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Game 19 - Cincinnati

Tough day to be the favorite on the road. #1 Duke loses at Wake. #3 Pitt loses at Villanova. #15 Syracuse loses at Providence. And of course, #25 Georgetown loses at Cincinnati. Only one of those games has serious implications for NCAA Tournament and unfortunately for Hoya fans, it has to do with Georgetown. Since it is bad news, I'll try to sugarcoat it with a little pig in a bow tie.

Yes, I know I am being harsh. Yes, I know I am being pessimistic. And yes, I know that I am 100% correct. We have ten games left, five on the road and five at the neutral Verizon center. Five are against ranked opponents. So being optimistic, we go 5-5, end up 17-12 and 8-10 in conference play. We will still be in the top 50 RPI and have a top 10 SOS. But the selection committee will be hard-pressed to let a team into the tournament with an under .500 conference record and that hasn't had a good win since the middle of January. Oh well, at least we got these young players some valuable experience playing a tough OOC schedule, ahem bullshit. The only thing this schedule did was depress and discourage the now hopeless Hoyas. Perfect transition to tonight's wonderful display of basketball.

Simply put: another game, another last minute collapse. The Heart Break Hoyas continue to remind fans of the Esherick-era as they extend their season long losing steak to four. On the positive side, our losses should no longer be considered upsets, since we have shown the sports community why we are undeserving of a Top 25 ranking. This should serve as a lesson to all, if you expect the worst, you can never be disappointed.

Funny thing is, we actually didn't play that poorly... for the first 35 minutes of the game . We were careful with the ball, hit our foul shots, and rebounded well. But we have reverted back to our Esherick ways during the end of games. Thompson is still a remarkable 17-3 in games decided by three or less points, and 9-0 in the last three seasons. But this season, we have been so awful in the closing minutes that the games that should be decided by three or less points end up being blowouts.

So why do we suck during the last five minutes? Let's review the last two losses. To make it more or less confusing, depending on who is reading, I broke each game into five-minutes spans, for a total of eight. Then compared how well we shot in each five minute segment, and what types of shots we took.

Seton Hall
We entered the final five minutes of the game with a tied score. We proceed to take 10 shots, making only 2. We took 5 three-pointers, tied for the most we have taken in a five minute span, and miss all of them. Combined with our 3 for 5 shooting from the free throw line, we end the final minutes shooting 5 for 15, our worst percentage for any five minute stretch of the game. Five players took shots, yet the player that was having the best shooting game (Monroe) took only one shot. The four other players combined to shoot 7 for 35 for that game. And oh, of those 5 three-point attempts, only one of them was taken when the team was down by three or more points. The other 4 were when we were down by one or two points, and a higher percentage shot would have made more sense. We were outscored 7-12 in the final stretch and lost by five.

We entered the final five minutes of the game down by two. We proceeded to take 8 shots, making only 2. We took 5 three-pointers, the most for any five minute stretch of a game, and made 1. We attempted no foul shots. The final minutes are tied for our worst shooting five minute stretch of the game. Five players took shots, yet the player that was having the best shooting game (Wright) took only two. The other four players combined to shoot 10 for 35 for the game. We are outscored 5-11 in the final minutes and lost by eight.

What Does This Mean
- We don't take good shots at the end of the game. We rush to shoot rather than waiting for the open look.
- We are remarkably inefficient at getting the ball to our hottest shooters.
- We don't play the law of averages. We were 3 of 17 from beyond the arc entering the final five minutes of the Seton Hall game. Why were did we shoot 4 threes when a two-point shot could have tied or given us the lead? That is horrific coaching.
- In two of the last three losses, JT3 has made a comment suggesting that it was a "blip" or we were getting "bad bounces". That is crap. We don't make buckets at the end of the game because we take bad shots, not because of bad bounces.
- We do not have a go-to player. We do not have a star. Everyone attempts to make the highlight reel shot, but we have yet to see one go in.

Trouble on Saturday. Marquette is going to crush us. Especially if Summers isn't healthy. Get ready for the NIT Hoya fans, I guess it was true when they said it was going to be a rebuilding year. Mid-season review after the Marquette game. I'm feeling artsy so expect a song in the next few days.

Good talk.