Beach's Bits - Georgtown

Before Washington's complete 2009-2010 basketball schedule was announced, one game attracted significantly more attention than any other - Georgetown - and that game will be played this Saturday morning in Anaheim, Calif. as a part of the 2009 John Wooden Classic.

As opponents go, the Huskies face their biggest physical disadvantage of the season. The Hoyas feature one of the nation's better front-courts, big physical guards, an unusual offensive system and are a quality defensive team to boot. The Huskies are accustomed to a significant athletic advantage over their opponents, but that won't be the case Saturday.

Georgetown's biggest target is 6-foot-11 sophomore sensation Greg Monroe. Last year's Big East Rookie of the Year turned down NBA millions for a second go-round with the Hoyas. Monroe, coming off a 24-point, 15-rebound performance against 20th ranked Butler, is the most versatile post player in the country. Often used as a point center similar to Oregon State's Roeland Schaftenaar, Monroe is an exceptional passer who can stroke it from outside and put the ball on the floor as well.

While not the toughest physically, Monroe directs traffic from the high post in Coach John Thompson III's hybrid Princeton-style offense, which also emphasizes motion principles and he is adept at finding his guards on back-cuts to the basket. While occasionally criticized for lacking assertiveness with his back to the basket, Monroe has begun to embrace his role as the team's top scoring option as well. Defensive, his lanky 6-foot-11 frame is an intimidating shot-altering presence, though he can be pushed around underneath.

Monroe's partner up front is 6-foot-9, 250-pound junior Julian Vaughn. An unpolished brute who contrasts Monroe's finesse game with a punishing rebounding and shot-blocking presence, Vaughn is averaging 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 22 minutes per contest.

Off the bench, the Hoyas utilize 6-foot-10 sophomore Henry Sims, who is averaging 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 13 minutes a game. He has also blocked eight shots in the last five games.

Yes, the Hoyas are big and they have a dramatic size advantage up front against Washington's smaller forwards. But that isn't their only strength: The Hoyas backcourt features two experienced former McDonald's All Americans and a top notch shooting guard, all of whom are averaging 12 points per game or more and shooting better than 40 percent from the 3-point line.

6-foot-1 junior Chris Wright is the primary ball-handler and the team's emotional leader at point guard. He is joined by the physically imposing 6-foot-4, 239-pound junior Austin Freeman, a versatile scorer who is shooting 48 percent from three on the season. Skinny 6-foot-2 sophomore Jason Clark rounds out the starting rotation, averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 33 minutes per game, and is a dangerous defensive presence as well, averaging 2.3 steals per contest.

Highly touted California freshman Hollis Thompson comes off the bench, shooting 50 percent from three in 21 minutes a night.

If this seems like an overwhelming match-up for Washington it is, but the Hoyas aren't without their bugaboos. Georgetown is turnover prone, coughing up the ball 20 times in their victory over Butler. They are averaging 14.7 turnovers a game and become especially sloppy the later it gets. The Hoyas also bog down when Monroe struggles. Their offense moves through Monroe, and he's particularly susceptible to being bullied by physical defenders – and that's where Washington could prove to be a formidable matchup.

Georgetown's bench is also extremely thin, though they are adept at avoiding foul trouble and haven't had a player foul out this season to date. So what does all of this mean for the Huskies, who come into this game on a bit of a scuffle?

First, Washington is going to have to change things up. Sending Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton recklessly into the post for contested lay-ins is folly against such an imposing front line. To beat the Hoyas, the Huskies must exercise patience and find good shots. Georgetown will be hard-pressed to defend Quincy Pondexter – he's a mismatch against every player on their roster - but Pondexter can't do much more than he's already doing. UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar will probably try and isolate Pondexter as much as possible and give him every opportunity to exploit his match-up advantage there.

But someone else has to step up. Thomas is due for a big game, but Georgetown's size and inside presence are likely to give him fits and he'll have to adjust accordingly. Elston Turner and Scott Suggs will likely hear their names called often as Romar looks to spread the floor and give Pondexter and Thomas room to maneuver underneath. This also may be the day we see a breakout game from Abdul Gaddy, whose playmaking skills in the paint are likely to earn the Hoyas' full attention.

For the Huskies to win, it's going to take a concerted effort from the Husky bigs. Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Darnell Gant are especially well-equipped to defend Monroe. He can be physically intimidated, and both UW defenders are just as home defending the perimeter as they are under the hoop. When he's down low, they'll front him and push him around, but they'll also have to defend his passing, which may be their toughest task.

The Huskies' defense has been a mixed bag so far this year. The effort has been excellent, but the mental lapses caused by learning their rotations have revealed gaping holes in the defense – something the Princeton offense is designed to exploit.

They'll also have to figure out how to generate some offense underneath, and for that reason Bryan-Amaning must have a strong game. We've seen glimpses that Tyreese Breshers can be a much-needed offensive presence for Washington, but he still appears to be a ways out from doing it consistently. Because of Georgetown's size, Romar will be forced to use a bigger lineup, and that probably means less of Pondexter under the hoop. Someone has to fill those shoes.

The Huskies have the talent to win this game, but they're going to have to synchronize offensively to do it. They're going to have to share the ball, be patient and adapt to whatever the Hoyas throw at them. Whether or not they are capable of doing that eight games into the regular season remains to be seen. Top Stories