A 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.