Monday night, Ryan Pitino will be stuck in the middle. A second-semester freshman at Georgetown University and son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, Ryan has taken on a role at The Hoya, Georgetown's campus newspaper.
Pitino is well educated on both clubs and gracefully served as the guest of a Q/A session held this past weekend about the impending meeting of Georgetown and Louisville. The game is slated for 7 p.m. Monday on ESPN and ESPN 360.
JL: Obviously, UofL's season has gone about as expected, while GU has been going belly up lately. How have the performances of the two teams compared to your initial predictions?
RP: In early predictions I said in my first blog post that the trouble for the Hoyas would be depth. The same thing with Louisville happens every year: early losses, learning experiences, and then they improve as the season goes on.
JL: Looking at the two teams, what would you say are some key matchups to watch?
RP: The key matchup to watch is DaJuan Summers vs. Earl Clark. It is rare that you get to see two top 10 picks face off with as much talent as these two players. Both players are very similar. I would give Earl the advantage in offensive rebounding and DaJuan the advantage in athleticism and shot.
JL: How about two of the most heralded freshmen in the country?
RP: Samardo Samuels and Greg Monroe have to be the top two candidates for Freshman of the Year in the Big East. Samuels is becoming a great low post scorer and can improve on rebounding. Monroe is one of the more skilled big men in basketball, but needs to improve on strength. Samuels is staying at least another year, and I hope Monroe does the same, so we can watch the improvements from being a freshman to becoming NBA ready.
JL: UofL has tons of depth. What will GU do to cope with that edge?
RP: Georgetown starts four McDonald's All-Americans, but struggles with depth. UofL's pressure always seems to wear teams down at the end of the game, but Georgetown's slow-down offense could keep the game at a slow pace.
JL: Bringing in a Hoya perspective, where does GU hold an advantage over UofL?
RP: Georgetown's advantage may be the starting five. It is tough to tell—Georgetown has one of the most talented starting fives in the country but lack depth and experience.
JL: How does a GU win play into the Hoyas' postseason plans?
RP: Right now, Georgetown is in trouble and needs this win, along with three wins in the Big East tournament, to make a statement. The good thing for Georgetown is that they have literally played everyone in the country; they just lack big wins, except for their overtime home win vs. Memphis.
JL: How much of an impact do you see UofL making in the tournament?
RP: UofL can go very far in the tournament. Experience in the Big East and the full-court pressure could propel the Cardinals anywhere. The key is hitting shots—when UofL hits shots, the press is able to set up and their defense wears teams down.
JL: Who wins Monday night?
RP: I am picking Louisville; I have to stick with the family.