NCAA

Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry starts again

usatsi_7126504.jpg

Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry starts again

Isaac Copeland, Georgetown's second-leading scorer, officially committed to the men's basketball program on March 10, 2013. That specific date wasn't by accident. What Copeland witnessed the day before, the Big East regular season finale between Syracuse and Georgetown, clinched his decision.

"I was like 90 percent there," Copeland said of selecting the Big East program. "Once I saw that, it was over with."

With Patrick Ewing and other program legends inside a rock star loud Verizon Center, John Thompson III coached and the Hoyas dominated. The 61-39 romp clinched a share of the Big East regular season title, but the crown was the undercard. The Orange were off to the ACC. The rivalry would never be the same.

"Kiss Syracuse goodbye," former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. bellowed from the back of his son's postgame press conference.

The game ended with fans storming the court and with Georgetown landing a recruit.

"Probably the craziest basketball game I've ever been too," said Copeland, now a sophomore and the Hoyas' second-leading scorer.

Nearly three years later, Georgetown and Syracuse is back on. 

This Saturday (1:00 p.m.), Copeland and many of the Hoyas (3-3) get their first taste of the rivalry as players. Only two members of the current squad, seniors D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Bradley Hayes, previously faced Syracuse (6-1)/

The head coach isn't worried about the kids grasping the significance.

"If you grew up as a Hatfield, you know not to like the McCoy's, don't ya?" John Thompson III said Thursday at McDonough Arena.

In this analogy, longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, part of this series since both programs helped start the Big East in 1980, is the leader of the McCoy's. That won't be the case Saturday. Boeheim will begin serving a nine-game suspension rules violations, the NCAA announced Thursday. Assistant coach and head coach designate Mike Hopkins will run the game for No. 14 Syracuse

"I don't think it will affect much," Thompson said about the game intensity without Boeheim prowling the sideline. Besides, Syracuse will still send their team, including top scorers Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney. "If they left Michael Gbinije at home or [Cooney] at home, then I think it would mean something. ...Mike Hopkins has been sitting on that bench for most of his adult life, literally. He knows what to say, what to do, what buttons to push."

Boeheim, who holds a 7-9 head-to-head record against the younger Thompson will get another direct shot at the Hoyas as the schools agreed to a four-year series.

"He's not going to be screaming down there," Smith-Rivera said of Boeheim. "Hopefully it can work in our favor."

For the X's and O's portion of the game working in their favor offensively, the Hoyas must deftly navigate Syracuse's noted 2-3 matchup zone while remaining aggressive.

"Try not to keep it around the perimeter. That's what they want us to do," sophomore guard Tre Campbell said. "If we have to, just knock down our shots."

Smith-Rivera hit plenty of shots, including five 3-pointers as he scored 30 points in Tuesday's 68-49 win over Maryland Eastern Shore. Georgetown has won two straight after an upsetting 1-3 start.

Former Georgetown standout and current Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert, recalling his days against the Orange, said the key is get the ball "to the middle of the paint and you'll be good." That's something Wisconsin did effectively en route to handing Syracuse it first loss of the season, 66-58 in overtime. The Badgers, who lost to Georgetown 71-61 last month, outscored the Orange 30-14 in the paint and held a 51-25 rebounding edge.

"They got the ball to the overload and attacked," Copeland said. "If you can get the ball to the spot around the free throw line, then look to attack."

Copeland, Hayes and freshman center Jessie Govan will likely rotate as triggermen from that free throw area. The sneaky maneuver involves deploying the 6-foot-3 Smith-Rivera in that role. Thompson used a similar sized player, Chris Wright, to great affect several seasons ago.

The defensive key in Thompson's opinion is communication. Syracuse's perimeter shooting carried the Orange to three straight wins and the Battle 4 Atlantis championship last month.

"It's paramount," Thompson said of the need for his players to be in harmony defensively against a Syracuse he believes is "one of the best offensive teams they've had in a long, long time."

This series began a long, long time ago. The 1929-30 season to be exact, but the real juice began in 1980 when John Thompson Jr. famously said, “Manley Field House is officially closed" following a road win in the final game at Syracuse's home court. Numerous heavyweight bouts followed. Some for Big East titles, always for bragging rights and then some.

The Hoyas and Orange get it on again Saturday. All involved agree that's 100 percent the way it should be.

Georgetown notches impressive road win, Mac McClung dunks again

mac-mcclung-illini-hoyas-twitter.png
Twitter

Georgetown notches impressive road win, Mac McClung dunks again

The Georgetown Hoyas notched an impressive road win on Tuesday night, defeating Illinois, 88-80 as part of the fourth annual Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Hoyas (3-0) were led by freshman James Akinjo (19 points), Josh LeBlanc (14 points) and Mac McClung (12 points), while freshman Ayo Dusunmo led all players with 25 points for the Illini (1-1) in the loss.

While Georgetown is far from a finished product or even a Top 25 team, the Hoyas are must-see television.

There's a Ewing (head coach Patrick) on the sideline, a Mourning (Alonzo's son Trey) in the middle, a future pro who can stretch the floor (Jessie Govan) and the most electrifying dunker in the country (McClung).

Akinjo has all the makings of a future All Big East First Team selection, LeBlanc provides ideal length to guard multiple positions, and sophomore Jamorko Pickett is a playmaker very few are talking about right now. That just might be a great thing.

Speaking of McClung, the Gate City, Va. freshman once again put on a mixtape performance, going up-and-under for a nifty finish and finishing a transition play in reverse style.

McClung did finish 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and has now missed all 11 of his 3-point attempts this season. But the 6-1 dunk sensation does have six steals and nine assists to go along with 24 points in the first three games of his college career.

Next up for the Hoyas is a trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica to take on Loyola Marymount and South Florida as part of the 2018 Jamaica Classic, which begins Friday, Nov. 16 on CBS Sports Network.

MORE GEORGETOWN NEWS:

 

Virginia, Virginia Tech each moved one spot in new top-25 poll but in opposite directions

virginia_hoops_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Virginia, Virginia Tech each moved one spot in new top-25 poll but in opposite directions

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Duke changed everything about who AP Top 25 voters considered to be the nation's best team with a single dominating performance against a marquee opponent.

It also gave the Blue Devils yet another milestone under Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski: a record number of appearances at No. 1.

The Blue Devils jumped from fourth to first Monday in the first regular-season poll, leapfrogging Kansas at the top after a blowout win against then-No. 2 Kentucky last week. That allowed Duke to set a record with its 135th week at No. 1, breaking a tie with UCLA for the most top rankings in poll history.

The 34-point win against the Wildcats in the Champions Classic to open the season marked the program's most lopsided win against a top-5 opponent. Duke was practically flawless behind star freshmen RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, and that created a buzz about the team's already lofty potential being somehow even higher than anyone anticipated.

Granted, it was one game. And Duke (2-0) didn't look nearly so dazzling Sunday at home against Army. But that one performance caused a major voting shift, even with now-No. 2 Kansas earning a quality win of its own against then-No. 10 Michigan State in the first game of the Champions Classic.

Kansas was a solid preseason No. 1 by earning 37 of 65 first-place votes, followed by 19 for Kentucky and four for Duke. But Duke now has 48 first-place votes, claiming the top spot for all 19 voters who had Kentucky as preseason No. 1 while also causing 23 voters to switch from Kansas in the preseason Duke this week.

Duke also prompted switches from the lone voters who had Gonzaga and Villanova at No. 1 in the preseason.

The hype probably won't slow anytime soon, either. The Blue Devils have everyone's attention.

"Part of becoming good is keeping the noise out of your locker room," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Army win. "And when something good happens and you have the start of the season ... there's a lot of noise. And for us, it's not always good noise, but in this case, it was exceptional noise. Exceptional noise.

"When you have four freshmen and we don't have veterans, you have to be more mature about listening to that."

COMPLETE MEN'S BASKETBALL TOP-25 RANKINGS WEEK 2

1. Duke 2-0 (48 votes, No. 4 last week)

2. Kansas 1-0 (14 votes, No. 1 last week)

3. Gonzaga 2-0 (No. 3 last week)

4. Virginia 2-0 (2 votes, No. 5 last week)

5. Tennessee 2-0 (1 vote, No. 6 last week)

6. Nevada 2-0 (No. 7 last week)

7. North Carolina 2-0 (No. 8 last week)

8. Villanova 2-0 (No. 9 last week)

9. Auburn 2-0 (No. 11 last week)

10. Kentucky 1-1 (No. 2 last week)

11. Michigan State (No. 10 last week)

12. Kansas State 1-0 (No. 12 last week)

13. Oregon 2-0 (No. 14 last week)

14. Florida State 2-0 (No. 17 last week)

15. Syracuse 2-0 (No. 16 last week)

16. Virginia Tech 1-0 (No. 15 last week)

17. Mississippi State 2-0 (No. 18 last week)

18. Michigan 2-0 (No. 19 last week)

19. Clemson 2-0 (No. 22 last week)

20. UCLA 2-0 (No. 21 last week)

21. TCU 2-0 (No. 20 last week)

22. LSU 2-0 (No. 23 last week)

23. Purdue 2-0 (No. 24 last week)

24. Marquette 2-0 (Not ranked last week)

25. Buffalo 2-0 (Not ranked last week)

AT THE TOP

Gonzaga stayed at No. 3, followed by Virginia and Tennessee each climbing a spot to round out the top 5. Nevada, North Carolina, reigning national champion Villanova and Auburn were next, while Kentucky slid eight spots to No. 10.

TOP RISERS

There weren't any dramatic climbs beyond the Duke-Kansas change at the top. In all, 16 teams moved up this week poll, with No. 14 Florida State and No. 19 Clemson matching Duke's three-spot jump for the biggest of the week.

Twelve of the gains were merely one spot.

LONGEST SLIDES

Kentucky's fall was the biggest for any team that stayed in the poll. The others were all modest, with four teams -- Kansas, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 21 TCU -- falling one spot each.

NEWCOMERS

There were two new teams in the poll with No. 24 Marquette and No. 25 Buffalo.

It's the first appearance for Marquette in nearly five years since last appearing at No. 25 in November 2013.

As for Buffalo, it's the first AP Top 25 appearance in program history. It comes after the Bulls got 43 points and 14 rebounds from CJ Massinburg to beat then-No. 13 West Virginia on the road -- another marquee upset for a team that beat Arizona and eventual No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament.

SLIDING OUT

The Mountaineers slid all the way out after losing to the Bulls, which marked their first loss in a home opener since November 2003. Washington fell out from No. 25 after a loss to Auburn.

MORE NCAA NEWS