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Georgetown Can Still be a Scary Team in the Big East

Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire

To paraphrase the great Dennis Green, are the Georgetown Hoyas “not who we thought they are?”

After the Hoyas lost to Monmouth Tuesday, Georgetown has now fallen to 6-4 on the year. Granted, losing to Monmouth is not something to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary—as you probably already know, the Hawks have already slayed some giants in UCLA and Notre Dame—so the outcome is hardly a shock. However, with the game being played at home, and after Georgetown survived a tough schedule early on—it has already faced Duke and Maryland—it is a little disconcerting that the Hoyas are as average as they seem.

For a team that should contend for a Big East title, and which was picked to finish second in the Big East, you have to win home games against the likes of Radford (which shocked the Hoyas in their opener) and Monmouth. Those are opportunities you can’t let slip away.

And it’s not that the Hoyas lost to Monmouth; it’s that they got spanked.

They lost by 15 points and allowed the Hawks to shoot 50 percent from three-point range and get out-rebounded 42-33. Georgetown also shot a measly 32.8 percent from the field and 24.1 percent from three-point range.

Monmouth was in cruise control for the majority of the game.

Georgetown has more than enough scorers in D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Isaac Copeland, Bradley Hayes and L.J. Peak, as all average in double-figures in scoring. Where The Hoyas struggle is rebounding the ball, though, as they are eighth in the Big East in rebounding offense (36.8 rebounds per game) and seventh in rebounding defense (allowing 34.9 rebound per game). They are also allowing a lot of dribble-drive penetration. Opposing teams are slicing their usually stout defense and getting to the free-throw line at will. Monmouth made an astounding 31 of 37 free-throws against Georgetown.

The attentiveness to defense was something Thompson addressed after the game.

“I think that our issue was our defense,” Thompson said after the game (via GUHoyas.com). “You’re going to have days when the ball is not going in the basket. We pressed a little bit at the end, but particularly in the first half, we were getting looks for guys that we wanted to get the looks and the ball wasn’t going in. That’s going to happen. I told our guys the last couple of days; it’s the best offensive team we’ve played this year. We have to get to where we can rely on our defense in getting stops and we needed to do that today (and) we didn’t. That coincided with us having a bad day offensively. I’m not trying to discredit them, they worked hard, they were attentive, they contested shots, but at the end of the day it was at the other end of the court and not the offensive end “

While Hayes is a formidable force down low—he averages 6.8 rebounds per game—freshmen Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson have not brought much defense and rebounding to the table from the four and five spots, as neither average more than 5.1 rebounds per game.

So, is this a foreboding sign of things to come for John Thompson III and his club?

Well, let’s pump the brakes there for a second. It still may be too quick to jump the gun on the Hoyas, as they have mostly been bitten by the aforementioned tough schedule they have set up for themselves. Consider this, the Hoyas have already played five top-60 teams (according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings).

No one can say they aren’t challenging themselves.

Not many teams can claim they have two top-50 wins (Wisconsin and Syracuse) with the schedule the Hoyas have faced—at least not this early in the season. As such, Georgetown has very solid RPI of 46 for themselves, which will be huge in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

That kind of scheduling will toughen them up for the rigorous battles ahead in the Big East. That kind of scheduling could also lead to a nice run in the next couple of weeks. You see, the Hoyas have a pretty favorable slate for the rest of the non-conference portion of the schedule and the beginning of Big East play.

For the next seven games, Georgetown is home against UNC-Asheville, at Charlotte, at DePaul, home against Marquette, at Creighton, home against DePaul and at St. John’s. There is a chance that the Hoyas could win all the above games and be 13-4 heading into their showdown against Villanova on January 16.

The Hoyas are clearly a talented team. There should be no disputing that.

They have the right mix of senior leadership (Smith-Rivera and Hayes) and youth (Copeland, Peak, Derrickson and Govan) to be in the mix for a Big East crown.

That all said, the Hoyas could put some distance behind this so-so start by beating up on some teams they should beat in the next few weeks.

This way Georgetown can build up some confidence and momentum heading into the meat of its Big East slate. Considering how close they were in games against Maryland and Duke, you know the Hoyas are learning to win and it’s only a matter of time before they reach their full potential.

Georgetown will get better and that’s a scary proposition for opposing Big East coaches.

At the end of the season, the Hoyas should be who we thought they were: a damn good team.

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