Preview: Georgetown

Preview: Georgetown

West Virginia tries to lock up a spot in the top four of the Big East conference as it hosts Georgetown on Big Monday at the WVU Coliseum.

SCOUTING THE HOYAS

Georgetown's patterned offensive sets don't stifle the creativity or individual talents of team members. The Hoyas are free to work outside the box of the picks, rolls, cuts and screens that make up their play book, and as a result they are very difficult to defend. Georgetown's melding of strengths allows them to get a great number of high quality shots, and puts them second in the league in shooting percentage.

Leading the parade is guard Austin Freeman, who is converting from the field at an eye-popping 54.2% rate. That's a great number for a center, never mind a guard who has taken more than a third of his shots from three-point range. He has been deadly during the conference season from distance, making 51.4% of his treys. He's one of four Hoyas averaging in double figures, and leads the team in scoring (17.0 points per game) and free throw shooting (83.5%).

Teaming with Freeman in Georgetown's three-guard set are Chris Wright and Jason Clark. Wright is the team's best distributor, having dished out 105 assists on the season, but he's also a dependable scorer, tossing in 13.9 points per game. That dual threat ability makes him difficult to defend. If left alone, Wright can get to the basket and score, and his three-point shooting is good enough that he can't be ignored when he's behind the line. When guarded closely, he has the ability to get to the basket and either dish to a teammate or get to the free throw line. He has more attempts from there than anyone other than center Greg Monroe, and converts 77% of his chances when he gets there.

Clark is the best rebounder of the three guards, and converts a number of offensive boards into additional scoring chances for his team. He's a bit of a jack of all trades, and is similar to WVU's Kevin Jones in that he does everything well. He knocks down 44.4% of his three point attempts while averaging 10.5 point and 3.7 rebounds per game. He's a solid defender with 36 steals, and makes three-quarters of his foul shots. He's not flashy, but by the end of the game, he'll have filled up the stat line and contributed mightily to the Hoya effort.

Inside, center Greg Monroe is the focal point of the front court. Monroe is mobile enough to take advantage of the constant motion of the Georgetown offense, but he can also post up and score like a traditional center. He averages 15.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and is very underrated as a passer. When he gets the ball, he's not just a power player inside. He passes well from wherever he receives the ball, and has dished out 97 assists this year. The only slight chink in his armor is a free throw shooting percentage of 65%, but that's a small problem when stacked up against everything else he brings to the team. Monroe is also a good defender that moves his feet well. He has 43 blocked shots and has fouled out of just two games this year.

BlueGoldNews.com
Game Info
Mon Mar 1
7 p.m. EST

WVU Coliseum
Records
WVU 22-6, 11-5
GU 19-8, 9-7
Series
GU 26-21
TV
ESPN
Sirius Channel: 122
RPI
WVU – 6
GU – 11
Forward Julian Vaughn rounds out the starting five, and is the only player in the quintet that averages fewer than 33 minutes per game. Vaughn contributes heavily on the defensive end with 43 blocks, and while he averages just 8.1 points per contest, he makes the most of his chances, shooting a team best 57.1% from the field. He's also the squad's number two rebounder, and excels at getting to the offensive glass. While Monroe has 55 offensive rebounds out of his total of 254, more than a third (48 of 123) of Vaughn's rebounds come on that end of the floor.

With the starters piling up major minutes, there isn't a great deal of time left for subs. Three Hoyas account for the bulk of time for head coach John Thompson III, and all are frontcourt players. They allow Georgetown to field bigger lineups when giving one of the guards a rest, which gives the Hoyas the ability to alter the focus of their offense somewhat.

Forward Hollis Thompson averages 19.3 minutes per contest, by far the biggest number of any reserve. He chips in 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Although standing 6-7, he plays on the perimeter a good deal. Fully half of his shot attempts have come from behind the three-point line, and he makes nearly 40% of those tries. Big forward Jerrelle Benimon provides more bulk inside, but isn't a great scoring threat. Still, he can snare rebounds and help close down the lane on defense. Center Henry Sims is another role player in that regard, averaging 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per outing.

OUTLOOK

WVU took a day from the extended break between the UConn and Cincinnati games to prepare for Georgetown and its Princeton-style offense. While the Hoyas have modified the sets to suit their own strength, there are still a great number of screens and backcuts in every Hoya possession. West Virginia will have to play sound, fundamental defense. That has been a problem for the Mountaineers this year, and it figures to be the key match-up in this contest. WVU must stay with its assigned players throughout each possession, especially deep into the shot clock, and emphasize good positioning. If it does not, the Hoyas will cut them up and produce easy shots and scores.

To combat Georgetown's offense, WVU might be expected to play one of several different zone looks. While those aren't West Virginia's preferred strategies, changing defenses could help keep the Hoya offense from getting into rhythm. No matter what defense it plays, however, the Mountaineers will have to contest shots and keep open looks to a minimum. If Georgetown approaches its season shooting percentage of 49.9, WVU will be hard-pressed to come out with a win.

The Mountaineers might also be expected to try to get into the Georgetown bench, which is not very deep or accustomed to playing big minutes. The Hoyas are certainly used to playing with its starters for much of the game, but as the season winds down, all of that time on the court could be a factor. Look for WVU to substitute often and try to wear down the Hoyas late in the game.

INJURY REPORT

WVU: None.

GU: Austin Freeman (Flu) Out

FAST BREAKS

Shooting could be a study in contrasts in the game. WVU is making just 43.9 percent of its field goal attempts, while the Hoyas are just shy of the break-even mark at 49.9%. Georgetown is fourth in the nation in that category, while WVU is 153rd.

* * *

Forward Kevin Jones hit a slump at the end of his freshman season, but among his many improvements this year is a strong finishing kick. The maser of fundamental play is averaging 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and is on the verge of setting a single season WVU mark in offensive rebounds. The New York native has hit the offensive glass 107 times this season, and needs just seven more to set the single season record. He currently resides in third place behind MArcus Goree (108) and Brian Lewin (113).

Devin Ebanks, with 93, also has a chance to break the prior record this year.

* * *

WVU's senior night will have honors not only Da'Sean Butler and Wellington Smith, but also for Cam Payne, who is graduating this year.

* * *

Georgetown's starters have combined to play 79.9 percent of the team's minutes this season (4,314 of 5,400) and have combined to score 89.4 percent of the team's points (1,768 of 1,977). When Austin Freeman missed his starting assignment against Notre Dame on Saturday, it was the first time that the Hoyas hadn't fielded the same starting lineup this year.

* * *

Remarkable WVU senior Da'Sean Butler will add another career record to his scrapbook on Monday. When the clock ticks past the 17 minute mark, he will become the school's all-time leader in minutes played, breaking Johannes Herber's previous mark of 4,129 minutes played from 2003-06.

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