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Season Opener Preview: Hoyas take on Mount St. Mary’s

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Georgetown looks to join the other BIG EAST teams who started strong

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Providence Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (0-0) at Georgetown Hoyas (0-0)

When: Wednesday, 7 pm

Where: Capital One Arena

Series: Hoyas lead 23-5

Last Meeting: Georgetown won 102-68 on Nov 15, 2017 in DC

TV: CBS Sports Network

Announcers: Tom McCarthy & Pete Gillen

KenPom Rankings: Georgetown 56, Mount St. Mary’s 254

KenPom Prediction: Georgetown 84, Mount St. Mary’s 65 (96 percent)

Line: Hoyas -19.5, 151 o/u

The long-awaited Georgetown debut of Omer Yurtseven is finally here! The former all-ACC big from NC State who transferred to Georgetown to learn under coach Patrick Ewing will look to take over where Jessie Govan left off and (hopefully) provide even a bit more when the Hoyas begin a four-game homestand to start the 2019-20 campaign on Wednesday. Whether the Hoyas get the seven-footer from Istanbul for one or two seasons is still unknown but for now it’s all about whether Yurtseven can help lead Georgetown back into the NCAA Tournament for the first times since 2015.

“Last year we saw a lot of what we shouldn’t do in a sense because we lost so many games,” Yurtseven said at Hoyas media day. “It was a lot of learning. It helped these guys mature a lot too especially the freshmen.”

Speaking of the freshman, coach Ewing said he expects James Akinjo – last year’s BIG EAST Freshman of the Year -and Mac McClung – an All-Freshman team selection along with Josh LeBlanc – to be two of the best players in the league.

That being said, Ewing’s particularly focused on side of the court if the Hoyas are to improve on a 19-14 record in his second season that only earned a spot in the NIT.

“Last year we could score with anyone but one of the things I’ve been beating them over the head with is that we have to be a much better defensive team,” said Ewing.

“We have some new guys that will help with individual defense but our team defense has to be much better than it was. We’ve been working on it a lot but you really won’t know how good you are until you start playing games.”

FOR STARTERS

Assuming there aren’t any surprise injures Wednesday, picking the Hoyas starting line-up isn’t nearly as difficult as it had been in season’s past. Akinjo, McClung, Josh LeBlanc, and Yertseven pick themselves. The fifth starter? That’s probably a toss-up between Jagan Mosely and Jamorko Pickett. My guess? I keep going back and forth between Pickett and Jagan Mosely. I think I’m 60/40 Mosely at this point in getting a shot to start the season as the fifth starter. Mosely is the senior and Ewing obviously feels very comfortable with him on the court in crucial situations. Pickett would give Ewing an early sub that can come in right away and provide scoring or defensive if needed. That being said, I can see the reasons for starting Pickett and feel a strong case can be made either way. Of course, as the season goes on there are plenty other candidates that could emerge – particularly among the new faces.

TABBED SEVENTH

What was your reaction to Georgetown being picked to finish seventh in the ten team BIG EAST? Well, here’s what Akinjo and McClung had to say:

“Little surprised, little bit disrespected,” Akinjo said on the Hoyas place in the league’s preseason poll. “At the same time, it’s alright. It’ just the preseason nobody really knows what they’re going to do. I wasn’t really bothered by it but when I first saw it, I was surprised.”

“It is what it is,” said McClung. “I’m not going to say much about it. We’re just going to let our work do the talking. I don’t agree with it but it’s not for me to agree with it. I guess we just have to go show them that they’re wrong.”

NCAA TALK

Getting back to the Big Dance, as one would imagine, was a pretty big topic at media day as this proud program does not want to miss out on the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight season.

“One hundred percent, that’s all we think about,” McClung said about wanting to see the Hoyas name called on Selection Sunday. “We’re not really thinking about individual goals. Coach says as the team wins, we win. That’s the biggest thing. I want to be on that stage, we all want to be on that stage.”

“It’s definitely something that’s in the back of our minds,” said Pickett who is hoping to regain his offensive form that earned him a place on the All-Freshman team two seasons ago. “Coach probably brings it up more than we do. We definitely feel like we have all the right pieces this year to help accomplish that goal.”

SCOUTING THE MOUNT

In the first season after Jamion Christian left for greener pastures – first Siena and now George Washington, the Mount struggled under coach Dan Engelstad in finishing just 9-22 – their lowest win total since former JT3 assistant Robert Burke’s final season in 2012.

The good news for the Mountaineers is that pretty much everybody is back including NEC Rookie of the Year Vado Morse who put up 14.7 ppg last season. Picked to finish seventh in the Northeast Conference preseason poll, Mount St. Mary’s doesn’t offer up the typical profile of an upset alert as they aren’t a particularly good perimeter shooting team.

If the Mount is to have a chance at hanging around with the Hoyas in the season opener, Engelstad will need a big performance from low post threat Malik Jefferson who put up 8.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg as a frosh.

Jalen Gibbs is another one to watch as the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 12 and last season in, you guessed it, his frosh season. Gibbs and Morse could provide a good test for Akinjo and McClung early on to see if the defense has improved at all over the summer.

With a 10-8 KenPom prediction in conference, the Hoyas will hope that the Mount stays on the right side of 300 or even 250 in the NET which replaced the RPI last season.

Prediction: Georgetown 91, Mount St. Mary’s 64