Georgetown, Porter next up for UConn
Updated 12:16 am, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
STORRS -- With Kevin Ollie, there's always respect for the opponent.
It's almost automated. Earlier this year, he called Seton Hall a "dangerous, dangerous team." South Florida, despite its 1-7 Big East record, was "a great defensive team." Stony Brook was good, and so was DePaul.
"They're the most disciplined team we'll play," Ollie said matter-of-factly Tuesday afternoon.
The Hoyas, who roll into Gampel Pavilion Wednesday at 7 p.m. with a nine-game winning streak and sole possession of first place in the Big East, are a whole bunch of other things, too.
"I don't think we've seen a team since one of coach (Calhoun's) teams that went 16-2 and 17-1 that leads the league in both offense and defense field goal percentage," Ollie said.
Indeed, Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) has been remarkably efficient on one end -- shooting 46 percent from the field -- and truly stifling on the other, holding opponents to just a 37.4 percent conversion rate.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have Otto Porter Jr., who has emerged as the frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year and a candidate in the national race, as well. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is shooting an incredible 54 percent from 3-point range during the Hoyas' nine-game winning streak.
For the year, he's at 45.3 percent, tops in the league.
"He's a typical wing player who can put it on the floor, shoot at a high rate, he gets offensive rebounds, goes down on the block ... anything else I missed?," Ollie said with laugh.
Loose and casual before Tuesday's practice, Ollie wouldn't divulge the defensive gameplan against Porter, who torched Syracuse for a career-high 33 points this past Saturday. It would seem logical, though, that DeAndre Daniels -- an equally long 6-foot-8 -- gets the first crack at Porter. Niels Giffey, Ollie's "utility man," could draw the matchup, too.
"I think DeAndre -- if (Ollie) plays DeAndre on him -- then I think DeAndre will play good defense," said UConn guard Shabazz Napier. "DeAndre always comes up big in games where we need him to be big. I think DeAndre is ready for the task."
Likewise, UConn (19-7, 9-5 Big East) has consistently risen to the occasion, upsetting Michigan State in the season opener and taking out Syracuse 66-58 just two weeks ago. Four games remain in the postseason-less campaign, and Georgetown, vying for a No. 1 seed in March, is far and away the Huskies' most high-profile opponent.
"These last games are like our playoffs right now, and I think that's the way we're preparing for it and that's the (attitude) the coaches want us to have," Giffey said.
But Ollie -- as he's done all year -- was reluctant to publicly use any "playoff" label, instead opting to say, "It's just a great opportunity again for us to display what we've been trying to build on throughout this year."
As Ollie sees it, the key to a 20th victory -- an achievement few deemed possible back in October -- isn't about turning Wednesday into something it's not, but rather zeroing in on the task: Keeping Porter out of his sweet spots, rebounding and scoring in transition, both of which are "paramount," Ollie said, against a team so efficient offensively and so active on defense.
"This is kind of, I guess you would say, a championship game in a sense," Napier said. "But we're just going to take it as a regular game and do as much as possible to win."