Posted on: March 9, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:46 pm

Georgetown swooning, but Wright on his way back

Posted by Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — The second swoon continues.

Georgetown’s 2010-11 season could be visualized and contextualized in the form of a parabolic chart: it was up for a while, then down for a while, then up for a real good while, and now it’s in on the verge of flat-lining.

Fortunately, Chris Wright is scheduled to be available next week, and that’s all that really matters at this point. The Hoyas’ 79-62 loss in the second round of the Big East tournament Wednesday afternoon was uneventful, uninspiring and failed to live up to the matchup it presented on paper.

Good on the Huskies for taking care of business and getting back on track. But the Hoyas were also in a mire heading into this one, and they remain there. Without Wright, the Hoyas aren’t the Hoyas. We all know that.

Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun knows that.

“We understand, without Wright, Georgetown’s not the same team,” he said.

Georgetown coach John Thompson III knows that better than anyone.

“We miss Chris, absolutely, 100 percent, at both ends of the court in every way,” he said. “But the group that played tonight, right now, has to be better.”

Thompson sounded dejected and, to be honest, a bit lost at what he watched his team to. His greatest confidence is that Wright will be back for the NCAA tournament. As far has he’s concerned, judgments made about Georgetown without Wright will be made moot next week.

“We are absolutely anticipating that, yes,” he said. “When you lose someone like Chris, it’s not a question of who is going to be plugged into his position, but everyone has to step it up. Everyone has to produce, and that hasn’t happened yet.”

It may not need to happen, so long as Thompson’s words come true and Wright’s around for the first round of the NCAAs.

“I don’t know, time will tell,” Thompson said. “Regardless of the prospect of Chris coming back, the group that played today, we have to clear our minds and be better.”

It’s not a question of this team needed to regroup or clearing its mind. Over the next week, Thompson needs to settle his team down. How will he approach the elongated break?

“I don’t know yet,” Thompson said. “We just lost a few minutes ago.”

Austin Freeman and Jason Clark weren’t terrible, for the record. In fact, they played fairly well without the third man in their triumvirate. But UConn schemed to turn them over as much as possible in the first half. It worked. After a close opening 10 minutes, Georgetown was stalled consistently and turned the ball way too much.

“That definitely was a large part of it,” Thompson said of his team’s inability to climb back into the game.

Said Clark: “We’re still a confident team. We know we lost a couple in a row, but we know what we’ve got to do to win games.”

Last year in the Big East tournament, Austin Freeman lit up UConn for 31 second-half points. To curb a repeat of that horrow show for the Huskies, Calhoun put Roscoe Smith on Freeman because of his length.

“That wasn’t going to happen this year — someone else was going to have to beat us,” Calhoun said.

As for Connecticut, how about this being the first two-game winning streak in the Big East tournament for the Huskies since ... 2004? Absolutely. And that was the last time UConn won the Big East tourney.

“I don’t know if we’ve quite caught it, but just from our body language, I thought we were loose offensively,” Calhoun said. “We know we have the toughest opponent in the league coming up [Pittsburgh] tomorrow, but that’s what we play for — to get there.”

Until this year, the team was on a five-year losing streak. Now, two down, and top-seeded Pittsburgh awaits. And the last time those two teams played in the Big East tournament? It was 2004 title game. Doesn’t seem like it’s been seven years, does it?


Posted on: March 5, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 4:41 pm

Bearcats find an extra gear in season finale

Cincinnati held the Hoyas under 50 points in each meeting this season

Posted by Eric Angevine

Cincinnati is one of those teams that nobody really expects much from, even though Jerry Palm had them listed as a 6 seed in the NCAA bracket predictions this morning. Despite a 10-7 record in the tough Big East, the Bearcats carry the 'soft' tag because of their admittedly weak non-conference schedule, during which they faced exactly one team that is currently a lock for the Big Dance - intra-city rival Xavier, who they beat 66-46.

The Bearcats have held five opponents below 50 points this season, but only the Hoyas have fallen victim to that embarassment twice. Cincy did it to Georgetown in DC on February 23, winning 58-46, then proved that result was no fluke by running the Hoyas off the floor at Fifth Third Arena today, laying down a lopsided 69-47 win.

That the Bearcats can defend should come as no shock to anyone. Per kenpom.com, Cincy is 12th in the nation in defensive efficiency, second in the Big East to only Louisville. Once they shut Georgetown down, however, the offense came alive, putting up 39 points in the second half. The combination of Yancy Gates inside (13 points, 10-10 FT) and Dion Dixon outside (14 points, 2-5 from deep, 6-8 FT) became lethally efficient.

Did the Bearcats benefit from the absence of Chris Wright? Yes. Was their non-conference schedule too lenient? Absolutely. But Chris Mack's squad beat the teams they were supposed to beat, and won a few in which they seemed overmatched. They've found their rhythm, with the starters locked in on their roles night after night, and Sean Kilpatrick coming off the bench to ever-more-positive results. The redshirt freshman scored a hyper-efficient 13 points in 24 minutes.

Cincy has earned a first-round bye in the Big East tournament with today's win. The team owns victories over St. John's and Louisville, and a sweep of Georgetown. If the Bearcats continue to lock down on defense, and get the ball inside from every position, they could be the dangerous team that nobody will enjoy playing in the postseason.

Photo: US Presswire
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 3, 2011 3:08 pm

Georgetown gets their rap on

Posted by MATT JONES

I am a big fan of all people who try to rap about college basketball on Youtube. Whether it is the Indiana rap from earlier this season, the "Teach Me How to Jimmer" star turn in Utah or the original bad college basketball rap, "Lazy Tuesday", college kids who rap poorly about basketball win me over every time.

Thus I was especially happy to see this gem to the tune of "Black and Yellow", entitled "Blue and Grey." For the Georgetown Hoyas, this is either a proud moment (as it is in my eyes) or a travesty.  You decide:

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Georgetown
Posted on: February 26, 2011 2:28 pm

Hoyas struggle without Wright

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Down three with 36 seconds left against Syracuse, Georgetown would normally go to Chris Wright, the Hoyas’ point guard who has hit plenty of clutch baskets this season.

Unfortunately, Wright is out with a broken left hand.

As a result, Georgetown settled for a contested 3-pointer from Jason Clark and couldn’t pull out a win, falling to the Orange, 58-51.

The Hoyas had an inspired effort, outrebounding the bigger Syracuse frontline and getting an impressive second-half performance from Austin Freeman. Nate Lubick and Henry Sims also had their moments.

It still wasn’t enough, though.

Without Wright, Georgetown lacked creativity on offense. Against the Syracuse 2-3 zone, the Hoyas settled for outside jumpers and contested shots. They didn’t have anyone to attack the defense and create shots near the end of the shot clock – or when they needed a basket at the end of the game.

Freeman and Clark are excellent shooters and form a terrific backcourt tandem, but neither is a true point guard or is used to being the team’s primary playmaker.

Defensively, Scoop Jardine took advantage of the Wright-less Hoyas. He constantly hit big shots and got into the lane to either score himself or dish off to an open teammate. Jardine finished with 17 points and seven assists, to go with only one turnover. He also scored seven points in a game-changing 9-1 run once Georgetown took a two-point lead midway through the second half.

After the news came down about Wright’s injury, pundits and analysts immediately wrote Georgetown off. A loss at Cincinnati in the season finale would be three consecutive losses to finish the regular season – the Hoyas’ seed could plummet if Wright does not return by the NCAA Tournament.

For Georgetown’s sake, Wright needs to return.

The masses are well-versed in Georgetown’s struggles when Wright doesn’t play well – when he doesn’t play, the Hoyas apparently struggle even more.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: February 26, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: February 26, 2011 2:24 pm

Saturday Preview: Jimmer... Kawhi... be there!

Posted by Eric Angevine

Featured Game: BYU @ SDSU, 2:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Raise your hand if you legitimately thought you'd be waiting breathlessly for a top-ten matchup in the Mountain West when this season began. All eyes are on Jimmer and Kawahi as the Cougars attempt to seize control of the MWC by winning in Viejas Arena. BYU already owns a convincing 71-58 home win in the series, and we could see a third matchup for the auto-bid when the league tourney starts in March. So, in case you couldn't tell, this is "kind of a big deal" in San Diego.

Missouri @ Kansas State, 12:00 p.m., ESPN: As K-State attempts to get off the bubble and into the field, they need every advantage they can get. Facing a ranked Missouri team in the Octagon of Doom, where they are bound to struggle with the non-stop noise, is a big one. A win would give Frank Martin's Wildcats the perfect resume boost to go with their upset of the Kansas Jayhawks, which also happened in Manhattan, KS. | Video Preview

Syracuse @ Georgetown, 12:00 p.m., CBS: This is our first chance to see what Georgetown is capable of with Chris Wright out for a full game. The senior guard is supposed to be healed in time for the NCAA tournament, but it would surely behoove John Thompson III to find an adequate substitute for the short run, or risk a drop in the postseason seeding process. Keep an eye on that starting lineup. | Video Preview

Wichita State @ Missouri State, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2: The atmosphere in Springfield, MO should be electric. School officials are calling for a "Maroon-out" as Cuonzo Martin's Bears (14-3 MVC) host Wichita State (14-3) in the final game of the season for both teams. Winner gets the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney, which could mean the difference between an auto-bid and a Selection Sunday spent in a full-on cold sweat. Missouri State owns a road win in the series, but several weeks have passed since then. | Dennis Dodd

St. John's @ Villanova, 2:00 p.m., CBS: Simply put, both of these teams are in the Big Dance barring a complete collapse to end the season. The story here is really St. John's on the road. We know they can win, and win big, in MSG, but what will they do in a hostile environment with a top-25 ranking to defend? Also, could a Jay Wright vs. Steve Lavin throwdown be a reality series on the Fashion Channel? | Video Preview

Memphis @ UTEP, 3:00 p.m., ESPN2: Will Tim Floyd keep his jacket on today? Can Memphis continue to claw its way back into the national consciousness under Josh Pastner? It's a battle of C-USA frontrunners.

Florida @ Kentucky, 4:00 p.m., CBS: Our Matt Jones has secured an All-Access pass for this one, so we fully expect to see him occupying John Calipari's chair while the energetic head coach paces the sidelines. OK, maybe he won't be that close, but he's already teasing us with tidbits of what we'll learn about how the Wildcats tick. Watch the game so you can compare the TV experience to Matt's up-close-and-personal take. Oh, and because it's a hee-youge game between ranked SEC teams in one of the nation's most venerated arenas. That too.

Arizona @ UCLA, 4:00 p.m., FSN: This was supposed to be the Year of the Huskies in another weak season in the Pac-10, but it's turned into more of a redemption story. Arizona is back in form as Sean Miller rebuilds the team that stumbled without Lute Olson in command, and Ben Howland is raring to make the Bruins' absence from the NCAA tournament a one-year aberration. Should be a hot one in Pauley Pavilion.

Duke @ Virginia Tech, 9:00 p.m., ESPN: The Hokies have a lot of work to do if they want to get off the bubble and into a bracket, and this one game could be the linchpin of the entire image rehab process. Seth Greenberg's team has made a fairly frequent habit of upsetting top-ranked ACC teams. The Washington Post has a nice recap article about the Hokies' recent battles with No. 1 teams that gives the lowdown. | Video Preview

View the full schedule

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 1:54 pm

Three teams stumbling into March

Posted by MATT JONES

The last two weeks of the season are for one thing and one thing only, getting ready for the postseason. Unless a team plays a hated rival in the last two weeks, most of the coaches and players have their attention firmly focused on March and simply getting through the final stretch of games. For some teams however, the rush to finish the season is even greater, as their performance down the stretch has left much to be desired. For these three teams, March simply can’t come soon enough:


No team has had a greater fall in the last four weeks than Villanova. Whereas just a month ago, many (including this writer) believed Jay Wright finally had the correct formula to make another deep March run, now the Wildcats are a team in disarray. Villanova is 4-5 in the last nine games, with losses to Rutgers and Providence mixed in with an overtime escape versus lowly Depaul. What was once a balanced offense with the two Coreys combining with a formidable big man trio down low has become a stagnant attack that looks like the worst of the Villanova guard offenses of years past. All too often, the Wildcats simply stand around waiting for Corey Fisher or Corey Stokes to create a shot and the ball movement that had been so crisp early has all but disappeared. Jay Wright’s team has remained close in all of its games, but wasted two valuable opportunities for big home wins against Pittsburgh and Syracuse by executing poorly down the stretch. Villanova is still a good team, but it looks like a shadow of the group that had Final Four aspirations in January.



The Road Warriors they are not. Kentucky is now 1-6 in SEC road play after the loss on Wednesday night versus woeful Arkansas. In each of the games Kentucky has been in it until the end, losing the total by a combined margin of 18 points. However in each of the defeats, the Cats have made a series of crucial errors down the stretch that have caused a probable victory to turn into yet another defeat. Going into March, Calipari’s team will have one of the more talented starting fives in the field, but a lack of depth and ability to close out games is worrisome. The question one has to ask when evaluating Kentucky is whether the team we will see in the NCAA Tournament is the one that handles everyone easily in Rupp Arena, or loses to anyone on their home court. Most likely the true identity of the team is somewhere in the middle, meaning that Kentucky will be a great unknown for those filling out brackets and attempting to project the field.


Two weeks can change a lot. Georgetown was playing as well as any team in the country just ten days ago and John Thompson III’s group looked like a potential contender for a #2 seed. Since then, the Hoyas lost to UCONN on the road (no shame in that) and took a convincing defeat at home to Cincinnati (more shame there). But most importantly, star Chris Wright broke his non-shooting hand, meaning that a key ingredient to the team’s success is now unavailable. The Hoyas could get Wright back by Tournament time, but in the intervening weeks, they will have to play Syracuse, Cincinnati and the Big East Tournament without one of their most important contributors. In the process, their seed will likely drop and they will go into March with an unknown as to what their roster will look like when the ball is tipped for the Big Dance. Just a couple of weeks ago, only a few teams in America would have traded place with Georgetown. Now they are as much in flux as any team that will play in the NCAA Tournament.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:21 am

This one could really hurt, Hoyas

Hoya fans don't want to see Chris Wright sitting next to JT3

Posted by Eric Angevine

If it were anyone other than Chris Wright, an injury to the non-shooting hand might be something to adjust to. But Wright's game -- while it includes a fair amount of scoring -- is not valued by mere points produced.

This season, Wright has been on the floor as much as his fellow senior Austin Freeman. Freeman scores over 24 percent of the team's points, with Wright coming in second with 18 percent of the Hoya's scoring output in his column. Wright gets to the line more than any other Hoya as well, and nobody even comes close to his contributions as a distributor and decision-maker.

That's the statistical impact, but there's so much more under the surface. Consider the backcourt chemistry that Georgetown has had to draw on this season. Two powerful, adept guards, each weighing over 200 lbs, allowed JT3 to play a power game at every position on the floor – pretty valuable in the Big East.

The distribution is the part that seems most difficult to replace right now. A pure scorer can play with a cast on his hand (witness Arizona’s Derrick Williams) but a point guard who can only use one hand is a problem.

This is not to say that losing Chris Wright cost Georgetown the Cincinnati game, because the Hoyas were in trouble before their senior guard was injured with 15 minutes left in the second half. However, Wright had two assists before his injury ended his night, and that still stood as 25 percent of the team total of eight by the end of the evening. And whether Wright is expected to be the team’s leading scorer or not, he had been shouldering more of that load over the past three games, leading the Hoyas with 20 points vs. Marquette, 19 in a loss at UConn, and a season-high 26 at South Florida on Saturday.

There’s no good time for an injury like this one, but stopping a player cold in the middle of a streak of great play is extremely disheartening. JT3 can show us where his coaching acumen stands if he gets through the final two games of the season without this team falling apart. Fortunately, he has time on his side. The Hoyas host Syracuse on Saturday, then have a full week off before an afternoon rematch with the Bearcats. If Wright can recover quickly, this is still a top-25 team. If not, the Hoyas could drop several pegs in the postseason seeding.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:24 pm

Cincinnati gets missing piece to its profile

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Cincinnati had everything an at-large team needed.

A nice record at 21-6. A solid conference record, going 8-6 in the Big East. Three top-25 wins and zero bad losses.

The only unimpressive aspects of the Bearcats’ profile were their No. 119 SOS and their poor performance away from home: one road win against the top-100. Unfortunately, those numbers were keeping them out of the NCAA Tournament.

Tonight’s win at Georgetown might be the missing piece that Cincinnati needed to lock up a bid.

The Bearcats went into Washington D.C. and sent a message to the selection committee, handling the Hoyas, 58-46. They jumped out to a 19-8 lead to start the game, then opened the second half with a 17-3 run and never really looked back from there.

Yancy Gates finally played to his potential, dominating the Georgetown frontline with 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. The Bearcats also knocked down nearly 54 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Defensively, they were helped tremendously by the Hoyas’ worst performance of the season, although some of the credit needs to go to Cincinnati. Georgetown shot 25 percent overall, with players not named Austin Freeman going 5-for-35 from the field.

With the win, Cincinnati should be headed to the NCAA Tournament, as the tenth team from the Big East. The Bearcats are now 9-6 in the Big East, with four top-25 wins. They are not an official lock yet, as the remaining three games are tough: home against Connecticut, at Marquette and then another game with Georgetown. Win one of those three, and I think Cincinnati will be okay.

Come Selection Sunday, tonight’s win over Georgetown might be the one the Bearcats hang their hat on.

They finally completed their profile.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
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