Big East Hoops

Archive for March, 2007

Props and the OSU game

March 30, 2007 11:45 am by donald

First, props to West Virginia on their first NIT victory since 1942 (added bonus: it was another win over an ACC team). Let’s hope Beilein stays at WVU and doesn’t go to Michigan. At Big East Hoops, we’re all fans of the peculiar system he runs over there. It’s fun to watch, and we’d like to continue to watch it for a few years, and have him gain even more success. So John, please stay at West Virginia University. As for my man Joe Alexander? Zero points last night. Sigh.

Second, props to the boys over at thevanburenboys.blogspot.com. They’ve stepped it up and have had some great coverage of Georgetown this week. Along with following the basketball issues, they’ve found some interesting pieces on the larger social issues — how Georgetown changed college basketball back in the day and how the “Princeton” offense with black players breaks down the stereotype of the unintelligent black athlete. There are also some great articles (1, 2, 3)on the relationship between the Georgetown offense and the Princeton offense. And this great quote from Pete Carril: “The measure of any teacher, provided he’s not an egomaniac, is to see anybody that he taught do better than he did.” That man is so Yoda.

Third, I’d like to muse a bit about the OSU game and what to watch for. While I’ve seen Georgetown a bunch of times this year, I haven’t had the opportunity to see OSU play that much. But from what I’ve seen — it’s all about their guards (especially on offense), even though Oden gets all the press. Oden is no better of a shot blocker than Emeka Okafor was. And to be honest, I don’t seem him being any more significant in the pros than Marcus Camby (when he’s healthy). This isn’t as much a slight as you might think — Camby has had some great years in the pros. Here’s how I see the game breaking down (feel free to call me a raving idiot, if you disagree):

  • Will OSU press? This has been extremely effective against Georgetown. Case in point: Villanova played Georgetown three times this year (see here for our recap of one of the games), and they played them tough three times (even in their loss to G’town in the Big East Tournament, where the Hoyas dominated Villanova in the first half). It was their press that caused Georgetown fits. Even though their guards are effective in the half-court set, it seems that they are more used to throwing (and catching) short, precise passes than the longer passes that are necessary to beat a press. If Motta decides to press, this may cause the Hoyas fits.
  • Hibbert vs. Oden: Actually, I’m not too concerned about the matchup on the block. I’m curious what happens when Hibbert steps out to the high post (or even to the three point line). Has Oden had to deal with this? Will he have to (if they play zone, he may just be able to sit back and anchor the defense)? If Oden does step out of the interior, it’ll be interesting to see what he does. My guess is Oden hasn’t had to do this much this year. If he backs off, will Hibbert be able to hit that jump shot? If he doesn’t, will Hibbert rack up a ton of assists to cutting players? I’m not too concerned about Oden’s impact on the offensive end — he hasn’t scored more than X points in many years.
  • Who’s going to guard Jeff Green: It looks like it’ll be Ivan Harris. But he’s going to have his hands full. Green has been playing amazingly well in this tournament; furthermore, he’s really upped his leadership of the team. One of my favorite moments of last week’s UNC-Georgetown game was when Jonathan Wallace had just gotten the ball back on defense and was thinking of pushing the ball up the court — Green looked at him and motioned with his hand — “slow down.” It was around then that Georgetown-UNC looked less like a track race and more like the half court set that Georgetown flourishes in.

Should be a great game on Saturday. Good luck to those Hoyas!

Holy West Virginia, Batman!

March 28, 2007 11:34 pm by donald

West Virginia’s reppin the Big East in the NIT. They play Clemson tomorrow night (Thursday at 7:00 pm EST) for the NIT championship. How’d they get there? On this shot on Tuesday night:

Drew Nichols lets fly with the three with 2 seconds left and West Virginia down by two to Mississippi State..and promptly wins the game. Great video capture by tylern80 on youtube. Good luck to WVU in the next round — and hopefully Joe Alexander can get out of his slump (A less than impressive 18 points in the last four games). He must be working too hard on that Computer Science homework.

Coming Full Circle

March 27, 2007 5:14 pm by Mister D

Watching the overtime session of the G’town/UNC matchup, I was giddy, literally on the edge of my seat, cheering and gesturing at every missed UNC shot, every clutch G’town rebound, every cutaway to a bewildered Roy Williams.  Up two…four…six…seven…  Georgetown was putting the finishing touches on an astounding and improbable comback, and I felt privilaged to have borne witness to this display of top-notch basketball, especially after having witnessed the first 34 minutes of pure agony.  My stomach had started at “unsettled,” crescendoed to “churning,” and after the third minute of overtime, was suddenly feeling relieved.  Final buzzer.

And then I thought: “What the HELL am I doing!?”

You see, I was brought up as a Syracuse fan.  Throughout my childhood, I was taught the same principles every young fan of the Orange(men) was taught:

  • Rooting for Georgetown under any circumstances is unacceptable (even against Pitt).
  • John Thompson is an evil, horrible person who abuses current players and recruits kids from prison–which, by the way, is where he belongs.
  • Georgetown plays dirty while their coach intimidates the refs, who actually don’t need to be intimidated, because JT pays them off.

For goodness’ sakes, I almost used all of my allowance money on a t-shirt I saw at Manny’s that read: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Root for Georgetown,” which had a picture of the Hoya mascot’s mutilated corpse after an apparent car crash (I opted instead for the John Wallace jersey…probably a wise investment in retrospect.  The #44 is as versatile as it is storied.).

I even traveled to the Carrier Dome just so I could heckle the Hoyas.  Sure enough, the fans helped instigate a Technical Foul on that abusive SOB, JTII.  And at the time I believed he deserved two or three of them, followed by a police escort to the locker room.

And now look at me.  I’m cheering them on like they were my alma mater.

The thing is, it’s almost impossible not to like this current Hoya team.  The old Georgetown teams ruled the Big East by intimidation.  Their defense was relentless and physical.  Their offense was anything but pretty.  Players like Ewing, Iverson, Page, Mourning, Williams, et al. absolutely dominated people, and they did it with a mean streak.  They were eminently despicable.  Basically, they were easy to hate.

This team?  They share the ball.  Their passing is precise.  They play a brand of basketball that’s eye-pleasing and effective.  Hibbert, Green, and Wallace act like hard-working, upstanding players rather than me-first street-ballers.  They play smart defense.  And probably most importantly, there’s a different overall feeling to this team: instead of intimidating teams with physical brutality, they intimidate intellectually, making other teams look bad with backscreens and cuts to the hoop that produce open lay-ups. 

I mean, imagine if the New York Yankees cut their payroll in half, re-tooled their lineup with guys who were more blue collar and less primadona, and were taken out of Steinbrenner’s hands and placed in Rudy Giuliani’s hands.  It would be tough not to respect them, right?  Even as a Sox fan?  Seriously, they’d go from “I hate those damn Yankees” to “Well, they’re finally on an even playing field, and their players are real competitors.  I kinda like that team.”

That’s what’s happened to Georgetown.  Once upon a time, they were the Yankees, (or perhaps a better analogy, the Pistons of the early 90s).  And now?  They’re the Oakland A’s.  Likeable.  Hard-working.  Some might say overachieving.  Always fun to watch.

So, I suppose this is a sign that I’ve matured as a sports fan.  I don’t necessarily need to despise a team based on what color they wear or what a historic rivalry dictates.  I can now accept that the makeup of teams can change, and that a program can be dynamic…one season they’re punks…the next, they’ve got chemistry and inspire you to root for them.  Does it mean I’m soft?  Does it mean I’m a turncoat?

I don’t think so.

I want to see good basketball, and I want to see the Big East succeed.  And Georgetown couldn’t have done a better job of representing the conference this year.  So consider me a fan of the Hoyas.

Until they show up at the Carrier Dome.  Then I will hate them.

Barton vs. Winona State

March 26, 2007 7:19 pm by donald

I’m sure you’ve heard all about the Division II championship game played this past Saturday, but perhaps many of you didn’t get to see the last 45 seconds of it. Absolutely ridiculous:

Winona State came into the game with a 57 game winning streak (over two seasons), only to have it ripped away in the last minutes of this game. Thanks to Wing for the pointer to the youtube link.

Conferences after 60

3:55 pm by Dan'l B

The ACC can’t suck anymore as they’ve all gone home.

After 60 games, here’s the BigEastology log5 conference rundown (minus winless, 1-bid conferences):

Conf  #  W-L  Chalk  3/13   3/27  Delta  Champ
P10   6  10-5    9    5.9   10.5   4.6    15%
SEC   5   9-4    7    7.3   10.1   2.8    41%
B10   6   8-5    8    7.5    8.8   1.3    25%
MWC   2   2-2    2     .8    2.0   1.2     0%
CUSA  1   3-1    3    2.0    3.0   1.0     0%
Horz  2   2-2    1    1.1    2.0    .9     0%
BE    6   7-5    8    6.9    7.7    .8    19%
WAC   2   1-2    1     .7    1.0    .3     0%
BSth  1   1-1    0     .7    1.0    .3     0%
CAA   2   1-2    0    1.2    1.0   -.2     0%
MVC   2   2-2    2    2.3    2.0   -.3     0%
A10   2   1-2    0    1.9    1.0   -.9     0%
B12   4   6-4    8    8.0    6.0  -2.0     0%
ACC   7   7-7   11   12.1    7.0  -5.1     0%

The Pac10 and SEC continued to shine, the ACC completed a terrible tournament, and the Big East is looking much better after last night’s huge result. The new favorite is Florida, UCLA is expected to fall Saturday, and the G-town v. OSU game should be close.

There’s a reason they play the games, and this year it was a friendly reminder to never anoint the ACC as champ prematurely.