Game 7: Georgetown Hoyas (4-2) vs Towson Tigers (7-1)
Series: Hoyas lead 4-0
Where/When: Verizon Center, Sunday at noon
TV: Fox Sports 1
Your Georgetown Hoyas return from a turnover filled trip from the Bahamas to take on the Towson Tigers in the first of four consecutive home games. Officially this is part of the BB&T Classic but I'm really not sure what that means anymore. I haven't understood the event since it became a non-tournament in 2006.
After squeaking by an undermanned Florida squad in the Battle 4 Atlantis opener, the Hoyas blew a 9-point second half lead against No. 2 Wisconsin before looking largely disinterested at times in what will go down as a non conference game against fellow BIG EAST member Butler to leave paradise on a two game skid.
In going 1-2, Georgetown, as a team, committed 48 turnovers while handing out just 25 assists. Obviously it's early in the season but turnovers - combined with poor free throw shooting (63 percent) - were key ingredients in those losses.
The good news is that those two problems are very fixable. The even better news is that D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera played more like the player we all expected from the season opener while freshmen Paul White and Isaac Copeland left the tournament in far better standing than when they showed up.
Coach John Thompson III - now in his eleventh season in charge of the program that his father built - has never lost three consecutive non-conference games. In fact he's only lost back-to-back non league games in the same season just once - in 2006 when the Hoyas dropped a home game to Oregon and then fell in Durham to Duke. Of course this is just another example of stats being stats as that team was a BIG EAST wrecking crew that eventually ended up in Atlanta at the Final Four.
So what do we know about the Tigers?
Well, Jerrelle Benimon is gone.
As we all know the Georgetown transfer left the Hilltop to become the face of the Baltimore area program and won back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year awards. If anybody ever questions why you want to take a year off and find yourself, point to Benimon as your inspiration.
Coach Pat Skerry has easily orchestrated one of the most impressive recent turnarounds in college basketball since arriving at Towson. He won just once in 32 tries his first season and last year - in his third season - he guided the Tigers to a 25-11 record.
Skerry is a former disciple of Jamie Dixon so expect a lot of holding and bumping of cutters to the basket.
Tigers lowdown: Right now Four McGlynn is the guy for Towson. He leads the team in scoring (14 ppg) and is deadly from behind the arc (42 percent).
While a bit undersized, John Davis and Timajh Parker-Rivera do the bulk of the rebounding for the Tigers. The frontcourt duo combine for nearly 17 boards per game as Towson averages about 42 as a team.
Another player to look out for is Alex Gavrilovic. At 6-foot-9, the big man can shoot from deep (43 percent). Something he possibly picked up from Vee Sanford the last few seasons when he was at Dayton.
Towson has their own problem holding on the ball which is pretty alarming considering the quality of opponent they have faced thus far.
Last time out: Towson ran its winning streak to seven by defeating Coppin State 84-76 on Wednesday night. That's the good news.
The bad news? The combined record of their opponents during the winning streak is 5-35, excluding the record of Goucher (D3).
RPI: Last season Towson finished up at 84, with only Delaware having a better RPI in the conference at 66. In the post realignment CAA, it looks like a Top 4 finish would put Towson at no worse than 130 in the rankings.
Now on to your undefeated (on US soil) Georgetown Hoyas.
Valuing the ball: As mentioned earlier, turnovers were out of control in the Bahamas. The main culprits at the moment are Mikael Hopkins and Joshua Smith but it's a team problem. Yes L.J. Peak has one more turnover than Smith, but Peak is at least providing assists.
Through six games the Hoyas have 74 assists to 89 turnovers. Only Smith-Rivera and Jabril Trawick have more assists than turnovers among players seeing at least 15 minutes a game.
As we have come to expect from a JT3 coached team, Georgetown is shooting well from the field - nearly 50 percent. The problem they had last week in facing quality teams was wasted possessions.
Depth: It wasn't just lip service when JT3 said that he could go with a lot of different lineups thanks to the team's depth this season. After a run before the half against Butler, JT3 made three changes to the lineup to start the second half. Copeland, the highest rated recruit coming into the season, was one of the three new starters in the second half and paid JT3 back with a game-high 16 points, including his first two three-pointers of the season.
The next thing both Copeland and White need to work on is rebounding if they really want to work on increasing their minutes.
Reason to be cynical: With one eye on Kansas, Georgetown could easily let Towson hang around much longer than anybody expects. I'm sure that the GW faithful in the arena won't have any problems getting behind Towson and making it an uncomfortable second half.
Reason to be delusional: JT3 has had over a week to go over and clean up some of the unforced turnovers . With the emergence of Copeland and White, Georgetown will be able to put this game to bed before the half as the team gets ready to even the all-time series with the Jayhawks next week.
Final thoughts: Towson is a paper Tiger at the moment and Georgetown will have no problem in dispatching them in their first ever BB&T appearance and running their Verizon Center non league winning streak up to 53 games.
As the season goes on JT3 will likely get into a more predictable substitution pattern. Trying to figure that out, for me, is probably the most interesting thing to look at in this game. How many more chances is Reggie Cameron going to get to knock down shots? Can Tre Campbell get some more minutes at the point reliving DSR? If Copeland's minutes go up, who loses minutes? Tune in during your football Sunday for some of these answers!