Nothing to be ashamed of. A gutsy effort. A performance by DSR that was worthy of all of the pre-season accolades (Wooden nominee, Cousy nominee, Big East Player of the Year, etc.). 29 points, great leadership and 5 of 6 from three-point range, missing only the last shot that would have tied the game in regulation.
At one point in the second half the Hoyas appeared to be on the road to an upset in Atlantis. The Hoyas building a lead in the high single digits, the Badgers woke up at just the right time. The Hoyas shut down much heralded 7-footer Frank Kaminsky and held him to a season low 6 points. However, starters F Sam Dekker (17 points) and F Nigel Hayes (15), and Wisconsin’s bench G Bronson Koenig and F Duje Dukan provided all of the firepower needed to will their team to victory. The Wisconsin team denied the Hoyas a chance at the championship game.
While the Hoyas yesterday showed that they can play with the best teams in the country, and should earn a solid Top 20 ranking with a win over Butler today (more below), this is Why the Hoyas Fell Short:
1. Turnover Prone: While the turnover differential in the game was only 1 (15 Hoyas to 14 Badgers), for consecutive games the Hoyas showed a vulnerability that is not surprising with two to four freshman playing significant minutes. This is something to work on sooner rather than later, and we hope that the team can shake this tendency.
2. Failure to Get to the Line: The Hoyas fouled early and often and the free throw differential was significant, as the Badgers were 20 of 27 (74%) from the line and the Hoyas took only 13 free throws and hit 9 or 69% of them. The Hoyas must improve in this category as the season unfolds, both in frequency of getting to the line and free throw percentage.
3. Inexperience: I predict that the Hoyas will improve as the freshmen gain experience and I would like to see a rematch of this game in March. The Badgers returned several players from its 2014 Final Four team and that was likely the difference yesterday. DSR can carry a team, and will, but he will need help from his teammates. Yesterday he had the most help from Josh Smith, with 10 points on solid shooting in 25 minutes, and Aaron Bowen off the bench with a spark and 8 points. LJ Peak had an off day but Paul White had another solid freshman performance with 7 points. I am bullish on both players and think White’s stock may be undervalued as I see him being extremely valuable to this team and its chances to meet or exceed expectations this season.
4. Coaching: Have to give a nod to a great coach, Bo Ryan. He took this team to the Final Four last year, losing by one point to Kentucky in the national semifinal. This is a game that comes down to both experience and coaching and while JT3 has a great team to work with, one cannot discount the importance of coaching, especially in a high profile early season game. I, for one, will be rooting for the Badgers to win the title.
Finally, let the Big East season unofficially begin today as the Hoyas meet the Butler Bulldogs in the battle for 3rd place in Atlantis. A day for redemption after taking down Florida and coming close to conquering #2 in the country.
Pictured: Jack and JJ with Butler Bulldogs in a friendlier, more diplomatic moment as the dogs meet on Georgetown’s campus in Gaston Hall, where many world and national leaders have convened and spoken throughout history.