Behind Enemy Lines: Florida GC next for Hoyas

Behind Enemy Lines: Florida GC next for Hoyas
March 18, 2013, 1:30 pm
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How will Porter handle being the man ?

Once Georgetown learned its NCAA Tournament path starts Friday against Florida Gulf Coast, the head Hoya immediately assigned homework to his staff. The assignment: what's up with Florida Gulf Coast.

On Sunday night immediately following the Selection Sunday show, John Thompson III copped to knowing only some of the basics about Georgetown's next opponent. The Eagles won the Atlantic Sun conference tournament, stunned ACC regular season and tournament champion Miami earlier this campaign, and played other notable teams including Duke, VCU, Iowa State and St. John's.

Oh, also Florida Gulf Coast is the 15th seed in the South Region, which not so coincidentally means a matchup against No.2 Georgetown. The Hoyas, who shared the Big East regular season title with Louisville and Marquette, landed a two-seed for the third time under Thompson since 2007.

So, Coach, what else can you say about Florida Gulf Coast?

"If we had this [media session] tomorrow, I'd be much better prepared to answer that," cracked Thompson.

Today is tomorrow and by now, Thompson and his staff have surely watched hours of FGC game tape, poured over stats and checked in with colleagues around the country. Since the next media session with the coach is not today - and we know he's not about to share much in the way of details or game plan -, we did our own research...

*Located in Fort Myers, Florida Gulf Coast admitted its first students in 1997. Only competing in its second season on the Division I level, the Eagles posted a 24-10 record this season, finishing in second place in the Atlantic Sun with a 13-5 record. They defeated Mercer in the conference tournament final.

*KenPom rates the Eagles 126 among Division 1 teams, which is one slot behind West Virginia and ahead of Nebraska, Wake Forest, George Mason and 20 spots ahead of a South Florida squad that upset Georgetown this season.

*The Eagles start three guards and two upperclassmen with nine players averaging at least 13 minutes per game. Leading scorer and rebounder Sherwood Brown fits into all those categories. The 6-foot-4 Brown averages 15.3 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 37.2 percent on his 3-point attempts.

                - Otto Porter, the Big East Player of the Year, leads Georgetown with 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals while shooting 42.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. There is no direct correlation being made here, just needed to slip Porter's prodigious stats into this story at some point. Georgetown's tough guy Jabril Trawick likely receives the primary defensive assignment against Brown.

* In FGC's five regular season games against the aforementioned BCS programs or NCAA Tourney teams, Brown scored double figures in each while averaging 14.2 points and shooting 5 of 21 (23.8) from beyond the arc.

*Perhaps more interesting from the Hoyas perspective is Brown's backcourt mate, sophomore guard Brett Comer. Though he had 21 points in the Atlantic Sun championship game, the 6-foot-3 Comer is more distributor than scorer (7.9) or shooter (27.1 percent on 3's). His 6.3 assists per game ranks 17th nationally. With Comer directing traffic and keeping a desired quick pace, the Eagles rank top 50 nationally in scoring (73.1 points) and field goal percentage (46.0).

                - Something tells me Georgetown's Markel Starks in particular is receiving a crash course on all things Comer. The 6-foot-3 Starks triples as the Hoyas second-leading scorer, primary ball handler and first line of defense against such opposing point guard threats.       

*In the stunning 63-51 win over Miami on Nov 13, Comer had six points, eight assists and zero turnovers while matched up against Shane Larkin, the ACC Tournament MVP. Also in that game, the Eagles offset a dismal 1 of 11 3-point shooting performance by outscoring the Canes 40-14 in the paint and winning the rebounding battle 40-32. Worth noting, the game was played on FGC's sold-out home court and Miami played without third-leading scorer Durand Scott.

*Despite those interior stats, the Eagles are hardly a beefy team. Their heaviest player tips the scale at 212 pounds - of 15 fewer than Georgetown's 6-foot-3 compact freshman guard D'Vauntes Smith Rivera. 6-foot-8 junior Chase Fieler and 6-foot-9 sophomore Eric McKnight typically round out the Eagles starting five.

*The Eagles lost games to VCU, Duke, St. John's and Iowa State by 23, 21, 11 and 11 points respectively. FGC was also swept by seven-win Lipscomb.

*Per KenPom, Comer's assist rate^ of 43.2 is fifth best among all DI players (Per KenPom, Assist Rate is assists divided by the field goals made by the player's teammates while he's on the court).

                - For those seeking a pass-first comparison, note that Providence's Vincent Council is third on the Assist Rate list while South Florida's Anthony Collins sits two places behind Comer. Collins directed South Florida to the stunning home win over Georgetown, one of three victories for the Bulls in Big East play this season.

*The zero-turnover performance against Miami was an anomaly because while a solid distributor, Comer coughs up the ball with regularity. He committed at least four turnovers in 17 of the Eagles 34 games and at least five 10 times. In those games where he turned the ball over at least five teams, the Eagles finished 4-6.

*FGC averages 14.7 turnovers per game, ranking 275 out of 345 teams.

                - Georgetown finished the regular season 13-1 when its opponent committed 14 or more turnovers.

*Defensively, the Eagles are a thieving bunch, coming up with 9.0 steals per game (16th nationally). Bernard Thompson, FGC's other starting guard, ranks fourth in the country with 2.82 steals and sixth with a 5.5 per possession steal rate per KenPom.

                - The combination of rapid pace, a three-guard lineup and an opponent hunting for steals might force Thompson to use his own three-guard lineup of Starks, Trawick and Smith-Rivera more frequently than he did in Friday's loss to Syracuse. While Georgetown can play up-tempo and often is better when doing so, this might be a situation where less, as in number of possessions, is more. Keeping Comer from taking command as Collins did for South Florida is vital. This is a game the Hoyas should win -- KenPom has it 68-55 for the Hoyas -- but the Eagles will not be wide-eyed having played several major programs already.