NEW YORK - With just over 10 minutes left in the second half, Georgetown forward Joshua Smith caught a pass on the left block. Immediately, three Hoosiers left their man and aided freshman forward Emmitt Holt defend him.
It was a quadruple-team defense, and it still didn’t work. Smith fought through all four Hoosiers and scored anyway. It was a familiar sight – Smith spent most of Saturday afternoon powering through multiple defenders.
Sophomore forward Troy Williams explained it simply.
“He’s big. There’s not much you can really do.”
Not that IU didn’t try. The 6-foot-10, 350-pound senior was just too much for an undersized IU team to handle.
“We tried to use quickness on him, we tried to use strength with him,” Williams said. “He just seemed to get around us.”
IU tried everything, but Smith was just too big. He powered his way to 14 points and six rebounds – five offensive – in 26 minutes while drawing the full attention of the Hoosier defense.
The gameplan was to force Smith to his left hand. IU Coach Tom Crean often stationed Smith’s defender deep on Smith’s left shoulder in an attempt to force him the other way.
It didn’t work.
“If you let him get to his left shoulder and turn the left side of his body… he’s pretty much a one-handed player, but getting to that left shoulder, he’s unbelievably hard to guard,” Crean said.
The Hoosiers tried to collapse their defense on Smith when he caught a pass in the post, but that didn’t stop him, either.
“I think when we doubled correctly we turned him over some, but you just can’t let him get to his strengths,” Crean said.
Georgetown parked Smith on the block and ran its offense through him. If IU brought additional defenders his way, Smith used his passing ability to find the open man. If IU left him one-on-one, he went to work.
Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said Smith’s versatility is often masked by his massive size.
“He was a huge impact, people have to pay attention to Josh,” Thompson III said. “He’s a very good passer. He can’t be stopped down there, except when he stops himself. That opens up easier looks with his cuts, with his drives, his open shots for everyone else.”