Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
Well, that wasn't all that casual now, was it? The Hoyas dropped a brutal game to the Big East bottom feeder South Florida Bulls yesterday 61-58, in a game that will be remembered not just for the loss, but also for the numerous empty possessions the Hoyas had in the game's final minutes after John Thompson III timeouts.
The game started as somewhat of a debacle, as fans in Washington DC and New York City were unable to even see the game's first 15 minutes as MASN made the questionable decision to air the Providence - Villanova game and Cablevision was showing the UConn Women's basketball postgame show. What fans missed was a fairy sluggish start for the Hoyas as USF raced to an early lead. However, the Hoyas quickly erased the USF start and, on the strength of good defense and the Greg Whittington-less Fun N' Gun up tempo offense that produced a number of opportunities in transition, Georgetown surged to a 31-20 with just a minute to go in the first half and seemed primed to make this game a blowout.
The first half ended on a sour note, however, as on Georgetown's final offensive possession Nate Lubick missed an ill-advised three and then promptly fouled USF's Jawanza Poland's desperation three point attempt as the half was coming to a close, giving USF three free points from the charity stripe and cutting the Hoyas lead at the break to just eight.
The Bulls came out in the second half on fire and couldn't miss from three, hitting 7 of 10 shots (all wide open) from beyond the arc, erasing Georgetown's lead and taking the lead all within the first 5 minutes and in the process sending Hoyas fans into panic mode as visions of losses in the past to teams that couldn't miss from deep popped into our heads, Ohio and VCU to name just a couple. However, this USF team is nowhere near Tournament caliber. Clearly the Hoyas would weather the storm and escape with a win, right?
Georgetown would never lead in the game again.
Georgetown's defense kept the Hoyas in the game throughout and held the Bulls without a field goal in game's final six minutes, but in what has now become a signature trait of Georgetown's season, the stagnant offense prevented victory. The Hoyas trailed by as many as 7 with 9 minutes left and 5 with just 3 minutes left, but a mimi-run led by the play of Otto Porter and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera slashed the lead to just one with two minutes to go and gave Hoyas fans hope that a USF team that was winless in Big East play was choking away yet another opportunity for victory. The harsh reality was, however, that it was the Hoyas that would ultimately be doing the choking.
With the Hoyas trailing 59-58 and 1:27 left on the clock, JT3 called a timeout to set up Georgetown's next offensive possession. The play that was initially designed wasn't a poor one, as Porter had a step on his man and cut to the hoop, but Nate Lubick's pass to him was too hard and it bounced off Porter's leg off a USF defender out of bounds, giving the Hoyas another chance with less time on the shot clock. The Hoyas didn't get off a good shot and couldn't convert on the possession as Porter was forced to take an off balance jumper and USF grabbed the rebound.
The Georgetown defense again held, as USF missed a three and the Hoyas had the ball with 26 seconds left and down 1. Again, JT3 called a timeout to design a play. Would Georgetown hold for the final shot? Perhaps look for a quick basket to give it another chance later? Whatever play was designed in the timeout didn't come close to fruition, as the Hoyas passed the ball around the perimeter for 14 seconds without any player making a move towards the basket. JT3 noticed as much, and called yet another timeout, this time with just 12 seconds left in the game and forcing the Hoyas into a final shot scenario. Georgetown was able to get the ball to Porter as the clock ticked down, but he was out of position far away from the basket on the wing, and his attempt to dribble through the entire Bulls team predictably resulted in a turnover and that was all she wrote.
Three possessions to score one basket. Three timeouts. Zero points. One horrible loss.
So that's where this Hoyas season has now taken us. After a non-conference schedule that had the Hoyas sporting a Top 15 ranking and a schedule that could have produced a 5-0 record to open Big East play, the Hoyas suddenly find themselves 2-3 in the Big East with games against Notre Dame and Louisville up next. How is Georgetown going to win these games? Greg Whittington let down his teammates and the school by allegedly not even showing up for one of his final exams and may not play again, Mikael Hopkins has been an unmitigated disaster at center and though impressive in the wins against St. John's and Providence, Markel Starks has again displayed the inconsistency that has prevented him from making a leap and being one of the Conference's better point guards.
The goal heading into this season was for Georgetown to simply make the NCAA Tournament, and I think we all need to reset whichever other lofty expectations we had coming out of that non-conference schedule and focus on that. To make the Dance, the Hoyas need to finish at least 9-9 in the Big East. At 2-3, I see 6 'should win' games left on the schedule: Seton Hall at home, St. John's at home, at Rutgers, DePaul at home, Rutgers at home, and at Villanova. Georgetown's road to the NCAA's is simple: win all of those and win one against the league's upper echelon teams.
The road starts Monday night at Notre Dame.