Hoyas Show Their Upside
Saturday, January 20, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Jan. 19 -- Georgetown's size advantage was apparent the moment the Hoyas stepped on the court on Friday night against Seton Hall. Roy Hibbert, the team's 7-foot-2 center, walked alongside 6-9 Jeff Green and 6-8 freshman DaJuan Summers, while the Pirates countered with only one starter taller than 6-6.
That disparity factored heavily in the Hoyas' comfortable 74-58 victory in front of 9,666 at Continental Airlines Arena. But it wasn't reflected in the scoring performances by Hibbert (10 points) or Green (eight points). It showed up in Georgetown's staggering 39-11 rebounding advantage, including 17-4 on the offensive end. Seton Hall didn't convert a single second-chance basket, and Summers nearly outrebounded the entire Pirates team himself; he had 10 boards (five offensive) to go along with his 17 points.
"It takes their confidence away. That's what we were hoping for," Summers said of Georgetown's huge rebounding edge. "We were getting rebounds, but we knew that they were going to keep coming, so we had to continue to get the boards."
Four players scored in double figures for the Hoyas (13-5, 3-2 Big East), who completed a sweep through the state of New Jersey. Two days after overwhelming Rutgers, they shot 54.9 percent against the Pirates (11-7, 3-3). Junior guard Jonathan Wallace scored a career-high 21 points, and sophomore guard Jessie Sapp had 12 points and four assists.
The Pirates were dealt a blow earlier in the week when they lost their starting center and tallest player, 6-10 senior Grant Billmeier, to a season-ending knee injury. The Hoyas talked about the importance of attacking the glass against a smaller team that was expected to play pressure defense from start to finish.
"It's one of those situations where I think that they are very good at pressuring the ball," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. "You see 21 turnovers [by Georgetown], which is not good at all. If there was any kind of way we could negate that by getting most of the rebounds, we wanted to make a conscious effort to do that. Right from the beginning, DaJuan and Jeff set the tone by getting a couple of big ones early."
The Hoyas got off to a good start. On their first possession, Hibbert scored on a strong move inside, and then Summers sank a three-pointer from the left corner. Summers then came up with a steal and missed the ensuing fast-break layup, but Sapp got the rebound and eventually made a three-pointer from the right corner. Over the first six minutes of the game, Georgetown made 7 of 10 shots, didn't commit a turnover and built a 20-7 lead. The Hoyas led 34-21 at halftime.
The Pirates pressed the Hoyas, hoping to do what Villanova did 11 days earlier in a 56-52 victory. The Wildcats' full-court pressure caused 22 turnovers and forced Georgetown out of its offensive rhythm. The Hoyas were more poised against the Pirates, and only one of their turnovers, a five-second call late in the second half, came against the full-court pressure.
"I thought we handled their pressure better than I anticipated," Thompson said. "Our guys were pretty poised and pretty attentive to seeing when their teammates were in trouble and being good receivers. Now we have to continue to execute better in the half court, and don't let them speed us up."
Georgetown, which will host DePaul on Wednesday, now heads home after spending four productive days in New Jersey. Thompson got a chance to return to Princeton, where he played and coached. He took his team to his favorite restaurant, Conti's, and he got to visit with Hall of Fame Coach Pete Carril, his mentor.
"I kind of like it -- two games and two wins," Summers said of the Garden State stay. "I'm not complaining. But it's going to be good to get back to school."