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GAME GRADES: Hoyas Average in San Diego State Test

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NCAA Basketball: Wooden Legacy-San Diego State vs Georgetown Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hoyas vs. SDSU - Game 4 11/26/2021

Late Night Hoyas did not disappoint. Or they did. I don’t really know. I am very full and very tired. Ultimately, the Hoyas failed their toughest test of the season against a KenPom-ranked 35 SDSU state team that is just the worst! (see below). But there were definitely some positives. Dante and Aminu at the top of that list. How did the various Hoyas grade out on a mostly arbitrary scale? Check it out, including a new grading category and the first F of the year...

And today’s re-grade comment from the Siena grades is not a re-grade, but a general comment that I think we can all get behind. Courtesy of Bunk Moreland:

Lastly, Crouch is a real deal coach and I hope we keep him for a while.

Comment below and we’ll feature the best re-grade comment in the next post - Hoyas take on St. Joseph’s at a somewhat manageable 9:00 p.m. eastern tip. Also, apologies for the lack of highlights from this one. It seems that because the game started at dawn or something, there were not a lot of people producing Twitter highlights.

Dante Harris - A-

19 PTS, 8-17 (47%), 1-6 3PT (16%), 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO

Dante came to play in this one. I was actually a little surprised to see he shot under 50% from the field because it really seemed like he wasn’t missing, particularly early. He absolutely roasted SDSU on one or two dribble pull ups off the pick and roll. He just didn’t miss and that shot is becoming automatic for him. He and Aminu carried this team early (literally, they scored all of the points), and really throughout this entire game. He clearly got fatigued late and most of those 4 turnovers came as a result. Hard to really knock him for that after the performance he put in. I’d like to see him with more assists or at least distributing a bit more effectively. I don’t fault him as much for that in this one as he was knocking shots down and other guys really weren’t.

Don Carey - C-

4 PTS, 0-7 (0%), 0-2 3PT (0%), 4-4 FT, 9 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO

Rough night for Don. Clearly didn’t shoot well and the team really needed him or Kaiden, ideally both, to go with Aminu and Dante. If you just get decent shooting nights from Don and Kaiden as opposed to not at all good, this game looks different. Definitely his worst effort of the year which could be concerning to those wondering if all that he’s added to his game will translate against better, more athletic opponents. For what it’s worth, he still was able to get to his spots. The difference in this one, at least to me, was he just missed shots. I am still optimistic about the improvements in his game. I think they can translate. He just needs to find some steadiness.

Aminu Mohammed - A

20 PTS, 8-12 (66%), 1-4 3PT (25%), 3-5 FT, 4 REB, 1 STL, 1 TO

You can dive into the counting and fancy stats for Aminu and they’ll tell you he was Georgetown’s best player. You can look at the highlights and the box score and understand he’s a good player. But my word, that doesn’t even begin to show the full picture of how good Aminu is. He plays with the constant energy and intensity of Jabril, has the athleticism and ability to get to the bucket like LJ, with the touch and finish of, I don’t even know, Otto? It’s pretty clear Ewing knows what he has here. He’s added some little things to this offense that we haven’t seen before, and Aminu keeps showing new elements to his game. Ewing went to Aminu on the block early in the second half and Aminu absolutely cooked SDSU. For all the chirping and hollering and stunting around from SDSU, they were getting absolutely bullied by a freight train of a Freshman who just put his head down and got to work. He’s already started to adapt to the college game. He had a couple of really nice finishes that he was rushing a week ago against Siena. Aminu is just a joy to watch and we’re only 4 games in.

Kaiden Rice - C

8 PTS, 2-9 (22%), 2-7 3PT (28%), 4 REB, 1 BLK

Not good enough. So far, we’re getting either ice cold or boiling lava hot shooting from Kaiden. This team is in dire need of some consistency. Between the lack of a post presence on offense (see below) and the overall youth and inexperience of this team, they desperately need some steadiness. I’d like to see that come from Kaiden and Don, but so far, that’s just not been the case. I thought overall, Kaiden was more active in this one than he was in the earlier efforts against American and Dartmouth when he didn’t shoot it as well. Ewing was trying to run Kaiden off screens to get him some catch and shoot looks, which, I don’t know, doesn’t really look like his game. The best outcome we saw out of that set was a foul that got Kaiden three free throws (he made two). His release is so quick, I get the impulse. It feels like a weapon Ewing hasn’t really had, but I think he’s better when he is square, spotting up or able to take one dribble. Regardless, he just needs to shoot with more consistency.

Timothy Ighoefe - C

0 PTS, 0-2 (0%), 7 REB, 3 BLK, 2 TO

I honestly don’t really know what to do with Tim. He again sat most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. That’s not totally on him as he falls victim to Ewing’s two fouls in the first policy, but it’s also, I think, a bit indicative of his basketball sense. He’s just not making smart plays. He’s got the ability to compensate for being in the wrong spot because he is just a massive human, and he showed some of that in the second. This team is solid to good to elite (Aminu) 1 through 4, but they just have nothing at the five spot right now. Tim is giving you nothing on the offensive end, which would be OK if he were more consistent on the other end. When the Hoyas made their second half run to get it to 4, Tim admittedly showed why, I think, he’s the first option at the 5. He was really good defensively for a stretch of about 5-7 minutes. When they desperately needed a physical presence down low, he gave it to them. He had a couple of blocks and really strong defensive rebounds. He also took a big charge after getting a flop warning (LOL). That’s got to be his game. Of those who played more than 10 minutes, he had the best defensive rating (estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) 92. He has the ability to impact that end of the floor, he just has to do it more consistently.

Jalin Billingsley - B

3 PTS, 1-2 (50%), 1-2 3PT (50%), 1 REB

Ewing really shortened his bench in this one, and setting aside foul trouble subs, Jalin was still the first option off the bench. It’s clear Ewing sees Jalin as a big part of this team, already, and he continues to impact the game when he’s in. He finished with the second highest Points Per Possession, a solid 1.000, and offensive rating 116, behind only Aminu. He finished a massive lob from Don Carey and was active as the point man on the press in the second half. It will be interesting to see how his offensive game develops, but he has all the signs of a really essential and effective four-year guy.

Jordan Riley - INC

0 PTS, 0-2 (0%), 0-1 3PT, 1 REB

Riley fell victim to the shortened bench a bit and the fact that Aminu and Dante had to play. He only played 10 minutes and I don’t think there’s a lot to grade him on. His first game of the year that he didn’t have a steal and I am fairly confident he would have if he played more minutes. For what it’s worth, he was in some pretty lengthy conversations with both Ewing and Crouch on the bench and seemed to be taking coaching really well, I mean as far as you can tell from a couple of camera looks which basically you can’t, but there’s not much else to react to.

Ryan Mutombo - B

2 PTS, 1-4 (25%), 4 REB, 2 BLK, 1 TO

Of the Freshman Ryan got the most run, mostly because of Tim’s foul trouble. I thought he was frankly really positive in his minutes. Yes, he got blocked at the rim a couple of times. Which seemed to really annoy some folks, including the announcers (who...F), but to me, he’s a Freshman. That will happen. He will get stronger and will develop a better feel around the basket. That he got into those positions I think is really encouraging. Why? Well just look at the two other Centers. Ryan is getting better looks around the rim because of his feel and movement. Yes, he needs to develop better hands and improve his footwork around the basket, but pretty much everything in this one was positive. His points came off a really nice touch finish through contact that sent him to the line, which he subsequently missed. He had a couple of really nice blocks as well. He had a couple of nice offensive boards that could have resulted in points had he not put the ball down, again, something that will improve. There’s going to be an interesting question coming here sooner rather than later of whether it’s not only better for the future but better for the team now to play Ryan over the other two.

Tyler Beard - INC

1 REB

Tyler was another one who didn’t get a lot of run until late. That seemed to be a direct result of the fact that Dante was cooking and it was pretty clear that if the Hoyas were going to score, Dante needed to be out there. He was again active and engaged from the bench. Again, a small thing that is based on a couple of camera glances, but still.

Malcolm Wilson - C-

0 PTS, 0-1 FT, 1 REB

Malcolm got the first look after Tim’s foul trouble. I am not sure that should really be the case but I don’t totally blame Ewing for trying it, at least early. In theory, Malcolm should have a better feel for where to be within the offense and the right rotations and reads on defense. In reality, that really doesn’t seem to be the case. I just don’t see it. I get it, his size and movement is really tantalizing. You can talk yourself into the potential there to be a really great defensive player. But the space between potential and actual is just...kind of a chasm. He has the size to impact shots, but that pretty much ends with jump shots. Around the rim, he just doesn’t seem to have the strength or feel to do much. He found himself defending a backdown on the left wing late in the first half (I think) and, rightfully (I think) positioned himself on the inside shoulder to try and force him baseline, but he was so far to the inside shoulder that he was beaten by one, not very quick, move. He got some decent helpside defense and it was a small play, but to me it was really indicative of his challenges. The thought process is right, but the execution is just lacking. In contrast, I thought Ryan looked a lot better in his positioning in one-on-one defense.

Collin Holloway - INC

0 PTS, 1 REB, 3 TO

He’s back! Tough spot for Collin to make his season debut, coming off of, apparently, foot surgery? Look, he was clearly rusty and I frankly don’t think it makes sense to give him a grade. I’d like to see him get some good run in the St. Joe’s game. But it was pretty telling to me that when Ewing shortened the rotation, Collin was still in it. He also got some time in a small ball lineup that could show some promise. I think we’ll all be really interested to see how he progresses over the next few games.

Kobe Clark - INC

1 TO

He’s also back! He came on very late in this one - with about a minute to go. I thought he showed some promise before getting hurt as a Freshman. I am really interested to see how he fits in.

Coaching - B

I thought there was both good and bad from a coaching perspective in this one. More good than bad. Ewing still seems set with sitting guys with 2 fouls in the first half. That’s probably a bit antiquated and the wrong call, but I don’t think it really hurt them much here. I’d be interested to see what he’d do if, say, Aminu was in that position rather than Tim. Aside from that, I thought Ewing pressed a lot of the right buttons. He shortened the rotation in the second half, rightfully so in my opinion. He went with the guys that gave them the best chance to win. He put Aminu in some really good spots on isolations and in the low post - which really helped spark the comeback. And look, one of the most consistent features of Ewing’s offenses has been their penchant for playing through a true Center in the low post. I fully expected he would continue that with Tim/Malcolm/Ryan despite the skillset not really being there. He hasn’t. I really think that’s an adjustment that shouldn’t be overlooked. Along with the wrinkles he’s added for Aminu and even Kaiden, I’ve been really encouraged by the way he’s adjusted to his talent. The defense is still not good enough and the press is largely ineffective, but I also think we cannot overlook the fight this team showed to claw back from 15 to get it to 4. Ewing’s teams have consistently played hard regardless of the score and seem to never really go away. I really appreciate that.

Crowd - A+

Hoyas fans everywhere get an A+. This game tipped at 11:43 p.m. Eastern time. That is insane. To all those who stayed up to watch this one live, I salute you. To all those who didn’t quite make it, I salute you. To those that saw this game in-person, and there were some, I salute you.

Refs - D-

Bad. They could’ve been worse, but they were bad. There were a couple of key calls that they really botched. They called a flop warning on Tim at one point. I don’t know what that is and don’t think it really impacted the game much, but it was just a ridiculous thing to do. The most egregious and potentially impactful decision was to go to the monitor to look at an Aminu “elbow” to SDSU star Matt Bradley that was so clearly not anything. Apparently SDSU’s Coach, Dutcher (F-), asked for the review, which, did we know that was a thing that college coaches could do? They did charge SDSU with a timeout after the review showed Aminu made a good basketball play, got fouled by Bradley and grazed his head on the spin (not even remotely a foul) but the review came at a point when all of the momentum was with the Hoyas. I guess if they have to review if the coach asks for it, that’s not on the Refs, but...yikes.

San Diego State - F

Unveiling a new grade! Grading the opponent. Not necessarily how they played, but just, my overall impression. And my overall impression of SDSU is...do NOT like. They were clearly enjoying themselves, which, fine. But I felt a lot of the stunting was largely unearned. Whatever. They also complained a lot. Like A LOT. There was a clear discrepancy in experience in this one. Maybe I am just cranky due to lack of sleep (I definitely am) but I did not expect to dislike everything about SDSU basketball, but here we are. I am not a fan.