Legends Classic - Georgetown v Indiana

Georgetown’s only going to get better this season, and that’s scary

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Indiana was lucky they got Georgetown as early as they did.

Because this Georgetown team is not going to be the Georgetown team that teams will run into come February and March. There isn’t a single senior in the Hoya rotation. There are only two juniors that see playing time — Nate Lubick and Markel Starks — and both of those guys are playing roles that are new and expanded this season.

Everyone else in the rotation? Freshmen and sophomores.

“We’re still growing up,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said after the Hoyas lost to No. 1 Indiana 82-72 in overtime. “You hope to grow up without losses, and hopefully this will help. We had a lot of guys out there in situations they’ve never been in before.”

What’s scary about this group is that, while they are still growing and still developing, they truly do believe they are already amongst the elite. Just because they are going to get better doesn’t mean this isn’t a top 25 team right now.

“I wouldn’t say I met expectations. I can play,” Starks said, clearly perturbed by a reporter’s choice of words when asking him about the 43 points he scored this weekend. “We have a team full of guys that can play. Any given night, we have guys that can put up big numbers. We can play.”

He’s right, but what people need to realize is that this team isn’t a traditional Georgetown team. Yes, they are still going to run the same offensive system. That won’t change with JT III at the helm. And yes, they are going to be a group that keeps the game at a slower pace and that shoots a lot of threes. What’s different about them, however, is that their strength doesn’t lie at the center spot.

It’s on the wing, where Otto Porter and Greg Whittington look to be well on their way to becoming lottery picks.

On the defensive end of the floor, those two are nothing short of a nightmare. Between the two of them, they can guard anyone on the court at any given time. Porter’s a little bit better against post players and Whittington is a bit quicker laterally, but at 6-foot-8 with long arms, both make a lot of plays on the defensive end of the floor. They are still learning how to play offensively, but you got a glimpse of it the past two days. Whittington hit two threes that helped open up Georgetown’s 14 point lead against No. 11 UCLA on Monday. Porter hit a three and followed that up with a driving layup that forced overtime against Indiana on Tuesday.

“I think they’re going to get better and better,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. “They’re long and athletic. They’re young, but they don’t deviate form what John wants. They have great athletes, but they have a team of basketball players.”

The future isn’t only bright for the Hoyas, the future is now.

“It’s still early in the year,” Thompson said. “Our younger guys aren’t ready for a team of that caliber yet.”

“Yet being the operative word.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.