Georgetown is projected to start four players that are 6-foot-8 or taller tonight against Florida
But Georgetown coach John Thompson III doesn’t necessarily view his team’s size advantage as an overwhelming advantage.
“We’ll see whether we can chase around their little guys,” Thompson said. “We have taller guys that I think can be pretty good. They’re versatile. They can play different positions at both ends of the court.
“We have big guys that can guard little guys and so I think that gives our team the flexibility where we can go big, but we also can go small, so we’ll see as the year goes on.”
What the Hoyas bring to the table in size is counterbalanced by its lack of experience. Georgetown has no seniors on its team and three new starters. Georgetown’s leading returning scorer, 6-8 forward Otto Porter, averaged 9.7 points per game last season. Florida, meanwhile, will start three seniors tonight — Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy.
“We are young and we have some freshmen and sophomores that are going to have to play big roles for us,” Thompson said. “I think that we’ll be a better team in a couple of weeks then we will be tomorrow because we have some guys that have to grow up and continue to progress. We have a sophomore class that played heavy minutes as freshmen but they are still sophomores, they are still learning.”
Under Thompson, Georgetown runs an intricate Princeton motion offense, so the Gators defensively will need to be wary of backdoor cuts along the baseline. Asked about his young players absorbing the Princeton offense, Thompson responded: “Absorbing college life is a challenge, Absorbing how intense it is at this level, forget the Princeton offense, it’s a huge jump for most kids from high school to college.
Thompson said Florida forward Corey Brewer’s circus shot to beat Georgetown in the 2006 Sweet 16 still sticks with him to this day. That was the last meeting between the two schools, a defensive struggle which Florida won 57-53. Five players on the floor that night are currently playing in the NBA — Brewer (Denver Nuggets), Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks), Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers) and Jeff Green (Boston Celtics).
“Playing the NCAA Tournament is special,” Thompson said. “And as you are play further and further along you know how hard it is to get to that point. Every year it’s the last game that sticks with you the most.”
Florida is a 4-point favorite in tonight’s game against Georgetown. The Gators open the season No. 10 in the country, while Georgetown is unranked.
But Blue Ribbon’s 2012-13 basketball yearbook pointed out the Hoyas were picked to finish 10th in the Big East last season, and wound up tied for 4th. And the Blue Ribbon guide is high on Porter, who started eight games as a freshman. “The player to watch is Porter, a 6-8, 205-pound small forward who showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman,” wrote Blue Ribbon’s Big East preview writer Mike Waters. “There were times when Porter was obviously the best player on the floor for Georgetown.”
— 2013 center Joel Embiid (The Rock Academy, Gainesville) will announce his college commitment next Thursday. The 6-foot-11 center has Florida in his final three with Kansas and Texas.