If I were Coach JTIII on the way home to the Hilltop this afternoon after the Hoyas 80-66 never-in-doubt win over the Robert Morris Colonials, I would have said, “Hey Bus Driver, let’s stop at Georgetown Cupcakes.” Then I’d turn to the Team: “Men, enjoy this treat. No more cupcakes this season!”
With a contest looming in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving against current #8/7 Florida Gators in the Battle4Atlantis (http://www.atlantisbahamas.com/events/battle-4-atlantis), the early season relative feasting is over. On 11-26, the Hoyas have a date with the Gators and face prior national champions and perennial Top 10-25 competition including Wisconsin, North Carolina, UCLA, and Butler. At this point, few analysts are giving our Hoyas little chance of winning the title, but those analysts haven’t seen:
I. The Growth of Josh Smith: Today Josh Smith seemed to fully embrace the role Hoya fans have been awaiting–22 points, 11 rebounds and a sweet albeit imperfect touch at the foul line. I, for one, have been skeptical to date, but if Josh continues this solid play against heftier opponents, the Hoyas could extend this season far longer into the spring than we have seen since 2007.
II. Three (or Four) Super Frosh: I cannot remember when three Hoya freshman have seen so much time, today 70 minutes total among freshman starter LJ Peak, and Paul White, Tre Campbell and Issac Copeland, all seeing significant minutes off the bench. In fact, the Hoyas’ bench points today were a respectable 22 to add to Smith’s own 22. Peak and White appear to me to be the two players who will make the greatest impact in the early season, although Campbell looks comfortable on the court and I believe the prize recruit Copeland will also shine in time.
III. Upperclass Leadership: Today junior D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (DSR), asking early and often for the ball, seemed to find his stroke just in time for the Battle4Atlantis. It cannot be easy to live up to the expectations heaped upon him before the season even began: Pre-Season Big East Player of the Year and prestigious All America lists. For some, that’s a burden. Today, DSR finished with 12 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds and while he is struggling from long-distance, today particularly he showed that he can be counted on for much needed leadership. Senior Mikael Hopkins owned the boards with teammate Smith (10 for Hopkins today), and add Mikael’s 4 blocks and 6 points in 20 minutes, and DSR, Mikael and Jabril are the players I consider our leadership core, which Josh may join with further consistent play.
IV. Ball Movement: Today the team moved the ball against the RMU zone better than they have this season, and at one point it was so crisp and fast I couldn’t even find the ball! (It resembled that SCS Hoya Shuffle game that Verizon Center fans dislike because no one ever wins). Today the Colonials experienced that same frustration as Hoya shooters were left wide open for shots, even if they didn’t always make them. The shots will fall.
So, better “D” and all of the above make it possible that the Hoyas’ performance in Atlantis may surprise. Prominentplay will blog throughout the tourney, and will enjoy the sun and the surf only in my dreams.
No more cupcakes!