Generally, there are two ways of looking at this overtime win over Coppin State in the opening game: (A) the new-look Hoyas team found a way to come back and pull out a gutsy win or (B) the 20-loss Georgetown squad foreshadowed another failed season under Patrick Ewing by struggling to handle a far inferior opponent.
The media is not quite leaning to the former at this point, as even Pardon The Interruption gave a bit of a sarcastic congrats. While many detractors have spent time criticizing the program for allowing a close game, Ewing took the initial moments of the post-game press conference to thank the students who came to the game and cheered on this new Georgetown Hoyas team.
THANK YOU HOYA NATION - especially our student section‼️ pic.twitter.com/a5HTuvSVMG— Patrick Ewing (@CoachEwing33) November 10, 2022
Seeing this fan support—especially from the students—is tremendous. Perhaps the crowd really did give the Hoyas the needed burst down the stretch. Perhaps the students are supporting the new additions. Perhaps the fans are showing support in spite of feeling last season’s misery. Or perhaps this was a response to the recent fan engagement efforts and done to encourage more connections with the program. Any way you cut it, it’s a positive.
Expectations for the 10th-ranked conference team are typically not very high for a fanbase, but Hoya Nation is certainly thirsting for signs of life. A decisive first win from the Hoyas would have made a powerful statement. Instead, we’re left to look for nuance to decide whether Georgetown is set up for success this year, by any measure fathomable.
The defense looked different, but still suffered from perimeter woes and fouling mistakes. The offense scored a ton, but the ball certainly didn’t move freely. The players were faster, but hardly excelled in transition. It was both frustrating and refreshing at times to see new problems. The Hoyas worst run was only 0-7 as Coppin State tied it up after half. Is this progress? Maybe, but it’s probably too early and not competitive enough to tell.
Some posit that an identity can go a long way in building a consistent, successful team. Could this be the no-big-runs squad? Could this be the rejection team (they had 9)? Maybe they become a turnover generating team, a no-second-chances team, or a backcourt trapping team. It would be great if they became the assist-on-every-possession team, but that might be asking too much after seeing game 1.
Right now, based on the linked articles below, the Georgetown Hoyas are merely seen as a collection of guys who are identified by where they transferred from. The speedy guard from Duquesne can score in bunches, the tall forward from UConn can shoot well and block shots, and that guy from LSU with a lot of offensive skills will put up some big numbers soon.
But maybe, after this tough first win, this group will be known as the Georgetown team with something to prove, who just doesn’t quit.
A chip on your shoulder and some solid fan support can go a long way. We’ll just have to see.
Here are the links:
Georgetown trailed by seven points just over midway through the second half, but Spears scored 15 points in the final six minutes of regulation to put the Hoyas in command. But at the buzzer, Mike Hood made a 3-pointer for the Eagles to send the game to overtime.
In the extra session, Spears tacked on three more baskets and Akok Akok and Bryson Mozone added 3-pointers as Georgetown pulled away to snap the 21-game losing streak that it ended last season on. LSU transfer Brandon Murray tallied 18 points, six rebounds, eight assists and four steals while UConn transfer Akok had 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
“There are a lot of teaching moments, things that we have to learn from as we go on in the season but we made mistakes, we got down, we fought back and were able to come out with the win.” - Head Coach Patrick Ewing on the win against Coppin State
“It was a lot of body movement and ball movement. I thought our flow of the game was top tier in the last 12 minutes and overtime. [Brandon Murray] getting to his spots, Akok getting shots, [Murray] had eight assists and was drawing a lot of attention so he was finding guys. That was a key for us because it opened a lot of lanes.” - Sophomore guard Primo Spears on the team’s play against Coppin State
HOYA HIGHLIGHTS Primo Spears led five Hoyas in double figures with 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting and 7-of-9 from the line. The Hoya guard also tallied six rebounds and four assists on the night. Bryson Mozone added 20 points for GU, going 7-for-14 (50.0%) from the floor and pulling down seven boards. Akok Akok registered his first career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds, going 7-of-9 from the floor and adding five blocks.
Primo Spears was key in @GeorgetownHoops defeating @CoppinMBB in OT on opening night— ron bailey (@HoyaNation) November 10, 2022
That, CSU's Sam Sessions, a strategy lack of execution and a high school visitor are all presented here, plus more!
(free) https://t.co/Wr20v7hRK3 pic.twitter.com/4QNTmF0NH4
The performance from Georgetown was less than convincing, but they still ended up in the win column on opening night, which is more than last year’s team can say.
The Hoyas looked like a team with five new starters who had never played together before. I thought they adjusted well down the stretch and started making big plays, while Coppin State grew fatigued, having just played 40 minutes of basketball the night before.
Coppin State is ranked 328th at KenPom, on the second night of a back-to-back, and in OT against a Georgetown program that was one of the best things when I was a kid but is now on a 21-game losing streak with a coach who was the best thing when I was a kid. So weird. https://t.co/iYxRPzPcJw— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) November 9, 2022
Akok Akok, Georgetown Managing a double-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 blocks to start the Hoyas season, Akok Akok played a huge role in his Georgetown debut as they defeated Coppin State 99-89 in overtime.
Primo Spears, Georgetown Despite a slow start to the second half, the former Duquesne freshman produced a massive 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists as he throttled the Eagles to finish out the second half and overtime carrying the Hoyas to victory.
Georgetown broke a 21-game losing streak tonight— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 9, 2022
They hadn't won a game since December 2021. pic.twitter.com/eggLoFxUUs
Instead of giving Coppin State the momentum, however, the Hoyas bounced back in a big way in overtime, combining a sequence of buckets and stops that peaked with a Spears’ steal-and-score and-1 bucket that had the entire stadium rocking. The home team never looked back, and came away with the victory in their season-opener.
Although it was a sloppy game overall, there were multiple bright spots for the Hoyas. Akok Akok certainly lived up to the preseason hype, putting up 18 points, 12 rebounds, and a whopping 5 blocks, all while shooting a very efficient 7-9 from the field. Aside from the gaudy numbers on the stat sheet, he showed an incredible amount of effort and hustle on both ends of the floor, and flashed his defensive versatility on a late-game sequence in which he switched onto Sessoms and shut him down, forcing a turnover on the perimeter. Ewing, in his postgame press conference, was not shy in complementing Akok, calling tonight’s game a “coming out party” for him.
Down the stretch, Spears was a calming force for the Hoyas. His ability to manipulate ball screens and defenders provided quality offensive possessions. Spears credited his success to consistent motion on the floor. “Our flow ... was top-tier in the last 12 minutes and overtime,” he said. “We had body movement, and that was the key for us. It opened a lot of lanes.”
Ewing expressed a similar sentiment. When the Hoyas struggled on offense, those woes stemmed from stagnation and a lack of crisp passing. In the second half, they corrected those issues — with Spears as the catalyst. “In order for us to be good, the ball has to move. There has to be multiple passes, multiple efforts,” Ewing said. “In the second half and overtime, I thought we did a great job of that. We weren’t just running sets — we were playing.”
Georgetown wins their first game since December 15, 2021 to snap a 21-game losing streak. pic.twitter.com/t1QbCkRBiA— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) November 9, 2022
The Eagles (0-2) were led in scoring by Justin Steers, who finished with a career-high 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Nendah Tarke added 17 points, six rebounds and four steals for Coppin State. In addition, Sam Sessoms had 16 points, 10 assists and four steals.
Georgetown entered halftime up 36-34. Brandon Murray paced the team in scoring in the first half with 12 points. Spears scored 16 second-half points as Georgetown and Coppin State ended regulation tied 83-83. Mozone went 2 of 3 from the field on the way to his seven points in the overtime.
It was a quiet (re-)debut for Qudus Wahab as a Hoya, playing only 14 minutes and fouling out with 3:53 remaining. In the minutes he did play, though, he had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The fouls he committed on Tuesday were of the sloppy sort, and will need to be cleaned up if this team is going to rely on him like they are planning to.
With Ryan Mutombo only playing 1 minute and 40 seconds on Tuesday, and Brad Ezewiro missing the opener because of wisdom teeth removal, the depth behind Wahab at center is not great. Luckily, with Akok being able to play the 4 or the 5, that may not matter too much.