JT3 talks Porter for POY, Big East breakup, Rutgers

JT3 talks Porter for POY, Big East breakup, Rutgers
March 2, 2013, 10:00 am
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No. 7 Georgetown (22-4, 12-3 Big East) vs. Rutgers (13-13, 4-11)

From the hunter to the hunted: The Hoyas began the season unranked and outside of any discussion regarding the Big East's primary contenders. Starting conference play at 0-2 did not change that perception. My have times changed. Georgetown enters Saturday's late-night rematch with Rutgers ranked No. 7 in the latest AP Top-25 poll and sitting atop the conference standings. The Hoyas extended their winning streak to 10 games with a thrilling double-overtime win at Connecticut on Wednesday.

"It's a little different," starting forward Nate Lubick said. "We have a target on our back. It's kind of the opposite of the beginning of the year. We embrace it. We treat every game the same. I think this team has had to adjust to tons of different games this year. This is just another step in the process."

At stake: Georgetown stands one game ahead of No. 10 Louisville and No. 22 Marquette in the conference race. The Hoyas, who allow a Big East low 57.9 points per game, own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals, but split with the Golden Eagles. Georgetown arguably has the toughest final week schedule of the three teams. Syracuse and Notre Dame sit two games back. The conference tournament begins on March 13, but the top four seeds receive a double-bye and begin play on Thursday, March 15.

Player of the Year: Georgetown coach John Thompson has not exactly been coy about touting his star sophomore Otto Porter for both Big East and National Player of the Year honors. Porter has been the frontrunner for the conference award for several weeks, though his stock on the coast-to-coast scene only recently soared following his 33-point explosion at Syracuse last weekend. Scoring 22 points including the game-winning layup against the Huskies only bolstered the cause.

Asked on Friday how he generically defines a Player of the Year, Thompson spelled it out for the assorted media members on hand: "O-t-t-o."

In Big East games, Porter ranks second in the conference with 18.1 points per game, first in 3-point shooting percentage (48.2), and top-10 in rebounding, steals, and field goal percentage.

Porter's primary competition for the national award comes from Indiana swingman and D.C. area native Victor Oladipo, Michigan guard Trey Burke and Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk.

Breaking up with the Big East: We knew it was happening, we just didn't know exactly when. That is until reports surfaced this week that has Georgetown and the Big East's other basketball-only schools setting up shop in a new league in time for next season. Conference by-laws require outgoing schools to stick around for 27 months before exiting. However, all sides are moving toward a resolution, though none was announced following a meeting of the school President's in Atlanta on Friday.

"I've said from the beginning: the sooner the better," Thompson said on Friday at McDonough Arena. "That's best for every and all parties in our situation. In other conferences, if you know there's going to be a change, the sooner the better."

The name of the new league will be the same as the old one, the Big East.

"I'd love to call it the Georgetown League myself," Thompson cracked

The opponent: The Scarlett Knights have lost three straight and the last two without leading scorer Eli Carter, who broke his leg in the Feb. 16 setback against DePaul. Sophomore guard Myles Mack scored 28 and 24 respectively in back-to-back games against DePaul and Villanova. Fellow guard Jerome Seagears sinks 39 percent of his 3-point attempts. Even without Carter, who scored 23 against the Hoyas last month, that's enough to have Thompson concerned.

"They had three of the best guards in the league. Now they have two of the best guards in the league and you still have to find a way to slow down Seagears and Mack," Thompson said. "We have to come and play with more intensity, more focus, more cohesiveness [on Saturday] then we did on Wednesday."

Off for a week, Rutgers has had plenty of time to prep for the Hoyas and study game film from the Feb. 9 meeting, won by Georgetown 69-63. Porter scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half as the Hoyas wrapped up the win in the final minutes. With Nate Lubick in foul trouble, Mikael Hopkins picked up the interior slack by scoring 14 points.

Newest Hoya in the NBA: Henry Sims tweeted out some very good professional news today.

Next up: Georgetown plays its final true road game of the season at Villanova on Wednesday before hosting Syracuse in the granddaddy of regular season finales next Saturday at the Verizon Center.