Josh Smith

VIDEO: Clemson crashes ‘Saturday Market on Main Street’

Leave a comment

With Littlejohn Coliseum undergoing major renovations this academic year, Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers will play their entire 2015-16 home schedule off campus. The Tigers will play their games in Greenville at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, and with this being the case the program is doing what it can to spark interest in its temporary home.

Last Saturday four Tigers, Jordan Roper, Jaron Blossomgame, Donte Grantham and Josh Smith, hopped in a bus and descended upon Main Street in Greenville with plans of “crashing” the town’s Saturday Market. There were games for those in attendance, and the cheerleaders and mascot were there as well.

Above is video of the day in Greenville courtesy of Clemson Athletics, and pictures from the event can be seen here.

This is a good move by Clemson, because given the difficulty of the ACC they’ll need to establish some semblance of a home-court advantage while playing in Greenville. And even if their preseason trip to Greenville doesn’t lead to skyrocketing season ticket sales, engaging the community is an important first step in making sure that Bon Secours Wellness Arena actually feels a little like “home.”

Markel Starks on Josh Smith: ‘You never really know what you’re going to get from [him]’

Oregon v Georgetown
Leave a comment

Joshua Smith has been an enigma since the moment he stepped on a collegiate court.

From a talent perspective, there are few that are on Smith’s level. His size, his hands, his footwork, his touch around the rim. He’s got lottery pick talent.

His problem has always been effort and desire.

Does he want to be good at basketball bad enough to get into — and stay in — game-shape? This is his fourth year as a college basketball player, and the answer, to date, is a definitive ‘no’.

He’s better conditioned now than he was the last couple of years back at UCLA and, to his credit, he does look slimmer. But he’s still not in the kind of shape that would allow him to maximize his potential. He’s still a major defensive liability. And he’s still struggling with his consistency.

I’m not the only one to notice.

“If I come out, if I’m lax, the entire team is going to be lax. Some guys are going to come that are ready to play, but from a mental standpoint, I pose so much for the team to be collectively good,” senior point guard Markel Starks told Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com. “D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, he’s going to come out, he’s going to be ready to play. Josh, it’s a different story. You never really know what you’re going to get from Josh. Not so much we, but he also has to find his rhythm and give us something consistent. No, he’s not going to give us 25 points and seven rebounds a night. Can he, absolutely. He can be the most dominant big in the nation. But is he? We have yet to determine that.”

Starks later added, “Honestly, Josh can play 30 minutes. It’s just does Josh want to play 30 minutes on a particular night. He’s in really good shape. Everybody wants to talk about his weight and stuff like that. That stuff goes out the window. He’s productive and he can be really productive for us and he will be productive for us. (Starks laughs) He doesn’t have any other option.”

It’s important to note here that Starks was speaking with “positive intentions”, according to Standig. It also should be noted that Starks and Smith are roommates, and that Starks is not the kind of personality that will sugarcoat what he says. He’s an intense dude, and if he’s saying something to the media, you better believe he’s said the same thing to Smith.

But it’s interesting to note that someone on the Georgetown roster is recognizing the same thing that we are. Smith, with all of his deficiencies, is the guy that turns Georgetown from an NCAA tournament team to a legitimate favorite to win the Big East.

Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Louisville has first test of the season against North Carolina

Rick Pitino, Russ Smith
Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 24 North Carolina, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN) 

North Carolina isn’t the team that many projected in the preseason thanks to the absence of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, but the Tar Heels still have enough firepower to challenge Louisville in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tipoff at Mohegan Sun. Louisville defeated Fairfield 71-57, while North Carolina earned a solid win over Richmond, 82-72, the the semifinal games yesterday.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Virginia Commonwealth vs. Georgetown, 2:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Georgetown is feeling the ill effects of losing Otto Porter to the NBA and has struggled in the early going with losses to Oregon and Northeastern — the latter loss very disconcerting as the Hoyas were outscored 38-20 in the second half en route to a 63-56 loss. Things don’t get easier as they have to now cope with VCU’s havoc defense. Look for Georgetown to feature Josh Smith on the offensive end as he will have a distinct size advantage against VCU.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: North Dakota vs. North Dakota State, 6:00 p.m.

If you like scoring and three-pointers, keep an eye on this game between these in-state rivals. North Dakota State has high aspirations this season as they return Taylor Braun, among others, but North Dakota is a solid team in their own right as they showed against Wisconsin last Tuesday. The Bagders are good this season, and North Dakota hung with them for much of the game, eventually succumbing 103-85.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH: 

1) Will UMass continue their hot start and knock off another BCS opponent in Clemson? On the young season, UMass has already defeated Boston College, LSU, Youngstown State, Nebraska, and — most impressively — New Mexico. A win against the Tigers, and don’t be surprised to see the Minutemen in the Top 25 come Monday.

2) Another Massachusetts school, Harvard has their first true test of the season as they travel to Colorado. It’s been hard to gauge just how good the Crimson are, but we should learn much more about them against Colorado. The match-up between Harvard’s guards Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders vs. Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker will be a good battle.

3) Providence has impressed thus far, compiling a 5-0 record with solid wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt. Against Vanderbilt, the Friars ended the game on a 27-4 run to win 67-60. They have another good test today against La Salle. Seniors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts have been tremendous, and the Friars are looking like a team that has the potential to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

4) Maryland has gotten off to a slow start with losses to Connecticut and Oregon State, and their game against Northern Iowa at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas figures to be a tough one. Nick Faust has to be better in order for the Terps to get on track — through four games he is shooting just 36% on two-pointers and 22% on three-pointers.

5) You should be paying close attention to Belmont this season; the Bruins are for real and very good. Fresh off of their win against North Carolina last weekend, they dismantled rival Lipscomb 94-64, and then had a solid victory against Holy Cross last night. Through six games, they have eclipsed the 80 point mark five times, and have one of the most efficient offenses in college basketball. Belmont doesn’t figure to be challenged much by Hofstra today.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • No. 6 Duke vs. Vermont, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • No. 14 Michigan vs. Charlotte, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • No. 17 Oregon vs. San Francisco, 8:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 19 New Mexico vs. Davidson, currently airing on ESPNU
  • No. 22 UCLA vs. Chattanooga, 10:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

NOTABLES: 

  • UAB vs. Temple, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Florida State vs. Northeastern, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Richmond vs. Fairfield, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

Georgetown’s horrendous second half dooms them against Northeastern

Scott Eatherton, Mikael Hopkins
1 Comment

Northeastern’s starting front line of Scott Eatherton and Reggie Spencer combined for 30 points and 19 boards as the Huskies knocked off Georgetown 63-56 in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off down in San Juan on Thursday.

It really was an ugly performance from Georgetown, particularly in the second half. Northeastern threw a zone at the Hoyas, and Georgetown looked utterly lost. The Hoyas didn’t have much in the way of a zone offense, as Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera struggled to penetrate against the zone. And since the Hoyas shot a sterling 3-for-16 from beyond the arc, Northeastern was able to slack off on the perimeter, taking away from Georgetown’s massive size advantage in the paint.

Where the Hoyas really are going to miss Otto Porter is against a 2-3 zone. He was so good at finding space in the high-post area and making something happen, whether it was getting himself a look at the rim for creating a shot for one of his teammates. Who plays that role for the Hoyas this year? Nate Lubick looked lost on the perimeter on Thursday, committing five really ugly turnovers. Mikael Hopkins doesn’t really have the kind of skill set that will make him a threat. Neither does Jabril Trawick. Josh Smith might actually be pretty good in the high-post, but that would take away his ability seal in front of the rim, a move that is unstoppable when he gets position.

Starks and Smith-Rivera are not going to have many nights where they combine for 7-for-26 shooting and make just a combined 2-for-12 from beyond the arc. They are too good for that. But don’t be surprised to see teams that get fed up with Josh Smith’s dominance inside to start throwing zones at Georgetown more often.

Most of Northeastern’s damage was done in the second half, as they outscored Georgetown 38-20 in the final 20 minutes. That zone completely stagnated offensive attack, and it also seemed to sap them of energy defensively. Northeastern really bullied the Hoyas on the glass for the final 20 minutes

Georgetown will play Kansas State, who lost to Charlotte earlier today, in the consolation bracket tomorrow.

No. 19 Oregon holds off Georgetown and Josh Smith, 82-75

Oregon v Georgetown
Leave a comment

Oregon got 55 points from their three notable transfers as the No. 19 Ducks shook off the suspensions of Dominic Artis and Ben Carter to hold off Georgetown out in South Korea, 82-75.

Dana Altman’s club got 24 points from Joseph Young and 16 points from Jason Calliste, who combined to hit just 7-for-17 from the floor and 3-for-10 from three but knocked down all 23 of their free throw attempts.

The difference maker for the Ducks ended up being Mike Moser and, to a lesser extent, Richard Amardi. Moser finished with 15 points and seven boards, but he also chipped in with four steals and a block, showcasing his ability to use his length to make plays on the defensive end of the floor. He only made two of the seven threes he took, but the threat of that shot caused issues for Georgetown defensively.

Oregon was a different team without Artis on the floor last season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. The Ducks have depth at the guard spot, enough that it’s reasonable to think that Artis could end up losing his spot as a starter at the point if guys like Jonathan Loyd, Young and Calliste continue to play well.

Where they aren’t as deep is in the front court, which is why this win is so impressive. The Ducks got abused on the interior by Josh Smith, who finished with 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting while seemingly getting every single front court player for Dana Altman into foul trouble. But they were still able to pull out a tough win on the other side of the world, a win that is made all the more important by the fact that a) the Ducks don’t have too much else on their non-conference slate, and b) that this win will end up looking better in March than it does right now.

Why?

Because Georgetown is only going to get better.

Smith is a special talent, and Georgetown’s ability to turn skilled big men into stars will allow them to maximize Smith’s ability. He’s impossible to stop in the post, but he’s a good enough passer and decision-maker that double-teaming him is difficult. He’s a liability on the defensive end, however, as he can’t defend the pick-and-roll, he’s not a shot-blocker and he can’t rebound out of his area. As well as he played tonight, Smith didn’t get a single defensive rebound.

That defensive liability is what keeps Georgetown from being a team that’s a legitimate Final Four contender. But this is still a group that should be good enough to play their way into the top 15 or 20 nationally. Come March, this is going to be a marquee win for the Ducks.

Nate Lubick on guarding Josh Smith in practice: ‘Ugh. It’s miserable.’

josh smith georgetown
Leave a comment

Nate Lubick is a senior at Georgetown. He’s spent three years grinding it out in the Big East, battling in the paint against the likes of Louisville and Syracuse and UConn on a nightly basis. He’s as veteran as a veteran can get, which is why you can trust his opinion on what it’s like trying to guard Josh Smith in the post.

“Ugh. It’s miserable,” Lubick said guarding Smith in practice. “He backs it down and dunks it on me every time. He’s good. It’s something that’s very hard for another team to prepare.”

That’s all you really need to know about Smith if you’re a Georgetown fan.

There may not be a better low-post scorer in the country, which is scary when you consider that the most underrated aspect of Smith’s game is his passing ability.

“When he’s really good, he’s really good. When he’s a little off, he’s a little off,” senior point guard Markel Starks, who happens to double as Smith’s roommate, said with a smile. “It’s not like he’s a bad passer. Very good instincts, a good feel for the game.”

In other words, Smith should fit quite well into the hybrid-Princeton offense that the Hoyas run. The fact that it’s a “big man school” is one of the reasons he made the choice, but it wasn’t the only one.

“The coaches, they don’t just care about you on the court,” Smith said, “they care about you off the court. For me, being that far from home, [that’s big].”

And while there is always a learning curve for players entering John Thompson III’s program, it’s important to remember that Smith isn’t a typical addition; he’s been with this team for almost a year, having enrolled for the second semester last season. He’s got plenty of practice time under his belt.

“When I first go there I was really confused,” Smith said to reporters in his first meeting with the media as a member of the Hoyas. “It was kind of hard. But being here almost a year now, being able to practice with the guys last year and being able to play this year. The thing with Coach Thompson offense is, with bigs especially, you have to be able to handle the ball and make passes. We’ve been working through it and I feel comfortable.”

Smith isn’t a dumb kid. He’s well-spoken with a quick wit and a goofy sense of humor. He seems to fit in well with this group. On paper, it’s a perfect fit, but looking at it on paper won’t tell you whether or not he’s dedicated himself to getting into good enough condition to be able to contribute 25 minutes per game. Neither Thompson nor Smith would divulge how much Smith weighs or how much weight he’s lost. Instead, they focused on the ideas of production and minutes. What the scale reads when he steps on it isn’t as important was how long Smith’s able to play at maximum effort. Will he be too gassed to move his feet defensively after playing for three or four minutes? Will he be able to get to where he needs to be offensively in late-game possessions?

That said, it’s obvious looking at him that he’s slimmed down some since his days in Westwood.

“He’s in a lot better shape,” Starks said, although to a man, everyone in the program said he’s not yet where he needs to be.

“I been here for almost a year, so even though I haven’t been on the court, I’ve been at every practice with them, every conditioning, lift, workout, playing,” Smith said. “I’ve been doing all of it. I’ve just noticed a really big change, being able to go for a little bit in practice and now being able to go for a full practice, I feel better running up and down the floor.”

“I’m more motivated because I’ve been off for about a year. I keep telling these guys, I haven’t played a game since I can’t remember.”

For now, Smith, who was on the then-No. 11 UCLA team that lost to Georgetown at the Barclays Center, seems to finally just be happy to get back on the court, if for no reason other to regain some of his locker room bragging rights.

“Ever since I’ve been here,” he said, “the guys have been giving me crap, saying, ‘Oh, we beat y’all when y’all were top ten.'”