Two basketball tests today: Georgetown

No. 20 Georgetown’s offense, led by sophomore center Greg Monroe, offers a tough matchup.

No. 20 Georgetown’s offense, led by sophomore center Greg Monroe, offers a tough matchup.

The men’s basketball team easily defeated Delaware, 76-56, in its season opener Saturday. The Owls trailed for just three minutes the entire game. But this afternoon’s matchup with No. 20 Georgetown, picked to finish fifth in the Big East Conference, which features six Top 25 teams, will not be quite so simple.

Though the Hoyas finished 16-15 last season and played in the National Invitational Tournament instead of the NCAA Tournament like the Owls, they enter their home opener at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., off a 74-58 victory against Tulane Friday. Sophomore center Greg Monroe, a first-team all-Big East selection, finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth career double-double.

But it is not just Monroe who presents a problem for the Owls. Junior forward Lavoy Allen and sophomore forward/center Micheal Eric certainly will have their hands full guarding him, even more so if junior forward Craig Williams cannot play after suffering a right knee injury against the Blue Hens. Depth in the frontcourt could present an issue, especially if those players get into foul trouble.

The Hoyas, though, also run a Princeton-style offense under the direction of sixth-year coach John Thompson III. As Thompson III explained earlier this season in the team’s media guide, that type of offense emphasizes “movement, reads, sharing, patience and precision.” In a typical Princeton-style offense, four players play outside the 3-point line, while a center, in this case, Monroe, positions himself inside. The outside shooters pass the ball around, using a lot of the shot clock, until a mismatch arises that allows for a layup, usually because of one of the offense’s patented plays – a backdoor cut. In a backdoor cut, an outside player bounces a pass toward another outside player who cuts in toward the basket. If the script works, that player has nobody between him and the hoop.

Obviously, a defense game plans for this, but when the layups are not falling, this type of offense – and the Hoyas – utilize the 3-point attack. Georgetown connected on seven of its 17 3-point attempts against Tulane. And yes, Monroe even stepped out and shot two (though he missed both). He has already attempted one-third of the 3-pointers he shot last season. The key for the Hoyas in that regard, though, are junior guards Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and sophomore Jason Clark. All three players shoot at a better than 30-percent clip from beyond the arc, and all three average double-digits in points. As a team, the Hoyas shot 52.8 percent from the floor, including 61.5 percent in the second half, against Tulane. They also used a 20-7 run in the second half to pull away and increase a slim five-point lead.

That sounds similar to the basic formula the Owls used against Delaware: make the shots that you take and clamp down on defense on the other end. Temple will need to repeat that to beat Georgetown today. The Hoyas finished last season at a perfect 7-0 at home in the non-conference portion of their schedule.

Jennifer Reardon can be reached at

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