Today is a rough day. I didn't get in the work on a proper preview of the Georgetown game. I was burned out most of the weekend for whatever reason and I didn't want to subject you to yet more half assed half baked thoughts on the contest. For those of you screaming and protest that "that's what you do every single day!" I have this to say. Fair point. Still if you want actual timely and relevant analysis of Basketball I am probably not your man. Hit up Casual Hoya for your Georgetown Angle and any of the fine UC blogs for the Bearcats. But in case you were really desperate I am going to serve up my take on the game as well.
Rediscover The Shooting Touch
For a good while there the Bearcats were one of the hottest shooting teams in the country. In the wake of the suspensions, against markedly inferior foes, the Bearcats lit everyone up. In the four games immediately after the Xavier game the Bearcats true shooting percentage topped 60 per cent four games running. In the last four games the Bearcats have topped 40 percent just twice and bottomed out with an objectively terrible 33.7 true shooting per centage against the Johnies. To put this stretch into context consider this. The 2010-11 offense which was renowned for playing at a glacial pace, pounding the rock inside and having precisely 1 shooter (Kila) only had two contests where the true shooting percentage fell below that 40 per cent threshold. One was the road game at Pitt where the Gatesless Bearcats floundered for 2 hours and fell and the Big East tournament game against Notre Dame. This season the Bearcats have turned in three, in the losses to St. Johns and Xavier and the win over Oklahoma.
Simply put the Bearcats can't afford another off shooting night going on the road to Washington and playing a Georgetown team that is coming off their own disheartening loss to West Virginia. It's a tall order because Georgetown is a very stout defensive team. They rank in the top 50 nationally in field goal percentage defense, three point percentage defense, effective field goal defense and true shooting percentage defense.
Control The Pace
The Hoyas have been a grind it out offense for as long as John Thompson III became the head coach. They have always been weird to watch because they style of offense which emphasizes space and movement leads you to think they play quickly where in terms of possessions per game they were really low. This year the tables have turned, somewhat, and the Hoyas are actually in the top 100 in possessions per 40 minutes.The Hoyas are among the best in the nation on offense because they push the pace when they have the advantage and play aggressive offense in the half court. They are among the national leaders in points per possession at 1.11. The two biggest factors in this, to my mind, are their eFG% which is 53.1, which is again among the national leaders, and free throw rate which is 37.2 and again a product of an attacking offense.
The Bearcats need to try and push the pace against the Hoya's because the Bearcats have an advantage in the point guard department with the play of Cashmere Wright. That assumes that Cash can continue to mine the vein of form that was oh so rich in the month of December. He had a bad game against St. John's turning in his only assist-less contest of the season, and the first one since the inaugural Big East contest of last season on the road against Villanova. But there is nothing that suggests that Saturdays game was anything other than an aeration.
Pound The Offensive Glass
The Bearcats are going to need a big day on the offensive glass from Yancy Gates, as well as guys like Jaquon Parker. The Hoyas have done a good job on the defensive glass limiting second chance points. But it isn't something that defines them as a team. To maximize the Bearcats chances they need to hit the offensive glass and generate second chance points because I am not entirely sure that the shooting touch of old is going to revisit all the Bearcats at once.