I know what you’re thinking, a basketball blog? Geez Kevin, when was the last time you paid attention to basketball?
I’m sorry, but when your alma mater has players getting suspended for tattoos and the NFL regular season winding down to a mess of a postseason you tend to get sidetracked. Fortunately the Georgetown Hoyas have given me some ammunition to let off and start off my basketball season right.
In a year where everyone thought that the Big East would take a step back due to the departures of many key players from many teams (Luke Harangody from Notre Dame, Andy Rautins from Syracuse and Da’Sean Butler from West Virginia for starters), the conference has put all of that to rest with an impressive non-conference resume that features Syracuse dominating #2 Michigan State, UCONN winning the Maui Invitational and the Hoyas beating up #17 Memphis and #8 Missouri. Yet Georgetown has reverted to old habits during conference play that has hindered them in the last three years.
After their disappointing 65-59 loss to West Virginia this afternoon the #13 ranked Hoyas find themselves at 12-4 and 1-3 in the early stages of conference play. While 12-4 isn’t that bad of a start their last three losses have shown enormous flaws in their game.
They’ve lost three of their last four and four of eight including losses to Notre Dame and St. John’s. In the three conference losses they’ve been held to their lowest offensive outputs of the season (55, 58, 59) and have been dreadful in moving the ball and killed themselves with turnovers averaging 15 a game in the three losses.
The swing, though in it’s early stages, is reminiscent of the swoons that Georgetown has been through in the last two seasons.
Two years ago the Hoyas were #12th ranked and 12-3 heading into a non-conference test at Duke. After the 76-67 lost the Hoyas died down the stretch losing 11 of 15 and falling out of the NCAA tournament and into the NIT where Baylor immediately bounced them.
Then last year headed to Syracuse for a huge matchup versus the Orange at 15-3 and 11th ranked in the nation. After getting beat down 73-56 the Hoyas lost 7 of 12 and found themselves on the bubble before a great Big East tournament run that got them a great seed in the NCAA’s. Unfortunately the effects of the slide came back and they we’re hammered by Ohio 97-83 and exited the tournament in the first round.
So the concern is definitely there for the Hoyas, as their recent stretch is looking far too similar to the ones of the last few years.
What the Hoyas need is better play from point guard Chris Wright. Wright said after their last win, a 86-75 lackluster win versus DePaul, that no one can guard him off of the dribble because of his quickness. What he forgot to say was that you could shut him down anywhere else on the court at anytime other than that.
Wright is 7-31 in the team’s last three losses averaging only 6 points, less than 4 assists and 3 turnovers a game. His lackluster play has killed how the offense runs and forces them to hoist up bad shots. If he can get back to his normal confident play then the Hoyas should be able to get back on track and take the load off of Austin Freeman’s shoulders who is 5-18 in the team’s last two losses.
These adjustments need to be made as quick as possible as well. Their next game is a home matchup versus #5 Pittsburgh and later this month they have a rejuvenated St. John’s team coming to D.C. as well as #23 Louisville and a trip to Philadelphia to take on Villanova. So the road isn’t getting any easier for a team that has struggled in league play in the last few years especially against tough competition.
So as the Big East exceeds the expectations of the critics the Georgetown Hoyas continue to play down to them. Maybe it’s just a blip on the radar, or maybe the Hoyas are at the beginning of another mid-season swoon that could ultimately hurt them on their drive to the tournament. Whatever it is they need to get control of it fast because the monster that is the Big East is showing how strong it is and how the weak can get devoured.