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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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NCAA Tournament: Getting to know the Hoyas

(Michelle Xu/The Hoya)
(Michelle Xu/The Hoya)
(Michelle Xu/The Hoya)

Unlike Utah’s last opponent, Stephen F. Austin, the Runnin’ Utes will square off against a big name program when they face Georgetown on Saturday evening in the Round of 32. The Hoyas have compiled a 22-10 record to this point, and are just one of two teams in the country that have handed No. 2 Villanova a loss this season.

Despite all that, Georgetown is a relative unknown to Utah fans considering the Hoyas play in the Big East conference. So what are the Utes getting themselves into come Saturday night? We decided to catch up with Thomas Schnoor of The Hoya to get the inside scoop.

Q. What style of play do the Hoyas have? How will it fare against the Utah defense?

TS: It’s hard to concisely describe the Georgetown offense because it has the ability to take so many different forms. The Hoyas have the athletes to play a run-and-gun type game, but most of the time prefer to slow it down a bit in the half court.

What the offense looks like also depends on whether center Joshua Smith is on the court or not. When he is, Georgetown likes to get him the ball down low where he can either post up his defender or draw a double team and kick it out to a shooter on the perimeter. When Smith is on the bench, the Hoyas will get into more of their classic offense, with lots of dribble-hand-offs at the top of the key and backdoor cuts.

It’s difficult for me to project how the Hoyas will fare against the Utah defense given I’ve seen only bits and pieces of the Utes this year. However, I’d note that Georgetown has had some problems with teams that can contain Smith without a double team (such as Providence and Xavier) and Poeltl seems like he might be able to do that.

Q: What aspects of the game does Georgetown excel at?

TS: Georgetown is a fairly well-rounded team with an offense and a defense that both rank in the top 40 in terms of efficiency, but I’d say it’s on the defensive end of the floor where the Hoyas are at their best.

Georgetown prides itself on being a tough, physical team. In their last two games (loss to Xavier in the Big East semifinal and last night’s win over Eastern Washington), the Hoyas have gone on extended runs after Jabril Trawick mixed it up a bit with the other team. Georgetown’s physicality – combined with its length – also leads to a lot of blocked shots and forced turnovers. The toughness mentality has its downsides as well however; the Hoyas send their opponents to the free throw line at one of the highest rates in the country.

Q: Who is the leader of this Hoya squad?

TS: From a skills standpoint, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is the Hoyas’ leader. The junior guard rarely has an off night and seems to lead Georgetown in scoring almost every game. He does most of his damage on the perimeter, where he needs only a sliver of space to get off his jump shot. Smith-Rivera also has a quality mid-range game that he’ll use when he gets into the lane because he lacks the ability to consistently score at the rim.

From an emotional standpoint, the aforementioned Trawick leads Georgetown. He usually gets tasked with marking the other team’s best perimeter player (so expect him on Wright) and has refined his offensive game to the point where he is a danger to knock down an open jump shot or drive to the hoop for a layup. Trawick’s play is usually a good barometer for the Hoyas as a team.

Q: Utah is in the top 20 in the nation in field-goal percentage, how can Georgetown stop that efficiency?

TS: Again, having not watched much Utah this season I don’t think I can go too far into specifics here. Although the Utes are obviously a far better overall team than Eastern Washington, I would expect Georgetown to employ some of the same methods they used to slow down the Eagles – who rank one behind Utah in effective FG%. That is to say, use its length to try to block shots and force turnovers.

Q: How do you see this game playing out? Score prediction?

TS: I’m expecting this to be a hard fought and close game. As I said above, Georgetown has struggled with teams who have players of Poeltl’s size and skill in the front court. However, I also think the Hoyas have shown an increasing ability of late to win games without much production from Smith, who played only seven minutes on Thursday night.

Given the quality of both team’s defenses, I’m definitely not expecting a shootout. I’ve said all year though that I think this Georgetown team should reach the Sweet 16 so I don’t think I can go back on that now. I’ll take the Hoyas, 59-58.

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