This sucks. There is no sugarcoating what happened today in the Verizon Center. The Georgetown Hoyas, as recently as December 29, were a top 10 team in the country. They finished the hardest out-of-conference schedule in the nation at a sparkling 11-1, including road wins at Missouri, Old Dominion, and Memphis. Since conference play began 10 days ago, this team has been an unmitigated disaster. Poor defensive rebounding, sloppy turnovers, impatient offense, and a lack of leadership have caused the Hoyas to become unhinged. Today, against a rebuilding West Virginia team that just barely squeaked by Depaul, Georgetown lost 65-59. Down three with less than two minutes to go, Georgetown did not get up a shot on three straight possessions. With three seniors, a junior and a sophomore in the starting lineup, the current lack of poise is remarkable.
Jason Clark led the Hoyas with 16 points, while Austin Freeman and Chris Wright combined for 20 points on 6-21 shooting. Right now, our three guards are not playing basketball as well as they should be. Clark and Wright, the primary ball handlers, have been out of control. Wright started the season playing the most effective we'd seen him in a Hoya uniform. Since conference play started, he has reverted back to the worst of his sophomore and junior seasons. Freeman hasn't looked this bad since his sophomore year, when he was overweight and uninterested.
More thoughts after The Jump.
No matter how inconsistent our three guards have been in the last 10 days, blame also has to be placed on John Thompson III. Our plays coming out of timeouts have been atrocious, not to mention JT3's momentum killing timeout call when the Hoyas were about to take the lead in the second half after a 10-2 run. Our senior guards are in a slump right now, and for the first time in JT3's time on the Hilltop, we have capable backups. When Markel Starks plays as well as he did midway through the second half, he shouldn't sit. I appreciate having faith in your best guys, but let them figure it out in practice and ride the hot hand. Freeman got energized in the second half and scored 11 points after riding the pine and seeing the younger guys take over. The same should have went for Wright.
Watching Pitt outlast Providence on the road the other day was a stark contrast to how this Georgetown team has played this year. Pitt was down with a minute left, got good possessions on offense being patient, and buckled down on the defensive end, winning by four when all was said and done. Even in our close victories over Old Dominion and Missouri, our execution was terrible late in the games. We were saved by Wright nailing a game tying three at the buzzer after Hollis Thompson took an unforced three pointer with 10 seconds left against Missouri. And we were saved by Wright heaving up a three pointer with no time left on the shot clock against Old Dominion. Against Temple, Thompson took another unforced shot at the end of the game, missing a wide open Julian Vaughn for what would have been the game winning dunk. Against St. John's, Clark got destroyed on the defensive end and we didn't prevent the tip-in that ultimately lost us the game. Today, we had three straight possessions to tie the game and couldn't even get a shot up without turning the ball over.
All that said, I still have faith in this team. As a Georgetown fan, I have no other choice. This is the only team that I really care about in all of sports, and as painful as these last 10 days have been, it's only been 10 days. I believe in Wright and Freeman to make this better and carry us through the rest of the season. I worry that both are pressing under the magnitude of their final seasons in college, where so much rides on their professional lives in their last chances to prove to NBA scouts that they are worthy of being drafted. Fortunately for Freeman and Wright, they will be judged by how many wins Georgetown amasses for the rest of the season and how deep Georgetown goes in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for Wright and Freeman, they aren't grasping that at this moment, instead sulking and playing lackadaisical when their shots aren't falling. DaJuan Summers and Jessie Sapp faced similar challenges in 2008-2009, and we all know how that ended up. Yet, Georgetown fans have to hope this will be different. These guys worked too hard in the off season and looked too good in out-of-conference play to go out like this.
JT3 has built a successful program at Georgetown, and he must right the ship during practices this week. This team has to become better rebounders on the defensive glass, and needs to execute for 40 minutes for the rest of the season. Turnovers, rebounding, and defense are about focus and effort. Going forward, we have to see more of that, and it has to start at the top, with JT3 and our two star senior guards and captains.