Rivalry day

Presumably there are other things happening in the world today besides the Georgetown Hoyas’ matchup with the Syracuse Orange this evening, but I can’t think of any.

I’m also struggling to determine if there’s something about this particular Hoyas club that makes them more likable than any I can remember, or if that’s just my mind playing tricks on me because they’re good and have not yet suffered the type of late-season collapse they’ve endure in most recent years.

But if there is something extra about them that I’m enjoying beyond just that they’re my alma mater’s basketball team and they’ve been steadily ranked among the top 20 teams in the nation for the past two month, I think Nicole Auerbach gets at it here: They seem particularly good at playing together.

Last year’s team graduated its two best players, guards Austin Freeman and Chris Wright. Freeman typically did most of his damage from the perimeter and Wright was more apt to slash and drive to the basket, though neither was so offensively limited. Both seemed streaky, both could take over games, and, as seniors, both were assertive.

Their departure left the team with merely three upperclassmen: senior guard Jason Clark, junior forward Hollis Thompson and senior center Henry Sims.

Clark is a 6’2″ third-year starter with arms that go down to his ankle. He’s strong on defense, he can shoot from anywhere and he makes layups in traffic. Thompson hits nearly half of his three-pointers and does a little bit of everything everywhere else. Neither seems wont to force the issue on offense.

Sims occasionally does, which is exceptionally weird to anyone who watched him play a brand of confused, tentative and often downright lousy basketball in sparing minutes the last few years. Something happened to Sims this offseason — a long talk with his mother, most say — and now he’s awesome. He bangs down jumpers from 18 feet and hits turnaround fadeaways over opposing seven-footers. And, like most Georgetown big men, he’s an excellent passer.

I’m getting into too many details here and I never intended that. The Hoyas also roll deep for the first time in a while, with an impressive freshman class led by Otto Porter and featuring a bunch of other dudes that seem to have at least one strong asset and one notable weakness, none of which probably matter much to you.

Point is, I’m pretty sure this Georgetown team actually is more fun to watch than previous incarnations. And I don’t mean to say they’re better for losing Wright and Freeman, their two best players, like how the Mets should traid David Wright because he’s unclutch or anything. But I think the departure of the assertive stars, the emergence of more passive ones and the influx of depth make the Hoyas more aesthetically interesting.

Which is to say: They pass the ball well, and frequently. Oh, and they play awesome defense. It’s enjoyable.

Unfortunately, Syracuse is good at everything except having its players pass their classes and being willing to stay in the Big East. Plus, given how hostile the Carrier Dome environment is to opposing fans, I could only imagine how difficult it must be to play a road game there. So this could suck.

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