Final Four: Georgetown Preview

By David Scott - March 28, 2007


ON THE VERGE - That's where we write this from. It's also known as home, but we've mostly been calling the road our home for the past month. The apartment is no more than a laundromat at this time of year.

And the dog? My dog, Percy or the Hoya dog of Georgetown?

Of course, how silly of us. The Hoya Dog.

(But just so you know, Percy the Dog is having extended stay at cousin Brady's house. Brady is a sweater-wearing mini-poodle and Percy is a stuffed-animal-eating major-black lab. You can only imagine the comedic value my sister, bro-in-law and niece and nephew are treated to with his two-week visit.)

As for the 'Dogs of John Thompson III - JTIII from here on out - well, they're having all sorts of their own fun. Except JTIII isn't rolling in the meadow grass quite yet.

"We still have a long way to go," he said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon. "We're still a long way from where I want to be as a program. We don't want to be a cute, trendy team."

But in a Final Four devoid of the cute and trendy (as George Mason was last year in Indy), the Hoyas are playing the role quite well. Although they are a #2 seed like possible Monday night foe, UCLA, the Hoyas are riding what JTIII calls the "Son of" team theme and acting the underdog. (JTIII said at the end of the call, "I'm sitting here terrified of Ohio State.")

[For edification, my Top 4 storylines going into the Final 4, are: Donovan to Kentucky; Oden vs. Hibbert; Ewing/Thompson/Rivers Sons and Florida/UCLA re-match.]

So how 'bout it Son of Coach, looking forward to 14 feet of post play?

"A lot of big guys now are shying away from the post, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we have two guys here that like the fact that they're low-post players," said JTIII.

Likewise, America will like these two behomeths who stand to make themselves each quite a bit of money if they can have an epic duel. (More after the Jump)

"I think it's going to take time to tell the full impact of it," said OSU's head man, Thad Matta. "From our standpoint, with Greg, he had said all along he was going to go to college. I think it's going to get the game back to where it used to be. Having that low-post threat. . . I think it's a situation where, we've always said this, I've always looked at teams that have made it to the Final Four each year, they've always got a couple, at least, big post players. That was something that was very evident to us. We've gone out and recruited (as if) we need as much size as we can get."

In major college ball, about the biggest you can get is the 7-2 Hibbert.

"We saw a great side of him last year in the NCAA tournament. He had a heck of a game against us [The Hoyas won 70-52]," said Matta. "His size and his athleticism, I think that's the one thing that we really picked up on from last year, was just really how athletic he is, how well he moves. Great touch around the basket. Just seems like he's got a great understanding of how to play the game of basketball."

Even with Hibbert, the junior from Adelphi, Maryland, JTIII isn't satisfied with where his program is. Even this weekend in Atlanta on the National Stage

"We're still a long way," JTIII said. "What I wanted to do and what I said from day one, I didn't walk in with a five-year, three-year or ten-year plan. It's just let's improve in every area. We just want to get the program - we wanted to improve every day. I felt if we went about our business trying to improve on the floor, off the floor, the wins and losses would take care of itself."

. . . Twenty years ago, the teams met for the second time in their four game all-time series (split, 2-2) and on March 15, 1987 in the Second Round of NCAA tournament, played in Atlanta (likely at the Omni). The Hoyas, ranked No. 4, won 82-79, en route to an Elite Eight loss to Providence (with Billy Donovan as the Friars' point guard).

Ohio State and Georgetown first played in 1981 with the Buckeyes winning 47-46 at the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. Georgetown was ranked No. 5 nationally in that Nov. 29, 1981 contest. Prior to last year, the teams battled Dec. 22, 1990 in Las Vegas at the "Duel in the Desert." The No. 7-ranked Buckeyes defeated No. 12 Georgetown 71-60.

. . . Ohio State gamenotes are here.

Georgetown game notes are here.

. . . Jeremiah Rivers' dad, Doc is planning on being at the Georgia Dome on Saturday and Monday if need be. The Celtics play Friday at Philly and on Sunday at home against the LeBrons. Call it a very Ohio weekend for the Rivers family.

Rivers, his wife, Kris and his daughter, Callie were in the Continental Airlines Arena on Sunday for the miraculous Hoya comeback. (There are two other Rivers children, Austin and Spencer.)

Said the freshman, Jeremiah on Sunday night: "The Final Four is something that everybody dreams about getting to. The Final Four is most exciting thing I've ever been a part of."

And he wasn't even a part of it yet!

. . . Jeremiah on UNC game hero, Jonathan Wallace:

"Jonathan is one of the best guards in the United state of America. John can shoot it, I can't even explain it. He has no fear - those are John's shots. I knew he was going to make it as soon it left his hand

. . . Jeremiah spent the first six years of his life in Atlanta. "My dad lived there for nine year. Atlanta is kind of a second or third home for me (the family lives in Orlando). We have some great family and friends there - it'll be like old home week. Family and friends will be knocking at the door to get some tickets."

. . . Hibbert on Oden: "He's a great player. I'm going to have to make sure I limit him from touching the ball and front the post side and make sure my teammtes communicate and make sure I keep him off the offesnive boards."

Hibbert on the Hoya Big Men Lineage: "I want to be in the same light as them, I have pictures in my room of those guys, I have Alonzo (Mounring) over the head of my bed. If I'm described 20 years down the road as one of the great centers, that would be great for me. But it would be even better if we got a national championship."

Hibbert on his "Sampson" hair (which prohibited his Final Four baseball cap from fitting his head): "No facial hair or hair is coming off my body until the end of the season. I don't really grow hair that much. Coach tells me I look scruffy. Coach Thompson calls it my post-season beard and hair. I'm just going to keep it going."

. . . ESPN.com's Sports Guy made a curious claim about this year's NCAA Men's basketball tournament and after thinking about it, I realized, lo and behold, it wasn't so curious at all. This has been a hell of a tournament. In the past month I've been on-site for no fewer than five absolute classics: The CAA Title game in Richmond (Eric Maynor, Part I); The VCU-Duke first rounder (Eric Maynor, Part II), The VCU-Pitt OT thriller; Georgetown-Vandy (The Jeff Green Did/Didn't Travel game) and Hoya-Tar Heels '07 (A Carolina Collapse of Catastrophic Consequence).

You would be lucky to be in the arena for five such games in a decade, never mind over the course of three weeks.

. . . I know I'm supposed to focus on the Hoyas, but I coudln't resist the fact that Thad Matta's highschool team's nickname is the http://www.hoopeston.k12.il.us/buildings/middleschool/sports/boysbball/cornjerkers.htm> "cornjerkers." Insert your own joke here so I don't get in trouble with the people whose money I'll be drinking over the next five days.

. . . And to offset my jab at Matta, here's some meories of his from the Final Fours of Yore: "Gosh, honestly there's a lot of 'em. It all started for me probably in '76 when Indiana won it, because we had a guy from our hometown - Hoopeston - ( Scott Eells) that was on the team. That was kind of my beginning stages of college basketball, following a great team. But really just all the way through, we'd sit down and watch every year that Monday night game. We'd be glued to the TV."

. . . (This was written by me somewhere else, earlier this week, but it fits here too):

The HBO UCLA Basketball documentary now available at Comcast's OnDemand is worth the viewing, especially with the Bruins in their second straight Final Four. The Sam Gilbert dealings (with quick screenshot clips co-written by recently deceased Alan Greenberg, then of the LA Times) get minimal attention, as expected in a documentary meant to praise Wooden, but the remainder of the material is solidly displayed - mostly in the voice and words of Bill Walton. Damn, that dude would have been a nice fit with this Gonzaga bunch.

. . . Speaking of cultural things, "Hang Time" DScott has procured one ticket for the Dick Enberg "McGuire" play that will be staged a few times over Final Four weekend.

Very much looking forward to that, for sure. Even though my Sunday viewing of the Enberg entertainment has potential to cut into my traditional early arrival at the annual Eddie Cav-Runyon's fiasco.

That's right - we will be getting both pickled AND cultured. All weekend long.

. . . We've been meaning to point out the wonderful series on the heartbeat of college hoops that was put together by the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Mike Knobler. Knobler is a Hoops Odyssey guy from the Boomers generation. Some very nicely done work on his 7,711 miles of cross-country travel and well worth spending some time with.

. . . Check back later Thursday afternoon for Happy Hour from the Coaches' Hotel in Atlanta. Fun for all, we assure you.

Posted by David Scott at 10:25 PM on March 28, 2007
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