Hoyas adjust to whistle blowers, opening loss

Hoyas adjust to whistle blowers, opening loss
November 12, 2013, 11:45 pm
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(Reuters-USA TODAY Sports)

Just into its season and 0-1 Georgetown knows adjustments must take place. The NCAA wants it that way.

That's nothing to do with the Hoyas, who open their home schedule Wednesday night versus Wright State (1-0) at 7 p.m. Rather a coast-to-coast call for change from the sports legislative body to have refs become more stringent with hand checks, arm bars and bumping cutters. The hope is eventually less touching on defense translates into more points on offense. Early in this season scoring is up, but so are foul calls, which lead to numerous free throws, which lead to the adjustments - on both ends of the court.

"Defense and offense. It is an adjustment period, there is no doubt about that," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said on Tuesday at McDonough Arena. "I think the officials still have to figure what they're trying to accomplish as well as the players and coaching staff the best way to change how you have been doing things offensively and defensively."

Whistled for 31 fouls in their 82-75 loss to Oregon on Friday, the Hoyas put the Ducks on the line a whopping 44 times. Georgetown took 30, and was outscored 36-20 on free throws.

"They want to get scoring up which is fine, but then you penalize guys for touching on defense," Thompson said of the philosophical change. "I don't think that if you look at college basketball the last couple of years the games have been less exciting. You want to say scoring is down, that may be true, but some people get excitement off of getting defensive stops as much as getting scoring. ...We can sit and debate the merits of the changes all we want, but they're here and we have to adjust."

Now the coach can also fiddle with his offensive schemes and find more ways to take benefit from his team's physical and system advantages.

Joshua Smith, Georgetown's 6-foot-10, 350-pound center dominated offensively inside against the Ducks, making 10 of 13 field goal attempts.

"I'm going to be aggressive no matter what the rules say," Smith said. "With the new rules, they've made it clear there are a lot of advantages for big men because a lot has changed when a guy gets the ball. ...Once a guy gets the ball, you can't arm-bar anymore, you can't use two hands, you can't stop a guy's movements. If they're going to give it to you, might as well take it."

That aggression did not translate on the glass as Smith played 27 minutes without a defensive rebound. Oregon had 40 rebounds to Georgetown's 32.

The former UCLA transfer has a size edge on most humans, but now defenders are virtually powerless when the big man establishes position on the low blocks. Though Wright State, considered a leading contender for the Horizon League title, is loaded with experience, the Raiders' roster does not sport a single player within 100 pounds of Smith' weight. Good luck.

"That is one thing I guess offensively with the rule changes: It's really hard to guard Josh," Georgetown senior forward Nate Lubick said.

Then there is the flow of Thompson's motion offense that includes those famous backdoor cuts. The coach will certainly remind Wednesday's game crew that calls are not just about defending players with the ball.

"I just hope the officials maintain consistent [calls] off the ball as well as on the ball, meaning it's supposed to apply to cutters," said Thompson, who has aggressive cutters and drivers in guards Markel Starks and Jabril Trawick. The duo went 8 for 10 on free throws against Oregon.

Thompson continued.

"When our guys cut - which we do a lot relative to other teams - if you [hand check], this is supposed to be a foul also. Whereas before people could stand up to cutters, bump the cutters, chuck the cutters, now that's supposed to be a foul. ...Adjustments have to be made all the way around."

The coach acknowledged that the rise in free throws attempted could lead to more time spent on taking shots in practice. That's another adjustment for another day. Thompson has plenty to make already, on both ends of the court, especially after Oregon scored 82 points, more than the Hoyas allowed in any game last season.

"I do think the goal that the powers that be wanted to have is going to happen," Thompson said. "Scoring is going to go up."

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