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Pitt Basketball: Georgetown Q&A With Casual Hoya

I recently participated in a Q&A with SB Nation's excellent Georgetown blog (and my personal favorite), Casual Hoya (that's right, there's still a game tomorrow night). Below are my answers to his questions.

Check out his site for my answers to his Qs.

1. Georgetown has had three losses this season - what's been the difference in those games as opposed to the ones they've won? Two of the games were within three points. What kept them from winning those games?

The answer is multifaceted.  We lost those games because our three-headed monster of Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark did not play very well in any of them.  The three of them combined to shoot 33-88 in the three losses.  We also rely on the three point shot, and we were 13-55 from three point range in the three losses.  That said, both the Temple and St. John's losses were lost in the last minute because of poor execution.  Against Temple, Hollis Thompson put his head down and tried to be the hero instead of dumping a pass off to Julian Vaughn for a wide open dunk in the last 10 seconds of the game.  Against St. John's, we were up by one with less than 20 seconds to go, but Jason Clark got beat off the dribble and an unblocked St. John's player knocked in a wide open layup off the rebound.  Reality is we've had four tight games this year - against Missouri, Old Dominion, St. John's and Temple, and are 2-2, which isn't all that bad.  Hopefully the execution continues to evolve as the season wears on.

2. Austin Freeman had a pretty decent season last year and I'm sure Hoyas fans are glad to have him back. Was there any doubt that he'd be back this year for his senior season?

Go where?  You mean to the NBA?  I like Austin Freeman but that was not going to happen.  In fact, it was so unlikely I originally thought you were talking about his medical condition.  Wait, are you?  If so, no, there wasn’t any doubt about that either.  Freeman missed just one game last year and is a hero among men.   

3. Georgetown's greatest weakness (at least from the outside looking in) may be rebounding the ball. It's hard to imagine a Hoyas team without a dominant rebounder in the middle. Right now they rank around 200th in the nation in rebounds - do you think they'll improve this season or is it simply not going to be a strength of the team this year?

Interestingly, Georgetown has quite a good rebounder in Julian Vaughn (pulling down close to 7 a game though 3 are offensive) and our starting 4, Hollis Thomson is pulling down 5 (with 1 of those offensive). Georgetown's best lineups are relatively small and they have struggled to corral boards and I don't see how they'll change that one midstream.

4. One thing that really stood out at me was that Georgetown is one of the nation's best shooting teams (ranking 2nd as of Monday night), despite being led by three guards. To me, that sounds like a product of getting to the basket and taking good shots. Do you expect the team continue that this season?

I'll just assume that you haven't seen Georgetown play recently. The main reason they've been shooting such a high percentage early on was because they were playing as a team - many of the 3s and nearly all the layups in the halfcourt were coming off of passes. It helped that our Hoya Trinity (Clark, Wright, and Freeman) was shooting lights out at the beginning of the season and it really helped that our bigs (Vaughn, Sims, and Lubick) had very solid starts to the year (particularly Sims, who has been integral to the hot start). Georgetown has been notorious for mid season slides under Coach Thompson (generally coinciding with the beginning of conference play) and this year hasn't been any different - as the 3s stop falling teams are able to sag off, making it slightly more difficult to get the precision passing for layups that has been a hallmark of Georgetown teams in the past few years. The last component that had been missing recently is fast break points - Wright, Clark, and Freeman are all good rebounders for guards and when they get a board, they can fly out on the break; they're also complemented by Vaughn who has been outstanding in throwing outlet passes.

We're definitely at a turning point in the season and while I'm optimistic that shots will begin falling and the team will start playing well again, nothing is guaranteed.

5. How do you see the game turning out?

I still have memories of the game a couple years ago when Pitt waltzed into Verizon and pasted the Hoyas behind what seemed like 50 rebounds from Dejuan Blair, but the reality is that this year these two teams are very evenly matched.  This game is going to be a typical Georgetown-Pitt physical affair, and since Freeman, Wright, and Clark can certainly keep up with Gibbs, Wanamaker, and Brown, I think the game will turn on the matchups down low.   I have to think JT3 will unleash Julian Vaughn, Henry Sims, Nate Lubick and their 15 fouls on the Pitt frontcourt to attempt to keep the Panthers from gaining an overwhelming edge on the glass, and I expect someone on the Hoyas (Hollis Thompson?) to step up and make the difference.  Hoyas 71 – Pitt 64, friendo.   

6. Football question - With all the talk about Big East football Expansion, there's been a lot of mentions about Villanova possibly joining the league as a football member. The Wildcats have had a lot of I-AA success. Do fans hope that Georgetown someday makes the jump or is football just not that important to students and fans?

I can answer that question by simple adding a few words to your last sentence.  Fans do hope that Georgetown someday makes the jump but realize it will never happen and therefore football is just not that important to students and fans.  There are a lot of things holding Georgetown football back from playing at a FBS level, all of which have to do with money.  Georgetown does not have the stadium, scholarships, or facilities to run a FBS program and fan support is just not there for a team that wallows near the bottom of the Patriot League every year.  It would be nice if Georgetown had a competitive football team, but like many other small, Catholic, academically-focused universities (with the exception of ND) - football has not and likely will not ever be a priority.  It could be done with significant financial help from the Big East but I don't see it happening.

I am interested in seeing what Villanova does.  UConn was able to jump to and succeed at the FBS level in a relatively short period of time, but is a public school in a state that lacked a team, hence there was state support.  Villanova is in a very different position.