Navy at Georgetown: Three things to watch
Two teams that have not fully met preseason expectations, the No. 17 Midshipmen and unranked Hoyas, tangle Saturday. A few things to keep an eye on:
1) No one in Annapolis is using the P-word (aka "panic"), but there is a sense of urgency about winning Saturday’s contest. Navy is 6-3 with all three losses coming by just one goal. But the Midshipmen have two losses in the Patriot League and own a victory over just one top-20 opponent (No. 18 Ohio State). Still, coach Richie Meade and his players aren’t stressing. "One of the things I’ve told our guys is block out the noise," he said. "The only thing that’s important is what we’re saying to each other and what we do internally because that’s reality. Everything else is just a guess."
2) The strength of Georgetown’s team is an aggressive, stout defense that likes to hound opponents into causing turnovers. The Hoyas forced No. 11 Harvard into 18 turnovers and permitted just 28 shots in Georgetown’s 9-8 overtime upset on Wednesday. "That’s the game we have to expect," Meade said. "We may not be able to run our offense. They may pressure us to the point where we throw a pass away or we get a 20-second count on a clear. We’ve got to be able to deal with those situations and play well. The other side of it is anytime you pressure somebody, you’re going to take the risk that they can handle the pressure and create offensive opportunities. So groundballs become extremely important in a game like this."
3) Even after knocking off the Crimson, Georgetown is just 3-4. Of even more concern is that the Hoyas are 0-2 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, which awards the league champion an automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament. But Meade isn’t buying into a woe-is-me scenario. "It’s still Georgetown, OK?" he said. "They’ve had some struggles, they’ve lost some games they certainly expected to win, but they held Syracuse to eight goals and they beat Maryland. So they’re still the team that people projected earlier in the year to go to the Final Four. We can’t rely on them playing poorly. We have to rely on us being able to play a very good game against a team that has the ability to physically overwhelm you."