Coaches have plans. There are reasons, often specific to the situation, why some work and some do not. Almost none of Georgetown coach John Thompson's plans thrived during a trying and often tedious 2015-16 season. That bad taste started with a rancid opening game loss against Radford and concluded with an unsettling 15-18 record. The woes weren't all about the head Hoya, though he's both the chef and grocery shopper.
Thompson picked new ingredients for the 2016-17 season. On paper, the additions spiced up the roster. Combined with those already in the Kente-tinged cupboard seemingly puts Georgetown back in business. Let college basketball critics sink their teeth into a legitimate 11-man rotation headlined by grad transfer Rodney Pryor and wing threat L.J. Peak. Buzz will rise.
Georgetown cooked in its season opener, dousing USC Upstate with 68 points in the first half en route to a 105-61 win Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center. Pryor served up a large helping of wow with 26 of his 32 points and all six of his 3-pointers before halftime. The high-rising Peak showed he hasn't. Pressure defense started the onslaught. The performance put Maryland, Georgetown'sTuesday night foe, and other upcoming opponents on notice.
The up-tempo victory with various explosive and exciting elements also turned up the heat on expectations. Routing an Atlantic Sun program coming off a 10-win season doesn't mean the Hoyas are headed back to the NCAA Tournament after not participating in any postseason last season. The dismantling showed what's possible.
Thompson repeatedly said this off-season that he wants to run and run and run. He's said this before. Often his squad's casual pace walked back those hopes. Defensive woes and personnel limitations stymied any winning tactics.
These Hoyas have the ingredients. Athletes galore. That's why there are no excuses this time when it comes to those grand plans. They have the length, size, speed and goods for wins and fun. The players have to play. We'll see if Thompson let's them. It's soooo early, but it appears he will.
"We're a much different team than last year. We're dramatically different," Thompson said following Georgetown's most lopsided opening game win since 2003-04. "In terms of our athleticism, depth. ...It's a much different look, much different feel, much different energy."
The 6-foot-5 Pryor, a popular target on the transfer market, arrived after two seasons at Robert Morris. The left-hander's blistering first half -- 10 of 11 field goals, 6 of 7 on 3's -- was far more filling than any opening game appetizer.
Good enough for some praise, right? Thompson noted in typical coach-speak, Pryor only had one rebound, "no assists, no steals. ...We expect more out of him," Thompson said.
The thing is Thompson isn't just being nitpicky for kicks. Pryor should stuff the stat sheets across the board most nights and fuel Georgetown's competitive engine. Seated next to his coach behind the postgame dais, Pryor was asked by Thompson for a self-assessment. "Not good. Those are the things that matter," he said of those non-scoring stats. Modesty for the win.
Pryor wasn't the only new Hoya among the starting five. Jagan Mosely, the lone incoming freshman who honed his skills at legendary St. Anthony's (N.J.), opened at point guard after impressing during practices. Six assists, four steals and nary a turnover should impress any box score reader. The box score doesn't reveal all.
"He creates turnovers. He creates positive things for our team," Thompson said.
Georgetown created this blowout with a pressure defensive that engulfed the Spartans. The first 31 seconds showed why this team is different. Basket. Steal. Free throws. Steal. Free throws. More of that followed. They scored 42 points of USC Upstate's 26 turnovers.
"We started the game out right with pressure and they couldn't handle," said Peak, who had 14 points and four steals.
Georgetown rolled without last season's starting center Bradley Hayes, who will miss the opening four games because of NCAA eligibility restrictions. The Hoyas have the bodies to overcome his absence and perhaps thrive seeing as his half-court game doesn't always mesh with run-and-fun. Junior college transfer Jonathan Mulmore and big man Akoy Agau, who missed all of last season with an injury, provide more up-tempo options.
These Hoyas are different. We'll soon see just how much.
"It's hard to evaluate Georgetown because we didn't play our best," USC Upstate's Eddie Payne said. "Their style of play is going to be an interesting thing to watch as they get into playing better, longer, more athletic teams."
He's right. On paper, these Hoyas have the physical tools to matchup with seemingly any opponent plus the skills to dictate terms as desired. This isn't the first time, though. Other Thompson teams had the needed elements to impose, but his read-and-react instincts slowed that roll. This time could be different. We'll see if the head coach allows. It would appear the ingredients exist. Now it's time to cook.
Turtle Soup, perhaps.