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GAME GRADES: Hoyas Fail 1st Test in Jamaica

Utah v Georgetown Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

#4 - Hoyas vs. Loyola Marymount - 11/18/22

To be quite honest with you, I am not sure what to even write. We are back to how can it get any worse territory. And I truly do not have an answer. Yes, this team has a lot of new pieces. Yes, they need time to find cohesion. Yes, this is the first game Ewing has been able to run his ideal starting 5. All of that is true. None of it makes up for this loss. Not even close. You can even try and forget all of the other stuff (winless in conference play, historically bad defenses, offensive struggles, player exoduses, the list goes on). Even if you just compartmentalize this game, it may be, specifically the second half, one of the worst performances of basketball in the history of this program.

Georgetown, up 10 at the half and playing what looked like their best all-around half of the season, seemed to forget the game is 40 minutes long, not 20. The Hoyas get outscored by 28 in the second frame…No, you’re not misreading that. 28 points in 20 minutes of basketball. They lose to a Loyola Marymount team picked to finish 9th (out of 10) in the vaunted West Coast Conference league and missing at least one regular contributor. Yikes!

I do not grade coaching. In part because it’s just frankly depressing to analyze the coaching of this team. But also, because it can be hard to definitively determine, from where I and we all sit, what are coaching choices and what aren’t. We can make educated guesses, but we don’t really have enough information to determine if something is a scheme choice or missed execution, or something else. My approach has been to grade the offense and defense overall as a proxy for coaching in the context of each of those units. I do think we’ve all watched enough of this team to have a pretty good guess about where the coaching is, but I am sticking to this approach. For now. I may revise my stance on grading the coach in the future because, frankly, I am not sure it’s fair to analyze the players in this way and not the coach.

If you’re looking for some in-depth (and really excellent) analysis on coaching choices with some thoughtful reactions to Ewing’s own comments after this one, I recommend the piece from Casual Colleague, Bobby Bancroft: Ewing Points to Fatigue after 2nd Half Collapse.

Accountability Check: LOLZ! Yeah, got this one wrong. To be fair, the score was kind of close to the 80 - 70 I predicted. It was just backwards, and more.

And a note: apparently stats are slow getting back from the island so I’m working with less than my typical information.

Let’s do this thing!

Primo Spears - C-

10 PTS, 4-17 (23%), 0-2 3PT (0%), 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 1 STL, 36 Min

Primo shot it really poorly, but so did everyone. This grade could probably be lower. The issues are far more about the scheme for me than any one individual. Still, he needs to get to the rim more, and look for teammates. Way too many snake dribbles (see offense section below) into pull ups. He’s a good mid range shooter but his game is way too tilted towards that element right now.

HOMEWORK: Get to the rim

Jay Heath - B

15 PTS, 5-10 (50%), 0-2 3PT (0%), 5-6 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 31 MIN

Jay Heath was pretty good. By that I mean he was good in the first half and only really bad in the second half. He finished with the second best offensive rating among the starters (105) and was probably their best offensive player/per minutes played. His shooting was fine, not great. He too needs to get to the rim more and share the ball. But, again, those seem more like scheme issues.

HOMEWORK: Must knock down threes

Brandon Murray - C+/B-

19 PTS, 7-18 (38%), 3-8 3PT (37%), 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 4 TO, 1 STL, 38 Min

Brandon shot really poorly in the second half (copy and paste that for everyone). I thought overall he was pretty good. I liked his defense in the first half. He was attentive and I’ve seen evidence throughout this year of him knowing the scouting report and opposing personnel (an issue for Georgetown in the past). There were a few instances where he stayed attached to Loyola’s Freshman sniper. He also made a couple of nice offensive plays that showed off how crafty he is as a driver. Needs to do more of that. I like his game a lot when he’s getting downhill and playing inside out. I think the jump shot comes off of that. He needs to rebound more and turn it over less but he was being asked to do a lot, particularly in the second half. If I was only grading the first half, he probably get’s a B+ or A- even.

HOMEWORK: Work inside out and get to the rim early

Akok Akok - D+

2 PTS, 1-6 (16%), 0-4 3PT (0%), 10 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 33 Min

Yeah this was a rough one for Akok. It doesn’t change my thoughts on him but he really struggled to shoot it and that seemed to impact a lot of his game. Still was able to grab 10 boards. I frankly think his shooting issues are scheme issues (sound familiar?). It would be nice to try and get him some easier shots that are not just him taking a three over a guy late in the clock. Some ball reversal to him or a pindown or flare screen to get him some space might be nice. Based on what we’ve seen from him early in this season, I think this is likely an outlier performance.

HOMEWORK: Forget this game ever happened

Qudus Wahab - B-

12 PTS, 2-2 (100%), 8-8 FT, 3 REB, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 23 Min

Easily Q’s best offensive performance though it was a weird one. He only got two shots off, but he was not forcing it as much as he had. He got to the line consistently and knocked down his free throws. He had the highest offensive rating on the team 207. I’d have to go back and look at why that is. I was surprised by it when I saw it. He went over his right shoulder in the first half! The shot with his left looked really awkward but he managed to draw a foul. That option makes a big difference in how he is defended

HOMEWORK: More boards

Bryson Mozone - D

0 PTS, 0-2 (0%), 1 REB, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 14 Min

Not good. Really, really not good. He probably should have been sat. I get that he’s a veteran leader and he brings attributes you need but he CLEARLY did not have it in this one and was really not engaged on either end. He missed a lot of reads on defense and just failed to stay in front of his man. He also threw some really bad passes. How he managed to have only 1 turnover is a minor miracle but on a couple of occasions he completely disrupted the offensive rhythm with just a sloppy pass.

HOMEWORK: Need a bounceback game in a big way

Jordan Riley - B+

4 PTS, 1-1 (100%), 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 0 TO, 12 Min

Jordan was good…again. He should have gotten Mozone’s minutes. At this point, I think he should be first off the bench (at least until Mozone demonstrates he’s able to knock down shots). He has been in a couple games, but that should be a fixture at this point. His energy, rebounding and overall activity on defense provide a spark. And despite not being a great offensive threat (yet) he does a nice job of keeping the offense moving and fits nicely.

HOMEWORK: Keep it up!

Ryan Mutombo - B

4 PTS, 2-2 (100%), 2 REB, 0 TO, 3 MIN

Only three minutes for Ryan but he was productive. No clue why he got the nod instead of Ezewiro. I really hope the coach is communicating to these guys about why they are playing, and why they aren’t. That’s an important part of development and growth. He was effective in his minutes.


Wayne Bristol Jr. - INC


Shocked that he played 7 minutes. I didn’t really notice him.

D’Ante Bass - INC

1 REB, 2 MIN

Just a weird move by Ewing to bring in D’Ante towards the end of the second half when this game was clearly out of hand and then 2 minutes later go back to his starters. I get it, I think. Ewing is thinking about winning, regardless of the score or reality, he’s thinking about playing his best guys. You need to play D’Ante more in these games. You need to play Denver more in these games. You just have to. Particularly if you’re down (or up, that one time) 15. Clearly what Ewing was doing wasn’t working so just TRY SOMETHING ELSE! Please.

Offense - F

The offense was fine in the first half. It was historically awful in the second half. Permit me a slightly deeper dive into two (interconnected) issues I’ve noticed with the offense: lack of assists and pick and roll strategy.

Last year, Georgetown averaged 11.8 assists per game putting them at 273rd out of 353 in college basketball. That is bad. But let’s dig into that. In their wins (easy to count because there were not a lot) they averaged 17 assists and did not have a game with less than 12. In their losses (harder to count but I did it anyway) they averaged 10.5 assists per game and had 9 games where they failed to crack double digit assists as a team. They finished last year with a 99.5 offensive rating (252nd of 358). Here are those stats for the previous years:

  • 2020: 12.8/ game - 204th in CBK (COVID year offensive rating #s skewed)
  • 2019: 15/game - 33rd in CBK! (offensive rating of 104.3 - 117th of 353
  • 2018: 16.4/game - 16th in CBK! (offensive rating of 105.8 - 127th of 353)
  • 2017: 17.4/game - 9th in CBK (offensive rating of 106.2 - 133rd of 351)

So far this year they have games of with 11, 19 (Green Bay), 14 and now 7. Four games in is a bit too early to draw conclusions about where the overall offensive rating sits, but it seems pretty clear to me: when Ewing’s teams share the ball, they are more likely to win. When they don’t, they lose. The fix to this, in my opinion, is not simply reminding players to “move the ball,” but to create actions that facilitate it.

The trend of assists over time is concerning and seems to line up a bit with the eye test of Ewing’s offenses. I doubt I am the only one who saw some encouraging offensive schemes and principles in Ewing’s first couple of years. Despite not having a ton of talent or shooters. This year, the offense looks a lot more like it did last year and that is DEEPLY concerning. The second half of this game was a perfect example. A whole lot of go get a shot off of maybe one ball screen.

The guards come out of the pick and roll looking for the mid-range way too much for my liking. I’ve talked about the mid range emphasis before and it’s not necessarily a bad approach on it’s own. The way Georgetown deploys it, is. The goal for these guards coming off a ball screen should be to attack the rim. Too often, Georgetown guards come off the screen and look to get to a spot for a jumper. I see a lot of the snake dribble, famously employed by Chris Paul (which can work against drop coverage - when the defending big in the pick and roll drops into the lane rather than steps up to pressure the guard). The problem is that Chris Paul is one of the most efficient mid range shooters in the history of basketball which makes his snake dribble into a pull up deadly. In college basketball, most (not all) defenses are relatively bad, regardless of how they play the pick and roll and, at the same time, guys don’t shoot efficiently. For instance, Georgetown is shooting 61.5% on shots at the rim with about 34% of their shots coming from that range. In contrast they are shooting 48.6% on 2pt jumpers with 37% of their shots coming from that range. Your efficiency on those jumpers is dropping by nearly 20% and Georgetown has guys who shoot the mid-range pretty well! For reference, a random selection of good teams in college basketball (Arizona, Baylor, Illinois, Texas, Houston) take 2pt jump shots about 22.3% and take shots at the rim about 40.7% of the time.

This really does appear to be an emphasis of Ewing’s. Maybe it’s a feature of having Dante Harris at the point for the past few years. As a severely undersized guard, he really struggled at the rim and as a result needed to find a way into mid range jumpers. Prior to Dante, there was more attacking the rim off ball screens. Georgetown needs to get back to that. In my opinion that predicates the entire offense and you have the guys to do it.

HOMEWORK: Change the pick and roll approach. Increase shots at the rim. Take fewer mid range jumpers and emphasize a goal of (at a minimum) 12 assists per game

Defense - D-

I did the deep dive on the defense after the Northwestern debacle, particularly looking at the number of 3pt shots the Hoyas give up. How did they do against Loyola Marymount on that front? You can probably guess…NOT GOOD! They actually did a decent job in the first half. They went to a zone towards the end of the first half that seemed to be effective overall. The ability to switch up defenses in college basketball can really throw off the opposing offense, particularly against less talented teams. In the midst of the debacle of the second half, I do not understand why Georgetown never went back to the zone. At least to try and spark something. Georgetown again got beat on the glass 40 - 32 and gave up 13 offensive rebounds. That is partly a feature of small-ball lineups and Georgetown’s insanely bad shooting in the second half. But it’s also just a problem against a team like Loyola Marymount. Georgetown needs to just stop pressing. They don’t play enough guys to do it. They don’t do it effectively. It actively hurts them by creating transition opportunities for opponents. And it is not, despite what the announcers who appear to have one foot on the beach during this game, “their identity.” It can’t be your identify when you suck at it. Stop playing it. Just stop.

HOMEWORK: Same as last week! Fix the three point defense. Throw some zone in there why not. Don’t abandon it.

Next Up

The Hoyas take on the 182nd ranked La Salle Explorers, coached by…Fran Dunphy! La Salle is not very good. They lost to Wake Forest by 12. I honestly have no idea what happens in this game. I’d like to think Georgetown has some sort of rebound game, but I just think it would require the coach to drastically change his approach.

I think Georgetown gets a disappointingly narrow 77 - 74 win.