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LINKS: Georgetown Opens Season with UMBC on Wednesday

A few season previews and a quick look at the Retrievers

Xavier v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Georgetown Hoyas will host the UMBC Retrievers on Wednesday at 4pm on FS1 to start the 2020-21 college basketball season.

Here are the links:

Veteran Presence Leads UMBC Men’s Basketball into New Look 2020-21 Season | UMBCRETRIEVERS

Six of the top seven in terms of minutes played are back, including senior Darnell Rogers (Baltimore, Md./Indian Land (SC)/New Mexico JC) who missed the final 26 games. In his brief first season, he averaged 14.0 ppg and 4.3 apg. Rogers shot 44.6 percent from the floor and 42.2 percent from three. The Retrievers once again held serve at home, finishing 11-5 at the UMBC Event Center, compared to just 5-10 away from Baltimore. UMBC was -9 in the first half scoring but turned it on after halftime with a +70 advantage.

Coach Odom will rely on the veteran presence of seniors Brandon Horvath, Daniel Akin (London, England), Dimitrije Spasojevic (Vrsac, Serbia) and juniors R.J. Eytle-Rock (London, England) and L.J. Owens (Annapolis, Md./Severn School/William & Mary) who all played a major role on last year’s squad.

Eytle-Rock and Horvath are the top two returning scorers averaging 11.2 and 11.0 ppg respectively. Horvath was the team leader pulling down 6.7 rpg with Eytle-Rock dishing out 3.3 apg. Owens brings back 9.5 ppg with Spasojevic averaging 8.8 ppg and shooting over 60 percent from the floor. Akin was not far behind, scoring at a 5.6 ppg clip and grabbing 5.0 rpg.

UMBC men’s basketball ready to adapt as season opener nears amid coronavirus pandemic | Baltimore Sun

While defense has been a point of emphasis in previous seasons, the Retrievers are trying to branch out offensively by accelerating their pace of play and seeking to score more points in transition.

“The speed of it is not necessarily the No. 1 goal. Efficiency is the No. 1 goal,” Odom said. “We want to be a more efficient team, and part of being a more efficient team is playing with better pace. I can’t tell you that we’ve accomplished that at this point, but we’re working at it every day to become more efficient and faster. When you’re faster, you’re harder to guard, and teams can’t see things coming as quickly, and they have to adjust faster on defense. So for us, we want to put a little more pressure on the defense with playing a little bit faster.”

But Horvath said he does not anticipate the team straying too far from its defensive identity.

“We think we can score enough to win, but if you can’t score on us, then we have an advantage,” he said. “You’ll see us win games, 50-40, 60-50. We play real tough defense, and we hang our hat on it.”

Men’s Basketball Picked Second in America East Preseason Poll | UMBCRETRIEVERS

UMBC men’s basketball was picked to finish second by the league’s coaches in the annual preseason poll, picking up two first-place votes, the conference announced on Wednesday. This is the second straight season the Retrievers were picked to finish in the top two after taking home just one first-place vote last year. Vermont was picked to finish atop the conference with 80 points and eight first-place votes. The Retrievers were just behind them with 72 points and the remaining two first-place votes. New Hampshire and UAlbany rounded out the top four with 66 and 51 points respectively.

Georgetown’s Defense Was Atrocious Last Year. Will This Year Be Any Better? - Thompson’s Towel | THOMPSONSTOWEL

The most obvious answer to this question is the three-point defense. Georgetown allowed opposing teams to shoot 36.4% from behind the arc. That puts the Hoyas at 313th in the country… out of 353 teams (and by far the worst in the Big East). The only major conference team that was worse than the Hoyas was UCLA at 38.3%. Georgetown’s perimeter defense was horrendous, and it didn’t help that the Big East had to two of the top ten three-point shooting teams in the country last year in Creighton and Marquette. 41.9% of all field goals attempted against the Hoyas were from three (299th in the country), and 37.7% of all points given up were from three (340th in the country). Teams saw our weakness and exploited it. The worst part is, the Hoyas’ three point defense actually didn’t change much at all throughout the season. In the opening ten games, only two teams shot below 30% from three against the Hoyas.

In the closing ten games, only one team shot below 30%, and that was during the season’s trademark win at Butler (who still put up 32 attempts). So what can Patrick Ewing change to lower these numbers? Unfortunately, not all that much during the games. A lot of three-point defense is based on communication, individual effort and quickness in closing out the shooter, and last year there seemed to be very little of that from Georgetown. But you can’t really blame a team that had a six to seven man rotation for the majority of the season. The introduction of nine new players should help tremendously on the weight of the load on the players, allowing them to give maximum effort on both ends of the floor.

Big East 2020-21 conference preview: The cellar dwellers | THEUCONNBLOG

Ewing’s new look squad is expected to be led by guard Jahvon Blair (10.8 points), forward Jamorko Pickett (10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds), and Arkansas grad transfer Jalen Harris, an experienced guard who played in all 32 games for the Razorbacks a season ago. Ewing also brings in a freshman class of four newcomers, headlined by center Ryan Mutombo (No. 95 ESPN100) [NEXT YEAR!], the son of hall of fame center and Georgtown alumnus Dikembe Mutombo. This team will likely encounter many growing pains throughout the year, and is not expected to be very competitive in a tough Big East that just became harder to navigate with the addition of UConn.

Georgetown Preview, 2020-21 | CRACKEDSIDEWALKS

So what’s left? Harris enters as a grad transfer who was a low-usage, low-efficiency game manager for three years at Arkansas. Blair and Pickett are the experienced statesmen of the team. Both stepped up adequately last year when the roster was decimated, but neither has demonstrated any level of star quality. Freshman Sibley is a Milwaukee native that has long-term upside but will likely struggle initially at this level. The one player that does seem to have real potential is Wahab, who excelled as a rebounder and shotblocker when Yurtseven went down while also providing efficient contributions on the offensive end. The bench is a mash-up of transfers (JUCO and mid-major) and youth. Simply, there’s not a lot to offer much faith or hope.

Offensively, look for the Hoyas to try to push the pace, share the ball, and crash the glass in hopes of making up for their lack of definitive scoring options with extra opportunities. Defensively, the Hoyas focus on an inside-out approach. They aim to contest everything at the rim, control the defensive glass, and do so without fouling. That said, they had the worst defense in the league last year and in addition to the losses at the high-end quality part of the roster, they also saw Terrell Allen and Jagan Mosely graduate, taking experience with them. Expect a lot of growing pains for this group, especially as it’s thoroughly unproven once you get past the starting five.

Big East Basketball: Preseason power rankings for 2020-21 season | BUSTINGBRACKETS

If Georgetown is going to be able to compete in the Big East, they are going to need to see fast progress in the post. Who better to help in that development than Patrick Ewing? He has three 7-footers in Qudus Wahab (5.5 Pts, 4.3 Reb, 0.3 Ast), Timothy Ighoefe, and Malcolm Wilson in his arsenal, and they all need to get better on the offensive end of the floor. Wahab led the team in blocked shot percentage (7.1%) which probably inks him as the starting center, but these guys aren’t far apart from each other talent-wise and slight offseason improvement offensively could change the conversation amongst the centers. Assuming Chudier Bile (14.3 pts, 7.6 reb, 1.5 blk) receives his waiver for immediate eligibility after transferring from Northwestern St., he will join whoever emerges as the best center in the frontcourt.

If Bile doesn’t turn out to be the answer, freshman Jamari Sibley will see a lot of minutes play both small forward and power forward.

Sources: Black coaches plan tribute to Thompson | ESPN

Multiple Black head coaches will wear a towel over their right shoulder during their season-opening games to honor Thompson, sources told ESPN on Sunday.