There’s no denying that our 10-3 Georgetown Hoyas have looked pretty good these past 6 games and, considering the recent adversity and outside pressures, their success really is nothing less than a miracle. Even the opposing coaches are noticing.
Moreover, reviewing the statistics during the December games, the individual performances and team development are well worth remembering—especially if they can carry this momentum into BIG EAST play.
At the end of November, Georgetown looked like over-cooked turkeys. Having beaten Texas at Madison Square Garden, and battling Duke (and the refs) hard, the Hoyas dropped a game to UNC Greensboro on November 30th, 61-65. In 32 minutes, point guard James Akinjo was 4-15 from the field (1-6 3PT) for 12 points. He had one assist. Omer Yurtseven scored 10 points shooting 3-12 with 9 rebounds in 24 minutes. Mac McClung was 3-10 (1-2 3PT) for 9 points in 22 minutes. Jamarko Pickett had 7 points in 31 minutes. Josh LeBlanc scored 2 points in 11 minutes, with no rebounds. Terrell Allen had 2 points with 3 assists in 15 minutes.
The Hoyas clearly lacked scoring (61 points) against Greensboro, but ostensibly they lacked any offensive strategy at all. The phrase “playing down to your opponent” was uttered at least as many times as the Hoyas had turnovers (18). The lineups weren’t flowing (11 total assists) and rumblings of minutes dissatisfaction were getting louder among the nine players with at least 10 minutes in the game. Shooters lacked confidence—21-57 for 37% FG and 5-16 for 31% 3PT. Something had to change if this team was to score as well as last year (79.5 ppg, 36th in the nation), let alone play at the level Patrick Ewing and the fans expected. The usable bench was bound to shrink, but no one expected Georgetown’s supposed depth to disappear so rapidly.
On December 2nd, the exodus began: Akinjo and LeBlanc entered the transfer portal, much to the chagrin of anyone following the team. The Athletic Department issued the first of a few announcements (second, third), which did not quell the many rumors flying around. A flurry of information (and over-enthusiastic speculation on Twitter) about alleged incidents involving team members ensued and, the Casual Hoya community generated a timeline. The Hoyas instantaneously fell out of power rankings and off the radar of bracketologists.
Nevertheless, the short-handed Hoyas went on a trip to Oklahoma and Texas and brought home two road wins against undefeated teams. Georgetown beat Oklahoma State 81-74 and beat SMU 91-74.
On December 13th, the nice folks at McDonough released a statement that Myron Gardner and Galen Alexander intended to transfer—mere hours before tip-off of the Syracuse game. Still, the reborn Hoyas handled their hated rival 89-79 with only 8 GU players earning minutes. Attacking the zone, the Hoyas shot 24 for 31 from the free throw line (77%). Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim criticized James Akinjo’s style of play in the past 7 games and complimented Patrick Ewing on rallying the remaining players in December. Having beaten OSU, SMU, and SU, the Hoyas continued the solid play against UMBC, Samford, and American.
Nearly every GU player was shooting (49.3 FG%, 39% 3PT), passing (18.7 assists per game), and rebounding (39.8 rpg) better in December. Outside of the American game (17 turnovers), they’ve been taking care of the ball better, too (12.5 tov per game in December).
Team Success Breeds Individual Success
Ewing’s staff and the leadership certainly deserve praise for on-court success of this reborn Hoyas team, but the individual players deserve a deeper look into how much they’ve stepped up their games this December.
While certainly short-handed, members of this team have grown into better-defined roles. Terrell Allen is nothing less than a godsend with his vision and passing. McClung no longer fears getting the hook after putting back an off-balance 17-footer. Yurtseven is shedding even more rust and avoiding foul troubles. Pickett and Mosely are more aggressive and taking the open looks they are finally getting. Blair is developing into the “microwave” that Ewing sees in practice. Wahab is growing and taking advantage of his backup minutes. In short, moving the ball well enables better looks, more possessions, and increased opportunities to pad their stats.
Here’s how they did in the December games, with their season statistics:
Over the first five games in December (ignoring American, for now), Mac McClung scored 33, 19, 26, 8, and 25 points, respectively. He averaged 22.2 ppg in those games versus 16.2 ppg for the season. McClung shot 39-80 (48.8%) from the field and 14-32 (43.8%) from three during this stretch. McClung’s average for the season (all 12 games) is 43.6% from the field and 40.4% from three (9-25, 36% in the first 7 games). McClung had 3 turnovers in each of the OSU and SMU games, but only had one turnover during the next three (UMBC), with 2 turnovers in his 15 minutes in the American game. He’s averaging 3.33 assists per game in December (2.3 apg for the season). He also averaged 3.33 rebounds per game these last six games (2.76 rpg in all 13 games).
Omer Yurtseven has scored 19 three times along with a 22-, 32-, and 17-point performance (21.3 ppg over December). He’s also averaged 10.6 rebounds over the stretch (10.1 for the season) with and average of 4.6 offensive rebounds per game. He’s shot 56-93 (60%) and averaged 2.3 blocks per game (1.9 per game for the season). Yurtseven was generally the ball over less frequently in December, but did have 6 give-aways to Syracuse.
Mosely has stepped up and averaged 7.66 ppg during, December, on 16-28 (57.1%) shooting from the field and 7-14 from three. Jagan Mosely put up 16 against Syracuse, making 4 of 6 three point attempts. Mosely has averaged 3.5 assists per game over the past six (21 in December; 40 total) and only had 9 turnovers during that stretch (21 overall), including 4 giveaways against American.
Terrell Allen can certainly score when called upon (9.5 ppg in Dec), but his best statistics are his 41 assists over 6 December games, and only 10 turnovers. Allen had 8 assists and 11 turnovers in November. While Allen is only 3-9 from three this month, he was 20-36 (55%) from the field overall and shot 63% with two-pointers (17-27).
Pickett’s month has been solid but not all that special for him. Pickett’s 8.8 ppg during the December stretch is a little boost over his 8.4 ppg for the season. Pickett was 2-7 (28.5%) from three versus his 8-19 for the season (42%). From the field, Pickett was 20-47 (42.5%) while he’s about 48% for the season. Pickett had 4 turnovers apiece against UMBC and Stamford, and averages about 2 per game. He’s so close.
Jahvon Blair has responded nicely with the increased minutes. Blair was 17-40 (42.5%) from three and averaged 12.2 ppg during December (6.9 ppg season). He went 7-11 for three at SMU and has shot about 35% 3PT in the last four games. Blair had 5 turnovers in his extended run (34 minutes) against American, but only had 3 other turnovers during December.
I’ve witnessed multiple fans forget that Qudus Wahab is a freshman recently—that means he’s playing like a veteran. Wahab’s role as backup to Yurtseven has not changed much with the personnel limitations, but he has stepped up nonetheless. Wahab was 8-17 (45%) in December, averaging 3.5 ppg and 3.6 rebounds per game, in 9.5 mpg these past six games. Wahab’s averaging less than one turnover per game. With more minutes comes more turnovers, but many people are content with Qudus as the 7th man.
What the individual statistics don’t reveal is the solid defense. As a team, Georgetown has improved defensively and the December statistics such as opponents’ field goal percentages, three point percentages, and turnovers demonstrate such.
Most would say that the American University game took a little time to shake off some holiday rust, but the Hoyas have generally looked good this December—both individually and as a team. Mac McClung’s eye injury remains a worry, but this is far from the biggest drama Georgetown saw in December.
The Hoyas head to Providence to begin BIG EAST play this Tuesday and, frankly, this team is expected to respond very well to another adverse situation on the road in this last game of a December to remember.