Friday, March 16, 2007

Analysis: Breaking Down Belmont and Anticipating the Eagles

As noted by the Washington Post's Camille Powell, as the first round game between No. 2 Georgetown and No. 15 Belmont wound down on Thursday, the Hoyas' fans began a chant of "Where is Belmont?" Belmont fans quickly countered with "What's a Hoya?" Touche, Bruins. Touche.

Unfortunately for them, it was the only counter Belmont found all day against Georgetown, as the Hoyas cruised in their NCAA Tournament opener.

There's not a lot to analyze from a 25 point victory that was essentially over at the half, but a few bullet points:

• Jesse Sapp's perimeter game is back on track after missing 25 of 27 three-point attempts since his three huge shots from behind the arc against Villanova, Feb. 17. If he stays hot, that would be a huge help to Georgetown as they try to break down opponents playing zone defensive schemes.

Lackadaisical turnovers are still problematic for the Hoyas. Sapp and freshman DaJuan Summers especially have had recent trouble in this regard and also accounted for 6 of the Hoyas' 12 turnovers against Belmont. GU was also lucky to avoid a few more bobbles by regaining possession. These kinds of errors would be a killer if the Hoyas were to advance and face North Carolina. Better focus will be needed.

• Jeff Green played well, but picked up two quick unnecessary fouls. You can't fault a guy for being aggressive, but Green needs to be smarter from here out. The Hoyas' bench is adequate, but replacing a player of Green's caliber is virtually impossible.

• One benefit of that foul trouble was that Green, and also Roy Hibbert, spent a lot of time on the bench. The two only played 45 minutes combined and should be well rested against B.C.

Boston College entered the tournament having dropped 5 of their last 7 games and have not mustered much swagger since an awful performance at home against Duke derailed them on Feb. 14. During that game, the Eagles essentially gave up on a number of fast break points by the Blue Devils.

B.C. is a moody team and that attitude has been almost as problematic as the team's non-existent defense. The Eagles are 202nd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents to shoot 44.4% against them on average. Without shot blocker Sean Williams roaming the lane anymore, Georgetown should be able to expoit B.C. inside. And if the Hoyas get up early and frustrate B.C.'s three-headed scoring monster of Sean Marshall, Tyrese Rice and ACC Player of the Year Jared Dudley, then B.C. might go quietly. Assuming they will do so against a former Big East rival however, is probably wishful thinking.

One final note to be made is the recent defensive performance of GU's Summers. Lately Summers has been superb in generating turnovers by deflecting passes, stripping careless ball handlers and using his long wingspan to block shots. In doing so, Summers is anticipating well and is turning into a tremendous weakside defender.

His face up defense has been another issue. Against speedy point guard Tory Jackson of Notre Dame, Summers looked badly outmatched, as Jackson blew by him at least twice for easy layups in the Big East Tournament Semifinals. If Georgetown decides to match up Summers with Dudley, it could be a tough assignment. Don't be surprised to see Patrick Ewing Jr. and Jeremiah Rivers get some run, as the Hoyas try to contest the Eagles' perimeter game.

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