A new ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll was released on Monday afternoon, and Georgetown climbed five spots in the rankings. Monday night the Hoyas had to defend its new spot against Mount St. Mary’s.
The No. 14 Hoyas (5-0) justified their ranking with confidence Monday night, taking care of business against an overmatched Mountaineers squad 83-62.
“We understood that it was going to be a tough task ahead any time you’re playing a team in the top 20. You are going to have to do a lot of things right,” Mount St. Mary’s head coach Milan Brown said. “All of a sudden somebody’s a little bit bigger and a little bit more athletic, and you just can’t make a play just because of those two reasons.”
The Hoyas’ physical advantage allowed them to control the game from the opening tip. No player on the Mountaineers stood taller than 6-foot-7; the Hoyas start two in 6-foot-9 forward Julian Vaughn and 6-foot-11 center Greg Monroe. With their size and speed the Hoyas never trailed.
Georgetown was not without fault, however, looking sloppy at numerous points, including a four minute stretch in the second half where the Hoyas were held scoreless. But all in all, Georgetown looked good for a team that had only two days to recover and prepare for its next opponent.
“That was by design,” Thompson said of the quick turnaround. “I scheduled this game like this on purpose, just so they can fall into the routine of what we’re going to see down the road [in the Big East].”
Georgetown was paced by junior guard Chris Wright, who had 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Monroe, who led all scorers with 19 points and posted his second double-double of the season with 11 rebounds.
Jean Cajou led the Mountaineers with 16 points.
Nearly all the Hoyas contributed in the win. Eleven of the twelve players on the roster saw playing time, including freshman Jerrelle Benimon, who has been nursing an ankle injury the past few games. But it was the junior Vaughn and sophomore Jason Clark, both new starters this season, who impressed the most.
Clark filled out the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Vaughn was Georgetown’s most efficient player, scoring 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds, and adding three blocks and three assists in just 22 minutes on the court.
“They’re in their second year now,” Thompson said of the new starters. “You see the growth, you see the development. You see their comfort level is higher. Their teammates’ confidence in them and their confidence in themselves is better right now.”
This may have been Vaughn’s best game in a Georgetown uniform. The big man set or matched career highs in points, rebounds, and blocks.
“I think it’s just like being more comfortable in the system and knowing what Coach wants to do,” Vaughn said of his improvement. “At times [last year] I put pressure on myself, but this year I’ve definitely learned to relax.”
It’s tempting to compare Monday night’s game against the Hoyas 69-58 victory over the Mountaineers last year. In reality, there is probably little to be gleaned looking at the two matchups, but for someone who had to analyze both this year and last year’s teams, a difference is nevertheless notable.
“Watching them [Georgetown] on tape, they looked more like a cohesive unit this year, more so than last year,” Brown said. “They just look like they’re having a little bit more fun playing with each other. They don’t mind who’s taking the shot.”
Thompson, always judicious in his praise, was not ready to credit his team that much. But he knew Brown had a point.
“We’re not having fun yet,” Thompson said, “but we will at some point.”