The Hoyas Missed the Memo, Clipped the Blue Jays, 74-73

th-1The Georgetown men’s basketball team were apparently the Only Ones who Missed the Memo:  with commentators and faithful fans alike having already declared the season over, the only ones with any control over it–10 suited players–pulled the most improbable comeback and refusing to lose, played the most exciting few minutes of frantic, desperation basketball this season to live another day.  Again in possession of second place in the perennial rough and tumble Big East, at 6-2, the Hoyas merged past and present, blended legacy and future, to beat a strong and Creighton Blue Jay team and with its unflappable and talented point guard Maurice Watson, Jr. and their wide and ruddy big men, one actually looked like a Mountaineer from our former Big East opponent now in the Top 10.  But given the Hoyas fight and heart in the end all Blue Jay Coach Greg McDermott could muster was this: th-2

It Was a Team Effort:  All Hoyas played, and contributed.  It wasn’t pretty and they had two, not one, opponents to beat:  1.  The Creighton Blue Jays, behind its star Maurice “Mo” Watson, Jr., and 2.  The Referees.  Now I am not that fan who cries about the referees.  In fact, I come from a family of referees and umpires and I sat in the stands as a kid and stared down anyone who called out my Dad.  But last night these guys were horrendous.  Of course, the Hoyas made their share of silly fouls but the 5th foul on Govan, what was that?  That was just one.  Listen to John Thompson, Jr. at the post-game presser and he’ll tell you what went down.  I think getting refs that bad in the Big East is an embarrassment to the conference so I hope Commissioner Ackerman will investigate.

Legacy:  Rejection Row, Riyan and the Miracles.  Sound Familiar?  Patrick Ewing, Jr., as assistant coach.  Some smile and say “how nice”.  After last night’s game, one should know these aren’t accidents or niceties;  rather, this continuation of great tradition is intentional and with a purpose.  Hire and recruit well, and win.  If it’s legacy, so be it.  Legacy has played a role for years in the admissions process at Georgetown and other universities.

#33 sophomore forward Trey Mourning entered the game near the end of the first half and stopped a Hoya skid with 6 points with consecutive spot on jumpers.  Add defense, rebounds and blocked shots and one may have flashbacks to the ’90s indeed.  More minutes are good for the team and Hoya heart!

In the final minutes of the second half with the game on the line senior guard #21 Riyan Williams entered the game and helped the Hoyas with the press that caused the upset.  One of two at the line, that was a very necessary point!  Although next time we’d like to see Riyan sink both!

Present:

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Past:

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Future:  The Hoyas keep their fans guessing, to be sure.  Just when we think we have taken the turn to excellence–beating big bad Xavier–the team falls back at Storrs.  Now we await the new Big East darling Providence on Saturday, again with history.  Which Big Man and Hall of Famer was a Friar?

We keep calling each game a “Must Win”–why?  Because each game is.  The Hoyas have not–at this point–earned a place in the Big Dance and game by game, will need to move a notch or two to gain that entry to the party.  Do we have our doubts still?  Of course, but last night, the Georgetown team showed the heart and passion it takes to win games in February, when every game counts.

Prominent Player:  DSR, for his leadership and clutch free throws in the final seconds.

Game Ball:  Belongs to the Team, everyone from the guy who scored one point at the line to the high scorer, DSR with 19, and Derrickson (11) and Peak (10).

Prominent Stat: 10 Steals

Wings Clipped:  Blue Jays

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Hoyas Host Creighton BlueJays, In and Out or Outside Looking In?

We are looking for answers, for reasons, for the rocky 12-8 start.  Hoya fans want to stay … try some passion tonight.  (Let Tracy Chapman start it off.)

It’s two hours till tipoff and I’m feeling more philosophical than X and O oriented today.  

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Here’s a young man who played with his heart and not his head.  I’d like to see the Ghost of Aaron Bowen return to Verizon Center tonight.  Add to that the Sixth Man of 2006, Patrick Ewing, Jr., current assistant coach, another player who just got things done, made it happen.  Trawick, Monroe, we could go back decades but I’ll stay in the 21st century for now.

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The Georgetown Hoyas enter this game 1-2 in their past 3 games, a record which could have easily been 3-0.  A 50-55 loss to Villanova at home followed by a tremendous win at Xavier against perhaps the best team in the Big East with a let down against UConn at Storrs, another game that was every bit winnable as the Nova loss.

Every Hoya fan in the Blogosphere and Twittersphere is searching for answers.  Turnovers, poor shot selection, failure to play in and out (like they did at Xavier), get to the line and hit the boards (Xavier).  Where is Isaac, they ask?

We are Georgetown.  We find answers, sometimes.  We certainly ask a lot of questions and alumni are trained to do so from Day One.  We think a lot, perhaps too much and we have a coach who graduated from Princeton, another thinker.  We need … PASSION!  We need … HEART!  INSPIRATION!

Who will provide it?  Will it be the Assistant Coach on the bench who played his heart out for this team?  Will it be freshman Jessie Govan, in whom I see a big heart–let it out!  Will it be scrappy sharpshooter Tre Campbell?  Fiery LJ Peak?  Trey Mourning, we know he has heart, he showed it in 2 minutes at Xavier!  Give him 4 or 6 or 8 minutes, let’s see how his heart multiples with time.

I know I ask more questions than I have answers but we are on the cusp of breaking into the Top 50 RPI and we beat Creighton, Butler, Providence and Xavier again and we’re back in the discussion.

We all want to be on the inside not the outside looking in.

Let’s Go Hoyas!  At home, with your fans, with the Stonewalls and kids admiring you, get it done tonight.  

Hoya Saxa Baby!

 

 

 

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Hoyas Face Former Conference Foe, UConn, in Hartford at Noon on CBS

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The Georgetown men’s basketball bus pulled out of the McDonough parking lot before the historic snowstorm began, Jonas, Snowzilla, Snowmageddon II, whatever you prefer.  Snowbound Hoya fans on the East Coast couldn’t be happier as they can follow their surging Hoyas, the NCAA on CBS, at noon today.  The question is:  which Hoya team will show up, the team that surprised the Xavier Musketeers on Tuesday night to take sole possession of second place in the Big East Conference or the team that has struggled through much of the season?

As a partisan of course, I’m pulling for the finely tuned high octane offense and board-dominating Hoyas who quieted the crowd at the Cintas Center earlier this week.  The Hoyas, with few exceptions (Creighton) have played well on the road this year and I don’t see why today should be any exception.

This may not be the dominating Huskie team of years past but for a while Kevin Ollie’s team spent some time in the Top 20 until they started to slip and are now on the outside looking in, much like the Hoyas.  A 13-5 record in the AAC is not a record to brag about, and they have lost to the only ranked teams they have played:  a 70-73 loss to then #10 ranked Gonzaga and a 66-76 to then #6 ranked Maryland.  They also lost 76-79 to other former Big East foe Syracuse Orange.  UConn’s other two losses were in conference to Temple (53-55) and Tulsa (51-60).  At the same time, this is a rivalry with a past and the mere sight of Georgetown jerseys rile up many teams and opposing fans  who have no sense of the Hoyas current record but rather, what they have achieved at their team’s expense in the past.

The Huskies just signed 5 star 7-foot center Zach Brown so they are doing something right. He’s the first Class of 2017 player to pledge to Kevin Ollie on Wednesday.  Brown selected UConn over Miami, NC State and Georgia.  A national top 25 recruit for the Class of 2017, the Brown recruit continues Ollie’s recent trend of landing top prospects. UConn’s Class of 2016 roundup is considered one of the best in the nation by various recruiting outlets, headed by McDonald’s All-American Alterique Gilbert, a point guard out of Georgia; Vance Jackson, a 6-8 small forward out of California; Mamadou Diarra, a 6-8 power forward; and Juwan Durham, a 6-11 center out of Tampa.

This is the final non-conference game for both teams.  The last meeting between the teams was a Georgetown double OT win at Gampel Pavillion in Storrs on February 27, 2013. In that game Otto Porter was the hero with a game-winning layup with 9 seconds remaining.  UConn (13-5, 4-2 in the AAC) picked up its second-straight conference win on Tuesday with a 60-42 victory over Tulane.

Who to look for–Huskies:  The Huskies have a well-balanced offensive attack with four players averaging 12 points per game or more. Sophomore guard Daniel Hamilton leads the team both in rebounds ( 8.7 ), and assists ( 4.8 ) while averaging 12.2 ppg.  Graduate forward Shonn Miller is the team’s leading scorer, with 13.5 points per game off 60 percent shooting from the floor and scored 18 points with 7 rebounds against Tulane.  Seton Hall transfer guard Sterling Gibbs, also contributes.  Senior guard Omar Calhoun (no relation to former coach Jim) scored 12 points off the bench vs Tulane. The Huskies are tough at home, 4-1 at the XL Center in 2015-16 and with 253-89 (.740) record at home overall.  UConn has a 9-3 record in non-conference play this season, including a 7-0 record at home.  The best competition they have seen at home, however, have not been close to the quality of a team like Georgetown playing at their best.

The Hoyas have an all-time 35-29 record over Connecticut dating back to the 1958-59 season, meeting 58 times as members of the Big East.

Coming off of its signature win at Xavier, I think the Hoyas should be riding high and hopefully committed to muscle memory all of the great things they did against the Top 5 Xavier team.  Against the Musketeers, sophomore guard Tre Campbell had a career game with 21 points and senior leader DSR had 20 points to pace a torrid Hoya offense, which shot 51 percent from the field. On the flip side, the Hoyas held the Musketeers to season-low 35 percent shooting and out-rebounded a dominating team on the boards.  The Big Men, especially Govan and Hayes, showed fans what damage this team can do when using the inside-out and the running game.  LJ Peak also returned to spark the Hoyas.

Today I think the Hoyas will have the edge today and expect our underclassmen, especially Govan and Campbell, to continue to shine, and expect continued strong shooting from DSR and perhaps Cameron and Copeland, both of whom are due for greater offensive output.  I also hope to see productive minutes from Kaleb Johnson, Trey Mourning and Marcus Derrickson.

Prediction:  Georgetown 79, Connecticut 73

It’s almost Game Time!

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NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Butler vs Georgetown

 

 

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The Hoyas Cracked the X Code at Cintas Center, Taming the Hot Musketeers, 81-72

th-3I felt a collective sigh of relief rush  across all of Blue and Gray Land last night, after the Georgetown Hoyas played their most complete game of the season to beat the #5 Xavier Musketeers at their own game on the road.  While few were betting on the Hoyas last night (10 point underdogs), something ignited Georgetown, players #1-9, to out-shoot and out-rebound the much heralded Xavier squad, and beat the defense that stifled the Hoyas in 4 of the past 5 games they played over the past two seasons.

While often coming close to taking down several highly ranked teams this season (Duke, Maryland and Villanova), just at the moment many were prepared to assign the Hoyas to the NIT, Georgetown played as a team and both veteran players and young talent gelled in a great effort against a Top 5 team.  In particular, sophomore point guard Tre Campbell, entering the game with a 3.5  point per game average, scored a career-high 21 points, Hoya senior center Bradley Hayes returned as a presence (9 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 1 block and several alterations) and freshman center Jessie Govan (13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) battled with the experienced Xavier big men. Sophomore Trey Mourning provided a few significant minutes, including a blocked shot, assist, rebound and free throw as JT3 used the entire team to seal this victory. Sophomore LJ Peak returned to form and added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Where Campbell left off in first half, DSR picked up in the second half, finishing with 20 points, 15 in the second half.  The Hoya team finished with an impressive 51% shooting from the field 40% shooting from deep, led by red hot Campbell and DSR and 80% from the foul line (19-24).  Significantly, total turnovers for the game were 11, down from recent losses.

Senior Bradley Hayes got the party started for the Hoyas, making his first three shots as the Hoyas and Musketeers stayed close.  Hayes picked up his third foul with 8 minutes to go in the first half;  then his teammates took over, especially Campell but also Jessie Govan, who showed again why he is and will be a special player for the Hoyas and beyond.

The Hoyas played with an energy and intensity for 40 minutes rarely seen this season, winning each half separately and holding onto the lead even after the Musketeers battled back to within 2, 51-49, at the 11-minute mark on a sophomore Trevon Bluiett 3 pointer.  This was a key difference from prior Hoya efforts where the lead would slip from their grasp.

The Hoyas (now 12-7 and 5-2 in conference) held a 39-33 halftime behind Campbell’s hot shooting in the first half (17 points, including  five 3-pointers, 5 for 7)  and led by as many as 11 in the second half.  The Musketeers, with its only loss this season to Villanova on 12/31, lost for the first time at home this season and now are 16-2, 4-2.  The Hoyas currently are in sole possession of second place in the Big East, behind the Villanova Wildcats.

Bluiett led Xavier with 18 points, and junior guard Myles Davis added 15 points.  Freshman standout Edmond Sumner returned from a concussion as Xavier’s starting freshman point guard and scored 10 points.  The Musketeers shot a season-low 35.8 percent from the field.  Also a problem for the X Men was the Hoyas control of the boards as Hoyas were led by Govan, Hayes and Cameron to outrebound Xavier 39-35. Xavier had led the Big East in rebounding and was in the top ten in the nation in rebounding edge.  The Hoyas also held the Musketeers to 8 points below its season average of 80 points per game.

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Prominent Player of the GameTre Campbell earned the Prominent Play Ball as the sophomore true point guard (and tonight, hot hand) led the Hoyas, hitting four 3-pointers in the final 6 minutes of the half, and finishing with a career-high 21 points, as the Hoyas pulled ahead 39-33 at the half. Campbell finished 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.

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Prominent Play(s) of the Game:  Of his total of 20 points, DSR hit consecutive three-point daggers in the second half after Xavier pulled within 2 at 51-49. One was from beyond NBA three-point range and on the second, I don’t think the net moved.

Honorable Mention:  Trey Mourning’s Productive Two Minutes!  Hope to see more of Trey at Storrs.

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Interesting Fact:  After the game the Hoyas moved to #72 in the RPI, just one notch above … Princeton.

So, as I wrote before the game, a few thoughts:

1.  Get to the line.  Check–24 times

2.  Take care of the ball.  Check–11 turnovers, much better

3.  Hit the boards. Check–beat a strong rebounding team

and

4.  Try something new offensively.  Check–The Hoya offense moved better than I have seen all season.

Play it again, Hoyas, on Saturday at Storrs.  The Season is not over;  no, it may only be beginning.  When starter Isaac Copeland’s offense returns (0 points in 24 minutes last night), who knows what this team may be capable of?

Skate on, Jack.

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Hoyas Face Xavier & at 11-7, Try to Crack the X Code

thLast year this team had the Georgetown Hoyas’ number, for 3 losses, two in the regular season and once in the Big East tournament.  All time in the Big East Xavier owns a 4-1 record against the Hoyas.  Tonight the 11-7 Hoyas, 4-2 in conference, fresh off of a 55-50 loss at home to now #4 Villanova, play the 16-1, 4-1 in conference Xavier Musketeers.

Last season, Xavier took 3 from the Hoyas,  including a 70-53 victory at the Cintas Center and a close 65-63 win in the Big East tournament semifinals. Georgetown shot 24 percent from 3-point range and 38.6 overall for the 2014-15 series with Xavier.

By the conclusion of the regular season, it will not be the losses to Radford, Monmouth and UNC-A that ultimately seal the Hoyas’ post-season fate. Rather. It will likely be the close losses in thus far very winnable games to at the time Top 10 teams Duke (2 points), Maryland (4 points) and Villanova (5).

The Villanova Game:  On Saturday, January 16th at Verizon Center the Hoyas played before a hometown crowd, students and alumni, hungry for a quality win and seeking hope for the 2015-16 season. They also played for first place in the Big East against the then #6 Villanova Wildcats and had the perfect opportunity to shift their fortunes in front of thousands of devoted fans.

But it was not to be as the Hoyas squandered every chance to catch the catchable Cats. While Jack the Bulldog sailed effortlessly on his skateboard across the court, the Hoyas played 40 minutes of choppy, sloppy basketball and when the final buzzer sounded, the Hoyas found themselves 11-7 and 4-2 in the Big East, with 3 victories coming against St Johns and DePaul, both winless in conference play, and the 4th against Marquette(2-4).

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So what’s happening with Our Hoyas? As much as some fans would have liked to fault the refs for bad calls in the Villanova game, the bottom line is that Hoyas can’t expect to beat Villanova, or anyone in the Big East for that matter, while shooting 32.7 percent from the field. On the positive side for the Hoyas, they pressed and stepped up D from previous efforts and held the Wildcats to 55 points, the lowest point total of their season.  Credit must be given for holding the prolific scoring Wildcats to 38.3% from the field and 16.7% from 3-point range.  In the end however, it was turnovers, errant and ill advised shots (an air ball on a short jumper from Copeland, a hook from Hayes that was out of range, etc) that caused the Hoyas to land on the short end. Except against teams with porous defenses such as St. John’s, the Hoyas are really struggling to score. Villanova, while challenged by the Hoyas, scored when it counted, at the line (twice as many times there than the Hoyas).  You know a team is in trouble when in one possession, the final second shot taken by their senior leader, DSR, is blocked.

What the Hoyas need ASAP is an Offensive Correction. Easier said than done. Potential offensive threat sophomore forward Paul White is out for the season after surgery and freshman forward Marcus Derrickson has been injured but saw limited action against the Wildcats (10 minutes, 2 rebounds, 0 points).  Add to that a senior big man who isn’t ready for a starting role and a freshman center with tremendous potential but playing with the inconsistency of a freshman and where does one find the answers?  This is a team that seems to continue to rely on senior DSR, and while he has delivered at times, he cannot do it alone.  Against Villanova, DSR, averaging 18.7 points in the Big East, was held to five  points in the second half three days after matching a career high with 33 in Georgetown’s 93-73 rout of St. John’s.  DSR always appears to be feeling the pressure in committing 6 of the team’s 13 turnovers against the Wildcats.

The Hoyas received some offensive help from Isaac Copeland (11 points) and Reggie Cameron (10) on Saturday but in rare games has the offense had any flow or consistency.

I found myself (uncharacteristically) agreeing with the analysis of Doug Gottlieb on Saturday when he stated that the “Princeton Offense” is not appropriate for a team with the talent of Georgetown. There is too much standing around, thinking, and looking for the perfect pass. Next thing you know 20 seconds have run off the clock and the Hoyas haven’t get gotten a good look at the basket. I doubt JT3 is ready to scrap his entire offense but it is clear to every fan and analyst that what is happening isn’t working, except against DePaul and St Johns and lower ranked teams.

The X Men:  On the other hand, tonight Georgetown faces a team that is riding high, not only in the Big East but in the nation.  While Georgetown and Villanova were expected to battle for first place in the Big East, that position has now shifted to the Team from Ohio.

The Hoyas still can take a stand and reverse fortunes tonight and while few are willing to bet the house on it, it is in the hands of the coaching staff and the team.

Xavier (16-1, 4-1) has had its best 17-game start in school history and hold their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 after bouncing back from a 31-point New Year’s Eve loss to Villanova to win four straight Big East games.  Offensive concerns for the Hoyas are unlikely to lighten up at Xavier, who have limited opponents to 36.4 percent during their winning streak.

Another problem for the Hoyas has been rebounding, where the team ranks 8 of 10 in rebounding margin, where the Musketeers excel with a Xavier’s plus-10.8 advantage, which ranks in the top ten in the nation.

I know I pose only questions, but no answers.  Some thoughts:  1.  Get to the line.  2.  Take care of the ball.  3.  Hit the boards and 4.  Try something new offensively.

8:30 pm on Fox Sports 1

So what will it be, X or …

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Hoyas Visit the Red Storm at Critical Juncture in Season

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The Georgetown Hoyas head to Madison Square Garden tomorrow evening to face the Red Storm of St. John’s (0-4 in conference and 7-10 overall) and their first season coach Chris Mullin, former superstar of Louis Carnesecca’s “Redmen”, NBA legend and member of the One and Only USA Dream Team (with teammate Patrick Ewing among other legends).  The Hoyas enter the game 10-6 overall and 3-1 in the Big East, with 2 of those victories over winless (in-conference 0-5; 6-11 overall) DePaul, a win over 2-2 Marquette (80-70) and a loss at 3-1 Creighton (66-79).

While the Hoyas are wise to follow the guidance of playing “one game at a time”, this blogger is going to address the remaining, largely Big East Conference schedule--with the exception of one game vs former conference foe UConn–and the possibilities for the Hoyas as they sit halfway through the season having suffered several disappointments and no measurable high.  While the victory over the Syracuse Orange was enjoyable for sentimental rivalry reasons, it has virtually little meaning in this season as the Orange continue to bumble through its season at  0-4 in ACC and 10-7 overall.  Similiarly, the 71-61 victory over Wisconsin at the Garden was nice but this was not the Bo Ryan team that battled and lost to Duke in the 2015 national championship.  On the other hand, a few of the losses were real downers, from the home opener 2 OT loss to Radford and the home losses (not close) to Monmouth (68-83) and UNC-Asheville (73-79).  This was not the season fans were expecting with so much talent returning from senior D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera to four super sophs and a highly touted freshman class, who were said to be “ready” for action.  (At least one of them clearly is.)

If you are hungry for statistics and analytics, they are out there on every site and this blog will hit the high and low points.  DSR started struggling early in the season, and his field goal percentage is still off (40% from the field, 30% from 3-point line).  Those super sophs have been inconsistent.  While the talent is there, with Isaac Copeland and LJ Peak, a leader has not yet emerged among that class and Tre Campbell has disappeared for large portions of games while he is the “true point guard” of the team.  When the Hoyas struggle in games, the natural inclination is to rely on and turn to the senior captain DSR, but it is obvious after 16 games that he cannot carry this team through the remainder of the season.  Talented forward Paul White remains injured and inactive, and he along with Isaac Copeland were expected to be leaders this season.  Bradley Hayes, senior center, after a few early season double doubles, has returned to earth and honestly, what can one expect from a senior who rarely played in his first three seasons yet flawlessly in the NCAA tournament in 10 Perfect Minutes vs Eastern Washington University in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament?  th-2

On the bright side, freshman center Jessie Govan has been a Revelation.  His play continues to improve with minutes and while he doesn’t start, he should.  He is ready for prime time.  Freshman forward Marcus Derrickson has had his ups and downs but has a killer 3 point shot.  Freshman forward Kaleb Johnson too rounds out a class that most teams’ fans should treasure to watch them mature in a season’s time.  However, Govan, Derrrickson and Johnson, as good as they are, are freshman and human.  They should be filling in pieces of the puzzle and not to be relied on to carry this team but that is what seems to be happening.  I predict that as the Freshmen Go, the Hoyas season will Go.  That is a lot of pressure but as they log 48 minutes per game, the Hoyas will continue to rule on this Trio of Talent.

The Bottom Line:  Three Potential Scenarios  th-1

I.  IF the Coaching Staff Cannot Crack the Big East Code:  Of the remaining 15 games of the season, 8 of those games are home and away with current Top 25 teams Villanova (#6), Xavier (#7), Providence (#13) and Butler (#23).  Additional games include road games at Connecticut, Marquette (looking to avenge early season loss at Verizon Center), at Seton Hall (and St. John’s) along with the road contests at Xavier, Butler, Providence and Villanova.  This currently looks like one of the toughest schedules in the nation, coming after early season road losses at #3 Maryland (71-75) (before tonight’s loss at Michigan) and against Duke at MSG (84-86).  Worst case scenario is that the pieces do not fall into place, the defense fails to coalesce and the offense fails to form before it’s too late, in which case, even assuming a few home victories, a losing record or at best a .500 record in the conference is a possibility.  Assuming 8-7, with an 18-13 record in conference, the Hoyas will have to do serious damage in the Big East tournament to earn their dancing shoes.  Of course, there are many factors to be considered at that time, but the Hoyas will need to improve all facets of their game in the coming weeks to dance and not accept the dreaded NIT invitation.

2.  IF The Hoyas Beat the Red Storm and Build on It:  There is nothing like a road win to gain confidence and if the Hoyas win in New York, they return home Saturday to face the Villanova Wildcats, now sitting pretty in the Top 10, with memories of their meltdown in DC last season.  A better scenario for the Hoyas is a win over the Johnnies followed by a fan-fueled and emotional win at Verizon Center on Saturday over the Wildcats leading into 2 games at Xavier and UConn.  Last season the Musketeers had the Hoyas number and I expect a loss at Xavier again this year followed by a win at faltering UConn of the American Athletic Conference (what, you say?), though that will be tough game on the  road.  The subsequent games at home are against Creighton (revenge for an ugly loss in Omaha, “somewhere in middle America”) and the Big East darling this season, Providence, led by the best guard in the conference (and one of the best in the nation?), Kris Dunn.  Again, it all depends on how far the Hoya coaching staff develops this team or all predictions here could fall by the wayside.  In this scenario the Hoyas, with or without a strong conference tournament, may hit 20 or 21 wins and with wins over Villanova, Butler (at home) and Providence, may punch a ticket to the Big Dance if not held back by the early season meltdown against teams that don’t even qualify as mid-major.

3.  IF The Coaching Staff and Team Rise as One and Take the Big East By Storm/The Delusional View?:  I am open to the possibility that this team can turn around and surprise everyone in the Second Half.  With ample talent on the floor, the only question is whether the right players will play and the team will gel, play some vintage Georgetown D and use teamwork to score rather than to rely on a single player to–DSR–to rescue them from danger.  I believe that Isaac Copeland can become consistent and have that breakout (second half) of season that many were expecting;  that LJ Peak can either start or come off the bench and lead his team slashing to the basket and getting to the line;  and that the Talented Freshman Trio, particularly Govan, can rival some of the best players–not simply freshmen–in the Big East.

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GoVan! This man needs to play more than 16 minutes per game!

A Few Additional Observations:

–Little Room for Error:  The Hoyas average 74 pp. and their opponents 69 pp. with a scoring margin o 5.

Turnover Trouble:  The Hoyas currently average 14 turnovers per game.

It all starts tomorrow night in New York City.  Are the Hoyas going to the NCAA, the NIT or worse?  The cards are in their hands and in a conference filled with great talent, including coaching talent, the stakes are high and may set for years ahead the expectations of the Hoyas.  Is is greatness we seek or merely competitiveness in the Big East?

Sad Conference News: At this time, I’d like to take a moment to send condolences to the Butler family and the family of Andrew Smith, the team’s former center, who played for Brad Stevens before the Butler Bulldogs entered the Big East.  Just 25 years of age, Smith succumbed to brief battle with cancer this week.  According to reports, he had remained close with his former coach, Stevens, who visited Smith recently while missing a Celtics game to be with his former player and star.

 

 

 

 

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Hoyas Headed down Blue Jay Way Seeking to go 3-0 in Conference Play

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This Blue Jay appears like a friendly enough creature.  The question is:  how will the host Creighton Blue Jays treat the Georgetown Hoyas when they arrive in Omaha tonight?  And how will the Georgetown Hoyas, who have started the season at best on shaky ground, perform in their second conference road game of the season?

True, the Hoyas have rebounded slightly from the season nadir, a loss at home to UNC–Asheville, a loss that stunned fans as much as its opening season double overtime loss to Radford University, although in some respects the loss to UNC-A was much worse as the Hoyas were not ever really in that game.

Credit the Hoyas for bouncing back with two consecutive opening season conference victories, the first on the road against the Big East perennial bottom dweller DePaul Blue Demons, a then “must win” game for every reason including pride and fan retention.

Next up, on Saturday, January 2nd, the Hoyas added another conference win at Verizon Center against another lower-ranked Big East team though slightly better than DePaul, the Marquette Golden Eagles.  The Hoyas played perhaps their best half of the season in the first half against Marquette before a sizable crown on the day after New Year’s.  There was every reason to be excited about the “New Look 2016 Hoyas” after the first half, when they scored at ease and the freshmen started to step up, the Govan-Derrickson-Johnson combination, who are showing their prowess early in the season.

However, after the 49-point first half vs. Marquette, that “Hoya Thing” happened again when the team went scoreless for several minutes and started to give up the ball like clockwork (16 turnovers to Marquette’s 10)–another pass to the middle/top of the key, another steal and another Marquette basket off a turnover until the fans in the arena (the ones in blue and gray) felt their nerves react and looked at the game clock with trepidation as happened when these Hoya Droughts and Meltdowns happen.

(DSR appears at the right time)

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DSR ultimately scored 15 points, long stuck at 3 points for the game, when he scored the Hoyas’  final 12 points in the last 2:09 of the game and handed out a career-high eight assists.

Four other Georgetown players scored in double figures in the win over Marquette:  freshman forward Marcus Derrickson scored a career-high 16 points; sophomore forward Isaac Copeland added 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists; sophomore guard LJ Peak had 10 points and four rebounds and freshman center Jessie Govan scored 11 points and had five rebounds and four blocked shots.

Leave it to senior captain DSR to take control of the game when it mattered (and I ask, why not 10 minutes prior?) to lead his team back from meltdown to victory,  80-70 .  As the first half was strong, the second half was shaky and in order for the Hoyas to beat the top teams in the Big East–Xavier, Providence, Butler and Villanova at present–the team must string together two strong halves and not wait for a Savior to appear in the final minutes.

So, what will it be tonight:  will the 9-5 Georgetown Hoyas play team ball for 40 minutes and beat the Blue Jays as they should, or will the offense stagnate again at the wrong time?  We soon will know.  Tipoff at Century Link Center in Omaha, Neb. is slated for 9 p.m. (ET).The game will be shown live on FOX Sports 1.

Why the Hoyas Will Win:

  1.  DSR Leadership:  DSR leads the team in scoring with 15.0 points per game and with 4.1 assists per game. He also averages 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. DSR steps in when needed but can’t carry this team on his shoulders through the season.  Just behind him, sophomore Copeland averages 12.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg, while senior center Bradley Hayes is fourth on the team in scoring, with 9.5 ppg and leads the team with 7.9 rebounds per game.  Peak, who has scored in double figures in four-straight games, is third on the team in scoring (10.1 ppt and rpg), while Derrickson is averaging 8.0 ppg and 4.4 rpg.

2.  Hoyas Bench:  The bench averages 21.2 points, 14.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game, led by once almost forgotten now ever present junior forward Reggie Cameron, who averages 6.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Georgetown’s freshman class — Derrickson, Govan and forward Kaleb Johnson– has combined to average 17.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.  They should only improve.  This is all largely without Paul White, the sophomore forward who has been injured and whom we expected to play a huge role this season.

3.  History/Trending:  The game against Creighton will be the 7th all-time meeting between the teams, with Georgetown leading 4-2. The Hoyas have won the last four games, including three games during the 2014-15 season.

Why the Hoyas Could Lose:  I don’t think they will but they are playing on the road, where they haven’t played so poorly.  Creighton enters the game with a 10-5 overall record and a 1-1 mark in conference following an 85-71 loss to Villanova on Saturday night. Junior guard Mo Watson leads the team in scoring with 12.9 ppg and in assists, with 6.3 per game, and the Bluejays have four players scoring in double figures and are averaging 85.8 points per game. Senior center Geoffrey Groselle (12.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg),  junior forward Cole Huff (11.7 ppg) and junior guard Isaiah Zierden (11.3 ppg and has a team-high 37 3-pointers).

Prediction:  Hoyas 82, Creighton 79

 

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Hoyas at DePaul: Conference Season Begins–What Does 2016 Hold?

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thA little over a week ago the Georgetown Hoyas hung on to win its 7th game of the season in Charlotte against the 49ers.  There was nothing pretty about that victory, which was in doubt much of the game. The 62-59 victory to conclude the pre-Big East Conference season was essential to stop the freefall (that game was immediately preceded by a loss at home to North Carolina, not the Tar Heels from Chapel Hill, but the team from Asheville) to conclude a less successful than expected 7-5 record in November-December.

Tonight the Big East season begins for the Hoyas, sitting in 8th place in the conference and having nowhere to go but up.  The team plays the perennial Big East bottom dweller DePaul Blue Demons, one of two teams with a lower position in the conference rankings, along with St. John’s.

However, just 8 days ago, the Blue Demons upset No. 20 George Washington, 82-61.  The Hoyas don’t play the Colonials this season and rarely.

Analyzing this scenario is perplexing, as the Hoyas entered this season with senior D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who wisely decided to return for his senior year but whose impact has not been consistent.  The Hoyas returned their super freshman class, now sophomores, including Isaac Copeland, LJ Peak, Tre Campbell and Paul White (the latter two have been battling illness and injury in the early season).  In addition, senior Bradley Hayes, starting as center, has demonstrated real talent in the position despite having played very few minutes in the past 3 seasons.  He is by no means a seasoned player but doing his best to help his team.  Add to this a highly touted freshman class led by big men Jessie Govan (center), Marcus Derrickson (power forward with a killer 3-point shot) and Kaleb Johnson and Hoya fans were salivating as November began. Any salivating by the end of November had more to do with holiday meals than hoops, unfortunately.  (We are grateful for the food.)

Granted, the Hoyas scheduled the Duke Blue Devils (MSG), Maryland Terrapins (away) and Syracuse Orange (home) during this period, and actually played well against these teams.  The loss to Duke was by 2 points in a very winnable game, and the 4-point loss at College Park was respectable as well.  The victory over longtime foe Orange was nice but may mean little depending on how the Orange hold up in ACC competition.

The main problem for the Hoyas in the pre-season were not the powers but the mid majors, starting with the 2 OT opening season home loss to Radford University.  Yes, who? Where? Why?  Then the losses to UNC-A and blowout by Monmouth at Verizon, 83-68 (fans now do know a thing or two about that small school from NJ and the bench’s entertaining skits) along with the losses to Duke and Maryland leave the Hoyas in a precarious place entering the flexed muscles of the Big Beast.  The Big East now boasts 4 teams in the Top 25, led by undefeated Xavier, along with Butler, rising Providence and consistently strong Villanova.

One cannot understate the importance of this game tonight–9pm–in Illinois.  In a conference with so much talent, each game has great significance and starting with the bottom dweller, the team and fans need that W on the road.  This is a team that hasn’t yet found a groove, doesn’t yet have a clear leader such as #55 from seasons past.  The faithful are feeling anxious and restless and we shall know in a few hours how this all begins.

Hoya Saxa!  Here’s to an early New Year’s celebration for the team and devoted alumni and fans.

 

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Georgetown vs. Syracuse: The Rivalry Continues as Times Have Changed

th-1The Georgetown Hoyas meet the Syracuse Orange in less than an hour at Verizon Center, the Hoyas home in Washington, D.C.  As this game approaches, the first in three years between the once longtime Big East conference foes (and founders),  I have been thinking of the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same” as it pertains to this rivalry.

What Has Changed?

  1.  Affiliation:  The Orange bolted from the Big East with Louisville and Pitt to the ACC  in search of football riches.  Have they found them?  No.  They were a party to the destruction of the best college basketball conference in history and rather than create the football success they craved, they have remained competitive in basketball in the relatively weak and bloated ACC and instead have found themselves in a heap of
  2. Orange NCAA and Legal Troubles:  Well documented, the Cuse basketball program has been in a heap of trouble since departing the Big East, to the surprise of No One ?, and today the icon of the program, Head Coach Jim Boeheim, will be missing from the bench, starting to serve his sentence for overseeing a program that lost its way and committed many NCAA violations about which you can read everywhere.  I am certain that Hoya Fans at Verizon Center will miss this familiar target on the bench today, always searching for the frequent public nose picking.  I personally will miss any connection between the longtime coaching foes, former Hoya Great John Thompson, Jr. (Pops) and Boeheim, and how they might acknowledge the return of the rivalry, which is scheduled to be Home and Away for 4 years starting today.

Yet the Song Remains the Same:

  1.  It is About the Basketball:  Regardless of the sanctions imposed upon the Syracuse program, one thing remains constant:  these teams want bragging rights and the W.  Little has changed from the Appropriate Closing of Manley Field House (1980) from a Hoya and basketball perspective and that is, this game remains important in the history books.  Today’s game is important to the Hoyas as they are unranked and the Orange are ranked 14, having achieved success thus far this season in spite of all the infractions.  In an era where integrity gets lost in the narrative and wins and losses and money rules, for at least 40 minutes today, each team has one goal and today the victory will mean much more to the Hoyas than a loss will affect the Orange.  The Hoyas are coming off of two victories against lesser teams from weak conferences, the Bryant Bulldogs and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and today are expected to knock off an old foe and regain some national respectability.th-2

2.  The Hoya Faithful:  Georgetown needs this game and victory to reinvigorate a fan base that was kicked in the gut with an opening season loss to Radford University.  You know you are in trouble when most of your fans have to ask, “Where is Radford?”  It was nice to play with and have the opportunity to beat the Real University of Maryland–Terps– and the Duke Blue Devils.  However, the Hoyas came up short both times and today is the chance to show that they can play and win “big time” games.  This would be a boost both for the team in the early season and the faithful who bleed blue and and gray.

3.  Somewhere today, even if not on the Syracuse bench, Jim Boeheim is picking his nose.

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Hoyas Fall to Duke, 86-84, in Final of 2K Classic; Bryant Bulldogs Up Next

thPardon the delay, this game has been recapped by multiple sources and there is little left to say so I will keep it brief.

In the final of the 2K Classic, after beating the new-look Wisconsin Badgers soundly, 71-61, the Hoyas (1-3) took the defending national champions then No. 5 team in the nation Duke Blue Devils (3-1) to the brink, only to come up short in an 86-84 loss at Madison Square Garden.  As the Badgers have a new look, Duke too, in its One and Done (or dismissed?) state, now features sophomore guard Grayson Allen as its leader and Allen was unstoppable and consistent (32 points, 16 each half) when it mattered to lead his team to victory.

The Hoyas had their chances, leading 35-27 with 4:11 to go in the first half. Hoya freshmen guard/forward Kaleb Johnson closed out the first half by sinking a half-court shot to give the Hoyas a 47-42 lead. In the first half the Hoyas shot 57 percent from the field, while the Blue Devils also shot well (50%).

Duke, as it often does as a perennial Top 10 team, bounced back with a series of second half runs to seal the win.  The Hoyas extended the lead to 49-41 on senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes’s shot but then Duke went into overdrive, going  on an 8-0 run to lead by 1. After a pair of free throws by sophomore guard L.J. Peak, the Blue Devils went on another 10-0 run, and led by 63-54 with just under 14 minutes remaining in the half.

Credit the Hoyas to never say die, and Kaleb Johnson ended the Hoyas’ scoring drought with an easy layup into a 7-0 run, pulling Georgetown to within three at 64-61 with 9:28 left.   In the final 5 minutes of play, the Hoyas made it interesting as it tasted the upset but couldn’t quite achieve the peak. Suffering on the defensive boards and allowing the Dukies second chance shots, Georgetown couldn’t close out the contest for an upset and will have to wait another day to beat a Top 10 team and show that it belongs in a discussion of the best teams in the nation. 

On this Thanksgiving Day, I will start with what the Hoyas should be thankful for:

  1.  ProminentPlayer of the Game, sensational Sir Isaac Copeland, who nearly tied the game at the final buzzer and showed why he is likely the Breakout Player of the Season for the Hoyas.  Copeland led all Georgetown scorers with 21 points and finished 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.
  2. A Ton of Young Talent:  We have already seen each freshman have his day, and  against Duke, Kaleb Johnson flashed some of what we expect to see from him, as both Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson have shown in prior games.  Add that talent to that of Peak and Copeland, and hopefully soon a healthy Paul White and Tre Campbell, and you can see what excites all Hoya fans.  We have a feeling that Trey Mourning will soon have his breakout game.
  3. Senior Leaders DSR and Bradley Hayes:  While DSR has been struggling with his shot and Hayes had two strong games followed by two weak ones, we expect that these leaders and co-captains will steer the ship of young talent.

Not to cast any negativity, but what the Hoyas should worry about:

  1.  The Inability to Close Out Winnable Games:  Exhibit A, Maryland;  Exhibit B, Duke.
  2. The Inability to Get Up for Non-Ranked or Lesser Teams:  Exhibit A, Radford University.

What I wish for for the Team on this Day is some great turkey and a heavy side of SWAG, that is, similar to the Hoya SWAG of the ’80s and ’90s. Gotta raise the SWAG meter this season.

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Last night the Harvard Crimson crushed the Bryant Bulldogs–the Hoyas next opponent on Saturday, 11/28–by the score of 80-45.

Happy Thanksgiving to All and Thanks for Reading and Following Laura’s Prominent Play!

Laura

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