This one seemed to have all the makings of a bad game at first. Your Georgetown Hoyas looked underwhelming to start this game, but mercifully picked up the pace, riding a first half 13-0 run and a dominant second half to victory over the Red Storm of St. John's. Fortunately, shortly before the game, as a good omen of what would come, a professor I know from my real-life job at the Theology Department ran over with Mardi Gras beads, placed them over my head, shouted "Let the good times roll!" and then hustled back to his seat. I think that describes the way this game turned out. The Hoyas let the good times roll by spreading out their attack, allowing all five starters as well as 6th man Mikael Hopkins to reach double figures. In fact, there was no single leading scorer, as five players each put up 12 points (Joshua Smith, LJ Peak, Isaac Copeland, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and Hopkins.)
To start this game, the Hoyas seemed to struggle with getting it going offensively. Georgetown did not make a 3-pointer in the first half, and early on, struggled to get the ball down low. But after being down 19-17 at the under-8 timeout, the Hoyas went on a 13-0 run, with 5 of those coming from Hopkins. That run was, no doubt, the turning point of the game, and if you wanted to attribute it to a single moment, that would most likely be the technical foul assessed on St. John's guard Rysheed Jordan for arguing a call. I like to think I got in his head, because shortly before, I (deservingly) called him a homophobe. (It worked throughout the game. Jordan only scored 3 points and turned the ball over 5 times. I reminded him in the second half before a 1-and-1 and, no surprise, he missed it.)
The Hoyas defense did a good job containing St. John's star guards D'Angelo Harrison as well as Jordan. The two combine for over 30 ppg but only put up 8 tonight. Despite noteworthy performances from Phil Greene IV and Sir'Dominic Pointer, who put up 18 points and 16 points with 8 rebounds respectively, the Johnnies were unable to get anything going against the Hoyas. Somewhat confusingly, Red Storm coach Steve Lavin, who, judging from his priestly turtleneck/collar combo, should be Fr. Steve Lavin, S.J., did not call a single timeout all game, even when his team was in some brutal slumps. And we think JTIII doesn't call enough timeouts!
Isaac Copeland deserves a shoutout for being ubiquitous on defense, grabbing 5 of his 9 rebounds on the defensive glass and adding 3 blocks. Smith-Rivera also helped by grabbing 10 defensive rebounds as part of his double-double performance. Two more defensive shout-outs: one to Mikael Hopkins, for leading the team with 3 steals, and another to Josh Smith, for blocking a perimeter shot attempt by Amar Alibegovic, or as I like to call him, "Bad Hair Day." (Just know that the picture does not do justice to his awful hair style.)
As for the crowd, the student section had a relatively low turnout, but those who did turn out turned up. The noise was pretty impressive for a midweek snow day crowd. Many people seemed to be deterred by the weather but those brave souls who made it out to the game were loud, proud, and patriotic (the student section theme for the night was "America.") When Isaac Copeland threw down his phenomenal second-half dunk, the crowd went nuts. Prophetically, after seeing Bill Raftery walk by shortly before tipoff, I shouted "Onions!" Raftery turned around as if he was hearing his own name and smiled. I'd assume he used that line for Copeland's jam. There were, however, a fair share of questionable officiating calls, and as I have been trying to avoid using profanities, after one call I shouted "That was ludicrous, preposterous, asinine, absurd!" Stephen A. Smith would be proud. Fortunately, however, those calls were balanced out by a relatively well-called and well-played game (at least on the Hoyas' end.)
This is the sort of game that the Hoyas need to duplicate on Saturday against DePaul. The crowd should be fired up (and likely larger thanks to the fact that it's a weekend and most people's final home game) and the team should be as well. For all the ups and downs and multiple shades of this Hoyas team that we've seen, I can only hope that this one is the one that we will get to see down the stretch. The team is as balanced and deep as ever, and if we continue to play like this, we can expect a strong showing from the Hoyas as we head toward March.
Hoya Saxa! Beat DePaul!