Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown’s Road Continues to UConn

Every team in sports can say that unless they win the championship, it has not experienced complete satisfaction with its season. This has not been a problem for the University of Connecticut, a school that won both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball championships in 2004.

UConn men’s coach Jim Calhoun stood on a ladder last spring and cut down his second set of basketball nets in his career, one for winning the championship both in 1999 and one again for last season. Calhoun has built a basketball powerhouse at UConn, and this season is no different. A combination of inspiring guard play and low-post scoring and rebounding has given UConn a legitimate chance to return to the Final Four again this season.

The Hoyas will face the No. 15 Huskies this week in a match-up that projects the Hoyas as considerable underdogs. The two teams have already met once this season in a game played Jan. 8 at MCI Center. The Hoyas fell behind early before closing the gap near the end of the second half, finishing on the losing end of a 66-59 UConn victory.

The first contest turned out to be a stage for sophomore forward Charlie Villanueva to display his unlimited potential. Villanueva dominated the Hoyas down low, scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, leading his team in both categories and almost single-handedly giving the Huskies the win.

Villanueva has been erratic this season, averaging just 12.8 points per game, a number well below his capabilities. The 6-foot-11 Huskies big man will be the key to Wednesday night’s game once again. If he can have his way against Hoya freshmen Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green, this game could turn out much like the first meeting.

Aside from Villanueva, UConn is heavy with talent. Sophomore center Josh Boone has been playing hard-nosed basketball, leading the Big East in rebounding (8.8 rebounds per game) this season. Former starting point guard Rashad Anderson (13.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game) has been injured for nearly a month, but reserve guard Marcus Williams has picked up the slack, leading the Big East with 8.0 assists per game.

UConn has been playing its best basketball of the season since the start of February, going 7-1, making them tough to defeat in the hostile environment of Gampel Pavilion. Connecticut has been one of the best teams in college basketball in the past month, beating the likes of No. 19 Villanova, No. 9 Syracuse, Notre Dame and most recently No. 24 Pittsburgh, with their only loss in recent weeks coming against No. 2 North Carolina.

The Hoyas have now dropped three straight games, all to Big East teams. Georgetown is the definition of a bubble team for the NCAA tournament, desperately in need of a win to stop its current skid. Georgetown has to be very careful not to slide out of the tournament picture, a goal that has been in sight ever since conference play started with a huge win over the then-No. 16 Pittsburgh Panthers.

A win on the road against UConn would revive Georgetown’s hope for a tournament berth, but this heavy task will be the toughest of the season. With UConn’s current winning streak providing momentum going into the Big East Tournament in early arch, Calhoun inevitably knows the importance of finishing the regular season strong.

The good news for Hoya fans is that junior forward Brandon Bowman (15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game) has stepped up his play lately. Bowman was the only Hoya in double-digits this past Sunday when Georgetown lost to the then-No. 24 Villanova Wildcats, posting a game-high 22 points. Bowman will need to lead the charge again this Wednesday while getting his teammates involved if the Hoyas hope to hold any chance of escaping Storrs, Conn., with a win.

Looking at the big picture, the Hoyas aren’t out of it yet. If the Hoyas play the way they are capable of playing, they can give the Huskies a run on Wednesday.

If they fall short, Georgetown can still hold for a victory in the final game of the regular season this Saturday against the Providence Friars. A win here coupled with a win in the Big East tournament should secure the Hoyas a spot in this year’s NCAA tournament. Yet, with so many teams clawing to get into the field of 65, this year’s selection process will come down to the wire.

Tip-off is tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.

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