The Georgetown Hoyas have a very good basketball program. It doesn’t matter which member of the Thompson family coaches the program, 20 wins seem like a given every year. This version of the Hoyas, John Thompson III version (Circa 2004), is a team that’s nearly indefinable. Nobody knows how to pigeon hole their offense (Neither does their coach), in some games they score less than a chubby streetwalker, and other games they seem to be oblivious of how good they actually are. But they continue to win game after game. One problem despite their winning ways, they do have a pension to do is play down to their level of opponents.
Playing down to your opponents is only a natural thing. It’s hard to get up for a game when you are playing a team that’s considered slightly below-average at best. However, playing that same team when their head coach has nothing to lose is another. Rutgers Scarlet Knights coach Mike Rice came to the program with a lot of hoopla. Rice had three ridiculously successful seasons with Robert Morriss (73-31) before joining the Rutgers’ program. Touted as a recruiting juggernaut, Rice is having a particularly hard time in the Big East and rumors are starting to be whispered of his impending demise.
This leaves Georgetown in a precarious situation. The Hoyas are playing for Big East Tournament seeding and more importantly a chance at a rather high-seed for the NCAA Tournament. Rutgers, well they have nothing to lose and will surely play like it.
Playing with nothing to lose opens up a bunch of opportunities. It makes the players feel more free to take shots they normally wouldn’t, helps them walk around with an undeserved confidence and gives them the “us against the world” swag we often see in horrible sports movies. Also, being that this is Rice’s third year at the helm, most of the guys on the roster are his recruits. Meaning, these guys are going to play hard, smart, and do whatever it takes to help their coach keep his job.
Georgetown is just playing for seeding at this point. Unlike Rutgers, the Hoyas won’t be trotting on the court with any sense of urgency. Clearly they are a better team, but given the circumstances it is not inconceivable that an upset can happen.
Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone