1. Georgetown sits at 7-3 so far this season. How are fans feeling about the Hoyas a week before nonconference play starts, and how have games against top-ranked opponents such as Wisconsin and Kansas tested this team so far?
Strong to quite strong. The Hoyas are indeed a 3 loss team but have lost all of those games by a combined 14 points. Butler has fallen out of the rankings and Kansas was tripped up by Temple this week, but both of them are going to be NCAA Tournament teams and the Jayhawks are likely going to win the Big 12. The Wisconsin game was the most frustrating since the Hoyas led by 9 with 10 minutes left but couldn't close it out. These Hoyas are a young bunch as will learn as the season rolls on, but the talent on the roster is good enough to play with anybody, and I suspect expectations about how far this team can go have been raised during the non-conference schedule.
2. This is Georgetown's second year as part of the newly-revamped, basketball-centric Big East Conference. How do Hoya fans like the new conference arrangement so far, and how excited are fans that the Syracuse rivalry will be restored starting next season?
Eh, it's fine. Other than Villanova the Conference lacks any true Top 10 team, but the quality of the programs is solid top to bottom (excluding DePaul, of course). In the old Big East and the new Big East, every game is a battle, and any road win is going to be big for an NCAA resume. It's good for the Big East to have St. John's not sucking for once, but we'll see how they hold up as they start playing real competition.
Regarding the Syracuse rivalry, it's probably something that never should have been halted, but the two-years of not playing them will only make the rivalry stronger come next season. Playing them in December is going to be different than battles that mean something during Conference play, but it's better than not playing them at all and it's great for the fanbases of both schools.
3. Junior D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera leads the Hoyas this season with 13.3 points per game. Since Smith-Rivera is from Indy, does this game hold extra meaning for him?
I'm sure he'll have a few extra tweets from some of his buddies back home, but what DSR really needs to focus on is getting his jumper back. DSR is the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, but other than the game against Wisconsin, has really struggled to find his shot. When DSR is hitting from the perimeter Georgetown is a very difficult team to guard. When he's off, teams can collapse a bit down low and focus on stopping Josh Smith in the paint.
4. Senior Josh Smith is another star of this team, averaging 6.5 rebounds per game. Should Hoosiers fans be concerned that the 6-10 center will present a matchup problem for a relatively undersized Indiana team?
Absolutely! I suspect the Hoyas will pound the ball inside early and often to Smith and 6'9" senior Mikael Hopkins to try to take advantage of Georgetown's size down low and perhaps get the Hoosier bigs into early foul trouble. Smith has been very good this season, and a huge key in this game will be his ability to stay on the floor and avoid ticky tack fouls.
5. Besides Smith-Rivera and Smith, who else should concern the Hoosiers in the Georgetown lineup?
Unlike Hoyas teams in the recent past, this team has a lot of depth. Mikael Hopkins has been terrific defensively thus far in the paint and Jabril Trawick is a tough, hard-nosed guard who can hit from the perimeter or take it to the hoop. The brightest spots for the Hoyas thus far have been the freshmen, as L.J. Peak, Paul White, Isaac Copeland and Tre Campbell have all shown flashes of being excellent contributors. Peak is a scoring machine and set the Georgetown record for most points in his career debut, White is Mr. Everything and plays like a senior, Copeland will remind people of Otto Porter, and Campbell is the steady point guard of the future.
6. As a former Washington D.C. resident, I know that Georgetown's campus is hard to get to by public transit, and a long way from its home arena, the Verizon Center. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Hoyas playing in an off-campus NBA arena, and has there ever been a serious push for a larger on-campus facility to replace McDonough Gymnasium?
The advantages of playing at Verizon are that 1) it's a pro arena so it's good for recruiting and 2)....well, that's it. I hate it and wish we had an on-campus arena and a real home court advantage, but that will never happen so it's really not even worth discussing. Though Georgetown will never have an on-campus arena, it has recently broken ground on a new athletics facility, which you and your fellow Hoosiers can help build by clicking this link right here!
Thanks in advance!
7. I've always thought Georgetown and Maryland would make for natural rivals, and that it's a shame that they don't play annually. As a fan of a team that no longer plays long-time rival Kentucky, I wish there were more local nonconference basketball rivalries between nearby major conference teams. I know that part of the animosity between the schools stemmed from Gary Williams and the elder John Thompson not liking each other, but now with both coaches no longer at each school, is there any chance this could become an annual game?
I think the chance of that happening is real, and it could start as soon as next season in the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games which will pit a Big East team against a Big Ten team. Assuming whoever it is that is choosing the pairings isn't an idiot (not a safe assumption by the way), the Hoyas and Terps should meet in 2015-16 and hopefully the two schools can get together and establish an annual game rotating between Verizon and the Comcast Center. Just one thing on John Thompson though - he is very much still a presence at the school and attends every home game.
8. I can't let a Q&A go by without asking about John Thompson III. After reaching the Final Four with Roy Hibbert in 2007, JT3 has yet to lead the Hoyas past the first weekend of the tournament. How do fans feel about JT3 and his Princeton offense after a decade on the Hilltop?
In JT3 We Trust. He has his detractors just like any other college coach, but in my less than humble opinion JT3 does a hell of a lot with the talent he has at his disposal and, as shown by this recruiting class, can still get it done on the recruiting trail. At the end of the day a program is ultimately going to be measured by its success in March, and until Georgetown escapes the first weekend our past failures will always haunt us. Hit it, Bruce!
Now those memories come back to haunt me
they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river
though I know the river is dry
That sends me down to the river tonight
Down to the river
my baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride
9. Prediction time: Who wins in MSG on Saturday, and by how much?
Admittedly I haven't seen a lot of the Hoosiers so far, but any team coached by Tom Crean automatically receives my hatred and clearly cannot score against a 2-3 zone. I'll roll with the Hoyas in this one, call it Georgetown 74 - Hoosiers 66.
Happy Holidays, homeslice.
Thanks to Casual Hoya for answering our questions! The Hoyas and Hoosiers tip off at Noon tomorrow on ESPN2.