KEYS TO THE GEORGETOWN GAME
Rutgers is in the middle of a crucial three game stretch that holds the key to the remainder of their season. Sunday's 75-72 win over Boston College was the first step in the trifecta. Stumbling Georgetown (10-9, 2-6 Big East) visits the RAC tonight for a rematch of a 76-66 Georgetown win in mid-January -- Georgetown's last Big East win. The Hoyas have dropped seven of eight games. A team picked to finish second in the Big East West Division is staring at the possibility of missing the BET. Rutgers desperately needs a victory to split the head-to-head tiebreaker with Georgetown and give themsevles a slight lead in divisional tiebreakers (courtesy of the win over Syracuse). Here are five keys to a much-needed win against Boston College.
1. Transition Defense. In the first meeting, Georgetown scored 23 of their 76 points on fast breaks. That doesn't include additional points scored in transition as a result of FTAs. Lazy transition defense allowed a Hoya team that struggles to score to get easy points. SG Tony Bethel scored many of his 20 points in transition. Rutgers must get back on defense and deny to Georgetown transition opportunities. If the Scarlet Knights can force the Hoyas to score from their halfcourt offense, the scoring tempo should be at a pace that suits Rutgers.
2. Containing Mike Sweetney. I love Sweetney's game. His savvy is remarkable in that he plays to his strengths very well and doesn't play outside his limitations. The Hoya's burly All-Big East PF demolished Rutgers three weeks ago, scoring 27 points (10 of 17 FGAs and 7 of 13 FTAs) and collecting 13 rebounds (7 offensive). Big Mike single-handedly put Rutgers frontcourt into severe foul trouble as Herve Lamizana, Sean Axani, and Kareem Wright each picked up 4 fouls in 63 total minutes. Rutgers must contain Sweetney. He's going to get his points and rebound. The Scarlet Knights must make him earn them at both ends of the court. The Scarlet Knights can't commit stupid, soft fouls that give Sweetney chances for 3-point plays. Rutgers' post defenders must fight for position and hold their ground, allowing their teammates to double team Sweetney. Swarm the big guy and force him to give up the ball. Attack him on defense, especially with Herve and Kareem. Wright must get at least 10 FGAs. Sweetney can't score from the bench. And he'll be on the bench if Rutgers can get him into foul trouble.
3. Force TOs. Georgetown averages nearly 19 TOS per game in conference play. The Hoyas do not start a natural PG. Their ballhandling is suspect. The Scarlet Knights must apply relentless pressure over the full length of the court. Head Coach Gary Waters must mix his defense to keep Georgetown off-balance, especially without a PG to direct their offense. Full-court press. Half-court press. Half-court trap. Zone. Man-to-man. Matchup-zone. Rutgers must force at least 20 TOs. And turn them into transition points.
4. Defensive Rebounding. Georgetown has one of the better FG% defenses in the Big East. Rutgers is the worst shooting team in the Big East. Rutgers likely will need to get significantly more FGAs than Georgetown to win this game. The Scarlet Knights cannot afford to yield second-chance points to the Hoyas. Georgetown is missing C Wesley Wilson, who allegedly has been suspended for fighting with his teammates. Therefore, the Hoyas will not be as physically imposing as they normally are. Nonetheless, the Scarlet Knights must focus on their rebounding fundamentals and deny offensive rebounds to the Hoyas.
5. Dribble Penetration. Rutgers had it's most impressive offensive performance of the season against Boston College. Coincidentallly, Rutgers scored one-third of its 75 points as a result of dribble penetration. Drives to the basket. Driving and dishing. Driving and kicking to the 3-point line. The Scarlet Knights must do more of the same against the Hoyas. Especially with the shot-blocking threat of Wilson absnent. The Rutgers guards must use shrewd judgment on their penetration. Don't go inside against the tall trees. Pull up and take the mid-range jumper. Pull the Hoya front line away from the basket. Then find the open Rutgers big men on the baseline for easy baskets. Teamwork and unselfishness.