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GAME GRADES: Hawks Hand Hoyas Horrible Homework Marks

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St. Joe’s exposed some big issues with Georgetown

NCAA Basketball: Wooden Legacy-Georgetown vs Saint Josephs Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Game 4: Hoyas vs. St. Joe’s - 11/27/2021

Well that was less than ideal, wasn’t it? After a valiant performance before a late collapse against a good SDSU team, the Hoyas dropped a painful one to a not-so-good St. Joe’s team. All told, the Hoyas Go West adventure was...disappointing, and the Hoya faithful were displeased, sharing their frustration and anger, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli, with anyone who’d listen aka Twitter. Look, it was rough. Between the start times, opponents and results, I thought it best to give a little breathing room before going back to the grades for this one. Though the benefit of time has not necessarily resulted in clarity. The numbers and the breakdown of this one show a fairly even matchup that really could have gone either way. Which I think tracks with the eye test. The problem seems to be that it was close, St. Joe’s was ranked 219 on KenPom to Georgetown Hoyas’ 94 and the way in which the Hoyas gave this away late.

There’s a lot to wrestle with from this one and I imagine there will be quite a bit of disagreement. I encourage you to add your comments and re-grades below. With only one comment from the SDSU post, we’re going to forego the re-grade comment for this one. But hopefully, we’ll be back with one after the next game, Tuesday against Longwood in DC. See you there.

Dante Harris - A-

17 PTS, 8-18 (44%), 0-3 3PT (0%), 1-2 FT, 1 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL, 2 TO

One of the true bright spots to rise from the rubble of this cursed road trip, Dante looks good. One of the few Hoyas who showed up in both games, he is fulfilling the promise he displayed last year. He gave the Hoyas what they needed in the second half of this one, someone to make plays and shots. He, like a lot of Hoyas, looked sluggish early. But unlike some of the other Hoyas, he came out playing in the 2nd half, making some nice plays off the pick and roll, getting to the basket and knocking down those pull-up jumpers that we’re going to need a name for soon. The three is not there for him yet and to take the next step, that needs to be a more consistent weapon for him. I liked the way he was setting up others as well, something I thought was a bit lacking in his equally excellent performance against SDSU. On a couple of occasions, he was able to get into the lane and kick it out to open shooters. That’s really the key to this Georgetown offense for me. He is always going to struggle at the rim given his size, but he is so quick getting by the first and second defenders, he can really collapse the defense to get easy shots for others. The fancy stats don’t particularly love his game. On the highest usage rate for those who played 10+ minutes (percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor), he only had the 4th highest offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) at 109. I am not totally sure what to make of that. He had a couple of really bad turnovers late in this one that seemed to be a product of fatigue. Those earned him a quick seat on the bench late (rightfully I think) but he didn’t really have a ton of impact in the final few minutes.

Don Carey - D+

12 PTS, 4-11 (36%), 2-5 3PT (40%), 2-2 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 5 TO

So the last two plays were pretty glaring. With a chance to tie or take the lead on the two final possessions, he over-dribbled at the top of the key then left his feet and threw the ball directly to St. Joe’s. He followed that by grabbing the rebound on the missed free throw with 6 seconds left and the Hoyas down three and dribbled straight to the corner before dumping it off to Collin Holloway with no real hope for getting a shot off, and they didn’t. Those were bad. They looked like he was just trying to do too much. And he frankly was not great through the rest of this one. Though, looking at his scoring line, at least the 40% from three isn’t bad. It just didn’t feel like he was getting up good shots and the offense seemed to stall a bit when he got the ball. The 5 turnovers really hurt and I think that’s what dominated perception of his game in this one. You may disagree, but I don’t think he needs to just be a spot-up shooter. I do think he’s added some on-ball stuff to his game that can be impactful, but his performance across these two games in California was just not good enough. He had the second-worst Box Plus/Minus in this one at -9.5. Box P/M is a fun fancy stat that estimates a player’s contribution to the team while he’s on the court based on box score stats. It’s a helpful way to gauge the overall contribution of someone. -9.5 means Georgetown was 9.5 points per 100 possessions worse with Don on the floor than with average production from another player. In other words, not great.

Aminu Mohammed - C

6 PTS, 0-10 (0%), 0-1 3PT (0%), 6-8 FT, 9 REB, 1 STL, 1 TO

Aminu just looked totally gassed in this one, particularly on the offensive end. That’s not a huge surprise given his effort less than 24 hours earlier against SDSU. He also took a lot of hard contact in both games and I wonder if that took a toll on him. Obviously, this was an outlier performance on the offensive end and he was still able to contribute 9 boards. He did some good things on the defensive end and was switched onto the Unstoppable Funk late and did a pretty good job chasing him around screens. I’m suggesting we just get rid of this game, for a lot of guys, but particularly Aminu, including his team-worst Box Plus/Minus of -10.0.

Kaiden Rice - C

25 PTS, 9-15 (60%), 7-13 3PT (53%), 3 REB, 1 TO

Kaiden is going to be really polarizing this year. His stat line really looks pretty good. 53% from three is great! He managed that on Steph Curry volume though, 13 shots. That’s not great for this offense. It’s clear Ewing wants to use him as a catch-and-shoot threat, running him off screens to utilize his quick release. I don’t think he’s really proven that he is a capable threat running off pin downs and other catch-and-shoot opportunities. He seems far more effective when he’s spotting up or even on one or two dribbles. I want to look into the numbers of this a bit more to see if that’s supported by the data, but a series of plays in the second half passed the eye test for this. After hitting a nice one-dribble floater, Kaiden knocked down a spot-up three that came off dribble penetration and a kick out from Dante. This “paint three” as Denver Nuggets Head Coach (and I am sure others) calls them, are the blueprint for Kaiden and the Hoyas more broadly. Unfortunately, that was Kaiden’s only spot-up three attempt in the second half (per Synergy Sports). With Dante’s and Aminu’s ability to get into the lane, those paint threes are so much better than running Kaiden off curls and stagger screens. And I think needs to be a bigger part of the offense.

Timothy Ighoefe - C+

4 PTS, 2-2 (100%), 0-1 FT, 14 REB, 1 AST, 3 BLK, 1 TO

A tale of two halves for Tim I thought. He was not great in the first half and again had to sit early. He got lost on some defensive reads and his positioning in one-on-one post defense got exploited a couple of times. It looks like it was going to be another tough one for Tim, but to his credit, I thought he played really solid in the second half on the defensive end. He came up with a couple of key blocks and managed a career-high, 14 rebounds. If he can be that on the defensive end and avoid big mistakes on the offensive end, I think he could bring value. When he tries to do too much, he becomes a liability.

Ryan Mutombo - B

5 PTS, 2-3 (66%), 1-1 3PT (100%) 3 REB

He only played 9 minutes, all in the first half, but they were a really interesting 9 minutes. He had a nice finish on a pick and roll and, oh, not to bury the lede, but he hit a three!? That was fun. He got the backup minutes ahead of Malcolm, which I think is the right call but I do think he could have given you minutes in the second. He is a better offensive option than any of the other 5 and I don’t think he’s a glaring liability on defense. He finished with an insane 173 offensive rating in this one and a Box Plus/Minus of 5.9. Can he do that over more minutes? I think we’d like to see.

Collin Holloway - INC

5 PTS, 2-2 (100%), 1-1 3PT (100%), 1 STL, 1 TO

He only played 6 minutes which surprised me a bit because it felt like he was out there more. I think that’s a testament to his activity and impact. Through 2 very limited stints, I think it’s pretty clear he brings value. He finished with the highest defensive rating (98), the 2nd-highest Box Plus/Minus (13.3) and the highest Usage % (31.3). That’s of course in limited minutes but it does align with the eye test. He has an impact on both ends. He needs to be part of the rotation and might be an interesting small ball big option.

Jalin Billingsley - INC

0 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO

He continues to be one of Ewing’s primary options off the bench as he saw the most minutes of all the bench guys (12 minutes) most, if not all, again coming in the first. I thought he was a little less active and effective in this one than he had been previously but he still appears to be a really important piece. I know a lot of people wanted to see him rather than Kaiden in the 2nd at spots and I get it. Kaiden, at least right now, appears to have offensive upside that Jalin doesn’t. Yes, you have to give Jalin time to develop on that end but it’s a tough trade-off in a tight game. In hindsight, yeah, Jalin probably could have impacted the game but I don’t think it’s as obvious a call as some believe.

Jordan Riley - INC

Three minutes in this one after just 10 against SDSU and perhaps some of the loudest Twitter voices were for Jordan to see more time over Don. Again, I get it. And I think there’s probably a better case for this one as opposed to the Jalin/Kaiden argument but again, that’s with the hindsight of how Don played, particularly late. I really like Jordan and want to see him develop. He needs minutes to do that. I also can understand Ewing shortening his bench and going with Carey to try and get a win. Yes, Jordan is part of the future of this program, but asking Ewing to prioritize that over what he thinks is best to get his team a win, is always going to be a losing argument (really it is for any coach). The question really has got to be whether Don really does give them a better chance to win. I think the only honest answer to that right now is, we don’t know.

Tyler Beard - INC

Cut and paste from above...

Malcolm Wilson - INC

1 REB, 1 BLK

The most notable thing about this game for Malcolm was that Ryan got the nod off the bench over him. I think that’s probably right and my guess is it will only continue in that direction.

Coaching - D+

I think a lot of Hoya Fans would give the coaching an F in this one. And I definitely get it. It’s a culmination of the way this trip went and the way this season has started, dropping two games they shouldn’t have against Dartmouth and now St. Joe’s. I am sticking with my policy of not giving Fs and even if I was, I am not sure I would give them an F for this one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the coaching was great in this one, but I don’t think it necessarily cost them the game. It was an element of this one, perhaps a big one, but they still had a chance to win it and ultimately, players have to make plays. I do think you can criticize the rotations and particularly the emphasis put on Kaiden and Don. As I discussed above, I think the offense is not putting either of those guys in all of the right spots. Though I do think some of that is on the players. I don’t really have as much of an issue with shortening the bench and I get that for some, the looming specter of young guys transferring due to lack of playing time is always there. I get that. I feel it too, but I don’t know that there is a right answer to it. Other than, try and win. Winning solves almost everything. And I think that’s what the staff is trying to do, they are trying to win. There may be arguments about how well they are doing that, but they are certainly trying. The defense is a problem. Outside of a couple of days in New York last spring, the defense, particularly perimeter defense under Ewing has been bad. I would love to know whether their scheme is to consistently overhelp, and why, or if it’s just mistakes players are making. Either way, it’s a coaching problem. The offense is relying a lot on simple pick-and-roll sets, without a lot else, and I don’t think I’ve seen Georgetown players set more than like a handful of good screens. That’s a problem across all of college basketball by the way, but it’s a problem in this offense that needs to be fixed. The wrinkles for Don and Kaiden need to be cut down and they need to find ways to bring the Freshman along. I am not as down on the coaching as others are and I think it’s been better than they’ve gotten credit for. I think it was poor in this one, but I can see the thought process. I am interested to see what happens post-California.

Hoya Fans - Pass

I am grading this one Pass/Fail, and Hoya fans pass. As previously noted, there was a lot of online anger after this one. I get it. This was a frustrating trip amid a frustrating start to the season, amid a frustrating start to Ewing’s coaching career. There’s a lot to be frustrated about and not nearly as much to be excited about. I am not going to sit here and talk about patience because I don’t think that’s fair. My only hope for all you Hoya fans is that you are able to find things about Georgetown basketball that bring you some joy and happiness. And I encourage you to put those things in the comments below. I am not saying only focus on the good and let’s just ignore the bad, but there are a lot of places in the Hoya-verse where we can talk about the frustrations and disappointments, perhaps this is a spot where you can share whatever positivity you do feel if you would like to. And if you’d prefer to just share your frustrations here as well, that’s cool too!

Refs - D

Didn’t really care for them. No real reason. They were probably fine.

Opponent Grade - St. Joseph’s - B

Remember, this isn’t necessarily a grade for how they played, just overall impressions. They get a very high grade for employing our own Reggie Cameron as video coordinator. Cool to see him on the bench (and I am choosing to make no other assessments about why he’s on the St. Joe’s bench and not...another bench)! They get a very low grade for having a weird mascot gimmick that the announcers felt the need to talk about a lot. For those who were not watching, the St. Joe’s Hawk flaps its wings during the entire game. Literally, whoever is in that mascot costume, which frankly does not look like a Hawk, just stands there and flaps their arms non-stop during the entire game. For what you ask? No one truly knows.