Test of Time: Do the Hoyas Have the Pieces to Contend?

December 4, 2014

The sidelines of a Georgetown men’s basketball team are not meant for the faint of heart. This past week at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, fans saw everything that the Hoyas had to offer. Not just the good. Not just the bad. Everything.

The Hoya lineup this year is not remiss of talent. Throughout the season’s first three contests, it was clear that there were ten players that had earned the trust of Coach Thompson. Four of the team’s five freshmen saw first half minutes in the season opener. They continued to see significant playing time in the following games. Guard L. J. Peak scored double digits in his first three games, the most impressive being a 23-point performance in his first game as a Hoya. During this game he shot a perfect percentage from the field. Joshua Smith, after a poor performance in his first game, averaged 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in the season’s second and third games. Spectacular stats were not had by every player, but there was little cause for worry. It seemed as if there were almost too many players ready to contribute to the cause.

Enter Thanksgiving weekend. The Hoyas were slated to face No. 18 Florida, their first real challenge of the season. It was difficult to make a prediction. For those who were just tuning in, the Hoyas, after a weak prior season, were little more than an unranked team with a big name. But Georgetown fans knew that this team could beat Florida.

The Blue and Gray did just that, with a one-point overtime win clinched by a late shot from D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The next day, against No. 2 Wisconsin, the Hoyas led for much of the game, before faltering down the stretch and losing by three. Despite the loss,  Georgetown still showed that they could hang with the country’s top teams.

Then, in Friday’s third place game, the Hoyas faced Big East foe Butler. Despite their shocking successes in recent years, the Bulldogs struggled last season without former Head Coach Brad Stevens. But, after knocking off No. 5 North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis’ first round, Butler was suddenly on the map again. The Hoyas struggled on both ends of the floor, and came away with a six-point loss, their worst of the season.

What can we take away from this oscillating weekend? First, it should be obvious that though this year’s team is significantly deeper than any other in recent memory, there are still a number of players who have been part of the college game for less than a month. As game-ready as Peak and company may have looked at times, they will need more exposure until they will be able to produce every game.

Next, the Big East is much better than fans or pundits expected. Georgetown, Butler, Creighton, and Villanova have all knocked off ranked opponents only three weeks into their seasons. Providence and St. John’s have also earned statement wins against well-known opponents from major conferences. The Wildcats, as expected, will be a threat on the national scene this season, but Creighton, despite the loss of Doug McDermott seems strong. Butler, without adding any spectacular players, has suddenly cracked the top 25. On Friday, the Bulldogs proved that their UNC win was no fluke. While they may have temporarily strayed from their championship-contending years under Stevens, it seems that Butler is back in a big way. Yes, the Hoyas are strong this season, but after the new year, they won’t have many cupcake opponents.

This season has few known commodities. Between all of the Hoyas’ returning contributors and its pool of newcomers, there are, debatably, nine players with the capability to take over a game. While over the last two years, the Hoya community has looked to a combination of Smith-Rivera, Markel Starks, or Otto Porter to control each game, this year brings a revitalized senior class, a mature and confident Smith-Rivera, and four scorers of all shapes and sizes, all of whom have impressed thus far. As the team becomes more comfortable with each other and Thompson’s system, it is hard to believe that there will be games where all scoring options will falter.

In a more complete league, nothing will come easy this year, but despite a losing weekend there are ample reasons for optimism. Don’t pencil in a conference championship, quite yet, but understand that the Blue and Gray have already come a long way from last year.

Chris Almeida
Chris Almeida was an editor for The Georgetown Voice and graduated in 2016.

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments