College Hoops Roundup: Hoyas backcourt stands out

College Hoops Roundup: Hoyas backcourt stands out
November 18, 2013, 3:00 pm

Instant replay

Georgetown (1-1): For all the sizable hype about new big man Josh Smith, the Hoyas fortunes rely on their backcourt. After clanking one 3-pointer after another in the season opening loss to Oregon, guards Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera buried early 3-pointers against upset-minded Wright State last Wednesday. With Smith playing only 17 minutes, the pair totaled 48 points and each nailed three 3's, as did freshman Reggie Cameron in Georgetown first win of the season. Factor in the aggressive Jabril Trawick and the Hoyas have one of the top guard units in the country. The real intrigue comes when the bigs and small are getting it done in the same game. That hasn't happened yet. No clue how defenses collapse around the 350-pound Smith, who will have an 80-100 point weight advantage against a single defender most games, if the perimeter shots are falling. Seeing as Georgetown lacks proven interior scoring besides Smith and opposing teams will surrender perimeter looks if given a choice, the guards must keep making them pay.

George Mason (3-0): Depth hasn't always been a good asset during Paul Hewitt's tenure with the Patriots. Using lots of players contributes to certain uneven performances. At least it has for the Fairfax crew over the past two seasons. Early in this campaign, having a deep bench has proven oh so helpful. Playing without three likely starters the Patriots defeated Northern Iowa 76-70 on Saturday thanks to Sherrod Wright's 23 points and Marko Gujancic's second straight double-double. That came after the short-handed roster won at Lamar on Tuesday. The Patriots are certainly better when guard Bryon Allen and forward Jonathan Arledge are healthy options. More size comes when center Erik Copes returns from his six-game suspension. For now, Hewitt can still go legitimately 8-9 deep until they do.

George Washington (3-0): Head coach Mike Lonergan might believe starting preseason practices early is a "terrible" idea. He can't complain about the initial results. The Colonials won both off their games last week, including Saturday's 80-74 comeback at Manhattan in which they overcame a nine-point halftime deficit. Wing guard Maurice Creek and forward Isaiah Armwood combined for 47 points, 10 more than the inside-outside duo scored in Tuesday's 108-81 rout over Maine. Offense proved challenging for Lonergan's squad last season, but the 108 points marked the program's most in regulation since 2000.

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American (1-1): It's uncertain whether 5-foot-9 point guard Darius Gardner can actually dunk. It is however factual that the former Stephen F. Austin transfer stuffed the stat sheet in his first Eagles home game. In Saturday's 63-61 overtime win over UMBC, the junior played all 45 minutes and finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and six steals. The new big man on the Ward Circle campus, who of course goes by "Pee Wee," also forced overtime with a last second jumper as AU closed regulation on a 10-3 run. "We showed resiliency tonight," Eagles first-year Mike Brennan told media members postgame. "It is a good win for us.'Pee Wee' was big all night, showcasing his great decision making."

Player of the Week: Maurice Creek, George Washington

Last season the youthful Colonials showed all kinds of pluck, but the lack of outside shooting and backcourt experience often derailed late game efforts. In theory, adding the former Indiana transfer this offseason addressed both issues. In actuality, Creek has done exactly. In the rallying road win over Manhattan, Creek scored 24 of his 27 points in the second half thanks to five 3-pointers. The 6-foot-5 guard, whose career has been derailed by injuries, also grabbed six rebounds and sealed the win with six free throws in the closing minutes. Including the win earlier in the week over Maine, Creek finished 10 of 17 from beyond the arc. On the season, Creek leads the Colonials in scoring (19.3) and is perfect on 12 free throw attempts.

On Deck

Georgetown: Talk about your antsy bunch. Having barely enough time to unpack from the season opening trip to South Korea, the Hoyas are heading outside the mainland once again. The Puerto Rico Tip-off opens on Thursday as Georgetown plays three games in four days starting with Northeastern (1:30 p.m., ESPNU). Kansas State or Charlotte looms on Friday followed by the final game on Sunday against Michigan, VCU, Florida State or Long Beach State. Beyond winning the event, root for the draw to fall Georgetown's way, meaning RPI helpful opponents, meaning Kansas State followed by Michigan or VCU.

George Mason: The Patriots host St. Francis on Tuesday (7 p.m.) before playing their second road game of the young season at Iona on Saturday (2 p.m.)

George Washington: Back for their third game at the Smith Center this season, the Colonials host Delaware State on Tuesday (7 p.m.). From there we're talking about practice before the Wooden Legacy tournament in Southern California starting on November 28.

American: The first of four straight road games starts Wednesday against Ohio State (7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network), easily the Eagles most imposing foe this season. Gardner and crew then play at Mount St. Mary's on Saturday (4 p.m.)