In the 3rd place game, a respectable place to be in this field of perennial college hoops powerhouses, this Georgetown team qua team played below its potential today and handed the third place game to its “new” Big East rival, Butler. New in the sense that this rivalry is now only four games old and the Hoyas won all of the previous meetings, including last season’s home and away games. Should the Big East become the lean and mean college hoops powerhouse fans expect, there should be many years of rivalry ahead. This loss should be remembered as a lesson on basketball fundamentals and if unheeded, poor outcomes should be expected:
1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: The trend continued and Butler capitalized. 14 turnovers to Butler’s 10, and the Butler Bulldogs too advantage of each by scoring points off of Hoya mistakes.
2. Free throws ARE important: No team is going to shoot 50% from the line in the tough Big East and expect to win a lot of games. That is harsh but true. Georgetown got to the line 19 times, and made 10. Butler shot 75% from the line. A key difference. If I’m Coach, the team is going to the gym at 6am and will shoot free throws for an hour.
3. Major mental lapses: At a key juncture in the second half when the Hoyas were staging a comeback, they allowed Butler to take the ball out of bounds on Hoya scores and run a virtual uncontested layup drill at the other end. In essence, Hoyas score 4 points that they fought for and fell asleep as Butler countered with 4 points of their own. How games are lost.
Granted, this was a grueling tournament with tough consecutive games against Florida (W), Wisconsin (close L), and Butler (L). Still, Butler was in a similar position having beaten UNC, lost to Oklahoma then faced Georgetown. No excuses. However, we cannot disregard the bright spots in that Isaac Copeland got his D I sea legs in Atlantis and we expect much from him this season. Paul White is coming on strong as well. LJ Peak will likely regain his composure, facing the first real competition of the season in the Bahamas, and DSR recovered nicely after his all out performances against Florida and Wisconsin although was 0-4 from 3 point range after his 5 for 6 against Wisconsin. Josh Smith too showed leadership but went 1 for 5 from the line, unacceptable for a guard and a big. Copeland and White were hot, with 16 and 13 points respectively, and carried the Hoyas in scoring today. For a critical portion of the game it seemed like the “White and Copeland Show”, something Hoya fans would like to see, as well as one in the win column.
This loss was not due to superior talent or play of Butler but to the Hoyas beating themselves. I’m sure Coach JT3 will have something to say about this, and the Hoyas will return to winning ways soon enough. In less than 2 weeks they can make a huge statement when they host Kansas at the Verizon Center. Between now and then, they need to regain focus and practice, yes practice (wink to AI), especially at the line.
Safe travels home, Team!