NEW YORK -- After his team was all but decimated by Georgetown in the regular-season finale, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim lamented that he didn’t care how much Otto Porter Jr. scored against the Orange, he wanted them to shut down the Hoyas’ backcourt.
It seemed like a counterintuitive argument, what with the 33 points Porter scored against Syracuse in the first meeting, but the Hall of Fame coach proved to have Hall of Fame logic. Markel Starks, Jabril Trawick and sixth man D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera combined for 45 of the Hoyas’ 61 points in that rout.
Mick Cronin now knows exactly what Boeheim was talking about. In the Hoyas’ 62-43 Big East Tournament quarterfinal win over Cincinnati, Porter scored a team-high 18 for Georgetown, but he wasn’t the Bearcats’ problem.
It was the unheralded trio, the ones who will kill you while you’re paying too much attention to Porter. It was Trawick (9 points), Starks (14) and Smith-Rivera (13) who beat the Bearcats.
“It’s key," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “Otto has gotten a lot of attention lately and deservedly so. He’s one of the best -- the best player in the nation in my opinion -- but we have a very good team. I’ve said that over and over again."
Thompson went on to remark about his team’s unselfishness, a bonus of an attribute that happens to work especially well because the player of the year candidate embodies it.
Because that’s the thing about Georgetown -- even when it’s not about Porter, it’s about Porter.
He has terrific players around him, players who can be every bit as lethal collectively (as they were to Cincinnati) as Porter can be individually, but part of why they are so effective is because he’s so darned good.
Defenses are going to pay more attention when someone drops 33 on Syracuse and works his way onto the short list for national player of the year.
“The more attention he’s gotten, the more a team’s strategy is to stop him," Smith-Rivera said.
And the real good fortune for Thompson is that Porter is not only smart enough to recognize that, he’s unselfish enough to not care.
He’s more than happy to let defenses collapse around him and find an open man. He's perfectly content if someone else feels like scoring.
“Hey, we’re all in the scouting report, too," Starks said. “Otto is getting well-deserved attention but we know with that attention it’s up to us to step up. We don’t say, ‘Hey it’s just up to Otto.’ We know we have to play as a unit and a team."