This time the Butler couldn’t do it.
Before nearly 15,000 fans in a “Gray Out” Saturday afternoon showdown at Verizon Center aka The Phone Booth, the Hoyas came out of the gates cold and fell behind early. Eventually it was the cool freshman with icewater in his veins, Isaac Copeland, who hit the final go ahead shot, a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left in the game to put this one in the win column and see the Hoyas advance to second in the Big East standings behind Villanova, currently #5 in the nation and 4-1 in conference. Next up for the Hoyas: the Villanova Wildcats on Monday night in a 9pm game.
The Hoyas prevailed in spite of a career high 28 points from Butler Bulldog’s junior forward Roosevelt Jones, whom the Hoyas could not stop for much of the game. Jones had his way with the Hoyas all day, scoring mostly in the paint without much opposition. The Hoyas countered that by playing team team ball, with limited turnovers, and making 75% of their free throws. Georgetown gutted out this victory with some late game heroics from several players, including senior guard Jabril Trawick, who played this game as if his life depended on it and at one critical point grabbed a steal and called a time out while on the floor to secure control of the ball; freshman forward Copeland, who scored 10 critical points on high percentage shooting; junior guard DSR, making the defensive play of the game, when he blocked Roosevelt Jones’ last second drive that could have tied the game. DSR also led the team with 14 points. Last but not least, credit the Entire Hoya Team for hitting free throws when they counted. In the loss to Butler in Atlantis, the Hoyas shot 50% from the free throw line, committed 15 turnovers and could not make the big plays when they counted. Two months makes a difference for a young Hoya team, and also credit the home environment and support as well. It seems that Hoya fans may be growing a bit more passionate as they see the talent and potential on this team, and the players seem to feed off the energy, cheers for the Hoyas and noise to rattle their opponents. Georgetown is now 12-5 overall and 4-2 in the Big East and Butler, 13-6 and 3-3.
Game Observations and Awards:
1. Butler Vulnerabilities: The Butler sharpshooting guard Kellen Dunham started hot, with 13 points in the first half, but the Hoya defense stifled him in the second half and he finished with 13. That left the game on the shoulders of Jones, who nearly singlehandedly pulled this one off for Butler. On Saturday the balanced team play and scoring of the Hoyas trumped Jones’ heroics. Coach JTIII and staff must have a better plan to stop Jones before their conference rematch in Indianapolis.
2. Hoya Improvement: While the initial minutes led fans to believe they were witness to a Xavier- or Providence game-like effort, as the Hoyas could not hit a short jumper or drop any easy points in the paint for a long stretch, the team eventually pulled it together, played strong D, made the plays that counted and showed improvement from the game in Atlantis. Specifically, at the free throw line (75% Saturday vs 50% in Atlantis), in turnovers (9 on Saturday, 15 in Atlantis), and in mental focus (e.g., Jabril’s steal, Mikael’s emphatic block of a Jones shot, DSR’s block and Copeland nailing the critical J), the Hoyas showed what a difference two months can make in a team’s growth.
3. Limited Minutes for Paul White: One of the Hoyas’ better shooters, freshman forward White was on the floor in the first half but saw limited minutes in the second, perhaps because the combination of Copeland and Bowen was working better on both ends of the floor. Still, a bit of a mystery because White had a strong game against Butler in the Bahamas (16 points).
4. ProminentPlay Game Ball Goes to: Isaac Copeland and Jabril Trawick (Shared). Each in his own way willed the team to victory, Copeland by his timely points and good judgment, and Trawick, for continuing to be quietly monstrous in his role as leader on this team, creating plays where there are done, driving to the hoop for points or fouls turning into points, determined defense and unselfish play. Trawick scored six straight points to hand Georgetown a 37-36 lead and Copeland followed with the Hoyas’ next seven to make it 44-38 with 12:38 left. Jones’ layup gave Butler its final lead with 12 seconds left until Copeland immediately followed with his game winning 3-pointer. Trawick finished with 10 points.
5. ProminentPlay Single Play of the Game: DSR’s block of Jones’s last minute shot.
6. Question: Does some of the Josh Smith substitution in and out of the game disrupt the Hoyas’ offensive flow? I’m concerned about this because although Smith is stronger on offense, I think too much substitution can upset a team’s rhythm and flow. Smith had 10 points on Saturday.
This was a great victory and exciting game and while the Hoyas should try to avoid early double digit deficits as the one today–they cannot afford that against Villa-No-Fun–kudos to the Hoyas for the #2 ranking in the Big East today. However, the conference season is young and there is much more work to be done, starting on Monday with ‘Nova. The Hoyas have already flirted with upsets of Wisconsin and Kansas, and have taken down once ranked Florida and a rising Hoosier team. IF the Hoyas bring out their “A Game” in what promises to be a packed if not sold out Phone Booth on Monday night, they have every reason to believe they can beat Well Dressed Wright, slick Arcidiacano et al.
The Answer lies within: Leadership, Confidence, Passion.
Postscript: Jack the Bulldog and Butler Blue III have developed a nice friendship over the past couple of seasons, but all bets are that Jack had the better time at Bulldog Tavern on campus Saturday night!