Why John Wooden would love Otto Porter

Why John Wooden would love Otto Porter
December 5, 2012, 1:00 pm
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While I was on Wizards watch Tuesday night, No. 15 Georgetown annihilated Texas 64-41 in the Jimmy V Classic. Impossible to avoid final result spoilers, but I managed to get away without knowing many details about said annihilation. Thanks to my trusty TIVO, I watched the entire first half this morning and sped-watched the rest. Observations below...

*Off the bat I like Georgetown pressuring Texas full court. Clearly part of the strategy stems from the Longhorns playing without its starting point guard, but the move also speeds up the game's tempo. The Hoyas simply play better when the ball is moving up and down than a pure half court game.

*Nice stat from the television crew: the Hoyas start four players 6-foot-8 or taller (that we knew). Only one NBA team - Utah - can make that claim (that we didn't know, at least not me)

* Initial nine possessions for Texas:  0-5 from the field with four turnovers. Jump ahead a few minutes and the Longhorns have eight turnovers less than six minutes in. The Hoyas length and tenacity showing early. For all the Princeton offense talk, it's on this end of the court where Georgetown will thrive this season.

*Mikael Hopkins patiently found a baseline-cutting Nate Lubick for a backdoor bounce pass. Wasn't sure he had that element in his game. With Henry Sims no longer around, fewer high-post passes leading to layups have been executed.

*Think Moses Ayegba just airballed a putback from one foot out. Confirmed on Tivo rewind. Let's move on. The powerful center made up for it moments later by cutting down the lane and flushing a perfectly executed bounce pass from freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Even if I didn't know the result, this one has the feel of a loom blowout the way Georgetown is finding whatever it wants on offense.

*Otto Porter gathers the ball on the left block, calmly turns and fires over two defenders, good. Always impressed with his poise. Watching him played reminds me of the John Wooden quote, "be quick, but don't hurry." Rarely if ever out of control, that Porter kid.

*Sure his teammates are setting him with one open look after another, but perhaps Lubick should injure his elbow more often. After playing only eight minutes against Tennessee, the rugged power forward finished 6 of 7 from the field against Texas, even awkwardly banging in a mid-range jumper.

*Either Markel Starks's lob pass wound too close to the rim or Greg Whittington's momentum carried him in more than desired (probably this), but he missed the alley-oop dunk. Rather than sulk, Whittington raced back and swatted a shot off the backboard. This reminds me that last year John Thompson II suggested Whittington has the potential to be the best defender in the program's history. The former coach was probably talking more about standard half court defending, but this play showed how Whittington's go-go gadget arms are lethal in any scenario.

*Three minutes left in the first half what do I see but not one, not two but three freshman on the court at once with Stephen Domingo and Bradley Hayes in with Smith-Rivera. Holding a 15-point lead, a rarity for Georgetown in first halves this season, is allowing JTIII to expand his rotation. (Jumping ahead to the final box score: only one starter (Porter) played over 30 minutes while eight players received at least 10 minutes plus Ayegba and Hayes had extended minutes. Whittington (29) played less than 30 minutes for the first time this season while apparently Thompson used the game scenario plus some trouble to play Hopkins a season-low nine minutes. Ideally over the next four games - all at home and all favorable matchups - Thompson continues exploring his reserve options especially up front because eventually they will be needed.

*Halftime, Georgetown 30-17. Texas shoots 28.6 percent (8 of 28). Andy Katz mentions to Thompson that the Hoyas scored nearly as many points as they did in the 37-36 win over Tennessee on Friday. I'm sure the coach loved the reminder. "Tennessee was anomaly."

*Now in skipping ahead mode...Texas hanging around, but Starks drills a corner 3 and patient Porter with another inside score. Now Whittington banks in a straight-on 3-pointer then his block leads to a Jabril Trawick assertive fast break layup and an 18-point lead with under 12 remaining. Yeah, I still think Georgetown gets this done.

*I'll watch the rest later, but it's final box score notes time...I need to find another term besides stat-stuffing if Porter keeps this up, but the sophomore posted another stacked stat line: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals, 2 assists, zero turnovers...Lubick matched his season and career-high with 13 points...Starks had 11 on 4-of-shooting. The junior guard has made at least half his shots in four of last five games, firing at a 53.8 clip in that span...Georgetown outrebounded Texas 36-31, first time the Hoyas won the rebounding battle against a power conference foe in four games this season...Hoyas only 4 of 18 from beyond the arc. Both Whittington and Smith-Rivera finished 1 of 5 from distance with Whittington's one make a straight on bank.

*Based on his postgame quotes, JTIII was happy with the team's defense, less so the offense. Saw the word "stagnant" used regarding the ball movement. Far be it from me to argue with coach, but the overall tempo, flow especially in the first half seemed rather favorable. But sure, the concerns remain (depth, outside shooting for example) and Texas might be a BCS-caliber team in name only this season. Anyway, coach's are always looking ahead, can't let their players become too high or too low.

*Speaking of looking ahead, Georgetown faces Towson on Saturday, which means ex-Hoya Jerrelle Benimon coming back to the Verizon Center.