After a week-long stay at home in the Nation's Capital that included an easy 88-70 victory over Wright State, Georgetown is back on the road as they travel to Puerto Rico. Just three games into the season and the Hoyas are already a road weary team, having traveled over 15,000 miles in the air thanks to their opening game against Oregon in South Korea and this week's slate in Puerto Rico. The Hoyas are part of an eight-team field that includes Michigan and VCU and while they certainly have their work cut of for them, the Hoyas have a legitimate shot at winning the tournament.
Waiting for the 1-1 Bulldogs, err...Hoyas in San Juan are the 1-2 Northeastern Huskies from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Last season, the Huskies won 20 games, the CAA regular season title and made an NIT appearance. Head coach Bill Roen was a former assistant under Al Skinner at Boston College and Rhode Island and has been head coach at Northeastern since 2006, posting a 110-106 overall record. The Huskies are led by junior forwards Quincy Ford and Reggie Spencer, and sophomore guard David Walker. Ford, who was named to the All-CAA team last season, has gotten off to a slow start due to some lingering back problems and if the Huskies have any hope of taking down the Hoyas, Ford has to have a big game.
The Hoyas should have no issues taking care of business against the Huskies as they have the advantage across the board. Georgetown is bigger, longer, stronger and overall a better, more well-coached team. The Huskies don't have a player on the roster who is taller than 6-8 and at 6-10, Georgetown center Joshua Smith should bounce back from a disappointing game against Wright State. For the season, Smith is averaging 15.5 points on 63 percent shooting. On the perimeter, Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera are starting to emerge as one of the top backcourts in the Big East. Starks is averaging a team-leading 19.5 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. The senior point guard is also shooting a perfect 9-for-9 from the stripe on the year. After struggling against Oregon, Smith-Rivera had a breakout game against Oregon that saw him score 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Northeastern will have their hands full with the triumvirate of Smith, Starks, and Smith-Rivera and I expect all three to have big games.
The Huskies will likely try and double team Smith in the post and force the Hoyas to beat them from the outside. While they Hoyas struggled to shoot the ball against Oregon, Georgetown torched the nets against the Raiders. Will they be able to keep up the hot shooting playing with foreign rims? The Huskies will also likely try and press after made buckets in an effort to force turnovers and get some easy baskets. While this may work against CAA level teams, both Starks and Smith-Rivera are both very talented guards and should get transition buckets against the press. The Hoyas get an easy start in their trip to Puerto Rico, but with potential match-ups against Kansas State and either Michigan or VCU looming later this week, the Hoyas can't afford a sloppy start in the sun.