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Game Grades: Hoyas Get A Reality Check in New Jersey

Early road test proves to be too much, too soon

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A rough night for the Hoyas in Piscataway against one of the best defensive teams in the country. Let’s take a look!

Supreme Cook - D+

6pts, 3-3 100% FG, 6 REB, 3 TO, 29 MIN

Supreme looks somewhat overwhelmed to me right now. Part of that is just the step up in competition coming from Fairfield. Part of it is he’s in an even more elevated role because of Ish Massoud’s absence. He’s an energy guy, off-ball rim protector and offensive rebounder. Right now, he is the primary big on both offense and defense. That’s a lot to ask of a guy who is also trying to acclimate to the high major level. I think he will look better if/when his role returns to expected. He looked a lot better rebounding in this one than he did against Holy Cross.

Dontrez Styes - A-

15pts, 4-7 57% FG, 3-5 60% 3PT, 7 REB, 3 TO, 33 MIN

Easily Georgetown’s best player. I am comfortable saying that I was completely wrong about Dontrez coming out of Kenner. He was really the one guy who looked comfortable with the level of play. He’s the best athlete on the team right now, and that probably has a lot to do with it. His shooting and offensive skill set is better than what we saw in Kenner, and he has clearly been working on his shot. I have no complaints about his game in this one, and he looks like he is going to be a great piece moving forward. He also got absolutely sliced up above his eye in the second half, which probably took him out of rhythm entirely. He played through it, but it took a while just to get patched up. He’s tough.

Rowan Brumbaugh - D

8pts, 3-13 23% FG, 0-6 0% 3PT, 2-2 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 5 TO, 26 MIN

Rough one for Rowan. He picked up two really quick fouls (like in the first minute of the game quick), one on an offense foul on a baseline inbounds, which was an absolutely ridiculous call, but it happened so early that no one really noticed. It was just nuts. He really struggled with Rutgers’ pressure, and sitting for a good chunk of the 1st half definitely didn’t help his rhythm. This was his first real taste of high major skill and speed (in a game setting), and it came against one of the toughest defenses in the country. I actually think we need to keep reminding ourselves of that - Rutgers was a top-10 defense last year and looks on track for that. They force a ton of turnovers, and Georgetown’s backcourt was clearly overwhelmed. I thought when Rowan got into a rhythm in the second half, he made a couple of nice reads and plays that reassured me that he can figure it out at this level. It was just a game full of growing pains.

Jayden Epps - D

16pts, 4-12 33% FG, 2-7 28% 3PT, 6-7 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 5 TO, 29 MIN

First, I hope Jayden is OK after a nasty ankle sprain on what 100% should have been a foul if not a technical (I don’t know what the landing-space rule is in college, but this is the exact play it’s in the pro game for). Early in the first, Jayden landed on the foot of a Rutgers defender closing out on his shot and tweaked his ankle. He toughed out the rest of the game, which I give him credit for, but he was clearly compromised. Like the rest of the Hoya backcourt, he struggled. So far, he has looked like a different player than I saw at Illinois last year. He was a really surehanded, good decisionmaker who excelled breaking down the defense and kicking to open guys. He has not been that yet this year, and his decision-making with the ball in his hands has been lacking. Some of that is the team around him. I think Ish really helps his game.

Jay Heath - D

9pts, 3-11 27% FG, 1-5 20% 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 33 MIN

Jay still looks like he’s working his way back. He struggled to shoot in this one, and they need him to be a reliable scorer. He got the start over Fielder, which I think was a good call. He managed the fewest turnovers of the starting guards, but overall he just looks a step slow. I am going to chalk that up to the time he missed before the year, and I expect over the next few weeks, he will round into form.

Drew Fielder - B

0pts, 0-0 FG, 5 REB, 15 MIN

Drew lost his starting spot to Jay, and I think it was the right call. He’s still adjusting to this level and his role, which is even more difficult when you are elevated into a higher role due to injury. It’s just incredibly difficult to ask a freshman, let alone a freshman big, to come in and be great over 25-30 minutes. For reference, look at Rutgers star freshman Gavin Griffiths, who came in and rated about the same as Drew. Slightly different roles and definitely different teams, but he started their opener against Princeton, had a rough go and has since settled in nicely coming off the bench. Drew is not going to be the same scorer as Griffiths right away, but I expect him to be better in 15-20 minutes a game rather than 30. I thought despite not scoring, he played really well, and I thought he was one guy who looked comfortable against the Rutgers pressure. I am so encouraged by what he brings. He’s going to be a great player for this team sooner rather than later.

Wayne Bristol - C

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

Wayne brought a lot of energy and defensive intensity, and this team needed it. His offense is the reason he’s tough to keep on the floor right now. He’s a Matisse Thybulle-type guy (sorry, Sixers fans, but you’re doing OK!), and there is a reason Thybulle struggles to find a role despite being one of the best defensive players in the league. It’s not just that WBJ is not shooting well. It’s that he’s not been able to actively facilitate the offense. It’s not enough to just be an energy guy crashing the boards, especially when that’s also what Supreme Cook is. He needs to be able to connect actions in the offense and take open shots that come. Otherwise, it puts too much pressure on guys like Rowan and Jayden to make plays. I thought he looked more confident offensively in Kenner, and I hope he finds some of that soon because he is an absolutely outstanding defender and gives this team a lot of what they need.

Ryan Mutombo - B

1 pts, 0-2 FG, 1-2 FT, 6 REB, 11 MIN

Folks who wanted to see more Ryan got their wish in this one, and he played pretty well. I do think he is better suited to this type of game where he can match up with a legit big. He definitely did a nice job on the glass, but his foot speed is still a real issue. As is his processing speed. He needs to make quicker decisions; I don’t see that happening.

Cameron Bacote - B

3pts 1-1 FG, 1-1 3PT, 0 TO, 7 MIN

Bacote gave them good minutes with Rowan in foul trouble. I missed the three he knocked down, but he was able to calm things down a bit and seems like a fine “break glass in case of emergency” option.

Other Grades

Coaching - C

I actually really didn’t have any specific or significant issues with the Coaching in this one, but they looked overmatched, and I know people are going to want to put that, at least in part, on Ed. And…fair. I just think this was a case of a brand new team with limited talent playing its first legit opponent on the road, who also happens to be one of the best defensive teams in the country. My biggest issue with the coaching was their preparation for the press. Their approach of trying to beat the press off the dribble rather than attacking it caused them to get into their offense extremely late and ultimately settle for poor shots and turnovers. Otherwise, I thought the change to the starting five and the overall rotation was good, and despite a similar result to previous years, the schemes on both ends and the overall system look much more coherent. It’s going to take time, but it will get there.

Offense - F

The offense was bad. Again, it’s impossible to view this outside of the context of Rutgers being one of the best defensive teams in the country. They are going to make a lot of teams, most of them better offensively than Georgetown, look bad. The lack of offensive options really hurt them, and, in particular, it looked like a game that Ish really would have made a huge difference. Not just in his ability to score but in just opening up the offense. They are limited in what they can do right now because their bigs (primarily Supreme) are not viable offensive options in the post. And at any given time, because of the make-up of the team, they have at least one if not two, players on the floor with significant offensive limitations. That leaves them having to run just a bunch of guard-to-guard action. Folks drawing similarities to the iso-ball offense of the previous few years, I think, are overstepping. Rutgers was able to dictate what Georgetown did on offense and basically forced Georgetown into late shot clock, one-on-one play. Three games in, I am confident that is not how Georgetown wants to run their offense, but they did not have the ability to consistently fight back against Rutgers’ D (again, one of the best in the country), aside from the stretch at the end of the first half that saw good ball movement and guys making shots. 4 assists on 15 made baskets is bad, really bad, but I don’t think that is an indication of how this offense will run. It was just a really bad game.

Defense - D+

Overall, I thought the defense was fine. There were a few letdowns, particularly at the start of the second half, that were just really bad. The intensity level needs to rise, but the scheme and overall execution look just wildly more competent. Still, if we are just looking at this game in a vacuum, it was not a great defense effort. They cleaned up the issues on the glass, which was encouraging, but they allowed Rutgers to shoot uncharacteristically well from three. I appreciated that they were able to switch into what looked like a 1-3-1 zone without becoming completely incompetent.

Referees - F

First Ref grade of the year because they were BAD in this one - just awful. The first offensive foul call on Rowan was absurd and frankly set the tone for the whole game. They allowed a lot of physicality (on both sides) but would also call random offensive fouls for guys trying to hold positions. The miss on the Jayden Epps three was horrendous. Again, I am not positive about the college rules for landing space, but Jayden was injured because the defender did not allow him to land. They also called a travel on Supreme Cook while a defender was literally on his back. I actually think that is one of the most egregious calls I’ve ever seen. Not to mention, after Jayden was injured, they allowed play to continue for an incredibly long time, which Ed really did not appreciate, and I sure don’t blame him. Not saying the refs had anything to do with the outcome of this game. I’m just saying it was up there as one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve seen in a while.

Next up - The Hoyas are back at home to face the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers. A good “get-right” spot for Georgetown that really struggles on offense. We will have to see if Jayden Epps’ ankle is good enough to go - I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses this one and don’t think it would necessarily be the worst thing.