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Game Grades: Hoyas Masterpiece Robbed by Frogs and Stripes

Referees fail smell test, need another clinic

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 02: Georgetown Hoyas forward Ismael M Photo by Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Is he on the line?

Oh. He’s out of bounds there, Nick.

He is out of bounds.

And Georgetown just got robbed.

Those words are still ringing in my head, partly because I rewatched that sequence. Georgetown absolutely got robbed of what should have been…sorry, WAS, a gutsy win against the 30th-ranked TCU squad. Everyone knows Georgetown won that game. The refs, Jamie Dixon (more on them below), everyone. And yet, here we sit with an “L” on the record that serves as an embarrassing blemish for college basketball. And a team of kids who played their hearts out and deserved better.

As usual, I will talk about the performances below, but I am taking a page from Coach Cooley and giving everyone an A. They deserve it for an effort that should have resulted in an early program-defining win. Certainly, there are things to improve on, but aside from my comments about a few of the parties at fault, you’re not getting negativity from me. I just can’t muster it.

Supreme Cook - A

8pts, 1-3 33% FG, 6-8 FT, 5 REB, 2 TO, 32 MIN

Supreme got a shoutout from Jamie Dixon postgame about his physicality! However disingenuous that might have been from Dixon, he’s right. Supreme was critical in this game against a big, strong, athletic TCU team. I’ve been calling for him to improve his positional rebounding, and he did in this one. He was really good boxing out a TCU team that thrives on the offensive glass. And while the Hoyas weren’t great on the boards. They were good enough, and I give Supreme a lot of credit for that.

Dontrez Styes - A

18pts, 5-14 35% FG, 3-6 50% 3PT, 5-6 FT, 6 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 37 MIN

Trez bounced back from a so-so game against Merrimack with another fantastic performance on both ends. He again managed a 0-turnover game. That is five out of eight games with no turnovers for him. Some of that is due to his role - he’s not doing a ton of playmaking - but it’s still very impressive. He is shooting 40% from three on the year. I continue to be impressed with his shot selection. I think that has a lot to do with his high percentage - he takes rhythm shots within the offense. And he looks really confident, knocking down open looks. He drew the matchup against Emanuel Miller when the Hoyas were in man-to-man. On the surface, it looks like he struggled as Miller scored a game-high 29 points. On second watch, I thought Trez did a decent job on him. Miller just made some contested, tough shots. Miller is a fifth-year college player who isn’t quite cracking draft boards right now (Sports Illustrated has him as a potential second-round pick), but it sure looks like he has some NBA talent if he can continue to shoot a high percentage. In other words - that’s a high-level matchup against a top-100 offensive player, and I think Trez played him well.

Wayne Bristol Jr. - A

0pts, 1 TO, 14 MIN

This just wasn’t Wayne’s best game. I’ll be interested to see if he sticks in the starting lineup with both Rowan and Ish getting healthier. I think part of his impact in this one had to do with the Hoyas going to zone. I think he’s a better man defender than a zone where he can get lost a bit. I mostly chalk this one up to just not being a Wayne game. I think he’ll be better.

Jayden Epps - A

24pts, 9-14 64% FG, 1-3 33% 3PT, 5-7 FT, 4 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 5 TO, 36 MIN

Jayden is the best scorer we’ve seen on the Hilltop in quite a while. The immediate comparison is DSR, and I think that’s probably pretty close, but DSR did more in the midrange than Jayden. That could be a feature of how the game has changed, but Jayden is the ultimate Rim-and-Three player. He was excellent again. My only gripe is the turnovers. I don’t expect him to eliminate those completely - the ball is in his hands, but I’d like to see him limit the unforced errors.

Jay Heath - A

10pts, 3-6 50% FG, 3-5 60% 3PT, 1-2 FT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 TO, 34 MIN

Jay was really good in this one. Hopefully, that’s a feature of him getting healthier. I still wouldn’t mind having him come off the bench as a scoring punch, but he’s settling into his role nicely. He has a number of “no-no-yes” shots, but I think we’ve seen enough of those go in to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a guy that can bail your offense out at the end of the shot clock, and the Hoyas need that. He did that a couple of times in this one, including a banked-in-three. I’d like to see him get to the line more as he continues to get healthy.

Ismael Massoud - A

16pts, 4-13 30% FG, 4-10 40% 3PT, 4-4 FT, 10 REB, 1 AST, 3 STL, 2 BLK, 2 TO, 31 MIN

Ish really changes things for this team. He just allows everyone to settle into more natural roles, particularly Supreme. He’s also a gamer and shotmaker. He made a couple of really big shots to bring Georgetown back in the second half. But it’s the things he’s doing off the ball that have really impressed me. His feel and positioning are really strong. He’s not especially quick, but he makes up for it by being in the right spot both defensively and offensively. He’s given them some much-needed weak side shot blocking, which I did not expect. He also has a great understanding of where his spots are and what the defense is giving him. He’s just a great guy to have on the roster. In addition to raising the Hoyas’ level this year, I really hope his game rubs off on some of the younger guys. A couple of guys on this roster should be watching everything he does.

Rowan Brumbraugh - A

2pts, 0-1 FG, 2-3 FT, 1 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 7 MIN

It definitely seems like the time missed due to illness has impacted Rowan. It’s also easy to forget that Rowan is still only eight games into his collegiate career. He had a couple of really nice passes, including a great dish to Drew Fielder for a wide-open dunk. He needs to continue to focus on playing in control with pace. He’s really effective in slowing the game down but needs to be able to play fast without making mistakes. That will come.

Drew Fielder - A

5pts, 2-2 100% FG, 1-1 100% 3PT, 0 REB, 0 TO, 8 MIN

Short minutes for Drew, but I thought he was really good again. He got bodied a bit by a significantly older and stronger TCU team, but he continues to show that he processes the game at a really high level. He’s a great connector. He also has shown that he can knock down shots - including a big three in this one. He just keeps getting better.

Other Grades

Coaching - A

I thought the coaching was really good in this game. Despite being ranked 30th by Kenpom, TCU hasn’t played anyone in the top 200. Their average win margin was 30+. I think that can make it kind of tricky to scout a team and prepare. That said, the coaching staff had a clear plan in this one - they wanted to switch things up between man and zone to make things difficult for TCU in the half-court and try to limit the transition opportunities. They had mixed success on those things but stuck with the zone in the second half, and it paid off. They also made the call to go with the same five for the last 15 minutes, which I thought was both right and gutsy. I expected them to tire out, but I thought the staff handled it well and got them breaks. And let’s just end with this: Coach Cooley’s comments about the ending. Forget about comparing his remarks to Jamie Dixon (for now). I cannot imagine a coach handling that situation better. He didn’t attack the refs, who everyone knows made a game-changing error; he correctly addressed the rule that needs to be changed to allow the right call to be made; he raised up his own players. He appropriately praised TCU; I have no doubt that this will ultimately be a positive for a young Hoyas team because of the approach he took. I’ve been really impressed with the coaching so far this season, and that was highlighted again today both in how the Hoyas were prepared and ultimately won this game and how they handled the outcome. And for those saying, “yeah, but you have to miss that free throw.” I understand the perspective, but I don’t think it’s as much of a no-brainer as suggested. It’s a bit of a toss-up for me in that situation. A lot can go wrong on that missed free throw - a loose ball foul on the rebound, a missed defensive assignment in transition, etc. On the flip side, you are able to set your defense, get someone on the inbound and force a nearly impossible shot. Sure, it’s something to practice, and Coach Cooley acknowledged it in his presser, but it’s not as clear of a call to me as fouling up three, and I don’t hold that decision against the staff. I think they made the right one, proven by the fact that TCU was only able to get the shot off after stepping out of bounds.

Offense - A

It’s really refreshing to see a Hoyas team with a clear identity and a game plan to maximize that identity. The Hoyas are top 25 in the nation in three-point percentage. They are in the top 100 in offensive efficiency. They are an elite shooting team, and they did a really nice job in the second half getting their shooters the ball in advantageous spots. The stretch between 15 minutes when they were down 11 and 9 minutes when they took the lead was probably the best stretch of all-around basketball we’ve seen from the Hoyas in at least three years. They were phenomenal in the second half, but that stretch was really something. TCU simply could not guard them. They generated seven wide-open and, I mean, WIDE-open threes during that stretch and knocked down 4 of them. All of that came off of really well-schemed action that was executed perfectly. One of my biggest concerns about Cooley was that he would bring an out-of-date offensive scheme that can get stagnant and easy to guard (read: Flex). I am really impressed with the overall approach and the willingness of the staff to scheme to their player’s strengths. They’ve even adapted some of the flex action, including one really nice set that got Ish a wide-open three at the top of the key.

Defense - A

The defense in the first half left a lot to be desired. They had a couple of completely blown coverages with no help-side defense, resulting in wide-open layups and dunks. They tried going zone in the first half and it looked rough. But credit to this team and staff because they ramped it up in the second and absolutely changed the game with their zone. During that 6 minute stretch, when they took the lead, their zone generated four turnovers and a number of really bad shots. It looked like they made a subtle change to the zone in the second half after letting TCU get to the middle and knock in a couple of open jump shots in the first half. They dropped the off-ball guard a little deeper to the free-throw line to take away that entry, which really confused TCU. Their offense in the last 10 minutes was really just having Emmanuel Miller bail them out. I also thought Cooley came out of the zone at the right time. Look, the defense wasn’t great, but it was good enough to win the game, and I think there are a lot of positives to take from both scheme and execution. A final random note: TCU relies a lot on their offensive rebounding and transition game to generate offense. Georgetown did a decent job on the boards - better than I was expecting - and they did an excellent job limiting transition scoring (as much as they were able to) in the second half. TCU scored 1.111 points per possession on 9 transition opportunities in the first half. In the second half, they scored .429 PPP on seven opportunities. That’s not all Georgetown, but they were much more active in transition defense, and I think they definitely made an impact.

Jamie Dixon - F MINUS

There isn’t a grade low enough for Jamie Dixon. He’s always been a slimeball and showed his true sleazeball colors in this one. I encourage you to watch both Coaches’ press conferences and just compare: Look, I actually think that’s kind of a tough spot for a coach to be in. What are you supposed to say? It’s not your fault, and you sure don’t want to give the win back. It’s kind of a lose-lose scenario. That being said, Jamie Dixon managed to somehow make a lose-lose scenario even worse. Some may disregard this as a losing fan taking sour grapes shots at the winning coach. That is not the case. I didn’t think about Jamie Dixon or TCU after this one, except they were fortunate. Then Jamie Dixon opened his mouth. He managed to blame the refereeing in a game where the refereeing literally decided the game in his favor. That’s not something you can say often. I kind of think Emanuel Miller’s face says it all. His uncontrollable grin when these words just ooze out of Dixon’s mouth seems like a reaction of disbelief and knowing.

Obviously, he was pushed as he caught it and was pushed out of bounds…could have been a foul, wasn’t a foul. Could have been out of bounds. Probably, the foul was first, and that would have settled it, but the three is better for us, so we appreciate them not calling the foul.

I mean, that quote is really something. It’s also very much not obvious, Jamie. Were it obvious, the referee who was standing right there and looking directly at the “contact” because he certainly wasn’t looking at the player’s feet, could have called it. I get not wanting to let the win be taken from your team, but there is a way to do this gracefully, and Jamie Dixon is so far from graceful he can’t even spell it. Dixon also goes on to complain - in just the most passive-aggressive way about the physicality and missed calls by the officials, citing the free throw discrepancy while conveniently leaving out that the called fouls were actually even (18 against TCU and 15 against Georgetown). Compare his comments to Ed Cooley’s. One coach is giving credit to his players, the opponent, and trying to be a leader in a difficult time, the other coach is blaming the refs. Shockingly, the one complaining is the coach whose team “won” due to a game-deciding mistake by the referees. Gross, Jamie.

Referees/NCAA Rules Committee - F

Not much more to say beyond this image. This is just an unbelievable failure. This isn’t close. He is clearly out of bounds. The referee just flat misses this. He shouldn’t have. Refs make mistakes. It’s a hard job, and they are under a lot of pressure. There is absolutely no excuse for this. This mistake decided the game. This image furthrer indicts Jamie Dixon’s “he was pushed comments.” Again, he wasn’t, and the referee is only looking for contact here. He’s staring directly at it. If there were a foul, I am fairly confident he would have called it. There’s a pretty telling moment at the end of the game where the lead official goes to explain the call to Cooley and Dixon, and the ref who missed this call goes to look at the video. There absolutely should be accountability for missing this call. On top of all of that, how in the world can you not use review to get this call right?!?!?! Coach Cooley is right to call out that it is a failure of the rule

- though it is also the referee’s failure - and it should be corrected. If you can’t use review to correct an obvious, game-deciding error, why have review at all? What if this were a national championship game? We would just let this go, knowing that the team that won really didn’t. It’s so arbitrary and ridiculous I actually looked at the rule book to confirm the language. And, yes, it’s pretty clear. Review can be used:

In the last two minutes of the second period and in the last two minutes of any extra period(s), to determine which team caused the ball to go out of bounds but only after an out of bounds call has been made by an official.

If anyone can explain the utility of that proviso, I would love to hear it. I get that review can be difficult to regulate. You are attempting to apply absolute clarity to situations that are not only subject to human error but oftentimes have significant shades of gray (e.g., foul calls). But this is not that. This is a clear question - was the player out of bounds? It’s functionally the same as, did the player get the shot off in time? The latter is reviewable regardless of the situation on the floor, but the former isn’t. That is beyond arbitrary. The only solace the NCAA should take in this scenario is that it happened in a game that likely won’t impact a rebuilding Georgetown team. But what if that decided a tournament birth for a Georgetown team that needed one good non-conference win? If TCU ends up on the bubble and in the tournament at the end of the year, the teams left out sure have an argument for TCU actually having a bad loss on their record that didn’t count.

Next up - Juice ‘Cuse.