Tonight, West Virginia travels to Washington, DC to meet one of the Big EAST's old guard, the Georgetown Hoyas.
Last season's meeting in Morgantown still leaves a sour taste in most Mountaineer fans' mouths. The non-call of a very obvious (or not obvious, depending on what school you support) goaltending by Patrick Ewing Jr. gave the Hoyas a one-point road victory. It also almost setoff a riot at the WVU Coliseum. A very anticlimatic second meeting took place in the semi-finals of the Big EAST Tournament, with Georgetown easily advancing to the finals by 17.
But that was last year. Gone is Joe Alexander (who struggled mightily in that last game) and hero Ewing Jr. (along with all-conference Roy Hibbert). While WVU has struggled to replace the presence of Alexander, Georgetown has inserted all-world freshman Greg Monroe. Monroe, at 6'11", has failed to score in double figures only twice this season. He has also posted two double-doubles in conference play.
Georgetown has notoriously had our number at the Verizon Center (formerly MCI Center). Only twice in the building's history has WVU come out with a win (in nine total meetings). Though, if West Virginia wants to be included come tournament time, this would be a huge road resume booster (thanks for nothing, Ohio State).
And if we're going to get that win, a lot of things have to go right. Obviously, Ruoff and Butler have to lead the team. We are too young to not have both of those guys step up each and every night. But beyond that, Truck Bryant will need to keep his pace under control. John Thompson III's methodical offense can make a younger player antsy. There always seems to be an inclination to speed up the game too much. That just won't work. If we start forcing transition, the game is not playing into our team's hands.
Our defense is also a huge concern. Against UConn, the Huskies' size advantage was entirely too much for us to contain. Against this Georgetown team, we will again be at a large size disadvantage. Though they won't come straight at us like UConn, they will feed Monroe, wait for a double-team, then kick for an open shot or an easy backdoor cut. It's classic Beilein Thompson III offense.
This is one of those games that the cards seem stacked pretty well against us. But if this team has tournament hopes, it's going to need to grow up in a hurry to compete.