Sigh. Well Hoya fans, it seems as if the annual Big East swoon is in full swing after Monday night's disappointment at home against the Bearcats. We can hang onto the hope that these losses have come simply as a result of the fact that Georgetown hasn't recently played Cincinnati or West Virginia well, but this team has glaring weaknesses that have been exposed in not just the last 2 losses, but the last 2 wins as well. Long story short, this game should have been a blowout. For the Bearcats, not the Hoyas. Georgetown shot out of their minds in this game and still managed to lose, but one thing remained consistent: turnovers. The Old Blue and Gray bested it's 15-turnover performance at West Virginia with a 17-turnover game last night. Needless to say, one thing is obvious. If this team hopes to stand a chance in the Big East and the Tournament, they absolutely MUST stop turning the ball over.The Hoyas were unable to avenge last season's devastating injury to Chris Wright in a rematch against Cincinnati, who seems to be just as much of a bugaboo for the Hoyas as West Virginia. This game featured all around excellent shooting performances and generally better decision-making than was seen in the loss to the Mountaineers, despite the higher number of turnovers. Cincinnati threw an incredibly tough defensive scheme at the Hoyas and Georgetown was just not able to cope. Most of the Hoyas' turnovers were forced by the tenacious Bearcat defense rather than mindless passes and pure lack of focus. Despite the loss, we did witness the long-awaited return of Nate Lubick to the sport of basketball, as he finally played like the post presence we'd hoped he'd be all season. Georgetown will not likely keep up this high level of offensive play, but hopefully they will take the time before this weekend's game at St. John's to clean up their ball security issues and really take it to the relatively weak Red Storm.
Nate Lubick Made Me Eat My Words - In just 2 days, Nate went from shooting 2-2 with 5 fouls, 3 rebounds, and no assists in just 15 minutes to shooting 4-5 with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and just 2 fouls in 23 minutes of play last night. This was far and away Lubick's best game of the season. He was active on the boards and in the post with and without the ball. He made better decisions when passing the ball and held onto the ball a lot better than he had in previous games. After the last game, I said Lubick belonged on the bench and that fired a bunch of y'all up. Well now I get to eat it and hopefully this game was the return of the norm for Nate rather than just an aberration.
Neutralizing Yancy Gates - Despite the fact that Kilpatrick and Dixon are the Bearcats' top two scorers, there is no doubt that the Hoyas needed to create a special game plan for big man Yancy Gates, who is far larger than any of Georgetown's active big men (Tyler Adams would have been a great defensive cover for him). Gates, who averages 12 points and 9 rebounds, was held to just 8 points and 7 rebounds on 2-5 shooting. Gates was a relative non-factor in this one, despite the fact that he didn't really need to be a factor considering Kilpatrick and Dixon couldn't miss.
Keeping Cashmere Wright off the Floor - Wright is the key component of the Cincinnati offense; it flows through his direction. Wright accrued 2 fouls in the first 7 minutes of the game and had to sit for the majority of the first half. He remained in foul trouble for the entirety of the game and never really got to direct the offense. He got his 4 assists, but got just 2 points and didn't make a single field goal. Again, scoring wasn't important for the Bearcats in this one if your last name wasn't Kilpatrick or Dixon, but Wright could have posed an even greater issue for the Hoyas if he had gotten into his rhythm.
Crashing the Defensive Boards Early - Inability to control the defensive rebound has hurt the Hoyas recently. Georgetown was very aggressive around the rim on defense, picking up 11 defensive rebounds on 16 Cincinnati misses in the first half. Granted, Cincinnati spent a lot of the game putting smaller players on the floor (with the exception of Gates), so rebounding would be inherently easier for the Hoyas, but limiting the Bearcats to one shot each time down the floor was crucial for the Hoyas, especially when Kilpatrick and Dixon got hot.
Inability to Defend Cincinnati's Hot Shooters/Get Shots for Our Hot Shooters - This is a compound complaint. Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick took 19 shots and combined for 24 points in the first half. They combined for another 12 shots and 25 points in the second half. On the Georgetown side, Hollis and Clark combined for 8 shots and 21 points in the first half but only combined for 5 shots and 7 points in the second half, with Hollis scoring none of those points. It was obvious very early that Kilpatrick and Dixon would be the only sources of points for the Bearcats, and yet they continued to get open looks and were never double-teamed. Clark had a decent second half, but the fact that Hollis got just one shot is a huge issue, especially considering how hot he's been the past couple of games. The fault for this lies entirely on JTIII.
Not Getting to the Free Throw Line - Cincinnati committed 15 fouls. That's not a lot, but it's enough to get into the bonus at least once. Georgetown shot just 10 free throws to Cincinnati's 22. Cincinnati was not SUPPOSED to be a great free throw shooting team, but they shot 82% from the line. There is absolutely nothing the Hoyas could have done about that percentage, but they could have tried to make the shot disparity a little lower. There was not much in the way of attacking the basket, despite the clear presence of a post game for the majority of the second half. One can also attribute this difference to the Bearcats' excellent defense. They created turnovers without fouling, which is very difficult to do consistently, but Georgetown's inability to take advantage of an overly aggressive Cincinnati defense prevented them from getting to the line.
Failing to Finish the Game - Georgetown led the Bearcats 59-53 with six and a half minutes to go. Cincinnati outscored the Hoyas 15-5 after that point. Georgetown shot 1-4 (3-7 FT) with 5 turnovers in that time. Five? FIVE TURNOVERS? Five turnovers in 6 minutes is inexcusable. Georgetown sleepwalked through the last part of this game and Cincinnati took advantage. I'm not sure if this is just lack of mental toughness or if Georgetown just went cold, but you can't expect that a 6-point lead with 6 minutes to go over a team with TWO hot shooters is going to last if you don't play smart basketball and don't make the shots you are suppose to make.
Abandoning the Press - I didn't see the press once in this game. Not until Georgetown was in absolute need of a turnover with a minute left did JTIII call for a press. Why? Because Cincinnati is a faster team? Because they might just run through our press? Cincinnati committed 9 turnovers, just 9. If you remember the stat I gave above, that means Georgetown, in just the last 6 minutes of the game, committed more than half the number of turnovers the Bearcats committed the entire game. 9 forced turnovers is not nearly enough to beat a team, especially when you're coughing it up like crazy. The press worked against West Virginia, why did we get rid of it in this game?
Um, Where was Jabril? - This goes along with the last note because of Jabril's defensive prowess. Jabril Trawick played 3 minutes against Cincinnati. Not 13, not 23, THREE. One foul, one assist, no shots, no turnovers, no points. Tell me if this makes sense: A team whose best defensive player outside of the big men gets to sit on the bench while the other team's two best shooters are flying around the court and burning the Hoyas from everywhere EXCEPT the paint. It's as if JTIII forgot Jabril was on the bench! I can't help but think that Trawick would have been a huge aid in neutralizing the Kilpatrick/Dixon assault.
Three Key Plays You May Not Remember:
1) After Sean Kilpatrick failed to complete a 3-point play to cut the Georgetown lead to just 2 six and a half minutes into the second half, Georgetown struggled greatly with Cincinnati's defense on their resulting possession. With no time left on the shot clock, Otto Porter was forced to throw up a hook-shot prayer that almost certainly would not have gone in. Otto was bailed out, though, as Justin Jackson slapped him on the wrist as the shot clock expired, giving him two shots at the line, just Georgetown's second and third free throws. Otto made them both to push the Georgetown lead back up to 5 with just under 13 minutes to play. With Cincinnati on the verge of a huge defensive stop, Jackson's mental lapse gave the Hoyas some breathing room.
2) With four and a half minutes to play, Georgetown had an opportunity to inbound the ball from the baseline with a 3-point lead after a foul on Cashmere Wright. Nate Lubick intended to throw the ball to Jason Clark at the top of the key, but instead just let it float out of his hand. Dion Dixon easily grabbed the ball before it even got to Clark and streaked down the floor for a sure lay-up, which would cut the lead to just 1. Clark never gave up on the play, though, and was able to swat away Dixon's layup attempt at the other end of the court. Cincinnati would not score on the resulting possession, and Georgetown was able to keep their precarious lead for a little while longer.
3) Sean Kilpatrick stole the ball with just under a minute left in the first half and the Bearcats holding onto a 2-point lead. As he drove for the layup, though, he committed a charge and gave the ball right back to the Hoyas. Jason Clark made the most of this turnover and completed a three-point play on the Hoyas' next possession to give them the lead. Despite relinquishing this lead on Cincinnati's next offensive possession, the Kilpatrick charge turned into a 5-point swing in the Hoyas' favor going into halftime.
It Was Over When: Otto Porter stepped on the base line with Georgetown down 2 and 8 seconds to play. Cincinnati was not missing their free throws and eventually hit two to put the Hoyas away.
Georgetown gets 6 days to regroup before the matchup with St. John's, hopefully JTIII will make the proper adjustments.