NASHVILLE — Hubris thy name is Kevin Stallings.
Vanderbilt’s coach decided to employ a man defense against a Georgetown team with an unproven array of perimeter shooters but one of the nation’s best frontcourts.
And the Hoyas’ daunting interior duo of juniors Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert responded by absolutely taking apart the Commodores in an 86-70 rout in front of 12,414 fans at Memorial Gymnasium.
Green and Hibbert combined to punish Stallings’ charges for 37 points, 18 rebounds and 7 assists and five blocks, carrying the Hoyas (2-0).
“Yeah, our eyes kind of lit up [when they came out in a man defense], because we expected them to play zone,” said Green, who was sensational en route to posting 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in just 23 minutes against the Commodores (0-1). “Our offense is tough to guard, because we have a lot of pieces. It was fun tonight, because we finally got a chance to run our offense.”
Perhaps Stallings should have employed a strategy similar to that of Hartford’s in the Hoyas’ halting opening-game victory.
Teams like Hartford who have sagged into a zone and forced the Hoyas to prove their perimeter marksmanship have fared far better than teams who have attempted to match their skill, length and athleticism. A man defense plays right into coach John Thompson III’s Princeton offense, opening up the opposition to an array of backdoor cuts.
And a man defense places more of the game’s onus on a team’s interior performers, playing right into Georgetown’s hands. In fact, only two teams last season beat the Hoyas while playing a preponderance of man defense: Connecticut and Florida. And both of those squads had and have exponentially more talent than the Commodores.
Vanderbilt did keep it close for a half, mostly thanks to a pair of quick fouls which limited Green to just more than seven minutes of first-half action.
“It seemed like he was only out there for about five minutes tonight,” Thompson said of Green. “But, yes, we are a different team with Jeff Green on the court. Getting through that first half was a collective effort. Jeff had two fouls. Jon [Wallace] was cramping up. Tyler [Crawford] was on the bench beside me [with the flu]. But I thought we showed some mettle there holding on when they made a couple of runs. And Jeff was very good in the second half.”
Leading 39-35 entering the second half, Green and the Hoyas erupted on Vanderbilt. The Hoyas scored on 14 of their first 18 second-half possessions, marching to a 68-57 lead on a pair of Green free throws with just less than nine minutes remaining.
And Vanderbilt simply had no offensive answers. Vanderbilt’s leading scorer from last season, 6-foot-6 swingman Shan Foster, managed just two points on the night after ripping the Hoyas for 20 in a 68-61 Vanderbilt victory in the District last season.
“Shan just had a bad night,” Thompson said. “Our guys were extremely attentive to where he was, and it’s hard to guard the kid, because he’s such a good player.”
Georgetown now returns home for a Sunday date at McDonough Arena with Old Dominion, and Thompson is taking nothing for granted after Kansas’ stunning loss to Oral Roberts.
“Who knows who the top-10 teams are this time of the year?” Thompson asked. “We just hope to be one of them at the end of the season.”View Entire Story
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