That was awful. Georgetown started slowly and ended worse Saturday, getting outworked and outplayed en route to an 82-80 upset loss to Radford. The disturbing defeat exposed early issues for almost every Hoya, most of all Georgetown's deficient effort.
Almost from the jump, the Hoyas just didn't seem to be trying very hard. An optimist might expect that a team with several young players looking to carve out a role on a talented team might get after it defensively, crash the boards, and cut sharply on offense. That was not the case for Georgetown Saturday. Radford ball-handlers sauntered into the lane unmolested, rebounds went time and again to the Highlanders, and meandering Georgetown passes fell out of bounds or into enemy hands.
For the first half, the Hoyas subsisted in the post and at the line. Centers Bradley Hayes and Jessie Govan took turns dominating the post, each showing a solid righty jump hook and converting their free throws. For Hayes, it was a validation of off-season rumblings of progress, on the offensive end anyway. Govan impressed in his debut, showcasing shooting touch and solid footwork.
But both bigs were abused on the other end of the floor. The slow-footed Hayes was repeatedly beaten by driving Radford guards, while Govan posted just one defensive rebound, yielding a number of second chances.
Both defense and boxing out the Highlanders were team-wide problems. Georgetown's perimeter defenders lost track of Radford shooters, failed to fight over screens, closed out loosely, and often just didn't bother to contest outside shooters. As a result, Radford got open looks all over the floor. And Hayes was the only Hoya who even bothered putting his butt into an opponent to try to grab a rebound. More often, Georgetown stood idly by as Radford bumped, leapt, and hustled to another chance.
And, for the first half anyway, Georgetown wasn't getting offense from its most reliable sources. Senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera went scoreless before intermission, jacking up a couple of jumpers but generally looking out of sorts. Sophomore Breakout Candidate Isaac Copeland looked anything but, failing to keep up with his man defensively while scoring just a solitary basket. LJ Peak still hasn't found his shot, and promising freshman Marcus Derrickson fired away from the perimeter but came up empty. Disappointingly, Georgetown entered the half tied.
Georgetown gained some traction offensively after the break, as four Hoyas, including a late-awakening Smith-Rivera and even big man Govan, hit threes to help build an eight-point lead. Hayes continued to score in the paint and patrolled the boards defensively, notching career highs in both points (19) and rebounds (12). Smith-Rivera overcame a slow start to finish with 15 points, while Govan opened his career with 11 points. Copeland's 11 points didn't quite compensate for horrific ball-handling (5 turnovers) and unacceptable defense.
The Hoyas couldn't sustain any offensive production, and kept losing track of Radford on defense. Eventually, Georgetown needed a last-minute Copeland three and steal and lay-in from Peak just to force overtime. Georgetownmounted another comeback to force a second extra session, and led by a point, with the ball, with under one minute to play. But a Peak corner 3 was off, and Radford guard Rashun Davis, who had tortured Georgetown all day, hit a dagger three coming back the other way sealed Georgetown's fate.
An off-season rule change shortened the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, and every coach talked about playing faster. Saturday, only Radford did so effectively, running off of Georgetown misses and turnovers, and extending a soft press to further shorten the Hoya shot clock. For its part, Georgetown only occasionally pushed the ball in transition. Other than a couple of early buckets at the rim by Peak, the Hoyas did not move the ball quickly up the court, either to find easy points or to just generate a few extra seconds on offense. For all JT3's talk in the off-season about trying new things to adjust to the new rules, there was very little evidence of change on Saturday.
The absence of last season's seniors also was notable. Georgetown missed the perimeter defense of Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen, and the rim protection and rebounding of Mikael Hopkins and Joshua Smith. The shift from last season's defensive-minded unit to this year's allegedly more potent offensive bunch was not smooth on Saturday: Georgetown yielded plenty of points but didn't show any increased offensive output. The sophomores, who were expected to step into the gap left by those departed Hoyas, largely disappointed. Copeland struggled on both ends of the floor, Peak continued to lay bricks, Tre Campbell over-dribbled and did not show improved playmaking, and Paul White sat out the game entirely with a minor hip injury.
It's important not to make too much of one game, even a very disappointing one. The effort was lacking, but it will take time to see whether that can be chalked up to one lousy day, or to Trawick taking the team's heart with him. The offense underperformed, but several underclassmen are just finding their roles in a lineup vacated by a handful of veterans.
And there were a few rays of hope. Both Georgetown centers looked skilled offensively, although each needs to improve, quickly, on the other end of the floor. DSR was his steady self after a no-show during the first half. Reggie Cameron looked serviceable. And...well, that's about it.
Saturday was bad. Really bad. And it won't get easier, as Georgetown heads up the road Tuesday to face Maryland, a confident, top-3-rated bunch that will be itching to take down a local rival in the teams' first match-up in seven seasons. The Hoyas will need a far better performance then to avoid another embarrassment.