Well that was fun. Your fighting Georgetown Hoyas opened their national championship run Tuesday night, shaking off some early jitters to lead by double digits throughout the second half en route to a comfortable 68-53 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. Jessie Govan led three Hoyas in double figures with 13 points, while freshman Josh LeBlanc opened his Georgetown career with an impressive double-double.
Hoya fans had eagerly waited for opening night, anticipating the arrival of Georgetown’s incoming freshman class. The headliners of that bunch are a pair of guards, James Akinjo and Mac McClung, who were meant to pump life into an inert Hoya back-court. Both looked talented but jumpy Tuesday night, combining some excitement with plenty of growing pains. The two racked up as many turnovers as assists (7 total in each category), but mixed in glimpses of what could lie ahead. Midway through the first half, Akinjo coolly drilled a pair of triples that sparked the Hoyas after a slow offensive start. Shortly after the half, McClung jumped a passing lane and took the ball all the way for a highlight reverse dunk. It’s clear that there are bright days ahead for both, but there will be bumps along the way.
Fellow freshman LeBlanc stood out against the Hawks as the readiest for prime time. With Kaleb Johnson nursing an injury and Trey Mourning seeing his first career start, front-court minutes were there for the taking, and LeBlanc took them. He smothered his assignments on defense, swatted opposing shots, gathered up loose balls, grabbed rebounds, and finished through traffic. LeBlanc’s activity was more effective than flashy, but it was unmistakable just the same. LeBlanc showed the kind of energy and athleticism that will continue to earn him minutes, if not a starting role.
Some other quick hitters, as we’re getting late:
- This wasn’t the prettiest of nights. The Hoyas had 9 first-half turnovers against just 10 made field goals, and the second half wasn’t much better. Opening night jitters, freshman guards feeling their way into new roles, and an offense that was looking for a new fulcrum with Marcus Derrickson gone all contributed to some sloppy play throughout the evening. UMES also threw a couple of different looks at the Hoyas, including a first-half press that caused a slew of early giveaways.
- Jessie Govan had a solid if unspectacular night. In one first-half stretch, the senior big man beasted his way to a baby hook in the lane, swatted a Hawk shot on the move, and then buried a trailing three-pointer for a personal 5-0 run. But for the most part, Govan took what was given to him, converting open looks and cleaning the defensive glass. He seemed a tad eager to chase UMES pump fakes, but otherwise had a steady evening.
- Sophomore wing Jamorko Pickett picked up where he left off last season, netting 3 three-pointers en route to 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists, to go with a steal and a block. Pickett still looks much more the part of a finisher than a creator on offense. It will be worth monitoring which of Pickett, Akinjo, and McClung emerges as a playmaker as the season goes on, as Georgetown will need one or more to get the offense into gear.
- Mourning got his first career start and turned in competent play. Despite being a fifth-year senior, Trey hasn’t played much, but he showed that he knows his way around the court, popping to open spots on offense, staying at home on defense, and effectively crashing the glass. Mourning missed a few easy buckets that took tough bounces, but made the case to see additional minutes in the games ahead.
- A trio of Hoya guards — sophomore Jahvon Blair, junior Jagan Mosely, and transfer Greg Malinowski — had quiet nights. Malinowski saw the most minutes of the trio, but didn’t make much of an impression, other than with a few silky free throws and a garbage time triple. Blair strangely sat for most of the first half, and didn’t see much action throughout the night, other than to connect on his own late three.
- Overall, it was hard to take too much from this game. The Hoyas certainly didn’t overwhelm the overmatched Hawks, but never really struggled, either. Their defensive energy was noticeable, as were the kinks on offense.
Your Hoyas return to action Saturday against Central Connecticut State. Hoya Saxa!