The Verizon Center was half empty for Tuesday night’s game against the Dukes of James Madison. That’s the Dukes of James Madison, not to be confused with the Duke Blue Devils that defeated the Hoyas over the weekend.
The empty seats made it clear that very few people had mistaken the two. A midweek game against a team from the Colonial Athletic Association, however, might be just what the doctor ordered to bring some confidence back, assuming the Hoyas would not repeat their previous losing performance against a CAA team (Old Dominion).
As the game got underway, it became clear that the Dukes would not match the Old Dominion upset, as they were routed by the Hoyas 89-53. Jeff Green, whose below-average offensive output has been a major issue in the last two games, began the night just as Hoya fans hope to see him begin every game. Green won the tip-off, received a pass and immediately cut into the lane for the early 2-0 lead.
“You could make it a federal case about Jeff’s aggressiveness and non-aggressiveness,” Coach Thompson said after the game. “Tonight there were more opportunities presented to him and he managed to get the ball rolling early.” Green ended the night with a solid 17 points.
Georgetown’s offensive performance has also been slowed by their inability to hit the three-point shot.
“I believe we have run the zone offense fairly well in every game with the exception of Old Dominion,” Thompson said. “The shots just haven’t been falling.”
The shots fell Tuesday night in a very big way. The Hoyas converted 16 three-pointers, tying the all-time school record. As the shots continued to drop, the Dukes were forced to extend their defense to the perimeter to try to stay in the game. This opened things up for the Hoyas and allowed them to dazzle the crowd with the cutting passes of the Princeton-style offense. Jessie Sapp to a cutting Green for the easy lay-in. Green to a cutting Hibbert for the dunk. Roy Hibbert to Green cutting backdoor for two.
Georgetown added efficiency to the offense, recording assists on 27 of 32 field goals. The Dukes were run ragged as they tried to decide whether to guard the perimeter or to guard against the scoring passes. In the end they didn’t make much of a decision at all as four different Hoya players—Jonathan Wallace, DaJuan Summers, Sapp and Green—scored in double figures and eight recorded at least one assist.
The lopsided, pressure-free game also provided a great opportunity for junior guard/forward Tyler Crawford to get back into the rhythm of play. Crawford, who sat out a few games and lost almost 25 pounds after being hospitalized for strep-throat, played 15 minutes and scored six points.
“He is the heart and soul of this team,” Coach Thompson said of Crawford. “The period when he was either in the hospital or home sick, and not with the group, affected our team. Just having his energy, his presence, makes us a better team.”
They sure looked like a better team on Tuesday night. Every single player seemed to contribute in exactly the way that preseason scouting reports predicted. Green took over the offense, Wallace and Sapp distributed the ball and Hibbert made life miserable for any opposing player that tried to drive to the basket. The team finally seemed to click, and it is safe to say that those present at the game, however few, let out a collective sigh of relief.
“The past week has been long,” Thompson said. “It’s a process. You guys have heard me say this before. We will hopefully continue to improve, but I think as a team we grew this week.”
Coach Thompson’s praise appears to be accurate after the James Madison game. Nevertheless, they will need to continue to improve, because the specter of Big East Conference play, with teams like Pitt, Uconn and Syracuse, is looming only a few short weeks away.