VERIZON CENTER — Four thoughts following Georgetown's 85-72 over Howard Sunday afternoon, a victory that came after concluding the Maui Invitational with two lopsided losses.
* Winning trumps losing, but not all W's are created equal. The Hoyas (3-4) led 16-0 just over four minutes into the game. Impressive start? Oh, yeah, but things were rather meh from there. The lead grew to 19 at 37-18 with under eight minutes left in the first half. That's a fact. Howard (0-5) played with more energy and aggression after that strong start by Georgetown. Maybe that's not a fact, but that's a fair statement.
The Hoyas pressed successfully early. The Bison flipped the script. Georgetown ended with more turnovers (18-17).
The Hoyas had the clear size advantage, yet only outrebounded the MEAC program 33-32.
The Hoyas, a 19-point favorite according to Las Vegas types, have more talent. That typically means putting the opponent in tough spots where fouls come into play, and yet Howard attempted more free throws (26-24).
Apologies for the Debbie Downer opening -- again, winning is good and the Hoyas still haven’t played a game with their main rotation intact. However, based on this performance, the Hoyas aren't on track for a wow campaign just yet. Is that a fact? No, but that's a fair statement.
* Akoy Agau's work was arguably the most promising aspect of the victory. Starting for a second straight game, Agau scored nine of his 14 points during that opening frenzy. He surprisingly led the Hoyas with five assists, matched three others with a team-high six rebounds and went 6 of 8 from the free throw line. Most of all, the big man was active. Scratch that. Most of all, Akoy Agau competed. After the disastrous second half against Wisconsin and the overall debacle against Oklahoma State, that's something coach John Thompson III "absolutely" desired. Nobody is suggesting anything in the realm of Agau's work puts him in line to be the next big interior thing at Big Man U; Thompson also noted Agau led the Hoyas with four turnovers. With the low bar set after this SMH start, providing energy and a competitiveness spirit is something worth celebrating.
* Isaac Copeland (facial injury) didn't play after suffering what the school describes as a "facial injury" mere minutes into the 27-point loss to Oklahoma State on Wednesday. I tweeted this before tip-off and then I forgot about the Hoyas playing without their former 5-star recruit until I saw him suited up in the final minutes. Copeland can score and run the court. Here's the thing: I'm not sure how much he was missed beyond fouls and pure depth.
He's got game. It's doubtful, per Thompson, that Copeland plays in Wednesday's matchup against Coppin State, the second straight against a MEAC program and the middle contest of the three-game homestand.
What he provides with individual offense can be found elsewhere; Rodney Pryor dropped 26 points against Howard and L.J. Peak had 14. Copeland spaces the floor. So does Marcus Derrickson, who drained two 3-pointers late in his return after missing the previous four games. Copeland has the needed athletic gifts for superior rebounding and defense, but Akoy tops him in effort.
Whenever Copeland returns, he'll play. How much, we'll see, especially when realizing 1) His minutes dropped in four straight games (37, 32, 24, 17) even before the injury; 2) JTIII has other options if the Copeland who had zero rebounds against Wisconsin shows up and 3) frontcourters Bradley Hayes, Derrickson and Reggie Cameron, who returned Sunday after an extended leave of absence, have all missed multiple games.
* I live for rotation talk. Sometimes I fear Thompson's rotations will be the end of me.
Wow, that's harsh. Apologies. Still... All I wanted to see was Georgetown use four perimeter players with one tall guy. Why? Everybody, including the head coach, recognizes these Hoyas are best when picking up the pace. And yet...Thompson continues using at least two bigs at all times.
Remember the Kaleb Johnson at the 4-spot talk? The only four involving the sophomore wing Sunday involved his minutes. Point guards Jagan Mosely and Jonathan Mulmore played a combined 18 minutes. That's in large part to heavier workload for Tre Campbell, who had four 3-pointers, but also Thompson sticking with traditional lineups.
It's not that going small is the automatic answer. It's that an all-court lineup, one that can press, run, spread the court and hopefully defend seems most interesting especially when this squad struggles generating offense in half court looks.
Pryor and Peak on the wings. Campbell, Mosely or Mulmore at point guard. Johnson in the frontcourt with Agau or Derrickson. Try this look against Coppin State or Elon next week, Coach. Just a thought. Also, my sanity may depend on it.