Saturday, December 22, 2007


As a fan of Georgetown, I often get irritated when tempo is described incorrectly. But I thought Jay Bilas said it perfectly at the start of the Georgetown-Memphis game. “If you want to play at a faster tempo, you have to do it on the defensive side of the court. If you try to force tempo offensively by taking bad shots early, you end up playing defense for the entire game.”

Shockingly, despite Georgetown’s reputation as a half-court team, Georgetown was at its best against Memphis when the game was played at a faster tempo. Georgetown broke full-court pressure for at least three lay-ups and scored more lay-ups by getting 7 steals against Memphis, including a sick steal by Chris Wright who robbed Derrick Rose when Rose tried to use the cross-over to get past him. But in the half-court, aside from a handful of backdoor cuts in the first half, Georgetown looked pedestrian. Georgetown was 3-14 from 3 point range, Hibbert was 3-8 in the paint with 3 turnovers, and on most of Georgetown’s trips into the paint, Georgetown was fouled. This should have been a good thing except that Georgetown shot only 13-23 from the free throw line.

The net result was that Memphis was actually the first team to not only beat Georgetown, but to beat them by shutting down Georgetown in the half-court. The defensive pressure started at the end of the first half, and resulted in Memphis outscoring Georgetown by 22 points down the stretch. The key was that Memphis was able to defend Georgetown straight up. Dorsey was strong enough to hold position against Hibbert and by staying tight on Georgetown’s guards, the Half-court Hoyas looked ordinary. Not many teams are able to do that, and if Memphis can play that kind of defense in the Elite Eight, they can finally break through into the Final Four.

Quick Notes

-Bruce Pearl got called for an out-of-the coaches violation that almost cost Tennessee the game against Xavier. I don’t agree with Doug Gottlieb that the officials need to let the rule slide in late game situations, but I do agree that this is a dumb rule to be emphasizing this year. My guess is that this will cost a team in the NCAA tournament and then the rule will be de-emphasized again next year.

-I can’t believe how little press Pittsburgh got in the pre-season polls. The same thing goes with Wisconsin. These teams may not have the biggest high school stars, but they always win and the Pittsburgh-Duke game was no shocker. From my perspective the Wisconsin-Duke game was the shocking outcome, and I'm a big believer in Duke this year.

-The Big Ten continues to struggle. Since I updated the non-conference results in my last post, Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan have all lost to team's they were expected to beat. This really looks like a 3 bid year for the Big Ten.

-Posts continue to be sporadic with the holidays, but I hope to have more to say in the New Year. Happy Holidays!