I took the train up to Madison Square Garden for the opening game of this evening's Jimmy V Classic, which saw Georgetown handle Texas by 23. Read on for some bullet point observations I jotted down while viewing the Hoyas in person for the first time this season.
Postgame audio from John Thompson III and select players can also be found after the jump.
1. While a small crowd was not a surprise (MSG was barely one quarter full at the opening tip) the lack of pep bands, cheerleaders and mascots was. The environment felt lacking and the start of the game didn't help matters...
2. That's a nice segue. Georgetown opened on a 9-0 run and never looked back. Texas committed eight turnovers across the first six minutes of action. This was partially due to the personnel the Longhorns are forced to use but was also a product of the Hoyas' defense. Texas had no ability to handle the Georgetown full court pressure and shot 29.2% on the night.
3. It seemed like every switch Rick Barnes made had a quality counter from Thompson. Man defense, zone defense, pressure defense - the Hoyas saw it all and were well-prepared for what to run when.
4. Otto Porter might be the most fun Georgetown player to watch since past favorites Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. If Porter were a sheet his thread count would be around 600-700. Porter is blessed with a beautiful, smooth midrange game and his jumpers are s.o.f.t. Porter has also grown more aggressive as a sophomore. In one sequence he turned a post opportunity into a fading jumper, was in the right spot to lay in a wild drive off the weakside and then blocked a Demarcus Holland drive forcefully.
5. Building a substantial lead allowed John Thompson III to get big men Moses Ayegba and Bradley Hayes some meaningful first half minutes versus non-practice competition. Both players appear raw but both very well may be counted on as the season progresses. With starting center Mikael Hopkins picking up two personal fouls in the first five minutes, Thompson also had no choice beyond some time at center for the undersized Nate Lubick.
6. Another good segue. Lubick's junky game was in high form. He made his first six shots - all from point blank range - and in addition to equalling his career high of 13 added four rebounds, three assists and three steals plus a charge taken. In certain regards Lubick is similar to Princeton's Denton Koon - a knack for the ball and the ability to clean up for baskets others might not record.
7. If it weren't for a poor stretch of play the final four minutes of the first half, a 30-17 Georgetown lead could have been a far wider margin.
8. Texas was able to get within eight early in the second half but the Hoyas ran good zone offense versus the UT defense and took advantage of the defensive gap at the free throw line, flashing Gregg Whittington, Lubick and sometimes Porter to subsequently bounce a pass inside or kick to the wing. A 15-3 run took the lead up to 20 with 9:02 remaining.
9. I've never seen a coach push one of his players into the spot they're supposed to occupy in the offense while the game was going on but that's exactly what Thompson did to Jabril Trawick when he was standing too close to the Hoya bench and not further up on the wing. Trawick seemed surprised by two hands in his back but jumped to his correct location. Later in the game Thompson propelled Trawick up the floor as he raced past the Georgetown coaches to get back on defense.
10. I had forgotten how much pleasure I take out of Thompson's one handed gesture to "settle down" on offense. All it takes is a palm facing the floor, lowered slightly and all five players on the court know exactly what he means.
11. The final score felt about right for how both teams played. Georgetown was not great offensively (though far better than their last outing, a bizarre 37-36 victory over Tennessee) but their defense created 22 turnovers and Texas starting 3-10 at the free throw line aided the result.
12. Thompson was pleased with the verdict but as is usually the case not that happy with how his team had played, yet he liked the how honest his team is in understanding that they still have a ways to go. "Sometimes as a coach you stand up there and you start talking to the team and they're thinking 'what's he talking about? I've got it all figured out. I'm good,'" he said. "I think we've got a group there that knows we have a lot of room for improvement."
13. Ran into Mike Brennan's parents at Penn Station afterwards, which is always a welcome turn of events.
Postgame audio - Coach John Thompson III, Nate Lubick & Otto Porter: