Saturday, March 24, 2007

Recap: Our man Floriani

Ray Floriani made the trek to the Meadowlands. Here's his report:

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Forty minutes away ! Georgetown survived an outstanding effort by Vanderbilt to move on to the regional final against North Carolina. Game time is 5:05 pm on Sunday.

Georgetown 66 Vanderbilt 65

The keys to the Hoya victory:
  • Better defense
  • Poise while trailing by double digits
  • Jeff Green
Coming in, Georgetown coach John Thompson III was concerned with Vanderbilt’s perimeter game. After trailing early, the SEC reps started firing up from the perimeter and built a double digit lead midway through the first half. Quick ball reversal and/or kick outs to the perimeter left the Commodores with some outstanding looks; Vanderbilt shot 46 % during the first half (40% from 3).

The Hoyas stuck to a philosophy they used against Notre Dame two weeks ago: don’t try to get the deficit trimmed in a minute; take it possession by possession.

One way they did it was to come out a little harder defensively to afford Vanderbilt less room on the perimeter. During the final 20 minutes, the Commodores cooled down to 36 % from the field and 25% beyond the arc. Hoyas just did a better job of ball pressure and locating shooters.

Offensively the Hoyas also made an effort to look inside a little more. Roy Hibbert had but three points in the 1st half, all the last six minutes. He finished with 12 and asserted himself inside the final half. Vanderbilt’s 6’11" center Ted Skuchas was soon saddled with foul trouble; the Commodores simply showed more 2-3 and packed it in.

With the Hoyas trailing by one and the season on the line, Jeff Green showed why he is Big East Player of the Year and one of the nation’s best talents.

Thompson called for two cutters to the high post and look for a back door. “I told Jeff if he gets it and can’t find Patrick [Ewing Jr.], to take it himself.” Green told the media he got the ball high, found the cutting Ewing covered and took it on a spin move. “I was double-teamed and just went up hard and sent it off the glass.” Green’s shot kissed the backboard and fell through. “I think he was more triple- rather than double-teamed on that shot,” Thompson added.

Green and DaJuan Summers had 15 pts. each for Georgetown. Dan Cage and SEC Player of the Year Derrick Byars led all with 17 points.

North Carolina 74 USC 64

USC led by 9 at the break and increased it to 18 early second half. Hoya fans were backing the Trojans - rooting for the lower seed, plus the Song Girls were near the Georgetown section. How could they not root for the SC Song Girls?

Carolina regrouped much the same way Georgetown did: take it possession by possession and don’t panic.

Taj Gibson (16 pts., 12 rebs.) was hit with second half foul trouble. Gibson is USC’s inside presence, but his absence didn’t entirely explain the collapse - Southern Cal went 9 of 27 from the field in the second half. The Tar Heels pounded USC on the offensive boards and ran. Trojans also rushed some shots and took some ill-advised attempts. Limiting the offensive boards and stopping transition will be keys for the Hoyas Sunday.

Tyler Hansbrough was asked the significance of Georgetown meeting North Carolina a quarter century ago. “I watched the video of that (‘82) championship game,” Hansbrough said. “I know it was a great game and we have (Carolina) players from that team come to our games. It's a big part of tradition."

A great answer at 12:25 a.m.

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