Key Wins: Connecticut, Notre Dame, Syracuse, @West Virginia
Key Losses: @Memphis, @Pittsburgh, @Louisville
Key Stat: Field Goal Percentage Margin. A contrived statistic to be sure but the Georgetown boys deserve a gold star in this category. Opponents shoot a paltry 35% against the Hoyas, while the Big East team that shoots the least shoots the best. Chip shots by the big men and wise heaves by the guards align for a scorching 49% from the floor. Shooting 14% better than your opponents, on average, is quite obviously the recipe for success.
Biggest Strengths: Georgetown has so many strengths but focus on these three; balance, poise, and height.
The scoring balance and the more specifically the court balance are fantastic. Never before has the vaunted Princeton offense been run by better athletes. Some critics speculated this marriage of super athletes and a constrictive system would fail. Those some were wrong. Seven players average more than six points a game, with only one topping a dozen per.
Contrary to the antsy, ball-hungry, shot-searching studs, GU players feel comfortable off the ball. Egos take a back seat. Passes upon passes make easy the fluid, consecutive Georgetown possessions. The slow, deliberate attack oddly works well in concert with Hoya comeback attempts. Many teams speed up the game, hoping to generate more possessions. Georgetown, entirely aware of their abilities, both individually and together, plays no different when trailing. The guards still patiently pass side to side. The forwards still pass up marginally open jumpers.
More than any Big East team Georgetown features a team-wide self-assurance. Because of the games won with the current blueprint, no one has reason to doubt its effectiveness or question their role within.
DaJuan Summers himself embodies the very balance for which GU is so proud. He connects the guards to the center, shoots the three, rebounds angrily, and shows the greatest professional potential. Three games in a row GU found itself in a losing position.
Three straight games Georgetown finished with a win. Once Harry Houdini completed three consecutive escapes he was dubbed an artist. Should not the Hoyas be afforded the same honor? Perhaps a parallel can be drawn here. Houdini succeeded when no escape seemed possible because unlike the audience he was completely aware of a feasible solution. He had already executed the very escape before. To him the solution was not at all far-fetched. It was rather ordinary, in fact.
Georgetown knows how to win. In the last three years, they have defeated many different teams who play a wide array of styles with much the same, ordinary formula each time. This foresight begets the poise GU thrives on. Winning is a great deodorant, and GU is enveloped in Old Spice.
Biggest Weaknesses: Neither scouring the game tapes, ravaging the statistical databases, nor interviewing the relevants will reveal a weakness. Imagine the frustration of a preparing assistant coach. As a team the free throw shooting is poor. Of course Vernon Macklin’s sub-humorous 22% anchors the GU ship to a bleary 64% mark. Terrible free throw shooting teams typically under perform in the Big Dance, essentially eliminating themselves.
Most Important Player: Roy Hibbert. For all the hype, Hibbert is not the best player on the Hoyas. If Georgetown ran a pro offense, Big Roy wouldn’t even be in a list of the three best.
He is however the most important player without question. Defensively his presence proves relevant every game out. More than twice a game an opponents’ shot is turned away by Hibbert.
He remains the most important largely because of his largeness. The games in which the 7’2” center demands the ball, anchoring the attack from the pivot, Georgetown plays effervescently.
The passing of Roy Boy has improved dramatically in the last year. When a post player returns for his senior season, refinement ensues. Hibbert was no exception. Already defensively gifted and moderately nimble, Georgetown looked at making him a middleman in the offensive flow in addition to just a closer.
Hibbert only tallied 39 assists during the entire year last year. This season Hibbert might amass more assists than blocks, previously unthinkable. Not even Nostradamus predicted that potential.
The dual threat of pass or shoot makes him all the more difficult to guard. John Thompson III craftily directs his guards to slash in alleys to either side of Hibbert. These cutting guards give him more targets.
X-Factor: Jessie Sapp.The entire plodding system teeters on lethargic at times. Sapp shakes it up when necessary. Bulldozing into the lane, Sapp initiates the attack well. He is strong of body and confidence. Sapp’s services are not often needed though as GU meticulously executes their predominantly full proof offense.
Might Lose When: Stout as they are, the Hoyas are dangerously vulnerable when missing three-point shots. Many teams are entirely reliant on the outside shot. Every year an upstart low-major program goes crazy bananas from three and knocks off a perceived power. Iowa fell to Northwestern State. UNC-Wilmington nearly upended Maryland, save for an incredible “walk-off” three-pointer by Drew Nicholas. Georgetown the almighty with five players taller than 6’8” has the same dependency as Mighty Mice. Sure the margin for error is different, but the pathway to defeat is the same. Four made triples at Louisville, three made at Pitt, and three made at Memphis. All three constituted Hoya losses. The first two, Louisville and Pitt, were games in which Georgetown shot over 20 three’s. Quick math reveals they shot below 18% each time. Admittedly, GU gets more open looks than most teams. Jonathan Wallace, in particular struggled through a rough patch in early February where his shots were not falling and his confidence appeared tinged with doubt.
Might Surprise You With: Fast break potential. Georgetown may slowly hammer away at the anvil in its halfcourt offense. When given the opportunity the Hoyas will run. The athleticism becomes that much more obvious in the open floor too. Summers, Sapp, Freeman can all create splendidly.
Predicted finish in the NCAA: Sweet 16.
Editor’s Note: Something about this Georgetown team worries me more than last year. Jeff Green’s absence leaves them without a true go-to player in the clutch, and at times their offense has seemed to stagnate. I know that Louisville is an excellent defensive team, but to score just 55 points at home doesn’t bode well for future games against top-caliber competition. I think Sweet 16 is just about right.