With Georgetown's 18th-ranked basketball team decelerating along the soft underbelly of its schedule, the Hoyas' overall look is still somewhat unclear to Coach John Thompson. Tonight's matchup with the University of Maryland-Baltimore County at Capital Centre could be an interesting test for Georgetown's still-developing inside game.
Georgetown (4-1) will face Kenny Reynolds, a 6-foot-8 junior center who was an all-America at Chowan Junior College last season. This season, he leads the Retrievers (3-2) with 11 rebounds a game and is second in scoring at 15.8 points a game.
"We're just going into it with our basic game plan, which is to utilize Kenny the best we can," UMBC Coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "That's obviously a strong part of our team. We're just going to . . . get the ball inside to Kenny as much as possible."
Reynolds poses a challenge to Georgetown's big men, who have shown flashes of good play but have not yet coalesced into a solid group inside.
"We know the people who have been there before," said Georgetown's senior foward Ronnie Highsmith. "We know what we have to do. It's just a matter of pride. With the type of team we have, we have to come out and play hard."
So far, the Hoyas have averaged 46 rebounds a game. But four of their five games have been against Hawaii-Loa (twice), VMI and St. Leo, games in which the Hoyas outrebounded their opponents, 189-96. Against Virginia Tech, Georgetown was outrebounded, 38-37.
Until Saturday's 78-40 victory over St. Leo, senior forward Perry McDonald and freshman Anthony Tucker had been the only front court players to score in double figures. Tucker has had his best success scoring in the transition game.
"If we can get the ball on the inside, we're going to do that now," Highsmith said. "It's true that we've taken a lot of perimeter shots, but we do have great outside shooters."
The Retrievers are in their second season in Division I. Under Bzdelik, they won 12 games last season and they have four starters returning this season. They are led by sophomore guard Larry Simmons, who averages 18.4 points per game and is shooting 50 percent (16 of 32) from three-point range. Overall, UMBC is shooting 50.8 percent (31 of 61) from three-point range.
"He's a tough little competitor," Bzdelik said of 6-foot-1, 180-pound Simmons. "He shoots the ball real well. He's a fighter."
Jeff Reynolds, the team's leading rebounder from last season and Kenny Reynolds' younger brother although he is a senior, has seen limited action this season after developing bone chips in his ankle. Simmons has scored 27 points in each of the Retrievers' last two victories -- one an 85-70 decision over American -- and was named East Coast Athletic Conference Independent player of the week.
While the Hoyas look to straighten themselves out inside, they are conducting a crash course in point guard for junior Charles Smith. Saturday, they used him there for the second game in a row in place of injured Bobby Winston, who will miss his third straight game because his left wrist and left index finger are sprained.
Thompson said the loss to Virginia Tech made him more aware of the need to have a third player who could play point.
"It scares me that Bobby gets hurt, and we lose," he said. "Not to say that had he been there we would not have lost, but it still makes you conscious of saying, hey, we better get Smitty ready to be able to play that position."