It’s time now to ask the ultimate question: while the Hoyas can play with some of the best teams in the country, can they win? With the exception of beating then nationally ranked #18 Florida (now unranked) in the first round of Battle4Atlantis, Georgetown has now dropped three games to Wisconsin (then ranked #2), unranked Butler (now ranked #15) in the Bahamas and to the Jayhawks at home.
While the showdown before 15,000 fans in the Phone Booth was all the excitement Hoya fans have been waiting for, the Hoyas fell just short of upsetting Kansas, a team with a great deal of talent and on a roll since getting crushed at home by Kentucky, 72-40, in November.
Now, let’t turn to specifics:
What a Difference a Year Makes: Mighty Josh Smith showed up for this game, unlike his disappearing act in Lawrence, Kansas last season when he scored 5 points and fouled out in just 19 minutes of play and the Hoyas were disposed of easily by the Jayhawks, 86-64. Josh again showed us why he is a key if not the key to the Hoyas’ success this season, scoring 20 on 8 for 13 shooting, 4 for 6 from the line, grabbing 5 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. However, Josh, as the team, still has much to work on. He turned over the ball 5 times, one critical towards the end of the game when Hoyas’ hopes were alive. If the Hoyas are going to win close ones against top teams, they can’t afford these lapses.
Uncharacteristically Cold: DSR, at times the Hoyas sharpest shooter, may have been bothered by the size and defense of Kansas, and suffered his poorest shooting of the year, going 3 for 15 with 0 3-pointers. What do you do when your best shooter is so cold? You should go to other proven shooters who are not. At this point in the season when we know what Paul White can do, do we want to see him passing the ball to DSR when he, White, has a wide open 3? When your best shooter goes 3 of 15 from the field and 0 for 5 from 3 point range with 3 turnovers, it won’t be easy to win. I wanted to see more of those shots coming from freshman White, Peak, and Copeland.
Similarly, senior Jabril Trawick, while playing 3/4 of the game, contributed little. Trawick too could not get his game going against Kansas and ended the game with 2 points, 6 rebounds and 3 turnovers. To add insult to injury Trawick left the game after banging his knee with Kansas star and hero off the bench, guard Brannen Greene, who finished the game with 19 points on nearly flawless shooting, 5 for 6 from the field, 5 for 5 from 3s and 4 for 4 from the line. Hoyas are hoping for a quick recovery for Jabril.
Bring on The Freshman! If it wasn’t clear before this game, it is now clear that the present and future lies in the hands of 3 freshman, LJ Peak, Paul White and Isaac Copeland. Distribute some of the 17 DSR missed shots to these 3 freshman and I guarantee–yes, guarantee–a victory. LJ Peak had suffered through a few “off” outings, expected as a frosh, and returned with a fury last night, contributing 18 points in 35 minutes of 6-12 field goal shooting and 3 for 5 from 3-point land with 3 steals. Paul White, off the bench, played only 23 minutes, and scored 10 points on 3 for 6 from the field and 2 for 4 from the 3 point line. Isaac Copeland wasn’t as hot but contributed 6 points in limited minutes, and went 4 for 4 at the free throw line. (“‘Cause they’re free”, Otto Porter). With those strong shooting percentages and now, when freshmen butterflies are gone, it’s time to distribute the ball more to Peak and White if the Hoyas are to prevail over the ranked Big East teams, St. John’s, Villanova and Butler, as well as the unranked conference teams that have been playing well, including Seton Hall, Providence and Creighton. Wait, isn’t that the entire conference? 🙂
Unsung Hero: Mikael Hopkins likely won’t get the ink but his toughness and rebounds kept the Hoyas in the game. While he scored only 4 points, Mikael had 9 critical boards, 4 assists and 4 blocks. If he could put in his shots (1 for 5 from field goal range), then Mikael could be downright lethal.
Where Was Bowen? Why did he play only 3 minutes? He is our greatest athlete and the team could have used him in this battle. Tre Campbell, our freshman and only true point guard, played only one minute. Tre needs more time as well.
Turnovers: The Hoyas continue to be plagued by turnovers, and the majority are not committed by the freshmen. The Hoyas had 16 yet were bested by Kansas in that category as well (17). 🙂 Free throw shooting for the Hoya team was a respectable 73%, while Kansas got to the line more (25 of 32) and shot 78%.
Political Statement: The Hoya team wore the soon to be ubiquitous “I Can’t Breathe” tee shirts (first introduced by the Chicago Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose) before the Kansas game during warmups and through the National Anthem to express a political statement related to the recent death of Eric Garner in New York at the hands of the police where no indictment followed. No matter where you stand on the issue, I applaud the team for expressing their First Amendment rights on a big stage before the game. Unlike certain law students, they are making a political statement and taking their exams on time.
To reformulate the Ultimate Question with a “suggested” answer: are we comfortable–is Coach comfortable–with relying on our freshmen to show the path to victory, against upcoming Redford, Charlotte, Indiana and against the Big Beast powerhouses this season? If our young pup, 18-month mascot Jack can skate across the Verizon floor, then I think we can and should and the sky is the limit!