Thursday, March 11, 2010
Georgetown 91, Syracuse 84
By Dana O'Neil
Syracuse now must wait to see if its loss to Georgetown costs the Orange a No. 1 seed.
NEW YORK -- In the span of one game, Georgetown reminded everyone why it can be a serious player in the NCAA tournament and Syracuse faced its first taste of vulnerability.
In an incredibly high-energy quarterfinal game, the Hoyas played smart, focused and forceful, pushing the tempo on Syracuse and upsetting the Orange's rhythm in a stunning early dismissal of one of the best teams in the country.
Frustratingly unpredictable all season, the Hoyas put on display that when they are good, they can be very, very good.
But the biggest play of the game won't show up on the stat sheet. Arinze Onuaku and Greg Monroe collided when Monroe went up for a shot and Onuaku crumbled to the ground, clutching his right knee. For a Syracuse team that has played so well together since the start of the season, it's not just a big loss on the court, it's a potentially huge mental blow.
The big question: How serious is Onuaku's injury? The big man was helped off the court after injuring his right knee. He went directly to the locker room and his parents were brought in with him. If it's serious, it's a body blow for the Orange going forward. They quickly become six deep in the rotation and lose one of the anchors in that tough zone. It also puts a much heavier burden on Rick Jackson.
The other big question: Will this loss change Syracuse's spot on the No. 1 seed line? My guess is no. Last year, Pitt lost in this exact spot but still was awarded a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday. That said, the once-vaunted Orange have now dropped two in a row. They're still a terrific team, but head into the NCAA tournament looking vulnerable and perhaps without Onuaku, feeling vulnerable.
Georgetown won this game with hustle and hard work. The Hoyas finally figured out how to get inside the Syracuse zone. Their interior passing was sensational and Chris Wright was other worldly. The guard scored 27 points, but more than that, he dictated the tempo and energy of the entire game. He was a big, blue blur barely, taking a possession off.
The Hoyas also pestered Syracuse into 17 critical turnovers, miscues that ultimately did the Orange in. Some were unforced errors, but even those were caused by the frenzy created by Georgetown.