Yesterday sucked, but basketball opens tonight, meaning that it's time to climb back up on that horse. Georgetown is a 3.5 point favorite against an Oregon team that will be without two starters, Dominic Artis and Ben Carter, due to suspension. The gents at SB Nation's Georgetown blog, CasualHoya, were kind enough to answer some questions for us. You can view our answers to their questions over at their site.
ATQ: Georgetown had a very impressive regular season last year, nabbing a No. 2 seed before getting upset by Dunk City and losing Otto Porter to the NBA. Who are the main guys coming back, and what is the prognosis for this season?
CH: Wow, a Florida Gulf Coast reference right off the bat! It’s going to be great crushing you guys Friday night. But to answer your question, Georgetown’s strength this season is going to be its starting backcourt of senior Markel Starks (All-Big East 1st Team) and sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Starks is one of the better point guards in the conference if not country and will be called upon to guide this ship. He and DSR will likely be the team’s scoring leaders. Up front we’re obviously looking forward to seeing what Josh Smith can bring to the table, as we’ve heard everything from “best big man in the country” to “he stinks.” Though the rest of the frontcourt isn’t dynamic offensively, depth is strong as Nate Lubick, Mikael Hopkins and Moses Ayegba are all bigs that should contribute minutes. The Hoyas success will ultimately depend on who is going to step up into the void that Otto Porter left, and rather than it be one person this season I suspect it will be filled a little bit by everyone. Anything less than a top 3 finish in the Big East I would consider a disappointment, and I’m not going to say anything about March because even thinking about March makes me want to light myself on fire.
ATQ: Josh Smith, who Oregon fans knows as that fat, lazy guy from UCLA, has transferred to the Hoyas and is eligible immediately. What are Georgetown fans expecting from him?
CH: Productive minutes, and hopefully lots of them. The Hoyas have had players of Smith’s enormous talent and waistline before (hello, Mike Sweetney!), and by all accounts Smith has been disciplined in the cafeteria and determined on the court in practices and secret scrimmages. What that translates to when the games start is anyone’s guess, but if Georgetown can get 15-20 minutes out of him at the level of play he displayed at UCLA before Howland ruined everything, he’ll be a huge (no pun intended) addition.
ATQ: For casual fans who aren't familiar with Georgetown's Princeton offense, give us the basics.
CH: Uh-oh, a hot-button issue. Georgetown head coach John Thompson III recently gave an interview on this very subject, accurately pointing out that: (a) every team has a system, but only some of them get tagged with labels; and (b) Georgetown has had to adjust its system so much over the years to suit the individual talents of its stars (everyone from Chris Wright to Otto Porter to Roy Hibbert) that it doesn't much resemble anything Princeton has ever run. That said, JT3 clearly has a style, common elements of which crop up regardless of the specific roster. First, as he has acknowledged, Georgetown's offense is a read-react offense in which players, rather than being given scripted plays and sequences, are taught to see how the defender is playing and react appropriately. A simple example is that a Georgetown player will tend to back-cut if his defender is overplaying or ball-watching. Second, the Hoyas tend to share the ball freely (though hopefully not with their opponents), and big men often are entrusted with the ball, especially in the high post. On good days, this frees the lane for cutters while also allowing ball movement around the perimeter. It remains to be seen how much the high post will be occupied by Josh Smith, who as you remember from his UCLA days is a rather large man and might be better positioned nearer to the rim. Finally, Georgetown tends to be very (sometimes excruciatingly) patient, waiting for the right shot rather than just taking the first available one. Six of Thompson's nine Georgetown teams have rated 300th or slower nationally in adjusted tempo (though this can be credited as much to the Hoyas' suffocating defense as their deliberate offense). All of this adds up to an offense that can be beautifully methodical when it's clicking and eye-gougingly ugly when it's not. In that sense, it's pretty standard college basketball half-court offense
ATQ: How about defense? Man or zone? Full court press or fall back?
CH: ALL OF IT. One of the bigger surprises of last season was how effective Georgetown’s zone defense was and the two best examples of this were the two regular season games against Syracuse in which the Hoyas held the Orange to 46 and 39 points, respectively. JT3’s Hoyas like to keep opponents on their toes, so I’d expect Oregon to see quite a bit of zone, a press every now and then off of makes, and man-to-man when the matchups are right. In any case, you should expect pain and without Artis I would imagine it will be tough for the Ducks to get many good looks.
ATQ: What are your reactions to the breakup of the Big East? Is the new Big East going to be better or worse for Georgetown in the long run?
CH: Mixed bag for me on this. On one hand I’m excited for the new rivalries to be born with the newcomers Xavier, Creighton and Butler. On the other hand, no matter how you slice it the conference isn’t the same and will likely never get to where it was as the nation’s best hoops conference before realignment took hold. In the long run the Big East and Georgetown will be fine, but it’s never going to be the same as it was. Which sucks.
ATQ: Why does Georgetown not have a D-1 football team?
CH: How dare you insult our Patriot League powerhouse Football Hoyas! We were Rose Bowl bound last season before losing to Yale in Week 4 and same goes for this season before we lost a heartbreaker to Wagner in Week 1. Look, we can’t all be swimming in that fountain of Nike money and have neon green uniforms and beautiful dance teams, OK?
ATQ: Best eats in DC?
CH: If you’re looking to do the hipster-tourist thing like you probably are since you’re from Oregon, head to Ben’s Chili Bowl.
If you’re looking for what might be the best Indian food restaurant in the country, try Rasika, which is not some run of the mill Indian lunch buffet – the food is some of the best you’ll find anywhere and for those Top Chef fans, hits on flavor, texture, and color. Their signature dish is a flash fried spinach with a tamarind sauce that simply blows you away. To the extent possible, hit the 7 course tasting menu with the wine pairing. It busts both the wallet and the waistline but it’s a dining experience like no other.
If you’re looking to hate yourself while questioning your very existence and will to live, check out the Hooter’s in Chinatown.