Well, now that Denver's out of the way, we can finally start to speak on Utah State's matchup with Georgetown. It goes without saying that this is a huge opportunity for the Aggies and for Stew Morrill's program. It's a chance for Utah State to go out and prove that it belongs on a national level. Morrill took this game because he felt he had the team to get this done. We'll find out in a little less than 48 hours.
As for Georgetown, the Hoyas have one of the three best backcourts in the country. Only Duke and Michigan State compare, although the Hoyas have played exceedingly well in the first month of the season. Aggie fans should be encouraged that Tyler Newbold, Brockeith Pane and Pooh Williams are all excellent defenders. They'll need to be on Saturday.
However, as good as the Hoyas have been shooting the ball, they have proven to have depth and length up front and that's led to them being unbeaten thus far, with wins over Old Dominion, North Carolina State and Missouri.
Here is what the Hoyas are expected to do with their starting lineup, and with their five coming off the bench.
Point Guard: Chris Wright - Is one of the best point guards in the country, and has been playing the best basketball of his career. He's always had the talent. He's hard to defend off the dribble, has a great upper body that creates space and finishes at the rim. But he can also shoot the ball and that makes him a hard cover. Wright's greatest improvement this season has been his decision making and his ability to pass the ball. He's averaging over seven assists per game, and has stopped his tendency of driving wildly into traffic. He can be a terrific defender when he desires, and he's shown leadership this season that hasn't always come in the past.
Shooting Guard: Austin Freeman - Like Wright, Freeman is playing the best basketball of his career. Has always been a great shooter, and is proving that again this season. Is the pre-season Big East Player of the Year. Is 6-3, 220 pounds and is lethal from midrange and from three-point land. Freeman was diagnosed with diabetes and as unfortunate as that was, it probably has helped him as a basketball player. He's always carried a little extra weight, but he's been forced to take care of his body, he's lost weight and he's quicker than he was in the past. Can get into the lane and finish and is as complete an offensive player as one will find in the country. He's very efficient with what he does, and doesn't need alot of shots to score a bundle of points. If I were an Aggie fan, I would want Tyler Newbold to guard Freeman because he's the only USU player that has a hope of matching his strength. Plus, Freeman is so technically sound that Newbold makes sense because he's the most technically sound defender that the Aggies' have.
Shooting Guard: Jason Clark - As good as Freeman and Wright have been, Clark is the reason the Hoyas' backcourt has gone from very good to great, from one of the best in the Big East to one of the best in the country. Clark has improved his offensive game tremendously from his sophomore season to his junior year. He was much more of a spot up shooter last year. This year, he's making brilliant plays off the dribble. As good as a shooter as he was last year, he's been better this season. He's got abnormally long arms that help him on both sides of the floor. He's developed a midrange game as well, using one dribble to his right and pulling up for jumpers. Pooh Williams is a good matchup for Clark because to shut him down, you need athleticism. But Clark has made a leap from a role player to a player that can be featured. He was Georgetown's best player in the overtime in the win over Missouri, hitting three three's and putting the game out of reach.
Power Forward: Hollis Thompson - Thompson is 6-8, and isn't a four. He's a small forward and the Hoyas have been down that road before, playing a three at the four spot. Two years ago, Georgetown tried it with DaJuan Summers, now with the Pistons, and got terrible results. Summers clearly didn't want to play at that spot and team chemistry greatly suffered as a result. Thompson, a sophomore, just wants to play, and that makes a huge difference. He knows that he won't start this year at any of the perimeter positions, so he's willingly doing whatever it takes. He's rebounded well, played good defense, and he's the only real "Length" guy of Georgetown's perimeter players. Offensively, he's alot like Khris Middleton from Texas A&M, whom Aggie fans know too well. He can make shots and he's the fourth option in the lineup, maybe even the fifth, but will make teams pay for overlooking him. Thompson is more athletic than Middleton, however.
Center: Julian Vaughn - Has improved a lot over three years. Is 6-9, has really long arms, can score in the paint with a nice jump hook, rebounds and can block shots. He can also be turnover prone, a little soft at times and agile big men like Brady Jardine give him fits. Him and Tai Wesley may be a better matchup from a Hoya perspective.
Bench: Henry Sims - Hoya fans were universally ready to run him off the team after two years of doing nothing. Now, he's probably Georgetown's best big man. No joke. Sims is 6-11, athletic, long arms, very good shotblocker and good passer. You would've been able to say none of that for the past two years. But something has really clicked with Sims. He's been a revelation for Georgetown fans this season, and is a huge reason, along with Clark, that the Hoyas have gone from good to potentially great.
Markel Starks - Primary back-up point guard, freshman, playmaker of the future, 6-2, fast, can shoot, athletic....almost a mirror image of James Walker.
Vee Sanford - 6-3, very athletic combo guard. Can play either guard position, can shoot the ball well, play good defense. Doesn't get alot of time, but when he does play, always does something to make Hoya fans wish he would get more time.
Nate Lubick - 6-8 freshman, good rebounder, long arms, pretty athletic. Played his best game of the season against Missouri, and will probably see more action as the season moves on.
Jerrelle Bennimon - 6-6, reminds this blog alot of New Mexico State's Tyrone Watson, or a poor man's Wendell McKines, without the big mouth. Scraps, hustles, gets rebounds, selfless, does what it takes. Can't score, though, so if he's in the game, whomever's guarding him should clog the middle to take away back door cuts.