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Double Teamed: The Hoyas as a bad romance
Envision a girl who does not really know what she wants. One minute, she wants to pursue a relationship. The next, she backs off a little bit, fearful of commitment. The common theme for the guy invested in this girl is simple-–maddening frustration.
That vexing inconsistency marks the Georgetown Hoyas’ Big East campaign thus far. Rather than a fleeting relationship on the line, though, a national ranking was sacrificed a couple weeks ago.
How frustrating has it been? Well, for starters, I just tried to rationalize it by comparing it to a vacillating girl. But the potential, as with the relationship, is there. The Hoyas have all the talent in the world—a fact fans that watched them take down UCLA and push Indiana to its limits in November cannot seem to shake.
Nor should they. Those performances mark the full potential of this year’s Hoyas. When it wants to be, John Thompson III’s crew is a top-10 team.
The Hoyas have become somewhat reactionary in that sense. One night, they will get outplayed in every facet of the game. The ball doesn’t look like it could fall through a Fisher-Price hoop. After presumably getting ripped apart in practice the next day, the Hoyas have consistently countered their inconsistency with a focused performance during the next game.
That bounce-back effect has been the most predictable aspect of this year’s Hoyas. After the USF debacle, I ventured that Georgetown would absolutely beat up on Notre Dame, a far superior opponent to the Bulls. After all, they followed up an unwatchable 37-36 Tennessee win by blowing out Texas at the Garden. Longwood got the brunt of the Hoyas’ vengeance, getting blown out by 36 points just two days after the Blue and Gray struggled to beat Towson.
Part of the problem now is that the offense is too reliant on Otto Porter Jr. to bail them out. An all-around player like Porter Jr. thrives in a well-oiled offensive system. He is by no means a ball-stopper and should not be jacking up shots. With the way Georgetown has milked the shot clock without finding a good look, leaving it to Porter to throw up ill-conceived jumpers, it’s no wonder the offense has been so anemic.
A lot of those poor offensive possessions have to do with over-passing. The situation has actually gotten a little better since Greg Whittington – stellar during non-conference play - was declared academically ineligible. Whittington lost confidence with his shot and consequently became the primary culprit of the offense’s over-passing.
That alone does not elucidate the Hoyas’ inconsistency. The woes offensively start and end with center Mikael Hopkins. Thompson always assumed someone would stick their neck out and shine in the middle for the Hoyas—à la Henry Sims last year. The problem is, no one really did and an unprepared, undersized Hopkins was thrust into the limelight. Ultimately, the sophomore will be fine. But for now, physical players like Moses Ayegba are just as useful in the paint.
There is simply not much depth in the middle, as freshmen Bradley Hayes and Brandon Bolden are clearly not ready to step in to even spell the regulars. Thus, Thompson has to hope Hopkins improves a little bit and that Ayegba’s inspired performance of late is no aberration.
In actuality, the Whittington suspension has fixed one of Thompson’s other problems by necessity: depth. Ayegba and Aaron Bowen are finally getting extended minutes in his absence, while freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has finally gotten the opportunity to shine behind Jabril Trawick and Markel Starks.
That’s a pretty formidable eight-man rotation, especially on the defensive end. Assuming Whittington can get his grades sorted out, he will return to a better-defined team than the group he unceremoniously left.
Perhaps by then, each of the players will have carved out specific offensive roles. As it stands now, Thompson is discovering just how adept Trawick and Smith-Rivera are at creating their own shot off the dribble, an asset that can help any stagnating offense.
There’s still plenty of time for Georgetown to turn this season around. A couple of momentous wins, maybe against Louisville and Syracuse, and they are right back in the national spotlight.
That girl may never commit—the poor guy may be in limbo for quite some time. Thankfully for Hoya fans, we’re dealing with a bouncing ball and nylon net. There’s a full roster of players and coaches that can, and I predict will, buckle down and right the ship.
Strike up a romance with Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org