Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh, the Hoymanity

I think I've demonstrated by Georgetown fandom bona fides in the past. I'm trying to put that love to the side, and say tonight's tilt against Syracuse was one of the most entertaining games of the year. The Hoyas came up short, losing by 4, but reducing a deficit that at one point in the second half was 23 points.

There were some things to watch for both teams going forward (who after all are both in the Top 10) that should make people who are thinking about Elite 8 and beyond think twice.

But first, a quick broadside against the remarkably inconsistent officiating. I'm not saying this (completely) as a Georgetown supporter--the referees were pretty consistent in their inconsistency. For both teams, it seemed, the touch foul out at the perimeter was much more likely to be called than a blatant over the back during a rebound in the paint. It was at times shocking and confounding. And it really disrupted the flow of the game, for both teams, at different points in the game.

OK, on to the things to look for going forward

1. Syracuse's killer instinct--do they have one? Seriously--up 23 with 12 minutes left, and you let this game come down to hitting your free throws in the final minute? Inexcusable. If this were a one time thing, I'd cast it aside, but if you look at their season, you'll see this isn't the first time they've let a game get away from them. They get turnover prone, they start trying to make tougher shots than they have to. If Wisconsin were up 23 points on you, you'd be lucky to get enough possessions to even score the 10-12 baskets you would need to get back in the game. Syracuse is all too willing to keep the pedal to the medal, take risks, and make really questionable decisions. It's like they think they game is won before it is won. It could kill them in the postseason.

2. Georgetown's spazzy play in the face of adversity. In response to going down big, Georgetown's immediate reaction was to just chuck 3's, no matter who the player was. Hollis Thompson took two of them, for heaven's sake. Henry Sims had a long 2 that was almost an airball 3. They eventually got their poise back, and I can't say it was too late, because the game was a one point game with under 2 minutes left, and that's as good of a comeback as you can have. You've basically reset the game at that point. But still--20 3-PT attempts, and only hitting 5 of them is a waste of possessions. Let's not forget, Jason Clark missed one with Georgetown down only one point in the final minutes of the game. They should have been getting the ball to Monroe as soon as Syracuse's big men got into a hint of foul trouble. The game would have been a lot different if Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson had not combined for 42 minutes. And the chance to limit them even further was there.

3. Both clubs--lack of a deep bench. Syracuse is better served by their limited bench, at least generally speaking. But Scoop Jardine wasn't effective at all. In fact, Syracuse has bigger issues at the point then anyone has noticed yet, in part because their other positions cover up for it so well. We also saw that if the opposing team can get Onuaku in foul trouble, the Orange don't have another big man even approaching his quality and/or size.

Georgetown is in similar straits, except even the two or three guys coming off the bench are basically invisible. Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims, and Vee Sanford combined for 17 minutes and 2 points. Georgetown's most "valuable" bench player, Jerrelle Benimon, played 19 minutes, missed 2 shots, and grabbed six boards. Georgetown went nine deep tonight (thanks again, officials) and all but 2 of their points were scored by four starters. That's worrying, and has been all season long. There doesn't seem to be a solution.

All of that said, this game showcased two things: one) either one is ripe for a sickening first round exit in March, and 2) that whoever is scheduled to play them in the 2nd round would breathe a huge sigh of relief if that were to happen.

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