EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When Georgetown's Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green combined for 37 points and 18 rebounds in a 86-70 win over Vanderbilt on Nov. 15, coach Kevin Stallings claimed his Commodores would live or die with a man-to-man defense.
"That's just who we are," Stallings said in spite of Hibbert's and Green's performances.
Four months later, Stallings is a changed man, saying yesterday he will have to use a healthy dose of zone defense against the Hoyas tonight.
"My college coach, Gene Keady, was a man-to-man guy. I worked for Roy Williams at Kansas for five years, and Roy is primarily, almost exclusively, a man-to-man guy," Stallings said. "But one of the reasons a team like us has to have a zone is when you play a team like Georgetown. The size differential and the advantage that they have on the interior in this game would be a reason for us to be motivated to play zone. ... Honestly, we just hadn't practiced it enough for me to be comfortable with a zone in that first meeting."
Those on both sides agree that first meeting is a poor indicator of tonight's Sweet 16 meeting.
"We're talking about the first game of the year," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "You can throw it out the window. It's a lifetime ago. They are a significantly different and improved team since that point, and we're a significantly different team also."
Georgetown assistant coach Kevin Broadus officially accepted the coaching position at Binghamton yesterday. Known as one of the top recruiters in the D.C. area, Broadus helped deliver several key recruits to the Hilltop, notably freshmen DaJuan Summers and Vernon Macklin and current McDonald's All-Americans Chris Wright (St. John's) and Austin Freeman (DeMatha). Broadus will stay with the Hoyas throughout their NCAA tournament run before taking his new post in upstate New York.
Though Thompson refused to address the subject yesterday, Georgetown assistants Sidney Johnson and Robert Burke are both rumored to be in the pool of candidates for the vacant post at Princeton.
One of Stallings' closest friends is fellow Nashville resident Rick Byrd, the coach of the Belmont team Georgetown dispatched 80-55 in last week's NCAA tournament opening round in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"Certainly Rick and I spoke about it, but there's not a great deal I didn't know that we took from their game with Georgetown," Stallings said. "One of the things that Rick said that we have experienced as well is that [Georgetown] plays; they don't stand out there and talk trash to you or act ugly. I have great appreciation and respect for how [Thompson] coaches his team and how they play and compete."
Who are you?
Georgetown forward Jeff Green admitted he mistook junior point guard Jonathan Wallace for an interloper the first time the two met:
"I thought he was a family member of our security specialist [Greg Roberts] when I first met him because he was just standing there all quiet and unassuming," said Green, who wouldn't be the first to underestimate the 6-foot-1 former walk-on from Harvest, Ala. "It's funny because three years later, Roy and I both believe this is Jon's team. Roy calls him 'Captain Jon' because when we're on the floor he's in charge of this boat."
Like Green, Wallace will make his 100th consecutive start against Vanderbilt.