat from last year, but has still had some dominant performances, including a 26-point effort in the loss at Syracuse in which he shot 6-of-7 from three and 9-of-10 overall.  Most of Wallace's shots come from beyond the arc (125 of 191 attempts), and he is the team's leading three-point shooter, and the second-best in the conference, at 43.2 percent (54-125).  He is also one of the Hoyas' best shooters from the line sinking an even 80.0 percent (32-40).  He is not the quickest guard, but he is best among the Hoyas at taking care of the ball, with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio.

 

Guard Jessie Sapp, on the other hand, is the Hoya's best ball-handler, although he does have a tendency to dribble himself into trouble on occasion.  Sapp is both the leading distributor and leading turnover culprit, with 91 assists (3.35 per game) and 66 giveaways on the season.  Sapp is averaging 9.7 ppg and 4.1 rebounds per game, and in Big East games his scoring average rises to 10.3ppg.  He is also a 39.2 percent shooter (47-120) from beyond the arc, and hit a game-winning three against West Virginia.

 

DaJuan Summers is Georgetown's second-leading scorer and rebounder, at 11.5 ppg and 5.3 rpg, respectively.  Summers typically takes a lot of shots, approximately half of which come from three-point range, and he is a streaky shooter.  He hit five three-pointers and scored 21 points in the recent victory against St. John's, yet in the near loss to Syracuse he scored five points and shot only 1-of-5 from three and 2-of-9 from the field.  Summers also shoots a very acceptable 72.4 percent from the free-throw line.

 

Freshman Austin Freeman has folded well into Georgetown's offense and became a starter midway through the season.  Like Wallace, he is not the quickest player, but he is a very accurate shooter that fits perfectly within the Hoyas' system.  Freeman averages 9.1 ppg and is 50.5 percent shooter from field.  He scored a career-high 21 points against Radford, shooting 7-of-9 from the field, and he was also Hoyas' leading scorer against Memphis with 14 points. Those close to the Hoyas also rave about his basketball IQ and his ability to work with Hibbert.  Freeman is the team's best free-throw shooter, sinking 82.5 percent on the season.

 

Patrick Ewing, Jr. is the Hoyas' top sub from a minutes-standpoint and has started 11 games this season, averaging 6.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg.  The transfer from Indiana has more of a midrange game than his father and will take shots from beyond the arc.  Junior is not as ferocious on the glass as Senior was, but is still worthy of attention.

 

Jeremiah Rivers, the son of former-MU great Doc Rivers, averages just under three points a game off the bench.  Rivers isn't counted on to score, but he provides a great defensive presence for the Hoyas.  Often when Georgetown has the lead late it will be Rivers, not Wallace, running the point because of his ability to shut down opposing scorers.  Rivers is also a fairly good rebounder, recording a season-high nine boards in the first game against the Red Storm.

 

Many in D.C. had hoped to get more out of Vernon Macklin in his second season.  Although he scored a season-high 18 points in the first meeting with St. John's, he has made limited contributions to the offense this season, mostly in transition.  Macklin is also shooting just 8-39 (20.5 percent) from the free-throw line.

 

And all these individuals contributors work within the system of coach John Thompson III to make Georgetown a cohesive and dangerous unit on both ends of the floor.

 

The Hoyas are excellent at moving without the ball, and depend on well-timed cuts to effectively run their hybrid Princeton-style offense.  They also use backdoor cuts the same way many of Marquette's previous opponents have used the high pick-and-roll.  The ball-handler dribbles at the off-ball defender at the top of the key, and when the defender steps up to cut off the penetration, that player's man cuts to the basket and receives the pass for an easy layup. 

 

On a typical possession, the Hoya's make their strike after a bevy of monotonous cuts and ball reversals has used up about 0:30 of the shot clock and lulled the opposition to sleep.  It's easy to tell when they have really drawn teams in because they pull the entire defense up on the perimeter, making the back cut all but unstoppable.  And they keep teams guessing by mixing in quick hitters – or rather, by look to score earlier in their set – from time to time. 

 

They are great passers – the team's 15.4 assists per game is fifth in the conference – and are especially adept at making skip passes.  The constant motion and passing can also leave teams out of position against Hibbert, who gets a lot of touches deep in the paint when the Hoyas are at their best. Georgetown is also terrific at shooting the three-ball.  Their 37 percent shooting from long-range is third best in the conference, and they also rely on this as a huge component of their offense.

 

The Hoyas are also one of the best defensive teams in the country.  Going into Wednesday's game against St. John's, Georgetown's 36.0 percent shooting allowed was tops in Division-I, and the 57.1 ppg they allow is best in the Big East.  They defend jump-shooters well (they are second to Marquette in three-point percentage allowed) and are usually good at limiting opponents' opportunities in transition.  Due to their overall lack of quickness, they are susceptible to strong drives off the dribble, but the Hoyas make up for it by being great communicators, and Thompson is a great at game-planning defenses to take away what teams do well.  While the Hoyas are not great shot-blockers, Hibbert is able to alter a lot of opposing players' shots with his size alone.

 

Yet the Hoyas are far from invincible.

 

For a team of their caliber, Georgetown has had serious issues rebounding the basketball this season.  Early on, they were out-rebounded by the likes of Old Dominion, Fordham, Villanova, and Rutgers (by 17 boards).  They only rebounded DePaul and American by two boards apiece and Ball State by five boards.  Hibbert has broken the 10-rebound plateau only four times this season, and the only other player to have recorded a double-digit rebounding game this season is Summers.

 

They have improved as the season has progressed and have been out-rebounding opponents in the second half of the Big East season, crushing Seton Hall and USF on the glass 49-21 and 43-27, respectively.  But overall Georgetown has only a plus-2.8 rebounding margin for all games played and opponents have had the edge on the offensive glass by close to 100 boards.  The second chance points created by those offensive rebounds hurt the Hoyas dearly in games against Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

 

Georgetown is also very susceptible to good ball pressure.  In all four of their losses – against Memphis, Pitt, Louisville, and Syracuse – the Hoyas struggled against both back-court and front-court pressure.  The Hoyas' best ball-handler was freshman Chris Wright, the McDonalds All-American lost to a foot injury before the Big East season began, and without him the Hoyas lack a consistent press-breaking force.

 

Pressure leads to a lot of Hoya turnovers.  Georgetown has committed 345 turnovers on the season – a stat that would stand out more if they didn't record so many assists – and has a dead-even turnover margin.  And when teams force them to start their offense outside the three-point line, the Hoyas have a hard time getting the ball inside to Hibbert and they are more prone to make hurried reads, and thus bad decisions, in their hybrid-Princeton sets.

 

This forces them to rely on outside shooting to score points, and when Gerogetown struggles from the perimeter they are very beatable.

 

Yes, like most teams, the Georgetown Hoyas have flaws.  They have played a lot of close games in the Big East, but have found ways to win.  They are one of the best teams in the country and are poised for a great seeding come Selection Sunday.  No matter how grammatically awkward it is phrased, this team has talent and it knows how to get the job done.

 

*Special thanks to Barker Davis of the Washington Times for contributing to this article.


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