The Georgetown Hoyas lost to Seton Hall Wednesday night much like they've lost throughout a recent slide of five defeats in six games. Georgetown fell behind early and stayed that way, trailing for all of the game's final 36 minutes and never closing the margin to even one possession in the entire second half. The Hoyas failed to control the ball, couldn't stop themselves from fouling, and, setting aside a career day from Jessie Govan, shot an abysmal 13 of 48 from the field. All of those mistakes contributed to a relatively easy win for the Pirates even though they went more than 14 minutes in the second half without a made field goal. Listless, error-filled, and ultimately disappointing losses have been a mainstay this season, and Wednesday was no different.
There wasn't much here that we haven't seen before, so let's just focus for a minute on the fun part. Govan was dope. He scored 27 freaking points despite the fact that he got into a collision that resulted in a massive head wound that required a bandage and a jersey change. Govan was still dope, maybe even more so, after getting banged up. The freshman big hit four three-pointers, made 10 of 13 shots overall, played passable defense, and even made a nifty pass or two (sometimes too nifty). Assuming the entire Georgetown basketball program doesn't fold in the next couple of years, Govan is going to be awesome in years to come--he can stroke it from deep, get busy underneath the basket, and do lots of skilled big man stuff. (Tellingly, JT3 spoke at length about how much Georgetown missed Bradley Hayes on a night on which Hayes's back-up exceeded the offense-first senior center's career high.) Tonight, Govan was a beacon on a night that was otherwise bereft of light, of hope, of joy, of reasons to bother to focus our eyes on the pixels on the television screen as we crept ever closer to the end of our finite existence while watching turnovers, reach-in fouls, and resigned three-pointers.
A quick detour from mortality to touch a lighter subject: fouls. Since freedom of movement rule changes enacted three seasons ago, Georgetown has ranked 330th or worse in the nation, and either last or second-to-last in the Big East in free throw rate allowed (FTA/FGA). Despite a twice-overhauled front line and personnel changes on the perimeter, the Hoyas simply can't stop fouling. Against Seton Hall, Georgetown was whistled for 24 personal fouls, which resulted in 30 Pirate free throw attempts, a soothing balm for a Seton Hall offense that didn't make a field goal for most of the second half.
On offense, the Hoyas' inability to penetrate once again resulted in possessions that opioid-induced constipation medication couldn't have relieved. On a typical possession, the Hoyas moved the ball tentatively sideways, tentatively back to the middle of the court, perhaps slightly backward, then sideways some more. On 2 of 3 first-half possessions, a Hoya ended up with the ball 25+ feet from the basket as the shot clock dwindled and thus had to heave the ball at the rim. Overall, Georgetown tried 27 three-pointers, making just 6, continuing a season-long trend of jacking up three-pointers without first puncturing the perimeter defense. As with fouling, poor roster construction, especially in the back-court, has been a chronic problem, unremedied despite the influx of new recruiting classes.
The loss drops Georgetown to just 14-13 on the season, and seriously imperils the Hoyas' chances of even making the NIT, which requires a .500 record. Barring a miracle run in the Big East Tournament, Georgetown will miss the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons. The talent is there, but it's poorly assembled, mismatched, lacking chemistry and heart, and shoved into a system that has long since gone stale.
Whether measured by sparse attendance or rapidly declining on-court performance, the Hoyas are veering into Esherickian depths. Sure, we didn't see six players on the court against Seton Hall, and JT3 wisely shaved his mustache before the season to avoid that comparison. But if Georgetown loses its final five games (counting the Big East Tournament, but no other postseason), the Hoyas' record in the past three seasons will sink to 54-44, a .551 winning percentage that almost mirrors the .549 mark of Esherick's last three years. That's not meant to say that the two are equivalent disasters, but things aren't pretty, and they haven't been for some time.