Posted on: January 10, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 5:31 pm

As Chris Wright goes, so do his Hoyas

Posted by Matt Norlander

Who knew one piece of a three-guard puzzle could be this valuable?

When a triumvirate starting backcourt is as dynamic, intelligent and responsible as Georgetown’s, most would expect two guys could pick up the slack if the third was having an off night. But it seems fellow starting guards Austin Freeman and Jason Clark — the rest of the team, too, really — can’t overcome a Chris Wright slump.

The Hoyas are already 1-3 in the Big East, putting one of the country’s most guard-heavy, capable teams well behind the 8-ball (currently in 12th place) in what more and more people are considering, yet again, the best conference in the country. (Sorry, folks, the league looks premier yet again.)

Recently, SI.com’s Andy Glocker wrote of the 10 most irreplaceable players in all the college hoops land. Wright didn’t make the list. Should he have? If you do want to tag him replaceable, then you’ve got to ironically give as much weight to his value. Consider: In the Hoyas’ four losses this season, Wright’s been off. Way off. Not non-existent, but non-productive compared to what he normally provides JT3’s team. When his rut is enough to unintentionally help St. John's, then heads begin to turn.

Across the board there’s been a dip in the senior guard’s play, but the performances in losses are heavily weighing on those statistics. To date, Wright is averaging fewer minutes and points per game than last season. His shooting percentages have swooped considerably, although he is dishing out nearly two assists more per game.

There’s an intangible quality to Wright’s play and how that correlates to his team’s collective swagger; you can pick up on that just by watching 10 minutes of the next Hoyas game you catch on the tube. But we can apply his numbers to Georgetown’s (lack of) success as well. You bet your brain we’re about to do this right now.

In G-town’s first loss of the year, against what’s probably an NCAA tournament team in Temple, Wright scored 10 points, six of which came on perfect free-throw shooting. The Hoyas’ senior guard shot 28.5 percent, effectively, from the field (that stat combines the value of a 2- and 3-point shot), but only scored on four of his Georgetown’s 66 possessions. He factored in on just 16.5 percent of the possessions, overall. For a starting point guard, that number is entirely too low.

In the Dec. 29 Big East opener against Notre Dame, Georgetown fell, decisively, 69-55. Wright’s stat line in that tilt: 3 points in 34 minutes; an 18.3 possession percentage; an effective field goal percentage of 11.1; 1 for 3 from the foul line; 6 assists; no steals or blocks; and three turnovers.

The pattern was beginning to emerge. At this point Georgetown was 11-2 with good road wins over Old Dominion and Missouri, plus a nice home W against WAC bully Utah State. Six days prior to the Notre Dame loss, the Hoyas waxed issue-riddled-and-young Memphis, 86-69, on the Tigers’ home floor. Wright scored 19 points and factored in on 28 percent of Georgetown’s possessions. His numbers against Missouri and Utah State were also very influential.

But some hours after the confetti got swept off the streets of Times Square, Georgetown’s 61-58 loss down the way against St. John's on Jan. 3 all but confirmed the correlation.  There was Georgetown, scoring in the high 50s/low 60s, letting supposedly inferior teams hang around again. Wright played all but three minutes in the game.

His point total: seven. That’s also the amount of 3-pointers he heaved, making just one.

The home game against enigmatic West Virginia this past Saturday cemented the theory that Wright’s woes dictate how Georgetown goes. Loss No. 4 (catalyzed in part by No. 4) was a 65-59 final at the Verizon Center. A 62-possession game (that’s a very slow game, FYI) saw Wright actually factor in on nearly 30 percent of his team’s possessions. Only this time his frequent influence was as negative as it was positive — Wright turned the ball over 31 percent of the time.

He had a 27 eFG% number for the game (nine points of 3-of-13 from the field) and only managed two assists.

Now, Georgetown can win in a lot of ways and it doesn’t always need Wright to be the alpha to earn a W. But in losing, there is one constant: Wright goes silent or he goes erratic. His mediocre performances coupled with Georgetown losing is no longer a question, so it now ushers in the next one.

With a few months remaining in his college career, can Wright prevent his poor play from popping up in order to prohibit Georgetown from transforming? If other teams shut Wright down, the Hoyas go from a power team to a pedestrian one pretty quickly.


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 3, 2011 11:54 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 12:39 am

Three takeaways from Monday's games

Posted by Matt Jones

A quick scan of what you should care about from Monday's slate of games:

St John’s is for real  

We knew going into the season that St. John’s would be improved.  Steve Lavin’s club had its supporters, including Rick Pitino, whose comment that the Red Storm would win the Big East made one wonder if he lost more than his stamina in his old age.  However an NCAA berth still seemed a stretch to many and early success in the Big East was met with more skepticism than compliments.  With tonight’s 61-58 victory over Georgetown, it has now become clear that St. John’s will be a force for the entire Big East season.  The Red Storm finished strong down the stretch and had the Garden rocking in a manner that doesn’t’ yet hearken back to the days of Mullin, Berry and Jackson, but does at least get the blood flowing.  The next seven games however will give a test unlike any we have seen in college basketball in some time.  St. John’s will play Notre Dame twice, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville, Georgetown and Duke, all teams ranked in this week’s poll.  If Steve Lavin’s team can simply come out of this stretch with a pulse, relevant college basketball in New York City could be back in February and March for the first time in over a decade.

Michigan State is on track

It has been the usual difficult trip for Tom Izzo and the Spartans during the nonconference season.  An ambitious schedule led to more losses than Michigan State had hoped and the start of Big Ten play brought some trepidation about how the team would fare in a much-improved conference with significantly more depth.  Tonight’s 65-62 win at Northwestern helps alleviate some of the initial worries, as Sparty controlled tempo and helped keep the Wildcats’ star John Shurna at bay, holding him to 11 points on 1-11 shooting.  Northwestern fought back from a late deficit with an 12-0 run that put them within one with, as Kalin Lucas went to the line with 13 seconds left.  After a free throw miss, Draymond Green made another big play for Izzo’s team, by getting a key offensive rebound and scoring to solidify the win.  It was a tough loss for Northwestern, who needs a couple of resume building wins for March, while Michigan State showcased that even with the early struggles, it is exactly where we believed it would be in the preseason…atop the Big Ten and grinding out victories on the way to postseason.

Butler and Florida State are Fraudulent

Two weeks ago in Hawaii, Butler and Florida State faced each other in a well-played game that suggested both teams were ready to make real noise going into conference play.  Butler had seemed to overcome its horrendous star, while the Seminoles seemed poised to overcome their traditional underachieving and become a real contender for the title of second best team in the ACC.  In fact, the game was so engrossing that I almost forgot that I was watching it two days before Christmas and risking the wrath of my entire family.  Now tonight it was proven once again that both teams are the frauds that we thought before their Hawaiian adventure.  Butler was embarrassed in a conference game, losing 76-52 to Milwaukee in a game that will cripple the Bulldogs’ at-large berth potential come March.  Even worse, Florida State lost 65-60 to the worst college basketball team in a BCS conference, Auburn.  Previously the Tigers had fallen to UNC-Asheville, Campbell, Presbyterian and Samford, but luckily for Tony Barbee’s team, the schedule brought the disappointment juggernaut that is Florida State into its arena and with it, a much-needed victory.  For both Butler and Florida State, the promise of two weeks ago has diminished and reality has since set in.  Each is the same team   that we saw before they met in Hawaii, meaning neither is yet worth our full attention.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com