No. 15 Georgetown seeks rebounding effort against Texas


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.

Heisman Hopefuls: Too little, too late for Leonard Fournette


Heisman Hopefuls: Too little, too late for Leonard Fournette

It took awhile, but Leonard Fournette finally looked like the player we all knew he could be. On Saturday against Ole Miss, Fournette rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns in just 16 carries. It's too bad it won't matter in terms of the Heisman race.

Heading into this season Fournette was a player to watch given how he started the 2015 season. He faded after a poor performance against Alabama, but his talent cannot be denied. Fournette's 2016 season has been a struggle, but on Saturday he finally broke through.

After Saturday's performance, Fournette is actually getting some love from experts in terms of the Heisman race (like here and here). With all due respect to Fournette, who is absolutely remarkable, this is completely ridiculous.


Fournette has been hampered by injuries this season and has missed three games as a result. That right there virtually knocks him out of the running. Add in the fact that LSU is only playing 11 games this season because the South Alabama game was canceled, that means his Heisman resume will be only eight games, nine at the most if LSU somehow reaches the SEC Championship game. Whatever Fournette does for the rest of the season, it's going to be hard for him to prove he is more deserving of the Heisman than any of the other contenders who have been great for 12+ games.

Plus, it's not as if Fournette has been unreal in every game he has played this year. Before the Ole Miss game, Fournette was averaging just under 130 rushing yards per game. That's not bad, but it's not all that Heisman worthy either.

So no, Fournette is not among the Heisman hopefuls this week despite his monster performance. Enjoy it LSU fans, it was a phenomenal game, but it was not enough to put him back in Heisman contention.

If Fournette is out, who's in? Find out in this week's Heisman Hopefuls gallery.

College Football Playoff projections: Ohio State still controls its own destiny


College Football Playoff projections: Ohio State still controls its own destiny

No longer among the ranks of the unbeatens, Ohio State’s playoff chances certainly took a hit Saturday with their loss to Penn State.

But let’s not start digging their grave just yet.

Michigan now sits atop the Big Ten East standings, but they still have to finish the season with the big game against the Buckeyes. And it’s at Ohio State.


The truth is, if the Buckeyes win out, they still will win the Big Ten East and will have a chance to play (likely) either Nebraska or Wisconsin for the conference championship.

Will the committee really leave a one-loss Big Ten champion out of the playoff? Perhaps, if either Baylor or West Virginia remain undefeated, but if the winner of the Big 12 has at least one loss, it’s hard to see how either team would get in over Ohio State.

Again, assuming they win out, the Buckeyes will have beaten Oklahoma in Norman, Wisconsin in Madison, Nebraska, Michigan and the Big Ten West winner. Neither Baylor or West Virginia can match that resume.

So let’s not declare Ohio State’s playoff hopes done just yet. Their biggest challenge is likely rival Michigan, and the Wolverines have to travel to Columbus. That’s a very tough place to play, especially if you’re wearing maize and blue.

Will the Buckeyes ultimately reach the playoff despite their loss to Penn State? Who else will join them? Found out here in this week’s updated College Football Playoff projections.