There isn’t too much to say about Georgetown’s last game. I’ll try to get that out of the way fairly quickly. Things looked good early when the Hoyas hit five early 3-pointers, but once the offense slowed down, Utah clawed back. They played a very physical game, perhaps too physical (looking at you, Jakob Poeltl), that led to Jabril Trawick losing time to injury. They forced Joshua Smith to run with them and drew him into foul trouble. Their defense kept D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera to 12 points. Despite LJ Peak shining with 18 points, the Hoyas could not keep up with Delon Wright and Utah’s balanced offensive attack that had five players in double figures and a sixth with 9 points.
I could complain. I could scream. I could blame the referees for calling too many ticky-tack fouls on Josh, for not calling a foul on Poeltl’s moving screen, or I could even blame Utah’s magic sweet grass. But it's not about any of that. This should be about the Hoyas, and about praising them for their strong season. This team deserves serious props. It answered its doubters by finally getting an NCAA Tournament win. Pretty much every player on the team had their moment in the sun at one time or another. Even the guys fans had some questions about—Bradley Hayes, Paul White, LJ Peak—put in unexpectedly good performances when the Hoyas needed it most.
On campus, meanwhile, during the game the student crowd was alive and active throughout. Most students got up and cheered for big plays, cursed out bad calls, and chanted "Let’s Go Hoyas" or "Defense" as if they were at the game itself. I definitely could not have kept a conversation going over the noise, which to me was a good sign. As often as students as a whole are maligned for not attending games, they still attend road game watches and are passionate about their Hoyas.
After the game, the mood was decidedly cathartic, at least on campus. People were disappointed, but not angry or upset. The loss came with reminders that Utah was a better team and that Georgetown will be a better team next year. The disappointment, especially for me, seemed to stem not from the loss itself but from the fact that the enjoyable ride of this season was ending. We all just wanted to have more fun and enjoy our Hoyas for a little while longer.
As many people on this blog are already reminding each other—this team looks good for next year. Sure, we may lose a lot of depth with two starters and two key bench players departing, but I expect both the rising freshmen and rising sophomores to pick up the slack for this team. Georgetown will still have serious depth at the forward position, anchored by Isaac Copeland, Paul White, and LJ Peak. Freshman Marcus Derrickson should likely provide valuable rotation minutes off the bench as more of a true power forward than a stretch 4 like Copeland or White. Tre Campbell should be ready to be the Hoyas' starting point guard, allowing DSR to move to his more natural position of shooting guard, with incoming freshman Kaleb Johnson providing some depth at shooting guard along with Peak and maybe even White shifting to a guard role occasionally.
The center position should also be deep despite the losses of both Smith and Mikael Hopkins next year. Freshman Jessie Govan looks like he could start at center from the get-go, and Bradley Hayes has now shown enough promise to signal that he could at least be a solid backup center if all goes right. In addition, transfer Akoy Agau should be eligible to play by January, and in the mean time Trey Mourning could play the third-string center role. It’s a little too early for me to make a solid prediction, but I’d expect next year’s team to at the very least match what this year’s team did in terms of conference play and NCAA Tournament performance, since many of its key players should be able to develop further and step up next season.
I’m not complaining about the way this year went. This team never gave up and played pretty well all season. Anyway Midnight Madness isn’t that far away. And besides, if you really still want to see a Georgetown team compete in March, there’s always Georgetown’s Quiz Bowl team, which I captain (shameless plug.) Here is an explanation, by the way, if you want to acquaint yourself with the rules and become a fan. The Hoyas' Quiz Bowl team is traveling to Atlanta this coming weekend for the National Championships after an unexpected but convincing victory of our division in our regional competition and a performance that put us 2nd in the nation in D-Value (sort of like RPI) among teams in our division. I'm not guaranteeing a win, but I can say with some confidence that I expect the Quiz Bowl Hoyas to do well. I'll do my best to provide updates either on Facebook or on Twitter.
Thanks again to all of you readers of Casual Hoya for being such great fans of this team and for welcoming me with open arms this season. It has been an absolute pleasure and I can't wait to do it again next year.