No. 15 Georgetown seeks rebounding effort against Texas

NateLubick

No. 15 Georgetown seeks rebounding effort against Texas

Georgetown's 37-36 scoring-challenged win over Tennessee proved the Hoyas could triumph with minimal, truly minimal offense - at least when paired with a tenacious defensive effort. Considering the number of good looks generated against the Volunteers that went astray, Friday's performance does not have the look of a concerning trend - at least if the starry forward combo of Otto Porter and Greg Whittington stay on the court.

One dynamic that has stuck around longer than desired for the 15th ranked Hoyas involves the rebounding battle. Despite good length across the starting lineup, Georgetown has rarely had a comfortable edge on the glass this season and against its three recent power conference opponents, none at all.

The Hoyas (5-1) finished victorious in two of those three games with the only blemish an overtime-loss against top-ranked Indiana. However, a similar rebounding scenario could prove problematic Tuesday night (7:00 p.m.) against a burly Texas squad at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.

Tennessee finished with a 37-29 rebounding advantage, including 10 offensive boards. Indiana ended up 33-28, UCLA 40-31. Even against overmatched an undersized Liberty in the season's second game, Georgetown's final margin was just two, 29-27.

"We just have to be better at rebounding," junior forward Nate Lubick said following Monday's practice. "People can say it's our lack of depth inside, but we're over 6-foot-8 across the [starting lineup] so there is no excuse not to rebound. That's going to be a big key to [Tuesday's] game against Texas. They are very big and rebound the ball very well."

Indeed they do. The Longhorns (5-2) stand as one of the nation's better rebounding teams. Six players average at least four rebounds per game including 6-foot-4 guard and leading scorer Sheldon McClellan (17.0 ppg). Paced by wide-bodied big men Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley, Texas is averaging 40.7 per contest or seven more than the Hoyas.

"They have a big team," Thompson stated. Asked how his team can reverse its recent rebounding deficiencies against a formidable Texas lineup, the coach bluntly stated, "Box out and go get the ball. It's not rocket science."

Simple enough, as is the importance of corralling those misses.

"Rebounding is the most important thing," said the stretchy Whittington, Georgetown's leading rebounder (8.7) and scorer (12.7). "If you rebound, you limit [other] team's second chances. If you rebound, everything flows."

The Hoyas imposing zone defense certainly prevented Tennessee's offense from flowing. The Volunteers rarely found opportunities inside and missed 13 of 16 three-point attempts. This scheme is largely responsible for holding opponents to 39 percent field goal shooting on the season. However, the yang to the zone defense's yin comes with rebounding assignments. Guarding an area rather than a single player makes impeding progress toward the basket of a would-be rebounder more challenging.

"It's definitely hard to rebound out of a zone, not having one [player] be responsible for boxing out," said Lubick who will play against Texas despite missing the entire second half against Tennessee after suffering an elbow injury. "That's going to be something we have to figure out because we're a team that plays a lot of zone during crunch time."

As for his injury, which limited him to only eight minutes on Friday, Lubick said, "I kind of ripped a rebound down and I kind of slammed my elbow on [Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes'] head. My arm just went totally numb. My hand went totally numb. I gave it a go, but couldn't keep going."

Thompson said Lubick, who has played in 71 straight games at Georgetown, was limited during Monday's practice, but both player and coach said the rugged forward would be ready for Texas. "100% percent better," Lubick stated.

Asked if his team's offense would be better following Friday's horror show, Thompson said, "I hope so. We've got to put the ball in the basket. I think we missed 17, 18 3-foot shots."

Georgetown finished 36.4 percent from the field, did not score a point over the final 4:10 and lacked a single double figure scorer for the first time since January 11, 1952. Of course, in those scoring and accuracy areas, Tennessee fared worse.

Notes... Despite the offensive struggles against Tennessee, Georgetown's 48.4 field goal percentage ranks 22nd nationally. ...The Longhorns continue playing without point guard Myck Kabongo. The star sophomore has yet to play this season over eligibility concerns stemming from potential improper benefits. ...The matchup against Texas represents Georgetown's final major non-conference opponent and away game until the Hoyas open Big East play Jan. 5 at Marquette. Starting Saturday against Towson, Georgetown closes 2012 with four straight home games. ...The 1952 game, a 55-40 loss to Maryland played in College Park at the Ritchie Coliseum.

Fuente ready to take Virginia Tech back to prominence

Fuente ready to take Virginia Tech back to prominence

Taking over for a legend is never easy, but that's the position Justin Fuente now finds himself at Virginia Tech.

Frank Beamer built the football program at Virginia Tech into a national power during his 29 seasons in Blacksburg. Fuente now takes over looking to preserve the Hokies' 23-year bowl streak and return to the team to the heights reached during Beamer's peak.

“I feel pressure to do a good job because Virginia Tech football means a lot to a tremendous amount of people," Beamer said. "It’s important."

RELATED: Hokie kicker nails 70-yard field goal

With that comes a lot of expectations. Fuente wouldn't have it any other way.

"It’s great to coach at a place with expectations," Fuente said at the ACC Football Kickoff. "There is a lot that comes with that and I understand that. That’s just the way it is. But it’s fun to coach at a place that means so much to so many people."

Fuente's task is made more difficult as Virginia Tech finds itself at a crossroad of sorts. After eight straight seasons of 10 or more wins, the Hokies have not won more than eight since 2011. Rather than competing for ACC Championships, Virginia Tech has had to battle just to reach bowl eligibility.

For Fuente, he recognizes that fans do not just expect him to extend the bowl streak. His job is to return the Hokies to national prominence

"We’re taking over a program that is not where we want it to be," Fuente said. "When I say ‘we,’ I mean Hokie Nation. We want it to be back to where it was ... but we will get it there. I know that for a fact.”

MORE VIRGINIA TECH: Hokies driven to 'get the job done' during the offseason

Bronco Mendenhall is not interested in a 'honeymoon period' at UVa

usatsi_9394751.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Bronco Mendenhall is not interested in a 'honeymoon period' at UVa

Going from BYU to a power conference like the ACC is quite the jump for Bronco Mendenhall, but so far the new Virginia head football coach has seemed right at home.

Mendenhall has been tasked with changing the culture at a Virginia program that has been to a bowl game only once since 2008. The difficulty of that task became apparent to Mendenhall immediately as he met the team.

"The team that was in front of me when I arrived at UVA, their eyes would not make contact," Mendenhall said at the ACC Football Kickoff. "Their heads were down. They looked right on the verge and acted right on the verge of despair. I remember changing what my message was to them, what I had prepared, when I saw that, working to inspire at that point."

RELATED: HOKIE KICKER NAILS 70-YARD FIELD GOAL

To do that, he is emphasizing will and determination rather than just football.  At practice, players do not get numbers because they have not yet earned that right. Mendenhall wants the team to build its confidence through hard work before worrying about X's and O's.

"We are a football program that bases will before skill," Mendenahll said. "We work from the inside out. Eventually we'll play good football. But we work on toughness and effort. We've made significant inroads in that regard. We think the football will catch up and catch up relatively quickly."

After watching their team finish with a losing record in seven of the last eight seasons, you can forgive Virginia fans for wondering just how quickly the football will catch up. Mendenhall's answer: pretty darn quickly.

Despite the talk of building up confidence and having to change the culture at Virginia, Mendenhall's ultimate message was clear. His expectations for the team remain high and the turnaround in Charlottesville will be swift.

"I would say at the University of Virginia, we're ahead of schedule in terms of the culture, with the execution to follow," Mendenhall said. "We'll be working hard this fall camp to make sure, for the players that earn the right to come into fall camp with their conditioning, that they're ready and fit. But we have some football work to do."

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hokie QB loses cousin in Louisiana shooting

Former GW players come to coach Mike Lonergan's defense amid abuse allegations

usatsi_6931460.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Former GW players come to coach Mike Lonergan's defense amid abuse allegations

George Washington head coach Mike Lonergan is facing serious allegations of verbal and emotional abuse from both a current and former Colonials basketball players, according to a lengthy report from the Washington Post.

But in the wake of the allegations, two of Lonergan's more prominent players have spoken out in defense of their head coach.

Patricio Garino, who will be in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics as a member of Argentina's basketball team, was rather outspoken in defense of his coach, while still implying that Lonergan was rough on his players.

"Anonymous" declarations of some GW players about our program," Garino wrote.

"Coach is very old school and he is gonna push you to the limits to reach your potential, even though we went at each other a few times I knew he did it because he knew I was able to perform better, and that's something that I appreciate now because it got me to where I am today. He built in me the work ethic necessary to play at the highest level, he taught me not to quit under any circumstance and he told me to persevere to reach my goals. I owe a lot of my success to Coach Lonergan and his coaching staff through four years, i truly would be close to playing in the Olympics if it wasn't for him.

Garino played for Lonergan from 2012 until 2016, and averaged a career-best 14.1 ppg this past season. Tough love works for some players, but the issue is that it hardly ever works acroiss the board. Some players do not respond well to it.  

But Garino was not alone in his defense.  Isaiah Armwood, a 6-9 forward who transferred to George Washington in 2012 after two seasons at Villanova, stood by his former head coach too.

There was also Mo Creek, a graduate transfer from Indiana who joined the Colonials in 2013. 

It's clear that Lonergan's methods were not for everyone, but there were those who believe it was for the better.