The game against Georgetown is an important one for the Aztecs. KenPom has Georgetown as the 88th best team in the nation, which would likely be good enough for a quad 2 game on a neutral court if it holds.
In addition, if they beat Georgetown the likely next opponent will be USC, who should be a Quad 1 opponent. Whereas if SDSU loses to Georgetown, they’ll likely face a Quad 4 opponent next.
Facing off against USC will help make the Aztecs schedule tougher, and therefore look better come selection Sunday. So despite Georgetown only being a Quad 2 opponent, the longer term impact of a win or loss makes this game one of the most important in the non-conference schedule.
Georgetown has gotten off to a slow start this season. They’re 2-1 having lost their toughest game (according to KenPom) against the 262nd ranked Dartmouth. They have not played any teams that are average or better, so facing off against SDSU should be a challenge for them.
General observations –
Georgetown has been a solid basketball program every year under coach Ewing. The lowest KenPom ranking they’ve had in his 4 year tenure is 100, and they’re on an upward trajectory, fishing last season at 63.
Through three games Georgetown’s offense ranks as the 14th fastest in terms of average possession length. They like to get out and run. They’re also 21st in the nation in 3-point percentage, at 41.5%.
Defensively they tend to be solid. They don’t force many turnovers, but they don’t make it easy to score on them. The thing that stands out the most on paper is that through three games they haven’t committed many fouls. Their opponents have not gotten to the free throw line very much.
Overall they tend to be a good but not great team year in and year out, and will hopefully count as a quad 2 game in the Aztecs resume.
How to defend Georgetown –
Georgetown tends to run a pretty simple offense. They’ll occasionally run screen the screener actions, but often it’s just simple pick and rolls. If nothing comes of it they feed the post.
The pick and rolls are usually run from the top of the key or the slot, and the highest wing player will lift to the slot to increase spacing and provide an outlet. The player that lifts may pose a problem for the Aztecs, as their pack line style of defense will leave him open for 3. Close outs will have to be on time when defending the pick and roll.
Some teams had some success blitzing their pick and roll last season. If the blitz is executed well and the correct backside rotations occur, it ruins the rhythm of the Georgetown offense. It’s something the Aztecs may try situationally, they blitzed a few pick and rolls against BYU, but the cougars were able to pick it apart.
If the ball enters the post Georgetown bigs know how to pass out of double teams, so playing them straight up as much as possible will be important, and should be doable for the Aztecs. At the very least Mensah should be able to make life tough for them 1-on-1.
Georgetown also likes to run early offense, often using drag screens to get an easy shot early in the shot clock. Aztec bigs will have to be aware of that and not sink too low into the paint in transition.
How to attack Georgetown –
Last season Georgetown would send very soft double teams when the ball enters the low post. They would use the “dig” coverage, which is where the perimeter player on ball side will drop down into the post with the intent of forcing a pass out. It’s risky because it leaves a perimeter player close by wide open, so they never fully commit to the double team.
Players in the post, like Nathan Mensah or Matt Bradley will have a couple of options. First, they can pass fake to get the second defender to take a step away, and then attack the basket while he’s out of position. Second, they can try to hold on to the ball for a second longer to try and force a harder commitment. This would pull the second defender further away from the 3 point line and leave someone open for a 3 point shot.
In the pick and roll Georgetown uses a similar coverage to what ASU ran, hedging with the big and tagging with the weakside corner shooter. Players like Pulliam and Butler will need to read what that weakside defender does and decide to attack the basket, pass to the big, or pass to the corner shooter.
X-Factor – Experience
Six of the Hoyas top 10 contributors will likely be freshman. They’re a skilled group, but they will likely make some freshman mistakes, especially this early in the season.
The Aztecs, on the other hand, likely won’t have any freshman play for the whole season, and have been starting 3 seniors. That doesn’t mean they’ll play mistake free, as they’ve brought in a lot of transfers and are still working on building chemistry. We’ve seen many times though that the best way to beat a more skilled team is with an experienced team. The Aztecs will quite possibly already be more talented, so the experience is what can really set them apart in this contest.
Players to watch –
Donald Carey – 15.3 Pts, 5 Rebs, 4.3 Asts. Carey looks to step up into the lead guard role this season. He was an efficient scorer last year, and can score a bunch of different ways. He’s started the season scorching from behind the arc, hitting 61% of his 3-point shots. Look for the Aztecs to try and slow him down by throwing different defenders and different looks at him throughout the game.
Aminu Mohammed – 14 Pts, 7.7 Rebs, 2.0 Asts. Mohammed is so far the player to take the most shots for Georgetown. He hasn’t been very efficient to start the season. He’s a 6’5 wing and if the Aztecs can frustrate him he may shoot the Hoyas out of the game. The defensive play of players like Bradley, Seiko, and Baker will be important to make him waste possessions.
Kaiden Rice – 11.3 Pts, 3.0 Rebs, 0.3 Asts. Rice is one of the senior leaders on the team. He starts at the power forward slot and his main job is to stretch the defense. He’s connected on 40% of his 3-point shots so far. The Aztecs will need to close out hard and force him to put the ball on the floor in order to limit his effectiveness.