The Georgetown men’s basketball team (5-3, Big East) will look to extend its four-game winning streak when it returns to action at Verizon Center Saturday afternoon to take on UNC Wilmington (5-0, CAA). Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m.
The game is the fifth of what so far has been a friendly seven-game homestand for the Hoyas after an unsettling 1-3 start to their season. And while the Hoyas have cruised in all four of their victories, the final exam period at Georgetown, which began Thursday, will have its added pressures on the Hoyas over the next three games.
“This is difficult time of year to be a student,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III. “Now you add the added pressure of your sport. It makes it rough for them.”
One Hoya who has passed the early season test so far has been senior center Bradley Hayes, as there were many questions about the unheralded big man’s role entering this season with the departures of Joshua Smith and Mikael Hopkins. Hayes, ranks third on the team in scoring, 11.9 points per game, and leads the Blue and Gray in rebounding, 6.9 per game.
For his play in the Hoyas’ two wins last week over Syracuse and Maryland Eastern Shore, he was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. In the two contests, Hayes averaged 16.0 points and 8.5 rebounds, while shooting 58 percent from the floor. The Jacksonville native also had his second career double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) against Brown this past Monday night.
Hayes, however, still thinks there’s much room for him to improve.
“I think I’m playing well. I’d like to play a lot better though,” said Hayes. “I’m not playing as well as I would like to. And I think I can play as well as I would like to. Only time will tell.”
As for the Hoyas’ opposition, UNC Wilmington, they enter Saturday’s game undefeated thanks in large part due to their hectic defensive pressure. The Seahawks press for the entirety of the game and have played one of the fastest paces in the country, forcing the second most turnovers, 22.4 per game, in all of college basketball. (Ultram)
For Georgetown, who has averaged 14.3 turnovers per contest, Saturday will certainly present a challenge. The Hoyas coughed up the ball a season-high 18 times in their last game against Brown.
“I think we’ve watched a lot of film just to show them our spacing and why we’re getting ourselves in trouble,” said Thompson. “And we’ve gone against pressure live the past couple days.”
The adversity that the Hoyas have faced early on due to their fierce schedule, though, has the Hoyas feeling ready for any challenge that they face.
“I think it made everyone a lot closer and made us a lot more hungry to keep winning,” said Hayes. “We know what it feels like to lose close games. And we don’t like that feeling.”
Although Thompson said at the team’s media availability that, “I don’t know if I’d do it again,” with regards to the team’s schedule to start, he does feel that it has benefited the team overall.
“I don’t know if it was bad for this group,” he said. “Time will tell.”
“We played a lot of people a lot of minutes this year,” said Thompson. “A lot of people have gotten substantive minutes against good teams in key situations. Conventional wisdom says that will help down the line.”