On Friday, Temple guard Nate Blackwell labeled Granger Hall an "offensive genius." "If there is a way to score, he's going to find it," said Blackwell.
Suffice it to say Hall did little scoring today in Georgetown's 63-46 victory in the second round of the NCAA East Regional.
What Hall, Temple's leading scorer, did find was foul trouble. The 6-foot-8 forward was held to seven points and three rebounds in 21 minutes of play against a 1-3-1 Georgetown defense that threatened to call a halt to Hartford's Main Street traffic.
The outsized Owls, with a guard-oriented offense that uses 6-9 freshman Tim Perry at center, had just three baskets inside. Perry was nearly invisible, with no points and two rebounds.
Hall, who passes for Temple's version of a big man, had averaged 18.4 points and 8.3 rebounds coming into the game. With a certain amount of nervy flair and a name straight out of a Daphne DuMaurier novel, he was thought to be Temple's only prayer against the Hoyas.
"I'm doing the best I can to learn how to play big men," Hall said. "But it sure would be nice if I could have a 7-footer to pat on the back and say, 'Hey, help me out here.' "
Hall's points came on two-for-four shooting from the field and three-for-five from the foul line.
"Every time the ball went in to Granger they would double up on him," Coach John Chaney said. "A 1-3-1 is really a killer for a three-guard offense. But we got here with it, and we had to die with it. We couldn't just throw away the oars."
Chaney didn't help matters when he sat Hall down after he got his second foul eight minutes into the game. Chaney has a policy of sitting players with two fouls, and he stood by his decision.
"I figured we could make a run in the second half if we could control the fouls," Chaney said. "We're weakest when we have Granger out. But we got some pretty good shots and stayed with them. I needed him to have three (fouls) to play with in the second half."
Hall wouldn't second-guess the decision. The Owls were within 31-23 at the half, even without him.
"The system has worked," he said. "He knows more about basketball than I do, so I can't question his answer."
With Hall tied up all day, the Owls turned to outside shooting. But they shot a miserable 38.6 percent, 17 for 44. It was Blackwell who found a way to score, keeping the Owls in the game long after they should have been weeping in their St. Patrick's Day beer at the local tavern. The sophomore point guard scored a game-high 15 points on five-for-12 shooting. The only other Owl in double figures was guard Ed Coe with 10.
"(Patrick) Ewing can stand in the middle and cover you from there. He can alter your shot just by jumping at you," Blackwell said.
The problem wasn't getting Hall inside as much as it was getting the ball to him once he was there. The Owls had 13 turnovers, eight in the first half. Blackwell, who was moved to point guard for the first time this season, had five.
"They're big, thick and very aggressive," he said. "It was hard to pass over those long arms. We wanted to keep the turnovers under five, and we had about five in the first three minutes.
"We stayed within eight with Granger on the bench. What hurt was not being able to get the ball to him later on. Just trying to get it in there was trouble."
Georgetown's storied intimidation also was a factor, and Blackwell caught a measure of it. He spent most of the afternoon exchanging testy words with Michael Jackson, and Hall did some of the same with Ewing.
The situation went beyond that with 7:49 left, when Temple forward Charles Rayne drew a foul from David Wingate in a tangle near the Georgetown foul line. Ewing grabbed Blackwell by the jersey and shook him up in a style to which he was unaccustomed, and the Temple bench spilled on the floor. But the incident was brief and ended with handshakes.
Chaney, asked what he might have done differently, replied, "I think I'd talk to John (Thompson, Georgetown coach) about getting one of those 7-footers."