Georgetown fell 74-56 at home on Monday night to Providence, suffering its third straight season sweep at the hands of the Friars. After two straight home wins, the Hoyas came out flat-footed on Monday and paid the price. Georgetown was out-worked, out-executed, and eventually embarrassed on its home court in a loss that somehow didn’t seem as close as the large margin indicates.
At the risk of offending those unnamed alumni who wish for a constant ray of sunshine, there’s nothing positive to say about tonight’s game. The Hoyas got their ass kicked, plain and simple. Providence played harder and better than Georgetown, leading the Hoyas for the game’s final 38 minutes and by double digits for the last half-plus. Providence point guard Kyron Cartwright had a career day, dominating the ball and the Hoyas to the tune of 16 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds—more, in each of those categories, than any Hoya managed. Cartwright got wherever he wanted on the court with little resistance from a Georgetown defense that look confused and then defeated.
For Georgetown, there were no accolades, collective or individual. No one scored more than 13 points, and only one player made more than half of his shots. As a team, the Hoyas shot just 33 percent from the field and 22 percent from three while committing 15 turnovers. The Hoyas’ sloppy defense, in addition to allowing Cartwright to run rampant, let a Friar squad with the 142nd-best offense in the country shoot 43 percent from 3 and nearly 50 percent inside the arc. A Georgetown team that nearly lost to a tepid Connecticut offense led by a speedy point guard on Saturday apparently learned nothing from its narrow escape.
There’s only so much detail I could write or you could read about an uncompetitive game between two mediocre teams. After two window-dressing home wins, the Hoyas have resumed their downward trajectory, falling to 1-5 in conference for the first time since the weeks after Pops resigned 18 years ago.
Georgetown’s record may be worse than it appears, with all five of the Hoyas’ losses representing wasted opportunities against beatable teams, and their lone win over a St. John’s team that will be Georgetown’s easiest competition east of DePaul. Georgetown still has two games apiece against Villanova and Creighton and road dates at Xavier and Butler—twice as many games as the Hoyas have left against the Red Storm and the Blue Demons, the only two Big East teams they’ve beaten in nearly one calendar year. KenPom currently projects the Hoyas to finish 5-13 in conference. Tonight may have dashed any lingering hope of avoiding a second straight losing campaign.
Rather than continuing on this line, let me instead offer my thoughts on the recent column in the Washington Post on the state of the Georgetown basketball program. The key passage, in my view anyway, was the following:
On the one hand, this isn’t all that remarkable. Most of us presume this to be reality, after all. But that doesn’t make it right.
The right way is to start by asking, What should, and can, Georgetown be? After answering that question, the next question is whether John Thompson III, granted appropriate deference in light of his and his father’s contributions to the university, can lead Georgetown basketball to that goal. If the answer is yes—and I’m not sure, at this point, how it could be on grounds other than deference—then fine, forge ahead. If the answer is no, then find someone who can achieve those goals.
But Georgetown basketball doesn’t exist in a rational universe. In this world, the question isn’t whether Thompson can lead Georgetown basketball to achieve its goals. If that were the question, some reasonable minds would still say yes. Many more would say no—that the proof is in the last four seasons, a borderline disastrous series of campaigns that have been the worst, or nearly so, in the program’s modern era.
In this perverse universe, the Thompsons come first, and the goals and fate of Georgetown basketball are secondary. JT3’s continued merit as a basketball coach is irrelevant. He’s here, and the program’s future is defined only with him as coach.
I don’t believe that the Post columnist was inaccurate in this observation. What bothers me, aside from the pathetic state of the program, is the refusal of any media member to even question whether this order of things is right, or whether Thompson deserves to have his job anymore. This Post column, while otherwise thoughtful in many respects, not only declined to say that Thompson should be gone, but explicitly ruled out that possibility. Seth Davis, recently asked about the situation, glibly tweeted that JT3 would be coaching the Hoyas next year and fans should just “Deal With It.” Other media members have tip-toed around the issue, pointing out Georgetown’s recent underperformance or longer-term drought in March, all without suggesting that maybe we all should be asking bigger questions.
Perhaps that’s because they understand exactly what is summarized in the excerpted quote above. The only essential element of Georgetown basketball is John Thompson III as coach. Everything else is negotiable.
Unfortunately, as we have seen, this rationale has casualties. On-court performance continues its downward slide, with Thompson flailing through strategic and lineup changes in a failing effort to find something, anything that works. With the team losing and no relief in sight, fan interest dwindles. The faithful are fans of Georgetown basketball. If Georgetown basketball is subordinate to the Thompson family, then many will just go elsewhere.
Georgetown returns to play Sunday when the Hoyas travel to Xavier. Hopefully, we’ll have something better to say then.