Closer look: Georgetown-BC
Hoyas prevail in old-fashioned, Big East slugfest
Posted: Saturday March 17, 2007 10:09PM; Updated: Saturday March 17, 2007 10:10PM
WINSTON-SALEM -- If you didn't know it was the NCAA tournament and the venue was Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, you'd have sworn it was the Big East Tournament and a cozy little joint called Madison Square Garden.
Boston College left the Big East two years ago for the ACC, robbing East Coast hoops fans of the chance to see some hotly contested rivalries/slugfests between the Eagles and whoever. But the NCAA tournament has a way of bringing old friends together. Such was the case on Saturday, when BC and Georgetown squared off in the second round.
Given their Big East history, the game figured to be a physical confrontation. And neither team disappointed. Georgetown won, 62-55, but not without a fight from the Eagles, who were seemingly overmatched size-wise, but just as competitive.
Only some second-half heroics by Georgetown's frontcourt duo of 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert and power forward Jeff Green carried the Hoyas on to the Sweet 16.
"Any win this time of the year is a good win," said Georgetown coach John Thompson III. "But that's a very good win against a very good team. There was a lot we had to figure out. We had to work our way through what they were doing to us. Our guys did a good job of staying with it."
Thompson didn't care to share his feelings about what beating the Big East expatriates meant to him. Or maybe he did drop a hint.
"I'm happy to win and move on [against whoever the opponent]," Thompson said. "BC was our opponent tonight, so I'm extremely happy."
PLAYER WHO IMPRESSED ME
Big fella's got game. Sometimes, it just takes Hibbert a while to get going. Such was the case in both the Hoyas' games in Winston-Salem. On Thursday, Hibbert seemed disinterested in the first half against No. 15 seed Belmont, or maybe he was saving himself. Whatever, Hibbert took just one shot in the half and missed it.
Hibbert was much more aggressive in the final 20 minutes, taking nine shots and finishing with 10 points and a game-high 13 boards.
Against Boston College, Hibbert followed a remarkably similar pattern. In the first half, he took just one shot and contributed a measly two points and two rebounds. In the second, Hibbert was suddenly Bill Walton, scoring 15 points, corralling 10 boards and hitting Patrick Ewing, Jr. with a pinpoint pass that Ewing turned into a nasty reverse dunk in traffic.
Why doesn't Georgetown utilize Hibbert more consistently? Or perhaps the question is why doesn't Hibbert call for the ball more often?
Sometimes the big man -- and you can't imagine how truly long he is until you see him up close -- just needs a subtle reminder from the Georgetown coaches. On Saturday, Thompson pulled Hibbert aside in the locker room at halftime and strongly suggested he get busy.
"Coach said I needed to be more aggressive down low," Hibbert said. "At the end of the shot clock, I tried to get in position and post up. And on the other end of the floor, I wanted to make sure they didn't get any clean looks or second chances."
Clearly, Georgtown has a chance to go a long way in this tournament if Hibbert gets involved. "Roy is an integral part of what we do, that's stating the obvious," Thompson said. "Roy, over the last couple of years, has gotten better. His work ethic is terrific. So we do have the luxury of having a big fellow in there that we can throw it in to who is extremely unselfish. And so he has impact in that regard at both ends of the floor."
My laptop was doomed.
Late in the game, Green, all 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds worth, chased down a loose ball in the right corner of BC's end of the floor. The big man resembled a runaway pickup truck as he rumbled toward press row.
Like a mother protecting her child, I instinctively reached out to protect the laptop -- as though my arm was really going to stop him -- but just before impact, the big man stomped on the breaks. His arm grazed against mine, but the computer's life was spared.
"I ain't gonna break nothin'," Green said.
Thank you, Mr. Green.
Green wasn't as kind to Boston College. After a sluggish start -- 1-for-4 shooting, four points, four rebounds -- in the first half, he got nasty in the final 20 minutes. Green's flying tip dunk of a Hibbert miss with 7:08 to play gave Georgetown a 48-44 lead and a huge lift.
"I was just trying to get the ball," Green said of the play that shifted momentum -- for good -- to the Hoyas. "My shot wasn't falling, so I did the next best thing and rebounded. Grabbing the offensive rebound, and throwing it down like that, it changed the momentum of the game."
Green finished with 11 points and 12 boards.
Georgetown will play a familiar opponent in the Sweet 16. In mid November, the Hoyas traveled to Nashville and handed Vanderbilt an 86-70 beating, avenging a loss to the Commodores in D.C. a year earlier.
On the surface, the two teams couldn't appear more different. The Hoyas start a humongous front line and rely heavily on the low-post scoring of Green and Hibbert, their top two scorers and rebounders.
Vanderbilt, which starts essentially a four-guard lineup, is a perimeter-oriented team that often lives and dies by the three-pointer; all five starters are threats from behind the arc.
A closer look reveals that both teams utilize at least parts of the Princeton offense. Thompson learned it at the right hand of its creator, Pete Carril, as a player and later assistant coach at Princeton. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings learned the offense after countless hours of watching Princeton game tapes, and has used it in bits and pieces over the years.
Though Vandy has become more of a motion offense team, it still runs Princeton-like backdoor cuts that catch opponents intent on defending the three-point line off guard.
The rubber match of what has become a three-game series between these two teams should be interesting.