Breaking Down Oregon vs. GeorgetownPosted by Andrew Murawa & Brian Otskey on November 7th, 2013
Can you believe it? Games! Actual games! And tomorrow! We’re excited too, so Big East correspondent Brian Otskey (@botskey) and Pac-12 writer Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) teamed up to offer this breakdown of one of opening night’s most buzzworthy games: Oregon vs. Georgetown in South Korea.
Georgetown will win if… It controls tempo, dominates the paint and takes advantage of Oregon’s misfortune. The Hoyas would love nothing more than to play a conservative, halfcourt game where Oregon’s athleticism and quickness can be neutralized. Fortunately for John Thompson III’s team, that is something they have done very well over the years. Hallmarks of Georgetown basketball are strong defense and offensive discipline, two strengths that can do significant damage to Oregon’s chances. It is a fairly safe bet to count on point guard Markel Starks to control the ball and run the offense efficiently. Starks turned the ball over just two times per game last year, bad news for a Ducks team that thrives in the open court and was one of the more athletic teams in the entire nation. With Dominic Artis and Ben Carter suspended, along with Damyean Dotson and Mike Moser possibly not at 100% (injury-related), Georgetown is primed to shut down Oregon’s primary strength and take advantage of Dana Altman’s misfortune. The Ducks are light in the frontcourt aside from center Waverly Austin and Moser so this is a prime opportunity for Josh Smith to show a national audience that he is serious about basketball in the more disciplined Georgetown program. If Smith can stay on the floor, control the glass and win the battle against Austin, the Hoyas should not have much of a problem coming out on top.
Oregon will win if… Their guards, primarly Dotson, Joseph Young and Jason Calliste can score regularly and efficiently against a stingy Georgetown defense highlighted by a trio of defensively rock solid guards in Starks, Jabril Trawick and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. With Artis out due to suspension, it will fall to Jonathan Loyd, the senior point and last year’s Pac-12 Tournament MVP, to get some penetration in the halfcourt against the stingy Hoya defense and find open shots for the Ducks’ scorers. Young, in particular, is a highly efficient shooter, a guy who will keep defenses honest by dead-eying from deep, while Dotson is best using his chiseled body in the mid-range game, an area that may be tough to exploit here. But the Ducks will be at their best if they can force turnovers and get out in transition to take advantage of their athletic advantage in the open court. While a relatively thin (not another Josh Smith joke, I promise) Duck frontcourt could get pounded by the physical Georgetown group if this grinds into a halfcourt game, Moser and those talented guards could break this game open if they can get easy hoop in transition. One strike against this line of thinking: The suspended Artis is the Ducks’ best guard at creating defensive havoc in the open court.
Georgetown will lose if… It turns the ball over too much, takes ill-advised shots and becomes one-dimensional. The Hoyas have perhaps the best backcourt in the Big East but they did struggle with turnovers last season. Georgetown ranked No. 12 out of 15 Big East teams in turnover percentage, something that has to give the Ducks some optimism. If Oregon can turn Georgetown over at a high rate, that will fuel its high energy and up-tempo attack. Loyd is a more than capable backup to Artis at the point guard position and it will be up to him to step on the gas and get the offense running. The Ducks will stay in the game throughout if they can turn the Hoyas over because that means more easy buckets for a shorthanded team and fewer opportunities for Georgetown to settle into the halfcourt and turn the game into a grinding, slowdown affair. Another thing Oregon’s quickness and athleticism can do is disrupt Georgetown’s complex offensive flow, forcing the Hoyas into ill-advised, quick shots. If Oregon can show the discipline required to defend Georgetown’s system of screens and backdoor cuts, Altman will be absolutely thrilled. Oregon was a somewhat surprisingly strong defensive team last season so that is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility despite the significant roster turnover in Eugene. Georgetown’s guards must not fall into the trap of jacking up jump shots without utilizing their big man Smith in the middle. In many ways, Smith has the potential to be the most important player in the game on either side. Despite their strong guard rotation, the Hoyas cannot rely on mid- and long-range jump shots alone to beat Oregon.
Oregon will lose if… It allows Georgetown to slow this game down and impose its will on the Ducks. With sophomore forward Carter also suspended, the Oregon bigs are limited to the 6’11” senior Austin, 6’8” junior college transfer Richard Amardi and Moser. With Georgetown capable of throwing the 6’10” 300-pound (ish) Smith, 6’9” shotblocker Mikael Hopkins, 6’8” senior grinder Nate Lubick and 6’9” senior rebounder Moses Ayegba at their opponent, they’d be all too happy to slow this game down, ugly things up and win on the backs of a significant rebounding advantage even if it masks an ugly shooting percentage. When the Hoyas do get the game into a series of halfcourt battles, as they surely will for some stretches, Moser will need to get plenty of help from not only his fellow bigs but also the guards in order to keep the Hoya frontcourt in check on the glass. Interestingly, as Oregon tries to speed things up by forcing turnovers, we’ll get a good first glimpse at this new emphasis on the hand-checking rule. If the Oregon defenders like Loyd and Moser get too touchy-feely, they could not only rack up fouls but also slow the game down even further. One little side benefit here for the Ducks: This Hoya team is not particularly good from the charity stripe.