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Midseason Review Sponsored by Kleenex

Midway through the Big East season, Georgetown sits barely at number ten in their conference with an ugly 3-6 record, 12-8 overall. Many knew the troubles Georgetown would experience in January, facing three top teams in a week but few expected the colossal collapse of the Hoyas against the bottom feeders of the conference. Or did we?

Here was my prediction for the season after the first game against Jacksonville:
(18-11, 10-8) 8 Seed come March
Key Wins: Syracuse (H), West Virginia, Marquette (H), Villanova
Key Losses: Memphis, Duke, 2nd Game of Old Spice, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Marquette (A), Syracuse (A), Louisville

Strength of schedule/conference gets us in. We drop out of top 25 by end of January back in by end of season. Rough January BE schedule will put us below .500 in the league for the first time in JTIII's tenure (excluding 1-2 start to '06-'07 season)

First time I have looked at that prediction since writing it and I suddenly don't feel that bad about the way we are playing. People saw this team's potential, or lack thereof, after the first game of the season and chose to ignore what they saw after surprising wins against Memphis and UConn. At the end of the day, we are not a very good team. We are still capable of ending up 10-8; I think 9-9 is more likely if we play like we did against Marquette on Saturday. But I'm not counting on it.

Much has been written about the Big East. Terms like best, deepest, toughest, hardest, and most competitive have been used often when describing the sixteen teams that make up this conference. Consider this: If an upset is defined as a nationally ranked team losing to a team of lower or no ranking, then as of February 1, 2009, there have been 13 upsets in the Big East. There have only been 70 Big East games played so far. So 1 in every 5.4 Big East games played results in an upset.

Side note, all the analysis by commentators on which is the best conference, Big East or ACC, is ridiculous. It is just used as a method for creating viewer interest in otherwise boring and meaningless ACC games. ESPN has a backlog of sappy ACC stories so if there was not an interest in conference games, all those unbearable pieces with Dick Vitale interviewing Duke fans that fell in love when their gazes crossed paths while observing their unskilled point guard slap the floor with two his hands would go to waste. There is no question that the Big East is the best conference. Yes, the ACC is 9-6 vs. the Big East in head-to-head matchups but 8 of those 9 victories are against teams in the bottom half of the conference. Applying the same upset analysis from above to the ACC, an upset only occurs once every 8.2 games. The ACC has 4 teams in the top 20 RPI, the Big East has 7. Okay, that was more than a side note, I can keep going on but this post is supposed to be about Georgetown sucking, not the media sucking the ACC....... gotta keep it kid-friendly otherwise my sponsors will run for the hills.

So what is the reason for Georgetown's poor play in January? There are six possible reasons. Shooting, defending, rebounding, passing, turnovers, and fouls. All six of these categories at some point have contributed to a Georgetown loss. But which is the overwhelming culprit? I suggest we take a look at the numbers. Sound good? Great. Let's split the nine Big East games into two types. There is good Georgetown, which represents games where we played reasonably well, even though we might have lost. Included in this set are the wins against UConn and Syracuse and the loss against Notre Dame. And then there's bad Georgetown, or games where the team played embarrassingly poor. Include in this set are the losses against Pitt, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Cincy and Marquette and the win against Providence. Startin' in reverse order cause I'm a rebel:

Bad Georgetown on average committed 2.5 more fouls per game but opponents averaged roughly the same amount of free throws against both good and bad Georgetown. So fouls are not the reason for Georgetown's poor play.

Bad Georgetown averaged 15 turnovers per game which were converted into 19.5 points by opponents. Good Georgetown averaged 10.7 giveaways which were converted into 12 points by opponents. Additionally bad Georgetown averaged 4 more turnovers per game than their opponents, whereas good Georgetown averaged 3 less turnovers per game than opponents. Moral of the story, turnover ratio is a huge factor to success.

Hard to define passing by looking at a box score but the best indicator of a team's success in distributing the basketball is their assist to turnover ratio. For the most part, turnovers are due to errant passes, either poorly thrown perimeter passes or bad entry passes into the lane. Good Georgetown had an assist to turnover ratio of 1.44, reminiscent of the Hoyas of the old (old like last year, not old like the eighties). Bad Georgetown averages an assist to turnover ratio of 0.92, meaning they are more likely to turn the ball over than make a pass that leads to a basketball. Not a hugely meaningful statistic because assists are dependent on the player that receives the pass actually making the basketball, something to be discussed later.

I gripe about it a lot but good Georgetown and bad Georgetown are dead even on rebounding. Both average the same amount of offensive and defensive rebounds and both give up the same amount to the opposition. This by no means suggests that bad Georgetown is proficient at rebounding, it just means good Georgetown sucks at rebounding as well.

Ah, the fun stuff. Good Georgetown on average gives up 70 points a game while bad Georgetown surrenders 74 points. I think this is the perfect juncture to make something very clear to all columnists, announcers and ESPN idiots that talk about the vaunted Georgetown defense. It is no longer there. In their 9 Big East games this season, 6 opponents have scored 70 or more points against the Hoyas. In the two previous years, only 5 Big East opponents have put up that many points against Georgetown. To repeat, conference opponents scored 70 or more points in 6 out of 9 games this season. In the last two years, conference opponents scored 70 or more points in 5 out of 40 games. As for good Georgetown and bad Georgetown, both are equally as inept at preventing opponents from scoring. The opposition is shooting 46% from the field against both sets of Georgetown teams, which is nearly 10% higher than last year.

Last but certainly not least, it is time to discuss the offensive woes. Good Georgetown shoots a respectable 49% from the field, and 42% from behind the arc. Bad Georgetown shoots 43% from the field and a woeful 28% from beyond the arc. And that's where the game is lost. Both good and bad Georgetown take and make the same number of layups a game, but the standard deviation for bad Georgetown is significant, meaning there is no telling what bad Georgetown is going to do to screw up the game offensively. Good Georgetown averages 76 points a game, while bad Georgetown averages 66. And sadly, the average margin of victory for good Georgetown is 6, whereas opponents defeat bad Georgetown by 9 points on average.

So there you have it, the difference between two Georgetown teams. Bad Georgetown tends to take less shots because they turn the ball over more, and the shots they do take go into the basket at a much lower rate than good Georgetown. The unfortunate part is that bad Georgetown should really be called real Georgetown and good Georgetown should be called lucky Georgetown. Sad day for all.

Revised Prediction
We go 5-4 in our remaining 9 games to end up at 8-10 in conference and 17-12 overall.

vs. Rutgers - Stop the losing streak and win
vs. Cincy - Beat them at home
@ Cuse - Upset Special, Thompson gets his first win at the Carrier Dome
@ USF - Upset Special, Thompson continues his winless streak at the Sun Dome
vs. Marquette - Lose, but its close
vs. Louisville - Lose, badly
@ Nova - We could win this game, this will be the difference between a guaranteed tourney spot and a nervous Selection Sunday but I think we lose
@ St. Johns - Win
vs. Depaul - Win

The 8-10 conference record gets us the 9th spot in the Big East Tournament, meaning we have to play Tuesday. Win our first two games against 16th and 8th seeds. Then we face the #1 seed on Thursday and lose.

Somehow this gets us into the NCAA Tournament, with a 10-11 seed. Big East gets 8 teams again, but West Virginia gets in over ND. We lose in first round of Tourney.

** If my Upset Special doesn't happen, and we lose at Cuse and win at South Florida, then we don't get into NCAA Tournament.

I hope I'm wrong but I've learned not to hope.

Good talk.