Last 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).
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 …