Sunday, December 14, 2008

Memphis @ Georgetown

Shawn Taggart tipped-in a Tyreke Evans miss with 4 seconds left to send the game to OT, but the Hoyas held the Tigers to 1-9 shooting in the extra frame and held on for a 79-70 victory. This game was a defensive struggle, as both teams were playing lock down defense. The Hoyas really set a great example on how to slow down the Tigers offensively. They started out in a packed-in, 2-3 zone, but they couldn't keep the Tigers off the boards (more on this in a second) and eventually switched into a sagging man-to-man. What the Hoyas were trying to do is force Memphis into jump shots or tough drives, and it worked. Memphis struggled shooting (35% from the floor, 5-19 from 3) and when they tried to penetrate, they ran into two or three guys and had to take some tough shots.

Georgetown's defense was incredible on Memphis's first shot, but they could not keep the Tigers off the offensive glass. Memphis scored 28 second chance points and had 20 offensive rebounds - 7 of those were from Taggert, who had 23 and 11 boards.

Memphis played a great game defensively as well. But it was an adjustment made by John Thompson III that opened things up a bit for the Hoyas in the second half. Memphis was playing great help side defense, which kept Georgetown from being able to get their back doors in the first half. But in the second half, the Hoyas played 5-out as opposed to 4-out, 1-in, which spread the floor that much more. As a result, they were able to get those back door cuts. It wasn't the usual back doors, where the man with the ball dribbles at a wing player who cuts to the rim. Instead, they were finding guys who would cut back door from the opposite wing. They got about six or seven of them in the second half, and while they didn't necessarily score off on the initial cut, they were able to find open shooters and cutters for easy baskets on the next pass.

I also really like the Memphis press. They played a soft 2-2-1 press with Wesley Witherspoon and Tyreke Evans on the top. Think about that. Witherspoon is 6'8" and Tyreke Evans is 6'5" with a ridiculous wingspan. While I think part of the reason that they ran the press was to slow down Chris Wright and Jessie Sapp, it also worked well forcing turnovers and getting Georgetown out of their rhythm on offense. If they actually decide to press with this team, it could be very effective because of all the length and athleticism that they have.

Both of the superstar freshmen in this game were less-than-impressive. Tyreke Evans continues to force tough shots and wild drives to the rim. The more I watch Memphis, however, the more I believe that this is a result of the Tigers lacking other guys that can make plays off of the dribble (i.e. Calipari is trying to turn Evans into Chris Douglas-Roberts - he may be one day, but he isn't there yet). Evans did score 20 points, but he was 8-24 from the floor and had 5 turnovers. Down the stretch, he kept forcing the ball to the basket and taking wild shots. If Georgetown was better on the defensive glass, then Memphis would have not have reached overtime (case in point, Taggert's game-tying tip-in).

Greg Monroe was also underwhelming. He finished with 13 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, and 3 blocks, but he disappeared in the second half and was not a factor offensively, defensively, or on the boards. While this is a good fit for the style that the Hoyas like to play (team-oriented, ball movement, etc.), they are going to need Monroe to be more of a threat on both ends if they are going to challenge for a top four spot in the Big East.

One last note for the Hoyas. Both Chris Wright and DaJuan Summers played fantastic. Summers scored 21 points and was able to create shots for himself offensively. When he is aggressive with the ball, he is a much better player and makes Georgetown that much better. Chris Wright had 14 points, but in the second half he had about four or five drives to the rim where he finished with a tough shot in the paint. That was the one thing that the Hoyas were missing last year with Jonathan Wallace - the threat of a point guard getting all the way to the rim.

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