by Mike Prada
The Georgetown Hoyas enter the 2011 NCAA Tournament on a major down swing thanks to the broken hand suffered by Chris Wright in late February. Without Wright, the Hoyas dropped four straight games by an average of 14.25 points per game, including a 79-62 loss in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
Wright is expected to return in time for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but it’s not clear how healthy he will be when he comes back. He will be only about three weeks removed from surgery on the first Thursday or Friday of the NCAA Tournament, and he will be completely out of rhythm. That makes Georgetown one of the most difficult teams to peg in the entire tournament.
With Wright healthy, the Hoyas were among the nation’s best teams. They went through a rough stretch to start Big East play when they lost four or five, but they got both their offense and defense in gear and went on a nine-game winning streak thereafter. They have three outstanding, experienced guards in Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark, and while they lack the same depth inside, they were getting a lot out of Julian Vaughn, Nate Lubick and Hollis Thompson prior to Wright’s injury. But when you remove a cog like Wright, the whole team falls off. Such is the nature of a team that relies on the balanced Princeton Offense employed by John Thompson III.
How quickly Wright and the Hoyas recover will determine whether they end up showing they were dramatically underseeded or whether they will ultimately exit the NCAA Tournament quietly.
Record: 21-10, 10-9 in the Big East (21-6, 10-4 before Wright’s injury)
- 62-59 at Old Dominion on Nov. 12. A big win because it was the season opener against a powerful mid-major opponent.
- 111-102 vs. Missouri on Nov. 30. Technically a game on a neutral court, but Kansas City is hardly a neutral court against Missouri.
- 68-51 vs. Utah State on Dec. 4. Still the highest-ranked RPI win the Hoyas have.
- 77-52 vs. St. John’s on Jan. 26. A blowout win that kick-started their streak.
- 62-59 vs. Louisville on Jan. 31. A tough win against a strong Big East opponent.
- 64-56 at Syracuse on Feb. 9. First win at Syracuse since 2002.
- 58-46 vs. Cincinnati on Feb. 23, 69-47 at Cincinnati on March 5: Two bad losses after Chris Wright’s injury.
- 68-65 at Temple on Dec. 9: The only non-conference loss they suffered.
Player to watch: Wright is the obvious answer here. If he’s healthy, Georgetown is one of the best teams in the country. If he’s not healthy, they are barely NCAA Tournament material.