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Ten Things: A Mid-January Assessment of Where the Hoyas Stand

NYHoya brings you a series of random thoughts as we approach a gigantic three-day weekend.....

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Ten Things

1.  A Jigsaw Puzzle: For lack of a better analogy, our team still seems like a jigsaw puzzle: our players are a variety of pieces in different shapes and sizes, with a coaching staff that is still trying to determine which pieces connect, which pieces don't, and whether these pieces will ever come together and form a complete puzzle.  Plenty have complained about the lineups, but this team is a perpetual work in progress.  It is perhaps the deepest team JTIII has ever had, but also the team with the fewest "complete" players.

We are both experienced and very young.  We have a well-rounded shooting guard who struggles when he's asked to do too much at the point; a giant in the paint who scores at will when he's around the basket, but is foul-prone and has lapses on defense because he's too slow; a solid interior defender and rebounder who can't shoot and is too soft around the basket; an athletic wing who packs a punch on defense and can take it hard to the basket, but struggles to hit shots and is sloppy with the ball; a zone-breaking forward who shoots fairly well, but struggles to get rebounds against more physical bigs; a hot young guard who is great on the drive and has a decent shot, but makes lazy passes and sometimes looks lost on defense; a pterodactyl on defense who brings lots of energy on offense, but cannot hit shots consistently; a promising young forward who can shoot, but still lacks confidence and sometimes looks lost on defense; a natural point guard who plays energetic defense and can hit some shots, but still isn't polished enough to play consistent minutes; and an oafish big who rebounds well, but is too slow and struggles to shoot.

I'm not sure when these pieces will come together, or if they will ever come together.  Here's hoping the mixing and matching will lead to some results.

2.  The Joshington/Comrade Thing: Having described all of the different pieces on our team, I recognize it's hard to say definitively that certain players "match" and others don't.  But in the case of Joshua and Mikael, I think we need to stop playing them together.  While it's true that Joshua's offense and Mikael's defense, when combined, provide us with a solid interior presence, we can't escape the fact that Joshua and Mikael are two different people.  When they're on the court together, our offense languishes.

Neither Joshua nor Mikael can shoot from outside the paint (and they can barely shoot when inside the paint), so as long as the two are on the floor together, defenses can cheat down on Joshua and force our offense to be less fluid.  When Joshua is on the court, we need four shooters around him, or at least four guys capable of hitting perimeter shots.  It's no coincidence that DePaul played well at the beginnings of both halves against us, because it took advantage of our lack of spacing on offense.  This lineup needs to change.  Joshua and Mikael should spell each other.

3.  Free Throw Defense:  For those of you who think that teams never miss free throws against us, you are absolutely correct.  The "free throw defense" statistic, which calculates the free throw percentages of opposing teams, indicates that the Hoyas rank 346 out of 351 teams in the country.  That is unbelievably unlucky.  Teams shoot 75.5% from the line against us.  For reference, St. John's ranks fourth overall in the same category.  I have no idea whether teams will continue to shoot the lights out against us, or if maybe we're just fouling the wrong guys, but what I do know is that I want to vomit blood.

4.  Reality Check:  I'm not too high or low on this year's Hoyas just yet.  It's too early to tell.  For all of you naysayers, keep in mind that we're still a work in progress, we're far from reaching our ceiling, and our freshmen should improve as the season progresses.  For all of you optimists, just remember that our only three conference wins have come against the three worst teams in the conference.  We are 1-5 against top 50 foes, and we still do not have a top 100 win against a Big East team.  We will absolutely have a better sense of where we stand after this weekend, as Butler and Villanova are the two highest RPI-ranked teams in the conference.

5.  Big East Things: In terms of RPI, the Big East currently has 7 teams in the top 41.  If this keeps up, all 7 of these teams should make the Tourney, which would be an impressive feat.  We and the Big 12 (which also has 10 teams) would likely both receive 7 bids, while the other so-called power conferences fall behind.  From a purely Big East-centric perspective, I really want us to nail down these 7 bids, which means it's in our interest to always root against Creighton, Marquette and DePaul.  If the top 7 just end up beating each other up, they should all get in.

6.  Fouling Machines: Mikael Hopkins is 27th in the country in the number of fouls he commits per game.  Not a single player from a "power six" conference has a worse foul rate.  For the sake of comparison, Joshua Smith is 41st in the country in the same category.  So if it appears that our bigs are often in foul trouble, that's because they are.  As a team, Georgetown fouls on 29% of possessions.

7.  Shooting and Defending: The Hoyas are in the top 50 in the country in both team shooting percentage (46.9%) and defensive shooting percentage (39.4%).  That's pretty solid.

8.  Miscellaneous Stats: Tre Campell has a 2.8 to1 assist to turnover ratio (top 50 in the country).  The Hoyas receive 22.7% of total points from the free throw line, which is surprisingly the highest such percentage in the Big East.  The Hoyas receive 22.1% of total points from three-pointers, which is not surprisingly the lowest such percentage in the conference (and 302nd in the country).  We only attempt 15.6 threes per game (lowest in the conference), but we're not that bad of a shooting team.  Moral of the story: let's shoot more threes?

9.  The "Complete Player" Problem: At this stage of the season, I think we only have one "complete" player: DSR.  When I say "complete," I mean a guy who is reasonably productive on both offense and defense; put differently, a guy produces without being a liability on the offensive or defensive side.  You can run through the roster and form your own conclusions, and maybe you disagree.  Joshua is flawed on defense, Mikael is flawed on offense, etc.  You can argue that Peak is close to being a "complete player" (and I think that's right, although he still misses too many defensive rotations), and Jabril and Paul White aren't far off.

Either way, my point is that this year's Georgetown team has fewer well-rounded players than most of the Georgetown teams I can remember.  Even last year, we had Markel and DSR.  This year, we just have too many guys who are one-dimensional players.  What does this mean?  It could mean absolutely nothing, or it could mean something.  If nothing else, it helps explain why JTIII continues to mix and match, in pursuit of the best combination of guys.  For what it's worth, I expect Peak and White to emerge as more well-rounded players as the weeks progress.

10.  Tempering Expectations: We get too excited after wins.  We get too down on ourselves after tough losses.  It's a cycle that most die-hard fans cannot escape.  If you enjoy this madness (I kind of do), then proceed with your fandom as usual.  If you're trying to temper your mood swings, as like a New Year's resolution or something, here's a tip.  Make a list of your top 15-20 Georgetown wins in the JTIII era.  Then make a list of the most frustrating/devastating losses in that same period.  You'll soon recognize that most wins and losses aren't worthy of appearing on either list.  It will put things in perspective.  You're welcome.  (More to come on this in a later note, as I will share with you my ever-evolving lists....)

Big three-day weekend coming up.  We'll learn a lot about our inexperienced/veteran Hoyas.  Lose two and we're stuck in the middle of the Big East's muck.  Win two and we'll be in the top 25 and swimming in the Potomac.  Split and we'll just go on with our lives as usual.

Let's go Hoyas.  Beat Butler and Villanova.