Have any two teams ever been more familiar with one another without having actually faced each other before? Most of the players on Maryland's and Georgetown's roster were still in grade school the last time these two teams faced each other (the 2001 NCAA tournament), yet many of them are from the area and know each other's games well. Between the two programs, 14 players are from the D.C./Maryland/Virginia region, and many of them will play critical roles in tomorrow's game.
Georgetown is off to a 3-1 start after falling to Tennessee, 90-78, on Friday. The Hoyas' performance against the Vols was sloppy in some respects and promising in others. Thought Georgetown committed 20 turnovers and was out-rebounded 33-26, the Hoyas did shoot 53.1 percent from the field.
Sophomore guard Chris Wright (St. John's Catholic) led the Hoyas with 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Though Wright leads the team in assists, he recorded just two against Tennessee. At 6-foot-1, he will be at a size disadvantage against Maryland's tall backcourt starters.
Senior Jessie Sapp, Georgetown's elder statesman, has proven to be one of the more mercurial Hoyas. Though frequently lauded by Coach John Thompson III for having the best understanding of the team's game plan, Sapp recorded five turnovers and tallied just four points in Friday's loss. Sapp leads the team in steals and is second in assists, but he also leads the team in turnovers. In that sense, perhaps he and Greivis Vasquez are an ideal match-up.
The key player for Georgetown in this game might turn out to be 6-foot-4, 239-lb. swingman Austin Freeman (DeMatha). He gives the Hoyas some size on the wing, something Dave Neal said was one of the things the Terps struggled with against Gonzaga ("They’ve got some big boys down low and on the wing," Neal said after Friday's loss. "I mean, they’re 6-foot-8 on the three-guy (Micah Downs). They’re strong; they’re big."). Freeman doesn't have the height to intimidate, but he has the bulk to muscle his way around the post. The Terps, as has become evident, do not have an answer for such players.
Down low, the Hoyas are led by 6-foot-11 freshman center Greg Monroe, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Monroe takes up a good amount of space on the block, but Tennessee experienced positive results by taking the ball right at Monroe, rather than trying to maneuver around him. So far, Braxton Dupree has not proved he has the gumption to consistently attack an opponent head-on, but now would be as good a time to start as any.
Rounding out Georgetown's starting lineup is 6-foot-8, 236-lb. junior forward DaJuan Summers (McDonogh). He'll likely be matched up against Landon Milbourne, which should be another key pairing. Milbourne has struggled to adapt to the power forward position, and while he does not give up much in terms of height (Milbourne is 6-foot-7), he does give up about 30 pounds. Gonzaga was able to wear down Maryland by continuing to hammer the ball into the post with its bigger players as the game progressed. Watch to see if Summers, who is second on the team in scoring, gains steam during the latter part of tomorrow's contest.
Georgetown does not rely much on its bench. Six-foot-2 guard Jason Clark (Bishop O'Connell) sees the most action, averaging 13.8 minutes per game, while 6-foot-5 swingman Omar Wattad averages 12.0 minutes per contest. Julian Vaughn is the Hoyas' primary big man off the bench, but he contributes just 0.7 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in 9.7 minutes of action.
Overall, the Hoyas will try to slow down the pace of the game and isolate Monroe and Summers on whoever the Terps plant in the post. Georgetown struggles from beyond the arc (26.3 percent), so Maryland might be able to afford some extra defensive help to its big men. The Terps' best shot is to do what they do best -- press hard and often on defense, and hope that translates to numerous transition opportunities.
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