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Game Grades: Hoyas’ Growing Pains Lead to Early Season Fail

Grading performances in Georgetown’s loss to Holy Cross

Le Moyne v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Yikes! Not where we wanted to be after the first week of the Cooley era. The Hoyas lead Holy Cross for 98% of the game but drop one they absolutely should have won. I rewatched this one so you wouldn’t have to, but you frankly didn’t really need a rewatch to see why the Hoyas lost - missed free throws and just despicable rebounding. If you’re a results-over-process person, there’s not much I can say to make you feel better. Georgetown shouldn’t have lost this game. However, I think the process matters a lot more for the Hoyas in a year that will have plenty of ups and downs. And there was a lot of good process in this one.

Drew Fielder - No Grade

3pts, 1-5 20% FG, 1-3 33% 3PT, 0-1 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 0 TO, 27 MIN

I’m not giving Drew a grade in this one because It was a tough spot for him. He looked like he was playing in his second college game and was in a role that’s probably too much too soon right now. These minutes are going to be great for him in the long run. Even later this year, these early season lessons are going to mean he is more comfortable when BE play comes around. But he’s clearly still adapting to this level, and there are going to be growing pains. Offensively, he looks really good. The shots will fall as he gets more comfortable. He missed a few easy ones, but the fact that he is getting easy looks is more important (long-term) than whether he’s making them right now. Defensively, I think he improved even from game 1 on ball. He was moving his feet a little better in this one and was able to better handle switches. He definitely struggled on the boards, despite 6 rebounds. Frankly, some of it was just bad bounces on long rebounds. A lot of it looked to me like adjusting to rebounding against the 4- or 5-out offense that Holy Cross ran. When they spread the floor, he had to adjust to rebounding from the three-point line. He struggled a bit to box out, and it looked like a growing pain that he will adjust to. Ultimately, I am really encouraged by how he looks, even though it is going to be tough at times. He is also extremely active and vocal on the floor, and I think he adapts quickly. He’s going to be an absolute stud sooner rather than later.

Supreme Cook - C-

8pts, 3-6 50% FG, 2-6 FT, 10 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 32 MIN

Look, when rebounding is the reason you lost, your starting and only senior big is going to be the primary culprit. Rebounding is definitely not about one guy, and if you just look at the box score, 10 boards looks like he did his part. In reality, I did not like the way he rebounded in this game…at all. There were definitely some unlucky bounces on long rebounds. But I think he really struggled rebounding against the spread offense. He did a good job boxing out when his man was in the post or the dunker spot. He struggled a bit when trying to find a body outside the lane. There’s some coaching that can help there, but some of that is just effort and commitment. At times, he looked more active on the offensive glass than defensive. He needs to take rebounding personally. He needs the mentality that he is going to grab every board because, especially without Ish, this team needs it. There were also a number of rebounds that hit his hands, and he just couldn’t secure. He needs to improve on those 50/50 bounces, but he can swing some of those to 60/40 or 75/25 rebounds by just putting himself in a better rebounding position. He also looked gas at times, which I think played a role in his rebounding and probably in the free throws he missed. He went 0-2 twice in the second half, including the dagger late that could have iced the game. Again, much of this is an adjustment to his increased role, but he needs to respond.

Dontrez Styes - C

7pts, 3-9 33% FG, 1-3 33% 3PT, 2 REB, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 23 MIN

I thought it was a rough night for Trez, and the fancy stats agreed. He finished with a team-low 93 offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions) and a team-high 125 defensive rating. On offense, many of the shots that were falling against Le Moyne weren’t going down in this one. He took a little too long to adjust to that for my taste and took a few too many contested pull-ups. I’d prefer he attacked the rim first rather than settle for jumpers. Defensively is where I thought he really struggled, though. They really needed him to help on the defensive glass, and it just wasn’t there. Some of that was Holy Cross playing four or five out on offense - making it tougher for Styles and others to get into rebounding position. Some of it was over helping, taking himself out of rebounding position, and selling out for a block. Some of it was just effort. He needs to be plus defensively for this team with his athleticism, and he wasn’t in this one. I’m hopeful some of this is just adjusting to a new role, and I am eager to see how he responds in the next one.

Rowan Brumbaugh - A

17pts, 6-11 54% FG, 3-6 50% 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 0 TO, 36 MIN

Rowan has been the Hoyas’ best and most consistent performer through two games. He showed off a bit more of his scoring in this one and knocked down open shots again when they came. Everything he does is within the flow of the offense, and his overall decision-making is what really stood out to me. He’s making the right play 9 times out of 10. His shooting is likely going to regress a bit, but so far, he is not forcing anything. I think everyone had a role in the rebounding struggles, but it’s tough to put too much on Rowan. I think he could have helped out more on that end, particularly because he’s a plus rebounder for his position and size. He had an insane 1.545 points per possession and created 27 of Georgetown’s 67 points, according to Synergy. That is reflected in other advanced stats.

Jayden Epps - C

22pts, 7-19 36% FG, 4-11 36% 3PT, 4-4 FT, 0 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 38 MIN

Very different game for Jayden in this one, but I was left with the same overall impression: Jayden was in control and is clear #1 offensive option on this team. I don’t have a huge problem with his shot selection, though I think there were a couple of threes he forced a bit. He has the ability to create his own shot, so he is going to take more pull-ups and off-the-dribble threes, which the team sort of needs, but I’d like to see him prioritize catch-and-shoot threes and try and get to the rim a bit more where I think he’s an outstanding finisher for his size. The reason he grades lower than game #1 is rebounding. He’s not a guy that I expect to get boards, and that’s not his game. But the Hoyas needed rebounding help from their guards in this one, and they didn’t get it from Epps. I’d like to give him a pass, given his role, size, position, etc., but I think a couple of really egregious errors swung the game. The worst of which came with 4 minutes to go off a missed free throw by Holy Cross. Epps took the shooter, didn’t really box out, and let him tip the offensive board to a teammate who knocked down a three to tie the game at 57. That was a massive momentum swing, and looked like Epps thought someone else was going to tip or grab the long rebound, but ultimately, he just didn’t really do anything. Again, not really his game or role, but if you’re going to be on the lane there, you need to contribute, especially when your team needs a board. He came back down and immediately hit a three, which was a huge shot, but this Hoyas team needs him to do both.

Jay Heath - C

8pts, 2-7 28% FG, 2-4 50% 3PT, 2-4 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 0 TO, 25 MIN

Didn’t really like Jay’s game, and I don’t think Coach did either. He was on Jay a couple of times in this game. And Jay looked really frustrated at times. I think he is still trying to get back up to speed after his offseason injury, but he was not particularly effective on offense or defense. He got the Octave assignment late in the game, which I think was the right call. He had a couple of good defensive possessions but gave up a couple. He got beat twice when he went for a steal rather than just staying in front of Octave. He’s an aggressive defender but needs to have a better feel for when to use it. Largely forgettable game offensively, I expect him to improve…hopefully quickly.

Wayne Bristol - B

2pts, 0-3 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 15 MIN

I liked Wayne again in this one, but he needs to be more of a factor on the offensive end. Because of the offensive upside right now, I think Cooley leans toward Styles, and it’s hard to fault that. WBJ was on the floor for defensive possessions late and played well, but he’s got to be a more consistent shooter to get more minutes. I hope he can do it because I really think he gives this team a lot of what they need. I think he’s the best all-around defender on the team. He gives them activity and energy, and his length really bothers guys. 4 rebounds in 15 minutes is frankly not bad, but 2 of his boards came on one offensive possession - both were just hustle plays. He’s another guy who needed to help out on the glass more than he did, but he did not have the same egregious errors as some other guys.

Ryan Mutombo - INC

2 REB, 3 MIN

Short minutes for Ryan, and only in the first half. I saw some calling for him to play more to fix the rebounding issues. I frankly don’t see that, particularly against these smaller and quicker teams. I don’t think putting Ryan in a position where he has to rebound out of switches and against spread offense is a great plan.

Other Grades

Coaching - B

The ultimate process vs results test. If you’re just looking at the end result, you would think this was a bad coaching performance. And that’s fair. I didn’t have much issue with the coaching from a process perspective. Ultimately, Georgetown lost this game because of missed free throws and rebounding - not much coach could have done, in my opinion. I thought the rotations were good. I might have tried WBJ on Octave late, but he went with Jay, and I don’t really have a problem with that. He had both out there to be able to switch and tried the same with Trez. Ultimately, the guys on the floor needed to grab a board.

Offense - C+

The offense was fine overall, and they were good enough offensively to win the game. They lost because of missed free throws (I guess technically part of the offense) and rebounding. 22 made FGs is not good, but that was mostly about missed shots. They got good looks. And 15 assists on 22 FGM is great. 4 turnovers on top of that is even better. Based on their turnover margin of 12 to 4 and three-point margin of 11 to 5, you’d expect Georgetown to win that game about nine times out of 10. The Shot Quality result in this game was Georgetown 73 - 60, meaning that based on the shots each side got, the Hoyas would have been expected to win by 13. Shot Quality is a great analytics platform that, among other things, assesses expected outcomes based on the quality of shots, player averages, and more. Obviously, Shot Quality wins count for approximately nothing, but it’s a good indication of how a team and players perform against expectation. Shooting variance happens - sometimes shots go in sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, they don’t go in because they are bad shots; we shouldn’t expect them to. This was not that.

Defense - C-

This would be a much higher grade if I could isolate rebounding from defense. Unfortunately, rebounding is absolutely a crucial part of defense, and it’s the primary, and perhaps only, reason the Hoyas lost this game. The defense overall looks a lot better. They have a clear plan to switch one through five most of the time. I would like to see them switch a little less, particularly late in the game and/or when the opponent has one guy (like Holy Cross had in this one), but they have a plan and are executing it, which is a really welcome sight. They just did not finish possessions and lost the game because of it. I ultimately put that on players more than scheme, but they clearly struggled rebounding against a spread offense.

Next up - The Hoyas face an extremely tough road test against Rutgers on Wednesday night. Rutgers comes in with their own issues, having lost outright to Princeton in their opener and underperforming in a win against Bryant.