Eight games into the season and the Georgetown Hoyas are starting to find their rhythm thanks large in part to a weak non-conference schedule that has resulted in a five-game winning streak. John Thompson III has his team playing exceptional defense, D'VAuntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks have formed a potent one-two punch in the backcourt and the team is finding ways to win even when shots aren't dropping. There's a lot to like about this Hoyas team but there are some underlying issues that may result in upset losses and struggles once the Big East conference schedule kicks in.
Defense: Georgetown has looked tremendous on the defensive side of the ball, holding opponents to 63.5 points a game, and John Thompson III continues to churn out great defensive teams year-in and year-out. The Hoyas are currently ranked second in the nation in opposing field goal percentage, holding teams to just 35.1 percent shooting from the field. After allowing 80 points in a win over then number 10 VCU, the Hoyas have given up just 49 against Lipscomb, 45 against High Point, and 55 against Colgate. Granted, these teams aren't top-tier competition, but with each game, Georgetown's rotations have been cleaner, the communication has been better and the effort given on the defensive end is the biggest reason why the Hoyas currently sit at 6-2. Remember, Georgetown is doing all of this without a true rim protector in the paint, making their defensive efforts that much more impressive.
Jabril Trawick has been an absolute monster on the perimeter. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Trawick often draws the opposing teams top perimeter player and sets the tone for the rest of the Hoyas by bringing a tough, physical presence. Trawick will likely never light it up on the offensive end (he's averaging 6.9 points on 4.4 FGA), but his defensive prowess makes it impossible for JTIII to take him off the floor. Upcoming one-on-one matchups against the likes of Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, Creighton's Doug McDermott, Seton Hall's Fuquan Edwin, and Michigan State's Gary Harris will be fun to watch later in the season.
Starks and Smith-Rivera are emerging as one of the top backcourts in the Big East thanks to two playing styles that complement each other perfectly. Starks, a senior, is a tough, experienced floor general with great court vision and the ability to get to the rack (something I wish he would do more often) while DSR is an under the radar do-it-all star with the ability to hurt teams from the inside and outside. Combined, the two are putting up numbers of 31.6 points, 6.4 boards, 7.7 assists, 2.2 steals, and 4.2 turnovers per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field. Smith-Rivera has been shooting an insane 48-48-82 shooting line and if he keeps up his strong play, will end up on the national radar during conference play. The only knock on Starks is his penchant for settling for jumpers instead of getting to the rim. At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Starks has shown the ability to get to the paint against most opposing point guards and create either for himself or his teammates. But, when he starts to get into foul trouble or the defense presses up, he falls into a routine of taking bad 3-pointers. A 25% 3-point shooter, Starks has to continue to drive and dish if the team looks to continue its success.
Five-Game Win Streak
After a bad loss to Northeastern in Puerto Rico that had the Georgetown fanbase in near hysterics, the Hoyas calmed down and rebounded with five-straight victories. During that stretch, the Hoyas demolished Kansas State, won in a tough matchup with VCU, destroyed Lipscomb and High Point, and overcame a poor shooting day to beat a sneaky good Colgate team. The Hoyas have a final tune-up against Elon set for next Tuesday before finding out where they stand against Kansas next Saturday in Lawrence.
The Hoyas are forming a bad habit of coming out of the gates slow and allowing their opponent to stick around over the first 20 minutes. Against Lipscomb, Georgetown led 27-26 at the break before blowing them out in the second half. Against High Point, they scored 28 points before the break and 52 points over the final twenty minutes. And against Colgate, they scored just 21 and nearly let the game slip away in the second half as Colgate came on strong. John Thompson III has to get his team to play a full 40 minutes of inspired basketball.
Outside of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the Hoyas' 3-point shooting has been horrendous. As a team, the Hoyas are shooting a woeful 30.8 percent from long-range and have been getting worse as the season goes on. Against Lipscomb, the team shot 7-of-27 from three, against High Point, they shot 10-24, and against Colgate, a dreadful 1-15. The question is why do they take so many threes? Markel Starks is so good when he gets to the paint, Joshua Smith is a 6-10 load down low, DSR and Mikael Hopkins have proven to be slashing threats. Yet the Hoyas shoot 25.5 3-pointers a game. It makes no sense and is frustrating to watch--what's the definition of insanity again?
Georgetown's offense overall is quite underwhelming. They are averaging 75.5 points per game, good enough for 141st in the nation, 14.9 assists (75th), and shooting 48.3% from the field (53rd). G'Town is very lucky that their defense is playing at a high-caliber or they would be in some trouble.
Not a single player on the Georgetown roster is coming close to sniffing ten rebounds per game. Center Joshua Smith is one of the biggest players in the country but is averaging just 4.1 rebounds per game. At 340 pounds, Smith doesn't move well laterally and struggles to get rebounds unless the ball comes right to him. The Hoyas' top rebounders are role player Mikael Hopkins, who is averaging 6.1 boards in 17.9 minutes per game (along with 8.0 points, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks. Give him some more burn JTIII!), and Nate Lubick who is averaging 6.4 boards per. As a team, the Hoyas are averaging 37 rebounds per game which is good enough for 145th in the nation. Georgetown has to get better on the boards or they will get demolished on the glass by the better rebounding teams in the Big East which usually leads to bad losses.
Outside of the aforementioned Mikael Hopkins, the Georgetown bench leaves much to be desired. Between Hopkins, Aaron Bowen, Reggie Cameron, and Moses Ayegba, the Hoyas' six through nine players are averaging 4.2 points, 3.3 boards, and 0.8 assists per game. Taking out Hopkins' stats, which make up the lion's share of those numbers, and the bench production is abysmal. Cameron, a freshman, was brought in as a long range threat and has done a decent job, hitting 19-28 attempts but only plays 11.1 minutes per game. Moses Ayegba has shown flashes of brilliance as a presence in the post on defense but is yet to play with any consistency, and Aaron Bowen's role is purely as a role player. The Hoyas need someone to step up on the bench, and fast, or we could see Starks and Smith-Rivera play 40 minutes per game.