Following Saturday’s dominant 105-60 win over USC Upstate, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (1-0, Big East) will host the No. 24 Maryland Terrapins (1-0, Big Ten) on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. The game is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 pm and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
Last season’s epic reinstatement of the Maryland vs. Georgetown rivalry makes this upcoming game even more highly anticipated. The Terps edged the Hoyas 75-71 in that game behind 24 points from junior guard Melo Trimble. The Hoyas haven’t forgotten that loss, and will use it as motivation for Tuesday’s matchup.
“We definitely want payback,” said junior guard Tre Campbell, reflecting on last season’s loss. “We just want this victory.”
Georgetown will face off against a rebuilt Maryland roster that’s trying to find its new identity after losing four starters to the NBA Draft. Rasheed Sulaimon, Jake Layman, Robert Carter, and Diamond Stone have all left the college ranks for the pros. Each represents a loss, yet the Terps have brought in some capable replacements. Freshmen guards Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Justin Jackson have seen significant minutes, along with forward L.G. Gill, a graduate transfer from Duquesne.
“The new players that they have are very good. That’s not to say that they are Layman, or Carter, or Diamond, but they’re very good players.” said head Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III. “So, I don’t see much of a difference to be honest.”
Gill could be an X-factor for the Terps in this game. The experienced fifth-year player put up 11 points and six rebounds off the bench for Maryland in their season opening 62-56 win over American University. At 6-foot-8, Gill is a versatile post player who can play big and get rebounds, but also step outside and hit the mid-range or three-point jumper.
“He’s gonna battle, I know that from my battles with him from when he was at Duquesne,” said Georgetown graduate student guard Rodney Pryor, a Robert Morris transfer, of Gill. “We just gotta make sure we’re matching his energy and try to keep him off the glass.”
Amidst the roster overhaul, Maryland’s most influential returning player is undoubtedly Trimble, who surprisingly spurned the NBA draft in favor of another season in College Park. The star guard was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team and is again ready to contribute heavily to the Terrapins’ offensive attack. Trimble can shoot, drive, draw fouls, and hit free throws with ease, making him one of the most dangerous players on the Terps’ roster. In Maryland’s win over American, Trimble led all scorers with 22 points, and the Hoyas will look to keep him quiet in Tuesday’s game.
“[Defending Trimble] is what we’ve been focusing on for the last two days,” said Campbell. “Just staying in front of him, having our hand up, and just playing defense.”
Georgetown instituted a full-court press and pushed the tempo for almost the entirety of their opening game against USC Upstate. The Hoyas boast one of the deepest rosters in the country and used that trait to their advantage in the dominant opening win. Georgetown may have to tweak its pressing gameplan to matchup with Maryland, though, as Trimble and Cowan are both capable of being primary ball handlers in the backcourt.
“We want to keep them in front. Obviously, we don’t want to give them an angle where they can get off to the races and get downhill, so when we’re trapping we’ve got to make sure we’re making smart decisions,” said Pryor.
Despite the Hoyas’ 105 point offensive outburst against USC Upstate, many scoring opportunities came in transition, and Georgetown struggled to create easy baskets in the halfcourt. This is a problem they’ll look to rectify against Maryland.
“There were stretches there where our offense was too stagnant,” said Thompson on Saturday’s win. “We were trying to think too much instead of just coming down and playing and keeping the ball moving … Our movement offensively has to be much sharper.”
This game is the first notable early test for both teams, and both are seeking to prove themselves as serious contenders. A win over Maryland would would give the Blue and Gray a huge boost heading into next week’s Maui Invitational, where they’ll likely face at least two ranked teams. Maryland is set to play in the Barclay’s Classic in Brooklyn next week as well and will face stiff competition. Early season rankings implications are on the line, as are D.C. area bragging rights.
“A lot of people don’t really know it’s that big because of Georgetown-Syracuse, but Georgetown-Maryland is big too … it’s a big rivalry,” said Campbell.