Georgetown's starting front line could have come straight out of the book on how to construct the ideal frontcourt. Forwards Jeff Green (So., 6-9, 235 lbs.) provides strong inside power play, yet is capable of playing on the perimeter, while teammate Brandon Bowman (Sr., 6-9, 223 lbs.) is an explosively athletic player with a solid midrange game, but one that can also get to the basket. The pair combines for almost 21 points and more than 11 rebounds per game, and present quite a daunting defensive task for the much shorter Mountaineers.
Rounding out the big front line is hulking center Roy Hibbert, who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding (12.6 and 6.3 per game, respectively). Hibbert (So., 7-2, 285 lbs.) is also an intimidating defensive presence, having rejected 28 shots this year.
In the frontcourt, guards Ashanti Cook and Jonathan Wallace have provided the Hoyas with balanced scoring, especially from long range. Cook (sr., 6-2, 185 lbs.) is scoring 9.8 points per game on the strength of 48.8% shooting from the field, while Wallace (So., 6-1, 190 lbs.) is just behind with nine points per outing. He is shooting a dead level 50% from the field overall as well as from three-point range in addition to running the offense.
Providing primary support on both lines is swingman Darrel Owens (Sr., 6-7, 215 lbs.). The Louisiana native averages 9.5 points off the bench, shoots the ball very well, and has a lovely 30-9 assist to turnover ratio. Although he has not started a game this year, Owens plays comparable minutes to those in the starting lineup and certainly does not cause a drop-off in talent or ability when he comes on to the floor. Guard Jessie Sapp (Fr., 6-3, 205 lbs.) provides solid backup minutes at the guard position as well.
Georgetown is likely benefited by the fact that they run an offense that has a similar look to that of WVU's. Although the Hoya attack is more closely modeled to Princeton principles than those of the Beilein system, many of the tactics are the same. The familiarity with their own system probably helps the Hoyas as they prepare defensively for West Virginia, perhaps moreso than any other team in the league.
|Wed Jan 11|
WVU 10-3, 2-0
GU 10-2, 2-0
WVU - 84
GU - 77
Offensively, this Georgetown team shoots much better than many Hoya clubs of the past, which relied on their defense to create shots in transition and a bruising inside game for high percentage shots. The Hoya guards are 59-125 from three-point range this year, and that 47.2% mark makes them very difficult to defend. West Virginia will have a tough time slowing Hibbert, Green and Bowman in the line, and when coupled with GU's outside shooting, faces something of a Hobson's choice defensively.
Look for the Mountaineers to focus their defensive efforts on the perimeter in an attempt to slow the Hoyas' three-point attack. As they have shown all year, the Mountaineers are willing to trade baskets with foes in high-scoring games, in the hopes that a few more three-pointers on their side will make the difference in the contest.
If you think WVU's schedule to date has been tough, then you might want to cover your eyes when taking a peek at the remaining slate. Twelve of WVU's 16 remaining opponents are either ranked or receiving votes in the polls. And to think that TSN's Mike DeCourcy said the Big East has been disappointing to date.
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Like WVU, the Hoyas have an unlikely leader in the assist department. Forward Jeff Green paces the D.C. contingent with 41 this year. A big man that can pass well, especially out of double teams, is a huge bonus, and Georgetown is certainly reaping the benefits of Green's ability this year. At least some of their success from long range can be attributed to the prowess of Green in finding the open man.
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Most coaches that come into rebuilding situations don't have impressive won-loss records during their first couple of seasons on the job, but Georgetown head coach John Thompson III is bucking that trend. Blending returning veterans from the Craig Esherick regime along with a couple of talented newcomers, Thompson has forged a 29-15 record so far with the Hoyas.
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With 51 total blocked shots on the season, the Hoyas are no doubt licking their chops at the idea of Mountaineers driving the ball to the basket. That doesn't mean WVU must shy away from taking the ball to the basket, however. West Virginia must be aggressive on its drives and get in close to the bigger Hoyas, so that they cannot extend their arms or get the maximum potential from their jumps as they contest Mountaineer shots. WVU did not take the action to Villanova on Sunday, and as a result the Wildcats rejected ten West Virginia attempts. A repeat of that tactic will yield similar numbers for the Hoyas.