It seems like more than a week ago that I was heading to the airport to South Bend for the opening of the Big East season. Georgetown's out of conference success proved that the preseason accolades and the praise of a deep bench were clearly earned. But the Big East games have put quite a damper on the early season enthusiasm. So what has happened? Or, in other words, if JahidiLikesPie had a worried meter, what color would it, and should it, read this morning?
Georgetown is still a very good basketball team. Put simply, the Hoyas rely on great shooters shooting well. When Austin Freeman and Chris Wright are cold, we are in some trouble. When Jason Clark has lost all confidence in his shot outside of three feet and the foul line, so much so that he no longer shoots, we are in deeper trouble. But even with all three of them struggling we are deep enough and talented enough to be beating good basketball teams.
More State of the Hoyas after The Jump:More worrying is Georgetown's play on the defensive end. We now know for sure that disciplined, well coached teams can score on us relatively easily. We can't expect to play Memphis every game. This is a problem, the coach knows it's a problem, yet there is no solution on the horizon. As an earlier post this week smartly pointed out, defensive efficiency is the best predictor of NCAA success.
These are things we knew going into the season, so we shouldn't be surprised. What is surprising is the now three game stretch of lack of effort and passion showed by the Hoyas. From time to time in this space I try to draw some historical comparisons between this year's team and teams in the past. This next comparison is worrisome and in no way flattering.
Georgetown made its reputation under JT Jr. as a team that played 40 minutes all out. Every year they beat teams they were not supposed to based on outworking and willng themselves to victory. When the Ewing era came and talent flowed, we preserved much of that attitude which was interpreted as grand arrogance and Hoya Paranoia. In fact, it was a simple chip on our shoulder that said "we may not win today, but we will leave everything on the court."
This year's team has a different brand of arrogance. They think they are a good, perhaps great team. In fact, they enter most games thinking they are better than their opponent and expecting to win. And they consistently calibrate their effort to the level of the opponent they are facing. It's not based on a hunger for victory, a passion for winning, or the euphoria of destroying, rather than simply beating an opponent. Up until now, it seems it's a pretty level-headed assessment of this is what we have to do to win this game. Nothing more, nothing less.
Steve Lavin had it right at the end of the St. John's game. He said his seniors found a way and willed themselves to victory. That's precisely what we are missing. And that is very different from the Hoya teams of the past under both JTIII and Jr.
The good news is we have the talent to be a great team. And this is the right time to get the wake-up call. As Chris and Austin reflect on the last week I hope they can channel teams of the past and understand that this is it, their last chance to play every team like they were the underdog, to outwork, out-hustle and out-will the Hoyas to victories before they leave Georgetown forever. And where we will see is not in regaining shooting touch, but on the defensive end and on the boards that success is solely based on effort. I'm pretty optimistic that can happen and in March we'll look back on this stretch as a key turning point in the season.
Final note -- bonus points for the first one who can name who recorded the song Crawling through the Wreckage.