FanPost

The Casual Awards: A GIFtastic Ode to Victory Over Creighton

Your Fighting Hoyas of Georgetown remained on the Bubble of the NCAA Tournament by defeating the crapheads from the Cornhusker state, and as usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are handing out hardware to those most deserving. Since this game was ultra-casual and Markel Starks has solidified his grasp on The Chris Wright Heart of a Champion Award until further notice, I'm turning over the reins to resident GIF Goddess HoyaSaxual for a look back at the game against Creighton through the eyes of the GIF. Just allow the page to load for a bit because there's a lot of cool stuff below. Take it away, Saxual!
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Thanks, Casual!

It’s March. This is scary time for Hoya fans. So before we dive any further into the meaning of Saturday's game at Villanova and the Big East Tournament at MSG, some things happened that are worthy of recognition and GIF-based immortality.

First Half

Playing to reclaim their spot on the bubble that had been a casualty unkind rims in the state of Wisconsin, Tuesday’s game against Creighton was also Senior Night. This was the last time a few familiar faces would be taking the floor at Verizon. Each of the five seniors on the team stepped forward to be recognized: John Caprio, Moses Ayegba, Aaron Bowen, Nate Lubick…and Markel Starks, who paused to kiss the court that was the site of so many memorable moments throughout his college career.

Creighton’s defense early in the game forced the Hoyas to burn most of the shot clock as they passed around trying to find the open shot. In a sign of good things to come, Nate Lubick calmly took a no-look from Starks and converted this 16-footer. It was the kind of smooth jumper seen all too rarely in his four years. Unfortunately, two quick fouls prevented us from seeing whether this was a fluke or a hot-shooting hand.

After the 50+ foul experience at Marquette last week, fans’ frustration with the new officiating and the team’s apparent inability to adapt threatened to become a primary narrative of the season. Jahenns Manigat must have thought that running into Mikael Hopkins would earn him a foul call. Thankfully, the style of refereeing was reminiscent of previous years’ Big East play and the action continued as the Bluejay tumbled to the floor.

The defensive intensity through this game was more persistent that at any other point during the season. Jabril Trawick and Hopkins combined here to strip the ball from Ethan Wragge, and a few minutes later the same disruptive style forced Creighton to turn it over after an uncharacteristic shot clock violation.

This was Markel Starks’ night. His performance was nothing short of heroic. The first of his 17 points came on this jumper, as Gus and Raf lamented the apparent demise of the mid-range game in college basketball.

Doug McDermott is a consistent star forward and strong candidate for National Player of the Year. Mikael Hopkins shows promise one night, and has fans tearing at their hair the next. Playing smart defense under the basket, then blocking this shot (while avoiding picking up the foul) makes you wonder what Hopkins would be capable of if he weren’t constantly forced to play out of position. Can he make the same jump Henry Sims did heading into his senior season?

Before the game, in a brief moment of clarity, FoxSports1 noted that Trawick’s contributions would be crucial if the Hoyas wanted to have a realistic shot at a win. Nailing two threes in a row during the first half kept Georgetown in the game early, as Ceighton's defenders got clogged up around eachother in the paint and left our less consistent shooters open on the perimeter. He capitalized…twice in a row.

While the Moses of the Bible received tablets of stone, Casualties have also wondered throughout the years if our own Moses was gifted with hands of stone. He has racked up a series of highlight-worthy blocks over the years, often batting the ball far out of bounds in the process. This time, however, he rejects Grant Gibbs’ attempted layup and masterfully controls the rebound with both hands. Beautiful.

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera also picked up a double-double, but it was plays like this that differentiate his performance from the average game. After missing the jumper, he followed up and corralled the offensive rebound, converting the layup despite the looming presence of Doug McDermott (who is easily 6" taller).

The second half of Starks’ double-double was the 11 assists he was credited with. He noticed a lapse in Creighton’s defensive rotation and hit Reggie Cameron with a pass for a wide-open three. Hopefully shots like that build the sophomore’s freshman's confidence and we see many more next season as an upperclassman.

One interesting development from the foul-fest at Marquette was the solid contribution of Bradley Hayes while the rest of our front court was cooling their heels on the bench. The post-game thread involved much clamoring for increased playing time, and JTIII graced us with an appearance by the 7-footer late in the first half. He still saw limited minutes, but he moved less woodenly than before and cleared Will Artino out of the way to pull down this rebound before quickly depositing the ball back into the capable hands of his senior PG.

Bowen’s quick hands and affinity for pirouetting around his opponents are well-documented. This steal was no exception, with the only enjoyment compounded by the sight of McDermott (coach’s son, don’t ya know!) getting tangled up in his own feet and unceremoniously landing on his rear end as Bowen deftly passes it up to Starks.

That steal set up what was unquestionably the play of the game. Markel Starks brought it up the floor and hit Jabril Trawick with a perfectly timed lob, allowing the fiery 6th man to perform that rarest of Georgetown basketball feats – an alley-oop.

The crowd went wild…and so did the players. Their jubilation was almost as enjoyable as the sequence itself, and deserving of its own GIF.

Aaron Bowen is aerobatic with a flair for the dramatic. It has earned him love from the fans, and probably more than a few laps from his coach. This year his playing style has shown a much higher level of maturity. Let’s give credit where it’s due, and recognize that knowing when to take the sure-thing layup instead of trying for the highlight-reel dunk at the end of the first half shows how far he has evolved. Maybe we’ll see more next year?

Halftime

Puppy!!! Lil’ Jack made his official debut at the Phone Booth on Tuesday night. If this is any indication of the young bulldog's worth as a good luck charm, we better hope the little ankle-biter will be road-tripping to Philly with the team this weekend.

The school finally announced that they will be breaking ground on the new $60 million IAC. The official proclamation was made at halftime, and it’s only fitting that the facility will be named after John Thompson, Jr.

Second Half

Watching Hopkins successfully execute a post move against McDermott then get by him for the reverse layup will never get old. The Hoyas may be known for playing to the level of their competition, but I’m still impressed.

Starks has drained many threes in his Georgetown career. This smooth shot after the pass from DSR was no more notable than most, except that it was his last one ever at the Verizon Center.

As Smith-Rivera nailed this jumper for 2 more of his 18 points on the day, the demise of the mid-range game in college basketball was once again a topic of conversation. Between that misguided notion and ESPN’s premature requiem for the Big East, it seems like certain things won’t stay dead simply to suit the networks’ narrative. What a shame.

Starks split Creighton’s defense masterfully on this layup, wending his way between Grant Gibbs and Austin Chatman and making it look easy. It seems that Gibbs must be a fan of the new phantom call protocol distributed to officials at the start of this season, as he looks mightily offended that no foul was whistled.

Trawick is aggressive, exciting to watch and tougher than a broken jaw. He is also getting smarter, aware that his reputation precedes him. Not only did he read the defense and see a hole through which a driving layup could work, he didn’t try any theatrics of drawing contact that might risk getting called for the charge. Surgical strike > wrecking ball.

Unmade free-throws have been costly for the team this season. The halftime lead of 14 had been cut to only 6, and I cannot have been the only person whose paranoia was spiraling out of control. Starks was fouled twice, and made all four from the charity stripe, keeping the Hoyas in the lead despite…

…the fact that this happened. Grant Gibbs made two threes in a row, giving fans flashbacks to Marshon Brooks, Steph Curry, Armon Bassett, Sherwood Brown, and all the scary specters whose lights-out shooting have dashed Hoya hopes in recent years.

In the final minute of the game, as the team was clinging to a 5 point lead, Creighton’s defense finally figured out how to cut off the lane. Starks was undeterred, making a quick pass underneath to Bowen, who was wide open for the easiest (and least creative) layup he’s made all season.

What do you want from seniors? Leadership, consistency and smart decision making developed through four years of experience on the court. A comeback was unlikely for Creighton at this point, but the hero of the night didn’t want there to be any doubt. Had his knee touched the ground, Starks would have been called for a travel and turned over the ball. Those instincts will be missed.

If his scoring patterns are any indication. I don’t ever want to get into an argument with Aaron Bowen. His proclivity for getting the last word in during a game exceeds that of any other Georgetown player in recent memory. This breakaway reverse dunk was the exclamation point this night deserved.

As Starks exited the court for first time all game, he was met with a huge hug from John Thompson III and an even bigger cheer from an arena full of very appreciative fans.

Thank you, Seniors! But you’re not done yet…



Beat 'Nova. Hoya Saxa.

Stay Casual, my friends.

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