Thursday, March 22, 2007

Georgetown Preview

Vanderbilt Sports Line 2.0 is here with the introduction of the first ever Vanderbilt Sports Line Podcast. Seamus and I talk Commie basketball and get you ready for Vanderbilt's Sweet 16 match-up with Georgetown. Always true to our roots though, here is an old "new-media" Georgetown preview.

Georgetown is a very very good team. They have won 17 of their last 18 and 6 straight. Coach John Thompson III has done a great job resurrecting the Hoyas program and has definitely put the Hoyas back on the basketball map. With dynamos like 7'2 Roy Hibbert, and 6'9 Big East Player of the Year Jeff Green, Georgetown has two of the best players left in the tournament and is a team no one wants to be playing this time of year. With that said, if Vanderbilt can play its game (and prevent Georgetown from playing its game), they have a fighting chance. Georgetown runs a Princeton-style offense in the truest sense (not for example, in the sense that because the team happens to come from a good school, they must necessarily play a Princeton style), and like to run teams ragged in the half-court. As we discussed in the podcast, Georgetown's ideal possession is going to be getting a back-door cut for a lay-up, or dumping it inside to the big man for a dunk with under 10 seconds on the shot clock. In this sense, it will be vital that Vanderbilt not allow Georgetown second chance opportunities. If Georgetown takes a shot with 5 second left on the clock and gets the rebound, they have the potential to work up to a minute of clock on one possession. Vanderbilt wants to play an up-tempo game (when Hibbert is on the floor especially), and rebounding will be a big part of that.

Dr. MZ mentioned that Vanderbilt needs to pay attention to Georgetown freshman DaJuan Summers. The 6'8 freshman is very athletic and poses potential match-up problems for Vanderbilt. Summers speaks to the importance of fouls, and staying out of foul trouble for both teams. If Vanderbilt can get either Hibbert or Green (or both) in foul trouble, particularly Hibbert, Georgetown will be forced to play a different style than they want to. The same can be said of Vanderbilt. If Ross Neltner, Shan Foster, or Derrick Byars go to the bench with foul trouble, Vanderbilt really has no chance. While the Commies will depend heavily on their bench (Beal, Brown, Drake, and Skuchas) to make plays, I really think these three are key.

I can't stress how excited I am, as a basketball fan, for the Derrick Byars/Jeff Green match-up. These are two guys that are playing at the top of their game. I think Vanderbilt relies more heavily on Derrick than Georgetown does on Green...but not by much. If Derrick can have a big game against Green by working him inside and out, on both the offensive and defensive end, Vanderbilt has a fighting shot. And, luckily for Byars and the rest of Commodore Nation, Byars has a partner in Shan who can do a lot of the same things Derrick can, I really don't think Green does. and Jay Bilas think Shan Foster is the X-factor, and while Shan's play will certainly be critical, I really think Vanderbilt's success will depend on the play of Ross. Ross is big enough to guard Hibbert, but also athletic enough to run the floor. If the game comes down to Skuchas and Hibbert posting each other up, than Georgetown will clearly be dictating pace. Vanderbilt should take a page out of Tim Floyd's book against Texas and look to counteract a bigger team with athletes and a desire to run the floor. Ross, to me, is the linchpin for all that given his size and athleticism.

Chris made this point in the "You be the Coach" thread, and I think it is a good one. Vanderbilt needs to pressure the ball and try and create turnovers on the perimeter. While Dr. MZ's point is well taken that everyone on Georgetown is a a good passer, what everyone on Georgetown is not, is a great ball handler. If Vanderbilt can disrupt the guards at the top, not only can the Commies force turnovers, but they can also just disrupt Georgetown's offensive game plan. The Princeton offense takes time to develop; if Vanderbilt is able to get good pressure out on the wings, that will go a long way in preventing Georgetown from doing what they want.

I hope Kevin Stallings mixes up the defenses he throws at Georgetown. I think Vanderbilt's trapping 2-3 zone could be effective against Georgetown and force them into taking outside shots. If Georgetown knocks down outside shots on a consistent basis, Vanderbilt will be in trouble, but 20 foot jumpers are preferable to 3 foot jumpers from Hibbert and back-door cuts from Green. With that said, Vanderbilt should not be afraid to play some man-to-man as well.

No one thinks Vanderbilt has a shot (including Seth Davis, so we have that going for us) against the Hoyas. Vegas has the Commies as a 7.5 dog, and honestly, I'm a little surprised it's not more. Make no mistake about this Commodore Fans, this is game Vanderbilt can win. But just to be safe, Seamus and I figured we'd make the trip just to help the refs, the coaches, or the players out should they forgot who they're case you're wondering, it V-U.

Bobby, OUT.

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