The Giants (also accidentally referred to as Commonwealth Bahamas or Bahamas Commonwealth) were not horrendous and appear to have won the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) Division 1 Championship in April with at least a few of the same players who suited up on Monday. The announcers posited that CBG had pros and former pros looking to get contracts and were playing well.
As part of the Bahamas Basketball Summer of Thunder, CBG beat Delaware and almost beat Temple, but was beaten by Murray State and Tennessee Chattanooga. Perhaps we’ll get a better measuring stick when Commonwealth plays against Memphis tomorrow but it appears CBG was missing their highest scorer in guard D’Shon Taylor.
The stream was solid for most of the four quarters and—after we figured out who some of the new jersey numbers were—gave the viewers some much-craved insights into the Georgetown Hoyas’ 2019-2020 team. Those who did not stream it live and are interested in streaming the next games live may find the on-demand replay of game 1 as justification for subscribing to FloHoops.
The announcers did their best and grew more comfortable with the players as the game progressed. The announcers were quite impressed with Georgetown, especially Omer Yurtseven, and (knock on wood) referred to Georgetown as “complete” and “not rusty at all.” Below, I attribute that feeling mostly to the pace.
Georgetown vs. Commonwealth Bank Giants (Bahamas) 8-12-2019
It’s no secret the Patrick Ewing likes his team to play fast, but this team was moving quicker than we’ve seen it. For instance, the Hoyas put up 84 shots in 40 minutes. As a reference, per sports-reference.com, Georgetown led the BIG EAST last year with about 62 shots per game in conference play and averaged about 61 shots over the season to rank 78th in the NCAA. The Giants may have played right into Georgetown’s hands by leaning into the rapid pace, but the tempo is the primary reason the Hoyas were always in control of the game.
The Hoyas attacked in transition a lot early on and continued to look for easy opportunities. Ewing started James Akinjo, Mac McClung, Jamorko Pickett, Josh LeBlanc, and Omer Yurtseven. There was a focus on feeding Omer Yurtseven down low early, and he capitalized when the team was not just running freely. During the first few quarters “sharing” the ball felt like NBA-take-your-turn-in-iso with each player getting a chance to go one-on-one. Mac McClung and James Akinjo each took alternating turns as lead guard, with each of them showing some newer moves finishing over bigger guys at the basket. With a 24-second clock, Mac had to hoist a desperation shot or two, but overall his jump shot looked more like his form prior to his ankle injury (e.g., more elevation, less leaning).
Omer Yurtseven looks very capable and moves much nicer than most any 7-footers we’ve seen at this level. Also, Yurtseven sets a good screen and it can certainly help the sophomore guards get the edge. The announcers really praised him and he did look a little like Porzingis with a fade-away baseline jumper from an inbound pass.
Josh LeBlanc’s 3-6 FGs in the box score has me questioning the score sheet but I do remember a pair of missed putback-dunks and a jump-shot that looked a little rushed. His free-throw didn’t look quite right either. LeBlanc had some solid cuts down the lane for dunks and played his usual energetic defense. He gets a pass, coming a day late. Good news is that it appears he will have some more help on the boards this season.
During the second half, there was a conscious effort to move the ball more and look for the “extra pass.” For instance, Jamorko Pickett did not start the third quarter and Terrell Allen joined Mac McClung and James Akinjo in the backcourt, with Josh LeBlanc and Omer Yurtseven down low. This is akin to Ewing putting the game in 5th gear, because it just sped up the game even more, especially on defense. McClung really tried to move the ball and succeeded with a couple no-look and behind the back passes. The lineup also appeared to reduce turnovers—not because Pickett was turning it over in the first quarter, but it led to more run-outs and fewer passes knocked around. Pickett looked fine most of the game and fed Blair for a couple three-pointers to bump up those assist stats. While the boxscore only has Allen with one assist, the post-grad guard had a couple really good entry passes to Yurtseven and Qudus Wahab.
When the lead felt very safe later in the second half, the Hoyas slowed the game down and tried to work on some sets, especially with the bench players. Wahab showed some nice post moves and was active on the offensive boards. Wahab was blocked/intercepted once when a couple veterans double-teamed him, but otherwise looked as competent in the post as some of last year’s upperclass centers. Pickett’s run with the second unit allowed him to show off a couple moves and throw down a couple dunks. Pickett’s shot looked a little quicker and with a little less arc, but still looked like he “pushed” one of his missed threes.
Jahvon Blair is still not shy about taking a shot from anywhere on the court. If he indeed went 4-for-8, Ewing will take that any night, but if those 50% games are followed with 2 for 7 performances, that’s a little scary. That said, if the Hoyas can continue to rebound decently (Omer Yurtseven had at least 6, Wahab with 3) then high volume three-point attempts aren’t an issue. The starting five plus Allen and Alexander should each be shooting 1-for-2 or 2-for-4 from three and not forcing shots (or getting discouraged) outside of the natural flow of Ewing’s high-paced, nicely spaced offense.
The Hoyas’ defense was a bit of a tale of two halves, but it looked good and was the foundation for the quicker pace. During the first quarter, Georgetown did a fine job of stopping the Giants, but the Giants were also coughing the ball up. The Giants would set a high ball-screen for a guard to drive the lane and dish, but Georgetown was slapping the ball free or intercepting the dish off of a tipped pass. This is fine when it’s working, but the cause was more of the Giants being careless than Georgetown executing well. With a change in GU personnel in the second quarter, the Giants became more effective and started to close the gap.
In the second half the Hoyas moved their feet on defense much better and were generating and converting a lot of turnovers. They dialed up a press from time to time and drove the pace faster. The defense felt much faster than last year and dictated the style of play.
Galen Alexander and Myron Gardner worked well guarding the perimeter with very solid three-point defense and a couple steals each. There were a few twin-towers lineups with Wilson or Ighoefe on the floor with Yurtseven or Wahab that felt more like an effort to spread minutes out than experiments for in-game lineups during the season. The boxscore says there were only two blocks and that is hard to believe. Malcolm Wilson, wearing a white shirt under his jersey, looked ready to contribute, at least on the defensive end and he did have a putback dunk after a LeBlanc miss. There was not enough time to see Timothy Ighoefe, but he did not look too lost.
CBG actually outscored Georgetown in the fourth quarter 26-20, but the Hoyas were clearly playing with some lineups and getting George Muresan and Jaden Robinson some minutes.
The Hoyas play Wednesday and Thursday—same gym, same video streaming—but it is unclear who the opponents will be. For example, the Bahamas Basketball Federation Summer of Thunder Schedule points to the Bahamas National Team as the opponent on Thursday but lists “TBD” for the game on Wednesday. The rosters of BCG and the National Team appear to share a handful of players’ names.
UPDATE: Some highlights...