Saturday, January 30, 2010

What 71.7% really means

It was the perfect storm for Georgetown today: President Obama was in attendance, JTIII was gunning for his 200th career , the Verizon Center was sold out as 20,000 fans wore "We Are Georgetown" t-shirts in a school-sponsored "gray out", the most-hated program in college hoops was in town, and the school announced an initiative to help better the schools in Darfur.

For Duke, the opposite was true. They had to travel up to DC in the middle of a snow storm to play an out-of-conference game with a team that had, well, all of that going for them.

So what happened?

"Georgetown was great today," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. "We just never matched their energy. Their place was electric, their team was electric, and they played that way for 40 minutes."

Georgetown played their best 40 minutes of basketball on the season Saturday afternoon. They executed offensively; they gave the Dukies fits on the defensive end; they got to every loose ball; they rebounded well; they had their three stars go crazy.

This happened quite a bit Saturday afternoon.
(photo credit: The Devil's Den)

But that isn't what everyone is going to see when they look at the box score.

No, the first stat people are going to notice is that Georgetown shot a ridiculous 71.7% from the floor.

71.7%. Think about that for a second. The Hoyas haven't shot that well in a game in 30 years, and rightfully so. Because 71.7% just doesn't happen for an entire game.

Especially when you play against Duke.

And while most people are going to immediately think that this was a fantastic display of shooting by the Hoyas, it really wasn't.

Its not all that difficult to shoot that well when all you are shooting are layups and dunks.

What you should take out of this performance, instead, is that the Hoyas played absolutely flawless basketball offensively. Every cut they made got them open. Every pass they threw was on the money. Every screen they set got an open look from a good shooter. They ran their sets to perfection, and it yielded the results that John Thompson III could only dream about.

It wasn't just their half court offense either. The Hoyas played excellent defense, as usual. But what was clicking today was their transition game. They racked up nine steals against the Blue Devils, and seemingly every single one led to a layup. They forced Duke into 37.1% shooting from the field, turning missed shots into fast break layups. The notion that Georgetown is a half court team is incorrect. The Hoyas like to run to offense, beating their opponents down the floor and gathering easy bucket after easy bucket. When the break isn't there, they run patiently run their sets, but that doesn't mean that they are averse to the fast break.

To get an idea about just how dominant Georgetown was on the offensive end, think about this. The Hoyas scored 48 points in the paint. 48 points. While that would be an impressive number for a team with a number of quality post players, it becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that Georgetown has one player that can score with his back to the basket. And that isn't even Greg Monroe's strength.

But it wasn't all about Georgetown.

Much of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of the Blue Devils, who just did not show up ready to play. As good as the Hoyas were offensively, Duke was that bad defensively. There was one stretch in the second half when Georgetown got a layup on nine straight possessions, all of which came early in the shot clock. It got so ugly that Coach K even reverted to a zone, which the Hoyas promptly dissected as well.

I could go on and on, but you get the point - Georgetown thoroughly outplayed Duke.

So what does it mean?

Well, a lot of people are going to throw around some hyperbole. "Duke's horrible", "Georgetown is going to the Final Four", "The ACC is a joke".

Keep in mind, however, this is just one game. Sometimes team's play great. Sometimes team's play terrible (or mortifyingly horrific, as was the case for Duke). And sometimes, one team will play great while the other team plays terrible, which is exactly what happened tonight.

So before you jump to any conclusion, keep this in mind. On Monday, Georgetown jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Syracuse, and was promptly run out of the gym as the Orange did to Georgetown what the Hoyas did to Duke. Last Saturday, Duke's defense (which failed them in embarrassing fashion today) completely shut down a good Clemson team.

So while this is a nice win for Georgetown and a tough loss for Duke, keep in mind that it is just one game.

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