Senior parents’ weekend at Georgetown hosted the 1st of back-to-back meetings between the Hoyas and the Creighton Bluejays. With questions swirling about Ewing’s future as the Hoyas head “chef,” this game did not serve to alleviate anyone’s concerns as the Hoyas stuck to their script: competitive in the first half, before getting blown out in the second.
Maybe it was the pressure of Parents’ weekend or Ewing actually looking for a refreshing change, but Ryan Mutombo got the first start of his career this afternoon. Unfortunately for the freshman, the Bluejays took advantage with an early possession that held 5 straight 3-PT attempts, 3 offensive rebounds, and was concluded with a 3-PT field goal from Ryan Hawkins and a quick timeout from Coach Ewing with the game only 2 minutes old.
Ewing stuck with Mutombo out of the timeout, but around the halfway mark of the 1st period, the merry-go-round of 7-footers started, first with Ighoefe and then with Wilson. Kaiden Rice (16 PTs) carried his hot-hand over from the DePaul game, as he hit 2 straight buckets to help give the Hoyas a lead, 23-21, with about 10 minutes left in the 1st half. Ewing oddly dialed up a 3/4 -court press that lasted all of two defensive possessions (most fans would like to see more of this, especially with 10 players who see regular minutes). After the under-8 timeout with the game tied at 24, the Bluejay’s Ryan Hawkins (30PTs) got hot, as he hit consecutive 3s to break the tie. Unsurprisingly, he stayed hot for the rest of the afternoon.
The Hoyas were stubborn and cut the lead to 1 after the under-4 timeout. Then, Dante Harris stole a lazy pass from likely BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Ryan Nembhard. With the momentum on the Hoyas side and a wide-open lay-up upcoming for Dante, there was some hope for the Hoyas to notch their first win of the year. But, the 7’1” Ryan Kalkbrenner somehow tracked Dante down for a LeBron James-like chase-down block. The Hoyas went empty on the possession and the Bluejays ultimately went to the break with a 5-point lead, 42-37, after some more back and forth scoring between the two squads.
If you follow Georgetown basketball closely, the 2nd half of recent games is a nightmare, and the Bluejays wasted no time inciting those fears with a 5-0 run to get their biggest lead of the game at 10. Rice and Harris did their best to keep the Hoyas close, cutting the deficit to 4 at one point, but with about 12 minutes left in the game (about the same time DePaul ignited their 26-0 run), the floodgates opened. KeyShawn Feazell, Creighton’s backup Center, hit his first 3 of the season followed by a 3 from Trey Alexander. Then, Feazell flushed back-to-back alley-oops. Coupled with no scoring from Georgetown, I looked up and the deficit was 16. I went to grab a snack with the Hoyas down 4 and came back with them in a hole that felt insurmountable. And it was.
The Hoyas had one last 9-0 run with Billingsley and Aminu contributing to the scoring before Ryan Hawkins buried his 7th and 8th 3s of the game on back-to-back possessions. The lead was 13 for the Bluejays and it was too much for the Hoyas to overcome.
I could write an entire essay on how this game was emblematic of Georgetown’s season as a whole, but I will try to keep it short.
Defensively, Georgetown is 324th out of 350 ranked teams in college basketball (pts per game). This feels hard to believe for a team coached by a defensive icon in Patrick Ewing. The Bluejays shoot the 3 as one of the worst teams in college basketball (321st out of 350), but against the Hoyas, they moved the ball incredibly well with 26 assists (compared to Georgetown’s 13) and shot close to 40% from 3, mostly led by Ryan Hawkins (8-18 3-PT). On the glass, Ryan Kalkbrenner out-rebounded all 3 of our centers combined (15-12). Lastly, the Hoyas seemingly always let one guy have a career game. On Wednesday, it was David Jones with DePaul’s first triple-double in program history. Today, it was Ryan Hawkins with his career-high 30PTs.
Offensively, the Hoyas played isolated basketball. Aminu could not get going because his shots were heavily contested. The duo of Holloway and Mohammed, who are usually trustworthy around the cup did a lot of pivoting and readjusting while holding the ball in the paint. With a shot blocker like Kalkbrenner waiting down low, it’s no surprise these paint touches did not yield much scoring. While the Bluejays shot nearly 50% from the field, Georgetown couldn’t hit the ocean if they were standing on the beach: shooting 36.6% from the field and just 25% from downtown. For some perspective, 25% from 3-land would rank 349th in the country (out of 350), and 36.6% from the field would rank dead last. I know it’s a 1-game sample size and not what we typically shoot, but it’s going to be hard to win any game with such poor shooting.
The questions surrounding Ewing will continue to grow louder as the team trudges its way through BIG EAST play. Unfortunately, it is difficult to stay on the current course. Change is clearly needed somewhere. Thankfully, I do not have to be involved in the decisions about Ewing’s future, but from a purely observational standpoint, a great player does not always equal a great coach. To name a few, Chris Mullins at St. John’s, Juwan Howard at Michigan, Danny Manning at Wake Forest (and now at Maryland)*, and Hubert Davis at UNC, each have had and currently have their own challenges, some more than others. The expectations are always high for these returners, but Georgetown is struggling the most as it is officially the last team in Power-5 basketball without a conference win (It’s Time: Patrick Ewing Needs to Step Down to Save Georgetown Basketball). I am not sure anyone had that on their bingo card when this season started, but here we are.
The Hoyas have a chance for revenge against the Bluejays on Valentine’s Day (Monday, 2/14) at 9pm in Omaha. While Ewing’s future hangs in the balance, no fan wants to see this team go winless. The first win is the hardest.
* Danny Manning played his college basketball at Kansas but was hired by Wake Forest and now Maryland.