Rutgers was a good game for Giorgi, who seems to do well against Scarlet Knights.
He made half his shots, grabbed 7 rebounds in 23 minutes, connected on both free-throws, dished two assists and committed only two fouls (one of which accounted for his lone turnover).
Giorgi’s great attributes are hard to quantify. They’re so many. One that stands out is selflessness. He genuinely enjoys watching his teammates succeed, even at the expense of his own gaudy stats.
His major weakness comes simultaneously. He hasn’t refined his high-post screens to B1G standards, so he’s called for a lot of moving picks. Similarly, his understanding of the charge/block rule is a work in progress.
Giorgi was genuinely surprised when Kelly Pfeifer rang him up for the most obvious player-control foul of the 2020 college basketball season. Dozens of Rutgers fans screamed that’s a charge! the first time Giorgi thrust his shoulder into Ron Harper. When he felled Harper with a buttocks to the gut, everybody in the building knew which way the call was going.
Giorgi found his shot in Piscataway. It helped that Harper is shorter and less athletic than Jalen Smith & Xavier Tillman.
But that’s the point of playing him alongside Kofi, rather than instead of Kofi. If a team puts its big man on Cockburn, Giorgi can dominate a smaller opponent. Kofi could help clear out the paint by dragging his man to the high-post.
Problem is, Kofi hasn’t demonstrated (publicly) his ability to knock down a 17-footer. He can do it, and he does it in practice. But apart from a broken play at Mackey Arena, where Kofi surprised everyone by dropping a jumpshot; Illini fans haven’t seen that side of his game.
Giorgi has a knack for creating space, both for himself and others. But lately, Brad Underwood has not been pleased by Giorgi’s casual attitude to the stretch-four position. Giorgi is actually the team’s second-best long-range shooter, a hair ahead of Ayo at 30.6% (unless you count Tyler Underwood’s 2-of-6).
He works on his threes, and his free-throws, after every practice.
You’ll recall the elder Underwood lamenting, prior to the second MSU game, the beginning of the first MSU game. The boss man does not want to open his offense with a three from Giorgi. The next day, Giorgi opened that second game with a missed three-pointer. He didn’t play a lot after that.
This morning, Underwood praised Giorgi’s jump hook and added “we have to get him more looks down there.” (emphasis mine)
The advantage of playing Kofi and Giorgi separately, assuming Giorgi can’t improve his threes by 6-to-10 percent and Kofi doesn’t add that jumper to his arsenal, is twofold.
First, they’re each less likely to garner five fouls.
Second, the four-out look can deter zone defenses, especially if Tevian Jones gets more tick. Tevian’s advantage over every Illini (and all opponents) is that his release takes place above the heads of most defenders. Not only is Tev quick draw, but he’s a high leaper. His jump shot takes place in the clouds. That’s why it gives opponents fits.
Coach Underwood sees that he needs to open the middle, and create space for his offense. Giorgi is tool to that end. Because his attitude is pure altruism, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.