“To hell with Syracuse, we have to win for Georgetown.” - Ed Cooley 12/7/2023
And just like that, Ed Cooley has entered the chat.
Now to get that banger of a sound bite Cooley was asked what it would mean for college basketball if both Georgetown and Syracuse were in good spots. He eventually did admit it would be best if both schools were nationally relevant. Here’s the rest of what he said:
“I mean let’s take Syracuse out of it. We have to win for us. To hell with Syracuse, we have to win for Georgetown. I’m not here to build Syracuse’s winning. I’m here to build Georgetown the right way. If they’re good and we’re good it makes it even better. But I’m not here to advocate for Syracuse. They aren’t in the Big East.”
This game still gets a good TV spot, particularly when Georgetown hosts and the nice people at FOX make it a national broadcast but these two national brands to need to get their acts together. The last time Georgetown and Syracuse entered a game with both squads in the rankings was in their final conference matchup in the 2013 BET semifinal. Since becoming a non-conference game, only Syracuse has entered ranked and they’ve done so just once.
As far as the future for this game, Cooley isn’t sure when the contract is up but he hopes to continue playing Syracuse.
Here’s some things I heard at practice on Thursday:
RESPECTING THE RIVALRY
From the Georgetown side, only a few players have experienced what it’s like to face the Orange but they’ve been given a crash course in what it means in the lead up to Saturday.
“I’m telling the guys it’s one of the biggest rivalries in college sports,” said Wayne Bristol, Jr.
“We have to come in there with an aggressive mentality. They’re going to come out there being aggressive with a lot of guys from the area so they are going to come with the extra energy because they are playing in front of their families and friends.”
“It’s bigger than the two teams playing in the moment,” explained Ish Massoud.
“It’s a big history behind it and you have to take pride in that and you got to realize you’re not just playing for yourself but y you’re playing for all the other Georgetown alum played before you and it’s bigger than yourself.”
It should also be noted that former Georgetown great Chris Wright was at Thursday’s practice so who better to give the current group of players a rundown on the Syracuse rivalry than him? Wright was on Hoya teams that beat Syracuse in DC, at the Dome and at the Big East Tournament.
THREE POINT SUCCESS
Right now Georgetown is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country - 29th in KenPom. This is stark contrast from last season when the Hoyas were one of the worst shooting teams from deep - 292th.
So what’s the change?
“A lot of it is the coaching,” Bristol Jr. said.
“We trust each other. We have a lot of good chemistry on offense. Everyone is like a workhorse. Everybody is in the gym early morning, late nights. We all get a lot of shots up together.”
FIXING THE TURNOVERS
Through eight games Georgetown has nearly a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio. Ok it’s actually 116:113 for those that like to be exact but it’s clearly an area that needs improvement. The Hoyas 14.1 turnovers per game is the most by a Cooley coached team since his first two seasons at Fairfield.
“Playing off of two feet,” Cooley said about the biggest way for his guys to cut down on the turnovers.
“Our guys getting in the air and trying to make a decision in a half a second. It’s a reason why we have two feet. Stay on them. It’s good when you’re on it. I haven’t seen anybody walk on air yet. So if they can walk on air let’s do it because they can get a way with a lot of travels. We have to try and get it down to eight, nine turnovers a game.”
While eight or nine turnovers would be a nice goal, Cooley’s best teams were around 11 per game at Providence.
Illinois transfer Jayden Epps has made an immediate impact since joining the Hoyas as he leads the team in scoring (19.1) and assists (4.5) while also putting in an all time late game performance against American. However, he does have room for improvement with his four turnovers per game.
“Me as the point guard that’s kind of on me,” Epps said about the turnover issue.
“I have to get us together a little bit more. Most of the turnovers are coming from me so I have to tidy my game up in that aspect. As far as team turnovers I got to get us together. I got to get us in the right spots. I have to get to get the flow going better. That’s on me and I’ll take the blame on that.”
Epps averaged 1.3 turnovers per game last season for the Illini in about eight less minutes per game.
There’s been a bit of an online and in person campaign to get a deal on adult beverages at Georgetown home games. When asked, Cooley had a bit of a laugh before giving his thoughts.
“I appreciate when those people come up with those signs,” Cooley said.
“I’m pretty sure that’s a conversation above my pay grade. I think it would be a great evening. I think it would a lot of activity in that building if we get to that point.”
COMING TO THE DEFENSE
Cooley said that his offense is ahead of the defense. Looking at KenPom you can see this to be spot on as the Hoyas offense is ranked 87th and the defense checks in as one of the poorest in the country at 309. The next closest team in the Big East is DePaul which comes in at 230th. It’s an area that needs to get better as the competition improves, but how?
“It starts with communication, explained Bristol Jr.
“We have to trust each other on the defensive end. We’re getting better every practice, every game.”
Massoud also offered his thoughts.
“I think just knowing the right places to be,” Massoud said about ways to improve the defense.
“Being in the proper defensive positioning where you’re not trying to get to help, you’re already in help. Better one on one and taking more pride in guarding the ball and just knowing the scout.”