Georgetown fans don’t usually worry too much when Seton Hall comes to the Verizon Center, but that confidence did not help them much during the teams’ first meeting on January 18, won by Seton Hall 67-57.
It was a disheartening performance for the Hoyas, one in which they essentially did not show up for the second half. This after getting out to a ten point lead late in the first half. It was the second of three straight games in which Georgetown blew the game after Ken Pomeroy had calculated their chances of winning at over 90.0 percent. At the time, it seemed as if Georgetown's season was effectively ended.
But the Hoyas have fought back since then. Although their recent four game win streak was rudely snapped Sunday at St. John’s, Georgetown stands at 6-7 in the conference with games still to go against Big East powers Creighton and Villanova. This game against Seton Hall is now nothing less than a must win for the Hoyas.
Seton Hall won last time around for a number of reasons. The Hoyas shot terribly in that game against the pedestrian Pirate defense, going 4-of-18 from long range, complementing a dreadful 40.0 percent performance from twos. In addition to the anemic offense, the Hoyas committed 13 turnovers as well.
Both guards Markel Starks and D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the only Hoyas who can create any offense, had poor games. It would have been worse had the Hoyas not done a good job on the offensive boards, led by the beleaguered Mikael Hopkins (11 points, 4-7 FG, 15 rebounds, including six on offense).
Seton Hall blistered the Hoyas with an 11-20 performance from three range. Georgetown in particular could not stop Fuquan Edwin, who finished with 24 points on 62.5 percent shooting from the three-point line on eight attempts. The beating could have been worse had Seton Hall been able to hit from inside (29.0 percent) or the free throw line (16-for-30) including 6-for-15 from Sterling Gibbs, who normally shoots 74.0 percent.
It goes without saying that Georgetown will need much better performances from Starks and Smith-Rivera to win the rematch. Seton Hall is not a good defensive team, and there is really no excuse for even the weak Hoya offense to put up another terrible performance.
Georgetown’s best asset offensively is an ability to attack the basket and score efficiently at the rim, not only from Starks and Smith-Rivera but also from Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen. This again should be the blueprint against Seton Hall, which has allowed teams to shoot well from the field all season and has a limited inside presence of Gene Teague and Brandon Mobley that doesn’t block many shots.
It is also imperative that the Hoyas hit their free throws, as they can expect Seton Hall to foul them. The Pirates are active in the passing lanes and in causing deflections and steals, and the Hoyas will need to watch themselves as that is perennially a problem for them.
Georgetown’s defense has been terrible the last three games. Seton Hall is not very adept on offense either, and if they can light up the Hoyas again we will know the formerly vaunted Hoya defense is simply gone for good this year. The main issue as always will be fouls. Georgetown fouls as much as any team in the country, and their front court of Mikael Hopkins, Nate Lubick, and Moses Ayegba in particular has been in constant, almost comical foul trouble.
The Pirates are adept at getting to the line, so this bears watching. In addition, Georgetown’s defense suffers when all of its big men are on the bench with fouls. Seton Hall is not adept inside and has a propensity for getting its shots blocked, but that obviously will not mean anything if the Hoyas are forced to revert to its mini-lineup.
As is normal for Georgetown, they need to get good backcourt play, attack the basket, and stay out of foul trouble. This game is very winnable if they can do those things, but if we have learned anything from Georgetown this year, it is that every game is losable as well.