The WTFF Award:
The entire team against Radford.
Just a terrible loss.
To make matters worse, the puns on the internet were seemingly endless. SADford. BADford. Well, maybe not endless, but there were two pretty sick burns built in there. Whatever the case may be, it certainly wasn't rad.
Aside from the obvious "did we really just lose a game we were favored by 18.5 points in, against f*cking Radford?" thing, what makes the loss especially painful is:
(1) it always sucks when you lose your first game of the season
(2) it sucks when you lose games on buzzer beaters (seriously, I can't count more than a couple of instances in which we lost games on buzzer beaters in the JTIII era)
(3) it sucks when you lose a game after the other team gives you a million chances to steal it back (they shot 8 of 18 from the line!)
(4) it sucks when you miss 8 out of 12 free throws in the second half and overtime, including two front ends and a potential game clincher at the end of regulation
(5) it sucks when you lose at home to a team projected to be a middling school in the BIG SOUTH conference; and really
(6) it sucks because we are clearly so much better than that team.
Alas, I ask you, why do we fall?
which leads us to...
The Silver Lining Award:
The Georgetown Hoyas against Wisconsin, Maryland, and Duke.
Some law professor in Charlottesville texted me after the Duke game "we’re going to be very good." No, we ARE very good. The question on all of our minds last Sunday was whether the Radford loss was a blip or a harbinger of bad days to come. I think our performances in the last three games have answered that question. This year’s version of the Hoyas isn’t the same team that lost to Northeastern in 2013. This is a team that just beat up Wisconsin and came within a basket of beating two of the top five teams in the country. We have responded exactly the way you’d want us to.
I’m not thinking about which teams might give us fits in the first round of the Tourney. I’m starting to wonder if there’s any team in the country we can’t beat. After one week, we have one win and three losses, and yet, my expectations for this season couldn’t be higher.
Listen, if you want to cry about it, go ahead. It's what Melo would do.
Losing sucks. As my man Jay once said, "moral victories are for minor league coaches..." (2:17 in...also, this album is 5 years old and still flawless)
But despite the losses to Maryland and Duke, the squad now knows that it can play with anyone, in any gym in the country.
Conversely, the loss to Radford has
Chris Wright Heart of a Champion Award:
How should we handle this one? Four games, four different awards? ALRIGHT WE'LL DO IT. We'll lead as four kiiiiings....we'll lead as four ki-hings...
Here are some quick-hitter HEART awards....
First, for that Radford stinkbomb:
RUTHERFORD B. HAYES!
Beard game needs to come up, Bradley.
Old man Hayes proved immediately that he deserves to start at center for this year's Hoyas. He had a career-high 19 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, and he just looked....good? For most of the game, B.J. was our #1 scoring option and, against a relatively undersized squad, he did his part to impose his will down low. His four missed free throws in the second half and overtime were not very casual, but it made us happy to once again have a smooth, hook-shot craving seven-foot big man on the Hilltop again. Watch out, world. Bradley's just getting started.
And now for that Maryland dammit-we-should've-had-it game:
We're giving it to the ol' MD for this one because, well, it was his first (and certainly not last) really good game of the season. Marcus finished with a cool 13 points, including a trio of threes, six rebounds, two blocks and a smooth demeanor throughout the game. He calmly drained two free throws down the stretch and really just looked like he belonged out there.
Marcus didn't look as poised in the other three contests, but he's young, and so is this season, so I expect he'll only improve as the year progresses. Doc has a nice little set shot; he just needs to do a better job of figuring out when to shoot. Stop forcing it if it's not there, young fella. And we'll need you on the defensive glass. After giving up some crucial offensive rebounds to Radford and Duke, we need help grabbing the damn ball. If Doc improves his performance on the glass and makes better decisions, he'll really help this team going forward.
And for that end-to-end demolition of Wisconsin....
Oh, I'm sorry, were you wondering why Reggie Cameron was getting so much PT? The Hackensack native had a little bit of a homecoming at the Garden with an impressive 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. He hit four bombs, drew two charges, played decent defense against Nigel Hayes, and just looked like he belonged out there. By halftime, Reggie had legitimately accounted for over 50% of our offensive output! Like RC Cola, our own brand of RC gave us just that extra burst we needed when our guards were in foul trouble. Good for Reggie.
And finally, for that heartbreaker against Duke....
Had we gone on to defeat Duke, this is the game in which Isaac would have been remembered for having a Jeff Green / Otto Porter performance. After a tentative game against Radford, Cope is finally starting to put the pieces together. Against Maryland, he had a quiet 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Against Wisconsin, he chipped in 15 points (all in the second half) and eight rebounds. And finally, against Duke he led all Hoyas with 21 points and six boards.
Isaac is, on the year, averaging 15 PPG and 6 rebounds while shooting 55% from the field with a 47.1% 3FG mark. Anyone want to bet against the PPG and RPG averages going up? Me neither. Optimus Cope (this moniker already belongs to the Indiana Pacers' Chris Copeland, but I think it needs to be reappropriated) is this team's engine, and he still has a ton of room before he hits his ceiling.
The Otto Porter comparisons are starting to feel not forced or hyperbolic.
Honorable mention: Kaleb Johnson during the Duke game. Way to step up, young man.
The Aaron Bowen is a F*cking Pterodactyl Award:
Kaleb Johnson, because he's a f*cking pterodactyl. It's hard not to smile when you watch KJ 3000. The lefty swing man already has JTIII's trust as our defensive stopper and it seems he can do a little bit of everything on the floor. It's like he's already Aaron Bowen, except HE'S ONLY A FRESHMAN. The kid uses his length and athleticism to stay involved in every play, and even though he's committing a few too many fouls in the early going, you can just tell that he's a gamer. He's like a baby-faced Hollis Thompson, with the length and defensive intensity of Aaron Bowen. Keep working hard, young man.
The Patrick Ewing Jr. Award for Great Handshakes:
Every year there is one guy who greets each of the starters with a super cool, personalized hand shake or chest bump or jump slap. It used to be Patrick Ewing Jr. In recent years it was Aaron Bowen. This year it's Reggie Cameron. The guy who does the super cool hand shakes is ALWAYS a dynamo off the bench, SO HOW DID WE NOT SEE REGGIE COMING?
Also, how fired up are you that Patrick Jr. is now on the bench? The guy just permeates intensity and toughness. When Grayson pushed L.J., I think I saw him grit his teeth and clench his fist. Love having him on the bench.
The Freedom Tower Award for Being a Shiny New Monument:
Jessie Govan appears to be the latest and greatest big dude in the middle for your Georgetown Hoyas. He's big, he plays hard, he's got a silky smooth stroke, and, he's going to get so much better as the season progresses. What a luxury to have both Hayes and Govan spelling each other.
In Jessie G's return to NYC, the Queens native had an impressive 13 points, five rebounds and three assists against the Badgers and then a cool little six points, four rebounds and two assists (in only 17 minutes) against the Dukies.
Don't sleep on Jessie. My man went to Wings Academy, so you know he can fly.
The Armon Bassett Award for Coming Out of Nowhere to Shoot the Lights Out and Make us Cry:
Congrats on your 28 points and never-ending streak of tough shots. You and Cameron Jones somehow combined for 48 points on 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Excuse me one second.
The Greg Paulus Award for Unabashed Flopping:
Listen, Melo is a very good player. It's debatable whether he'll succeed at the next level, but the kid can score in a variety of ways. Against Georgetown, his primary method of scoring was driving to the basket, flailing his arms and flopping. The dude shot 18 free throws; our WHOLE TEAM shot only 12.
Eff that noise.
The Adding Insult to Injury Award:
Two days after our soul-crushing loss to Maryland, I participated in a wedding in which all of the groomsmen were asked to wear Maryland Terrapins socks. It was non negotiable. During the ceremony, even the rabbi made a point of celebrating Maryland's 3-0 start to the season. Whiskey and tequila couldn't do anything to extract the shame.
The Jabril Trawick Award for Being Tough as Nails:
This dude goes hard to the paint every single drive. I'd like to think that the fact that he is made of adamantium is why he barely flinched after Grayson Allen gave him a "little shove" (ESPN's words, not mine) into the stanchion, even though he could have milked it and perhaps induced the flagrant call.
Peak offers the Hoyas an incisive threat on the offensive end, someone that can drive to the tin, absorb contact, and finish. His perimeter shooting and shot selection still need work, but give him credit for improving on his free throws - as the main guy taking the ball hard to the rim, he is bound to get to the line a fair amount this year; if he can make his free throws, he can really help us going forward.
The Porkchops Bazingas Award for Unexpected MVP level Production from a Big Man:
This is more in relevant to the Radford and Maryland games, but, out of nowhere, Hayes has some post up moves that would make Hakeem Olajuwon blush. His defense on switches remains a work in progress, but man, the kid has jump hooks, step throughs, up and unders - the whole arsenal. I have no idea where this came from, but it is a tremendous luxury to be able to dump the ball into the post and have a reasonable expectation of getting points.
If he keeps this up, we'll have gained what we expected out of Josh Smith...after losing Josh Smith.
The Summit Ice Award:
Mainly for his grown ass man rebound and putback against Duke. He didn't deny his spirit or strength out there. Or the Holocaust. [if you don't watch Nathan For You, you're rightfully confused right now. you should really watch Nathan For You.]
True story: Mourning played 14 minutes against Duke, after having played 12 minutes during all of last season, and, aside from a somewhat ill advised three (he was open, and it almost went in, but not what we were looking for there), more than held his own against a Top 5 opponent.
The Obligatory Outstanding Achievement in Bad Refereeing Award:
Lamont Simpson, Brian Dorsey, Mike Eades during the Duke game.
I hate it when people complain about the refs, but I thought Grayson Allen got away with a flagrant against LJ Peak, and later with a blatant push off on a drive against Trey Mourning. There was also the possession where someone slapped the ball out of Trey Mourning's hands and out of bounds, and the ref, standing right on top of the play, ruled it off of Mourning's knee.
Generally speaking, we can't feel too aggrieved about the officiating, but those plays stuck out to me, and in a game that close, which came down to a scant few possessions, they made a huge difference.
[NYHoya note: that BS out-of-bounds call involving Trey was a backbreaker. Down by one with the ball, DSR dished to a wide open Trey under the basket and the ball was slapped away. Duke promptly scored on the next possession. Horrible call.]
The Donald Trump "How Is This Still a Thing?" Award:
Much like Trump's unrelenting success at the polls, I am left to wonder how we continue to be subjected to Dick Vitale as an audience. Does anyone still like this guy? I can't think of a single person I know who does, yet there must be an appetite for his "analysis" which is comprised of mainly yelling "that was awesome baby!" and "Are you serious?!?!?"
That said, I don't think Vitale is necessarily a bad person, so perhaps the Trump comparison is unfair. Maybe a better comparison is Nickelback. They made $43 million on their last tour (I actually looked this up. My Google search history will never recover), yet are seemingly universally reviled.
Dick Vitale: the Nickelback of sports announcers.
The JJ Redick Award for Villainous Duke Guard Who Everyone Wants to Punch in the Neck:
First off, let's get this out of the way: much like the award's namesake, this cat can ball. His line on the day was:
32 points, 9-12 FG, 5-6 3FG, 9-9 FTs, with 5 rebounds, 4 assists.
If you're an advanced stats nerd, that's a 76.6% eFG and a 72.8% TS%. This, in a word, is cray.
With that out of the way...he looks like Ted Cruz.
He laid a cheap shot on my boy LJ Peak without consequence, extended his elbow into Trey Mourning's neck while driving (again without consequence), and clapped up that bogus strip of Trey Mourning under the basket.
Now let me walk this back. I am not saying I want to punch this kid. I'm almost twice his age. That would be ludicrous. More importantly, he's a division 1 athlete and I am grossly out of shape - he would 100% kick my ass.
I'm not above a scenario like this, though.
The More You Know Award:
My three-year old daughter.
Congrats, baby girl!
It's hard to shout profanities at the television while watching a basketball game in the presence of a toddler. But it's also kind of hilarious. Some examples:
Kaleb misses a free throw. I put my head in my hands and growl. She asks: "what's wrong, dad?" I say, "he didn't make that shot and it's making me very sad." She thinks about it and responds: "it's ok. sometimes we just need to be patient." SHE'S RIGHT. SOMETIMES WE NEED TO BE PATIENT WITH THESE YOUNG'UNS.
Grayson Allen pushes L.J. into the stanchion. I dance around the room with a look of horror on my face. I curse, repeatedly. She waits about thirty seconds and then starts giggling. "What's so funny?" I ask. She says, "I see Jack the bulldog on the court. He is so silly." AGAIN, SHE'S RIGHT. JACK THE BULLDOG IS VERY SILLY.
Isaac's last second heave misses the mark. We lose. I am sad. She says: "Dad, can we watch ‘Frozen' now?" DAMN. IT.
That said, Frozen did provide some pertinent advice about the losses thus far.
Let 'em go.
The Aaron Rodgers Says RELAX Award:
or is he saying "You must kill the Prime Minster of Malaysia!" subliminally...?
Those freaking about DSR's form thus far...RELAX.
"Oh no, DSR doesn't look as crisp as he used to." "Why isn't DSR hitting more shots?" "This team needs DSR to step up if we're going to be any good." RELAX.
Against Radford, DSR finished with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists. Against Maryland, he had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. Against Wisconsin, he had 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. And against Duke, he had 14 points and six assists. Has it been more difficult for DSR to find his shot? Yes. And has he been hampered by committing too many fouls? Sure. But to say that he is underperforming is a bit of a stretch. RELAX.
When DSR was asked to play the point last year, he also struggled at the beginning of the season. Look it up on the Internet or something (SoB note: Better that than looking up Nickelback statistics). It was only until Jabril and Tre started helping out more in the backcourt that DSR finally found his groove. Without Jabril and Tre, it's been a little bit of an adjustment, no doubt. His shot selection is a little off, but he's laboring a lot more and just needs to find himself in better positions. Once Paul and Tre return, and with a little boost in the backcourt from Peak and Cope, DSR will find a rhythm. He'll be fine. RELAX.
My one humble request for DSR is to go to the damn basket and get to the line. We need him shooting free throws. He's the best guy on the team at drawing fouls.
The "Deep, Can't Touch the Bottom" Award:
The 2015-2016 Georgetown Hoyas talent pool.
Eight different guys scored in double figures vs Maryland, Wisconsin and Duke, and three of them were freshmen (Doc Derrickson vs Maryland, Govan vs Wisconsin, Kaleb vs Duke).
The takeaway: if L.J. Peak, DSR, or Copeland are not hitting, we have guys that can pick up the slack. If they are hitting...we're a dynamo. With this roster's depth, the Hoyas can rotate bodies freely to keep up the defensive intensity and cope with
Last year's squad was the deepest team of the JTIII era. This year's team is even deeper. And all of this was without two guys who were expected to log major minutes this year, which leads us to...
The 'There in Spirit' Award:
The Apostle Paul White and The Young Man, The Mocking Tre, Tre Campbell.
Radford aside, we played really really well without them.
The odds are undeniably better in our favor with them.
(And also, they're kids, being injured and/or sick is in college is terrible.)
Get well soon, gentlemen.
The Kate Upton Award for Doing Kate Upton Things:
And that's a wrap!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!