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Cooley Initiated into ‘Pain’ with Epic Georgetown Collapse

Joe-average guard lights up Heartbreak Hoyas in second half

Le Moyne v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

A four-minute 11-0 run late in the second half was the familiar story of the early 2023-24 edition of the Heartbreak Hoyas as Georgetown (1-1) lost to Holy Cross (1-1), 68-67. For 35+ minutes, the game looked well in-hand and the crowd looked fun. That crowd, however, would end up witnessing one of the worst losses in Georgetown’s history, according to KenPom’s #331 rating for the Patriot League’s Crusaders. Leading 57-46 with 8:35 left, the Hoyas collapsed down the stretch and reminded fans how far uphill they still have to climb back to legitimacy.

An early loss was inevitable for Ed Cooley and his squad, but no one expected the momentum of (re)building this program to come to such a screeching halt so soon. Long-term success and short-term indications of progress are not mutually exclusive. Fans are particularly disappointed in the reminiscent style of the blown late-game lead.

Like heartbreakers of the past, Holy Cross hung around and capitalized on an untimely cold streak. Georgetown allowed 18 second-chance points and scored only 11 two-pointers in the entire game. The Hoyas shot 12-19 from the charity stripe and made only 7 of 19 layups overall. Holy Cross had a hero down the stretch and the Hoyas had no consistent answers.

On Saturday night, that hero’s name was Joe Octave, but there are too many times to count over the past decade where some average-Joe guard (no offense, Mr. Octave) comes in to Capital One Arena and shoots lights-out against the Blue and Gray (or white).

Perhaps this is Cooley’s initiation to the pain that we all know so well. Or maybe it’s a learning experience for the 11 new players to get a taste of defeat snatched form the jaws of victory at the illustrious Phone Booth. It’s not fun. Teams come to D.C., tour the monuments, and apparently get juiced up to take down the big, bad Georgetown team. The Hoyas have historically been content to play right to their opponent’s talent level and, over the past 7-ish years, have not often ended up on the right side of these games coming down to the wire.

Undersized guards seem to take things personally against Georgetown. Whether they weren’t recruited by many P6 programs or were otherwise overlooked, they come in with a chip on their shoulders. Octave, a senior with two years at Air Force prior to last year in Worcester, Massachusetts, shot a red-hot 9-13 in the second half and carried them to victory. Only three other HC players made buckets in that half. Octave and the 6’5” Bo Montgomery also each had 8 rebounds (4 offensive) after halftime. Any size advantage was neutralized as Holy Cross only needed 17 total minutes played by their two athletes over 6’7” in this win. The Hoyas allowed a far inferior program—an ancient rival from their 100+ year old fight song—to outrebound them, outscore them in the paint, and ultimately steal a win.

After a 19-point-13-rebound-double-double in game numero uno, Supreme Cook was inferior in the interior with only 8 points (3-6 FG), 4 fouls, and 2-6 shooting from the free-throw line. It wasn’t always his fault that they didn’t find him in the post, but that certainly does fall on Cooley’s shoulders.

6’10” freshman Drew Fielder seems content to be a perimeter player right now. He only had six rebounds and three points from his five attempts from the field (three 3PA). The Crusaders effectively sped up the Hoyas and welcomed their 29 shots from beyond the line. The concept of a paint touch was completely foreign on Saturday night.

Fans were prepared for different kind of speedbumps like unforced turnovers or spotty defensive cohesion or even some missed free throws. Defensive rebounding, finishing in the paint, and leveraging the low post are fundamental areas where no one thought a Cooley-led team would lack this season, let alone in game two with a 300-ranked team on the other bench. Fans thought blowing layups, becoming three-point addicted, and feeble box-outs were out with the old regime.

During the post-game press conference, Cooley readily took blame for this loss in not having his team prepared, convincingly pledging to remedy that quickly. Cooley acknowledged the lack of ball movement, specifically invoking that the ball was “sticking” too much. Georgetown fans have heard that too often over the past handful of years—and seeing two point guards play 36 and 38 minutes was also triggering bad flashbacks.

Ball movement can be fixed in a new culture. We certainly saw unselfishness last Tuesday. But even the crispest-run drills and the most impassioned speeches won’t add what is pretty obviously needed at this point: players. Tall players.

There are still only 9 scholarship athletes available for Georgetown and only two of them are over 6’9” in Fielder and Ryan Mutombo (3 min). Perhaps transfer forward Ismael Massoud getting healthy and soon returning might help with size, or at least depth, but he is another perimeter player and averages about 2 rebounds per game in his career.

As Cooley said in his post-game answers, defense and rebounding is a matter of “want” and desire. Again, some of this can be fixed as the season progresses. However, even the most nascent college basketball fans likely see that Saturday night’s struggles on the boards with Holy Cross could signify catastrophe against bigger, stronger conference opponents. You simply can’t teach height.

The Hoyas are understandably building long term with Cooley, but when adding 11 new players, one might think a true center via the transfer portal could be valuable for a BIG EAST team. A top-5 2024 recruiting class is fantastic, but it’s not enough to say that the talent is coming.

There is a pretty low ceiling on this squad if they are allowing two sub-6’6” guards to out-rebound them. Moving forward, either Georgetown uses smoke and mirrors to make better use of Cook, Fielder, and Mutombo down low, or they commit to the four guard offense and utilize Dontrez Styles and Wayne Bristol, Jr. as perimeter forwards.

Patience is a virtue and perhaps fans need some Ignatian spirituality to help, but surely it is no substitute for preparation. Until Cooley and this Georgetown team exorcise demons of past seasons to close out these games, Cooley will have to accept blame for the game strategy, as well as issues in the personnel department.

Here are the links:

Georgetown Squanders Second Half Lead, Falls to Holy Cross 68-67 | Thompson’s Towel

Sophomore guard Jayden Epps led the Hoyas with 22 points, but his night was marred by inefficient shooting. Epps shot 7-19 from the field, including 4-11 from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Rowan Brumbaugh chipped in with 17 points on 6-11 shooting. Epps and Brumbaugh were on the court for most of the night, playing 38 and 36 minutes, respectively.

Poor free throw shooting helped sink the Hoyas, as the hosts shot just 12-19 from the stripe. Late-game free throws proved crucial, as senior center Supreme Cook missed two foul shots with just over a minute left in the game and the chance to make it a two-possession game. Octave hit the go-ahead three on the ensuing Holy Cross possession.

Georgetown Head Coach Ed Cooley was frank in his assessment of his team’s performance and said after the game “When you play with a lack of knowledge, and you play haphazardly, you’re not going to have success over the course of 40 minutes. Not happening. I thought we were weak today.”

Octave leads Holy Cross over Georgetown 68-67 | AP

Octave also contributed 11 rebounds for the Crusaders (1-1). Bo Montgomery added 15 points while shooting 5 of 10 from the field and 5 for 6 from the line, and he also had eight rebounds. Joe Nugent was 3 of 6 shooting (2 for 5 from 3-point range) to finish with eight points.

Jayden Epps finished with 22 points and two steals for the Hoyas (1-1). Georgetown also got 17 points and two steals from Rowan Brumbaugh. Supreme Cook also had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Georgetown Cannot Contain a Late Holy Cross Run, Falls 68-67 | GUHOYAS

The Georgetown University men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season falling to Holy Cross 68-67 at Capital One Arena on Saturday night. With the loss, the Hoyas slide to 1-1 on the season while Holy Cross improves to 1-1 on the year.

“Congratulations to Holy Cross, I thought they played a very smart game, and they made some timely shots. We missed some timely shots and free throws down the stretch -– simple things I thought beat us tonight. You have to give them credit, I thought they were well coached, and I thought their kids played with an edge and a toughness. I am very grateful for our crowd that came out, in particular our students – very excited about that and hopefully they continue to stay there with us and believe in us as we are climbing this incredible mountain. I think it is a disappointing loss because I think our practices have been good, but you know as you are trying to teach men and rebuild a culture, it is important that you play with incredible intelligence and I don’t think we did…[Holy Cross] played with a little bit more energy, enthusiasm, and I thought our men played content. I have to do a way better job, way better job, you know. We have our work cut out for us, but this is part of the process of development.”

Joe Octave, Holy Cross stun Georgetown | Filed Level Media

Georgetown (1-1) took its first double-digit lead with 8:35 remaining in the second half. Rowan Brumbaugh appeared unaware the shot clock was ticking down, then turned and lofted a 3-pointer at the buzzer that went down for a 57-46 Hoyas lead.

However, Octave scored the next seven points of the game. Bo Montgomery made one free throw and missed the second, but he grabbed the offensive board and kicked it to Octave for a game-tying 3-pointer with 4:02 left in the half.

Jayden Epps stopped the Crusaders’ 11-0 run with a 3-pointer of his own, ending what was nearly a five-minute Georgetown scoring drought. He sank another triple with two minutes left to make it 67-63.

But after Montgomery made two foul shots, Georgetown’s Supreme Cook went 0-for-2 at the foul line and Octave took advantage, hitting a 3-point dagger with 56 seconds left for Holy Cross’ first lead since 6-3.

Georgetown getting upset by Holy Cross absolutely crushed bettors | USA Today Bet FTW

And we’ve also seen massive upsets, which means we’ve seen some bettors get absolutely crushed.

Saturday night was no different as Holy Cross – a 16.5-point underdog – topped Georgetown, 68-67.

For The Win’s Ben Fawkes broke it down here... Simply put, a lot of the money at online sportsbooks was on Georgetown to get an easy win.

And that’s for good reason. The advanced metrics heavily favored the Hoyas, who – it should be noted – are no longer coached by Patrick Ewing, who was the victim of these sort of upsets more than once during his tenure leading his alma mater. Ed Cooley is the coach at Georgetown now.

HC nets coach Dave Paulsen’s first Crusader victory by winning at Georgetown | Telegram

After nearly pulling off a road upset at Siena on Monday, the Crusaders did stun Georgetown Saturday, 68-67, before 7,621 at Capital One Arena.

Joe Octave led the way with a career-high 33 points and sealed the win with a 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining as the Crusaders took down the Hoyas under new coach Ed Cooley, who left Big East rival Providence after last season.

HC held Georgetown without a point in its final two possessions to secure the victory. The Crusaders (1-1) snapped a six-game losing streak against the Hoyas (1-1), defeating Georgetown for the first time since Jan. 25, 1975.

Octave also contributed 11 rebounds for the Crusaders in his first career double-double. Bo Montgomery added 15 points while shooting 5 of 10 from the field and 5 for 6 from the line, and he also had eight rebounds. Joe Nugent was 3 of 6 shooting (2 for 5 from 3-point range) to finish with eight points.