Offensive issues spillover to defensive side for Georgetown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Disappointing”.



Those were the words used by members of No. 19 Georgetown to describe their performance after suffering through a 73-45 loss to Pitt at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night. The loss was just as bad as the final score would indicate. Probably worse. It was a siege, a slow and methodical deconstruction of everything that this Georgetown team prides themselves on. It was the kind of unadulterated dominance that is expected when Pitt hosts a guarantee game, not when they are on the road against a top 25 opponent in league play.

And to make matters worse, the Panthers managed to expose the Hoyas on the one end of the floor where they had actually had some success this season.

Simply put, Georgetown has been a misery to watch on the offensive side of the ball since they got back from the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. They scored 37 points against Tennessee and 46 points against Towson, both wins. On Saturday, however, the Hoyas scored just 48 points in a one point loss at Marquette. They entered Tuesday night outside the top 150 according to Kenpom’s offensive efficiency rankings.

But we knew the Hoyas struggle to put points on the board. The 45 points they scored against Pitt is nothing new.

The problem? Georgetown had thrived defensively. Thanks to their length, their athleticism and their discipline, Georgetown was still able to win games despite the issues on the offensive end of the floor. The missed shots? The ugly possessions? They were frustrating and something that the Hoyas spent a lot of practice time on, but that frustration hadn’t seeped into their defensive effort.

On Tuesday night, it finally did.

“Our defense was nowhere near where it has been all year,” John Thompson III told reporters after the game. “I’m not sure if that’s related to the offensive end of not.”

“We always say, ‘try not to let a break down or a bad possession at one end of the court affect what happens at the other end of the court’. These guys are confident. They’re ball players. It’s not like these guys are little babies. You’re going to miss shots. You have to keep playing.”

And that’s why this loss should be so concerning to Georgetown fans.

These offensive struggles weren’t exactly unexpected. The magnitude of them, maybe, but this is simply not the kind of roster makeup we’re used to seeing a Georgetown team have. They’re young — juniors Nate Lubick and Markel Starks are the elder statesmen on the roster. They don’t have that playmaking big man that can score out of the high-post and make the back-door pass that the Hoyas have patented over the years. There are no knockdown shooters on this year’s team. There is no dynamic playmaker at the point. There is no lowpost scoring threat.

Georgetown does not have the talent to get baskets outside of their system. Factor in that they don’t have the ideal personnel for their system, and this is the result.

“It’s not just bad luck with the rims,” Thompson said. “We’ve continued and tried to make changes as the season’s gone on. It’s not like we’re sticking our heads in the sand, ‘Hey, let’s not worry about it’. We’ve worked on a lot of different things as the season’s progressed.”

“We have some things we need to address,” Lubick added, “and they will be addressed. We have to remain positive that we’re going to fix these things.”

If there is a change that Georgetown needs to make, it should come on the defensive end of the floor. The Hoyas are as lanky and athletic as anyone in the country. Their starting lineup includes 6-foot-8 Greg Whittington at shooting guard and 6-foot-9 Otto Porter at small forward. They bring Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen — who are both big, uber-athletic wings — off of the bench. They have a handful of big guys to rotate through along their front line.

Why not get out and pressure more? They are already above-average when it comes to defensive-playmaking — collecting steals, blocking shots, forcing turnovers. If you’re struggling to score in the half court, why not try and create some points off of your vaunted defense?

But as of Tuesday, no drastic — positive — changes had been made.

“We’re still the same guys we were a couple weeks ago,” Thompson said.

And therein lies the problem.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 11 Syracuse upsets No. 3 Michigan State to advance to Sweet Sixteen

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Syracuse continued its string of upsets in the 2018 NCAA tournament on Sunday afternoon as the No. 11 Orange knocked off No. 3 seed Michigan State, 55-53, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in the Midwest Regional.

Winners of three straight games after knocking off Arizona State in the First Four, and TCU in the first round, Syracuse (23-13) pulled off another impressive victory in front of a very pro-Michigan State crowd in Detroit. Dictating the slow tempo with their 2-3 zone, Syracuse’s defense kept them in the game despite extreme foul trouble, cold perimeter shooting and issues on the defensive glass.

The Orange had to deal with guard Frank Howard (13 points) fouling out with over six minutes left in the game. Center Paschal Chukwu earned three fouls in the first half and had a tough time getting in a rhythm.

Tyus Battle led the Orange with 17 points while Oshae Brissett chipped in 15 points to lead the Syracuse offense. Despite making only one three-pointer and giving up 29 offensive rebounds to Michigan State, the Orange are moving on with another surprising win.

Michigan State (30-5) saw its season end in disappointing fashion as they shot only 25 percent (17-for-67) from the field and 21 percent (8-for-38) from three-point range. Point guard Cassius Winston led Michigan State with 15 points while All-American Miles Bridges struggled to a 4-for-19 shooting day to finish with 11 points.

Syracuse advances to the Sweet 16 in Omaha next week as they will meet No. 2 seed Duke on Friday night. The Orange and Blue Devils played each other in the ACC in February as Duke won a home game by double-digits in Marvin Bagley III’s return from injury.

The Orange will be heavy underdogs once again, but they’re already made an unlikely run to this point in the tournament.

VIDEO: Chennedy Carter caps Texas A&M comeback with filthy game-winner

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No. 4-seed Texas A&M erased a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to knock off No. 5-seed DePaul, 80-79.

The game-winning bucket came courtesy of Chennedy Carter, who won the game with this filthy, filthy move:

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Matt McQuaid makes circus buzzer-beater off a blocked shot

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Michigan State is in the midst of a battle with No. 11 seed Syracuse in the second round of the Midwest Region.

The No. 3 seed Spartans are having a tough time adjusting to the Orange’s length in the 2-3 zone as a low-scoring and slow-paced game has made it close.

Thankfully for Michigan State, guard Matt McQuaid nailed a circus buzzer-beating three-pointer after Syracuse’s Matt Moyer blocked his first attempt. The ridiculous bank shot at the end of the first half gave the Spartans a 25-22 lead.

McQuaid’s unlikely buzzer-beater had a lot of things happening in one play. It’s one of the more unique basketball plays we’ll see in the NCAA tournament.

It also provided a great photo of McQuaid about to release the second attempt in mid-air. So many great reactions in that photo.

No Haas, no problem: No. 2 Purdue sneaks past No. 10 Butler, into Sweet 16

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No Haas, no harm.

Playing without Isaac Haas, their senior 7-footer who fractured his elbow in an opening round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, the Boilermakers shot 11-for-24 from three and got a valiant effort from their other 7-footer, freshman Matt Haarms, in a 76-73 win over No. 10-seed Butler.

The second-seeded Boilermakers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season. They’ll take on No. 3-seed Texas Tech in the East Region semifinals on Friday evening in Boston.

Purdue was led by 20 points from Vincent Edwards, Purdue’s senior leader, who scored 20 points on 6-for-8 shooting as his partner in crime, sophomore Carsen Edwards, shot just 4-for-17 from the floor and finished with 13 points. The biggest shot of the night came from another senior, Dakota Mathias, who buried a three with 14 seconds left that put Purdue up five.

But the real story here was Haarms.

The freshman will be thrust into a critical role for the Boilermakers throughout the rest of this tournament, and I don’t think that it’s crazy to say that the Boilermakers will go as far as he allows them to go. Haarms is the only big man currently on the Purdue roster that played any kind of meaningful minutes this season. Purdue played roughly 100 possessions during the regular season without Haas or Haarms on the floor, and it’s probably safe to assume that the majority of those possessions were played during garbage time, when the walk-ons were on the floor.

Haarms finished with seven boards, six boards and a pair of blocks in 27 minutes, doing a good enough job in the role that he was asked to play to keep Butler from lighting up the Boilermakers in pick-and-roll actions and in protecting the rim. He is certainly a better defender than Haas, particularly in space, but he is no where near the threat that Haas is on the offensive end of the floor. It limits what Purdue can do offensively, and with a game coming up against one of college basketball’s best defensive teams, a group that prides themselves on their ability to run teams off the three point line, we could be looking at a situation where Purdue really needs that interior presence.

What Haarms can provide will be a difference-maker.

I hope he’s ready for it.

VIDEO: Jordan Poole got a hero’s welcome in Michigan’s locker room

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Jordan Poole hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three to send Michigan into the Sweet 16.

And as you might expect, when he made his way back into the Wolverine, he was greeted with a wall of water:

Let’s see that from another angle:

I can never see enough of these videos, but perhaps this is the best part: Two weeks ago, after Michigan won the Big Ten tournament, John Beilein was absolutely drenched in the locker room, having to go to his press conference sopping wet, cold and wearing a towel around his shoulders.

So on Saturday night, he did the smart thing. He wore a poncho and goggles and went on the offensive: