- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 1, 2003

Georgetown's backcourt problems aren't restricted to its offense.

Since the Hoyas began conference play, opposing guards are lighting up Georgetown's backcourt. In five of six Big East games, an opposing guard has been the opposition's leading scorer.

Georgetown's loose perimeter defense surfaced in last Wednesday's 93-82 overtime loss to Seton Hall at MCI Center. Guards John Allen and Andre Barrett scored 15 of Seton Hall's first 21 points.

When the final horn mercifully sounded, Allen and Barrett had combined for 39 points. Two weeks earlier in New Jersey, the two had 43 points against Georgetown's guards.

Today Georgetown's shell-shocked backcourt faces the Big East's best guard tandem in Chris Thomas and Matt Carroll as the Hoyas (10-6, 2-4 Big East) take on Notre Dame (17-3, 5-1) in South Bend, Ind. This one also could get real ugly for Georgetown's guards.

Thomas averages 17.8 points, is a 40 percent shooter and is the nation's eighth-best distributor with 7.1 assists a game. Carroll creates matchup problems with his height (6-foot-6) and is the Irish's leading scorer (20.4).

Tony Bethel, Gerald Riley, Drew Hall, Darrell Owens, and to a certain degree small forward Brandon Bowman, might as well wear bull's-eyes on their backs, because Notre Dame is certainly going to try and exploit the Hoyas' perimeter defense rather than challenging Georgetown's formidable size in the middle.

"I would beg to differ: I would say that we've had games where we've done a good job on the guards," Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said. "We did a heck of a job on [Dukes] J.J. Redick and [Virginias] Todd Billett. And we did a great job on the kid at James Madison [David Fanning] and shut him down totally, their leading scorer and one of the leading scorers in that school's history.

"There was another kid [Chuck Eidson], a perimeter player from South Carolina who had a triple-double right before we played them, and we did a great job on him."

Esherick is correct in stating that his team shut down Redick (13 points), but Blue Devils sophomore guard Daniel Ewing came off the bench and scored a career-high 19 points. Eidson's lack of production against the Hoyas was a classical blunder by Gamecocks coach Dave Odom.

Fearing Georgetown's pressure, Odom relegated the 6-7 Eidson, who came into the game as South Carolina's leading scorer at 18 points, to point guard. Therefore, South Carolina's best scorer became preoccupied with running the offense and never materialized as a scoring threat.

The Hoyas' backcourt defense was so bad against Seton Hall the second time around that the Pirates were executing a layup drill because the Georgetown guards failed to get back on defense. Whenever an errant Georgetown shot came off the rim, Allen simply released downcourt and outran Georgetown's confused guards.

"Part of it is that we're always in foul trouble, and it's kind of hard not being able to play defense like you want to play," said Riley, who has fouled out of a team-high five games this season.

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