Georgetown Preview

Is it too early to have a "must-win" game? Perhaps, but the importance of WVU's home battle with Georgetown on Saturday is critical indeed.

SCOUTING THE HOYAS

The Hoyas have started the same five players in all 11 games this season, and figure to continue that streak against WVU. Although this year's Georgetown team doesn't quite have the beef up front of previous Hoya squads, they still have plenty of height and talent to make some noise in the Big East this year.

The front line is comprised of three solid scorers in Brandon Bowman (6-9, 215), Darrell Owens (6-6, 205) and Courtland Freeman (6-9, 225). Bowman leads the front line in scoring with 16.1 points per game. Owens and Freeman pitch in with 11.7 and 9.6 points, repsectively. All three players are solid rebounders with long arms and excellent jumping skills. They combine for more than 15 rebounds per contest, and along with their partners in the backcourt provide excellent board work throughout the lineup.

Ashanti Cook (6-2, 175) and Gerald Riley (6-6, 215), start in the backcourt. Riley leads the team in scoring with 17.5 points per game, and Cook pitches in with alamost nine points per outing in addition to his playmaking duties. Cook has an assist to turnover ratio of more than 2 to 1, but does have the tendency to shoot a few more times than some of his more accurate teammates. Cook is also second on the Hoyas in rebounding, and has proven effective at slipping inside among bigger bodies to grab caroms.

Four of the five starters average at or above thirty minutes per game. That leaves limited time for subs Ray Reed (6-0, 160) and Matt Causey (5-11, 170) in the backcourt, along with Amadou Kilkenny-Diaw (6-8, 220) and Sead Dizdarevic (6-8, 220) up front. Reed, who averages 5.5 points, has attempted more free throws than all but two of his teammates despite averaging just 17.9 minutes of floor time per outing.

KEY MATCHUP

West Virginia guard Joe Herber vs. Georgetown Guard Gerald Riley

Riley has been a thorn in the Mountaineers' side throughout his college career. His ability to pass, shoot from long distance and rebound have hurt the Mountaineers time and again ove rthe past couple of seasons.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Sat 1/10 Noon
WVU Coliseum
Records
WVU 7-4, 0-1
GU 10-1, 1-1
Series
GU 22-17
TV
ESPN Regional
RPI
WVU - 86
GU -69
Margin: WV +1
Like other players of similar build and talents (Syracuse's Keuth Duany comes immediately to mind), Riley provides a multi-faceted challenge for Herber and the Mountaineer defense. WVU must figure out a way to keep Riley out of the lane and off the boards, while also covering him on the perimeter. And although Herber will likely see some time against Riley man to man, it's more likely that the Hoyas' versatile senior will see a combination of zone defenses as well.

Offensively, Herber must protect the ball against Riley, who is second on the team in steals and can be a major disruptor on the defensive end. Herber, while only a sophomore, has often been a calming influence on the Mountaineer team, and his patience against the aggressive Hoya defense will be a critical component in WVU's chances to win their first conference game of the season.

After a one-game breakout last month, Herber's shooting woes have also returned. While he doesn't need to score 18 points per game, he does need to hit enough of his open shots to force defenders to play him honestly. If he can't make that happen, Riely will be able to slough off in the passing lanes and help against other Mountaineer shooters.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: None

GU: RaMell Ross (Shoulder) Out

OUTLOOK

The Hoyas are again an aggressive defensive team. As of last week's stats, Georgetown leads the nation in steals, which they use to fuel their high-scoring transition offense.

Against that pressure, WVU must be patient with the ball. Georgetown will doubleteam and trap at the drop of a hat, and also defends the passing lanes aggressively as they look for pickoffs and resulting easy baskets. West Virginia must work backcuts, set screens aggressively, and most importantly, not back down in the face of the pressure. The best way to attack a team with this style is to go right at it, make the defense cover the entire floor, and play aggressively. That's something the Mountaineers did in the first half against Florida, another trapping team, with considerable success. In the second half, the Mountaineers got passive, and quickly fell behind. If they can avoid that dropoff against the Hoyas, they should have a chance at evening their Big East record.

One other item to keep an eye on is WVU's team mood. With a bit of dissension in the ranks over playing time, and two new starters (perhaps more) in the lineup again on Saturday, WVU is at a critical juncture of its young season. Will WVU respond to the challenge by playing well in this game, which they sorely need to win to keep out of the basement of the Big East? A loss in this contest could be as hurtful as any early January losing outcome can be.

FAST BREAKS

The Hoyas lead the Big East in turnover margin, which is somewhat out of character for a team that typically plays aggressive, fast paced basketball. Georgetown has 59 more steals and 86 fewer turnovers than their opponents, which obviously leada to far more chances on the offensive end for the D.C. school. By comparison, West Virginia has just four more steals and 21 fewer turnovers than their 2003 foes.

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Patrick Beilein, Joe Herber, Jarmon Durisseau-Collins and Frank Young are all shooting better from three-point range than from the floor overall.

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Beilein also has a string of 24 straight free throws without a miss.

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New Georgetown assistant Chuck Driesell is the son of college coaching legend Lefty Driesell. Chuchk was the head coach at Division III Marymount University from 1997 through 2003.


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