While it was not as crushing of a defeat as that which unfolded in the Villanova game, the loss at the hands of the Hoyas was certainly a crushing blow to the spirits of Blue Demons players and fans, alike. At the outset of the season, this game could have easily been chalked up as a Georgetown win. After the recent string of success that has been belted out by the Blue Demons, the outcome was certainly in question from the opening salvo to the final whistle.
DePaul had looked to be soaring on cloud nine for the past few games, but the game against Villanova seemed to bring them back down to earth. Due to the result of that game, this matchup with Georgetown served as an excellent litmus test in order to best determine the mental resolve of this DePaul team. Many questions were asked, from "How will they respond after a 17 point loss that wasn't as close as the score indicated?" to "Can this team give one more final push to get through this tough string of games?"
Those questions were answered.
Viewers like myself who stayed up late enough to watch this game in its entirety were treated to an excellent ballgame, capping off another great Tuesday slate of Big East games. While the outcome was in the balance until the bitter end, it was clear that both of these teams were not prepared to drop another one. DePaul wanted another key win against a top Big East team in order to boost their résumé, and Georgetown couldn't afford to drop one to the Blue Demons, a loss that would incontrovertibly sully their résumé. Georgetown prevailed 78-72, a margin that was much larger than those who had watched each captivating minute could have anticipated.
What Went Well
Billy Garrett, Jr. has seemed to figure out what his best bet is for scoring: attacking the rim. At 6'6", Garrett outsizes most guards that he comes face to face with, leaving him available to take the ball to the rim. He's an extremely physical player, which also allows him to see success in the post. His success comes in the form of both his propensity to make tough layups and draw fouls, the latter of which seems to consistently earn him the bulk of his points. It's no secret that Billy Garrett is a great foul shooter, so his game is at its best when he is sent to the line. Tuesday proved that point, as a large chunk of his points came from his 7/8 free throw shooting.
One of the biggest bright spots for this team in recent games has been Aaron Simpson. The JUCO transfer shed his bench role for this game, cracking such a critical spot in the starting lineup. His role at DePaul has slowly been building steam this season, as he is continuing to improve his numbers from one game to another. Going into halftime of this game, Simpson was 4/4 from the floor, a number which was incredibly useful, given the fact that Georgetown was so hot offensively that DePaul had to have someone who could keep up with the Hoyas. He ended up accumulating 11 points in this game, a number that is a quality indicator of his progress in his short time with the Blue Demons. One can only hope and expect that his game will improve with time.
Myke Henry is another transfer that has made waves in his first season at DePaul. His game has been at both ends of the spectrum this year, from playing extremely well at the outset of the year to struggling through the Diamond Head Classic. His game has seen a mini-resurgence of sorts since the beginning of Big East play, as he is beginning to once again put up the scoring numbers that made DePaul fans happy that he was added to the team. Tuesday was no exception. Henry managed to rack up 17 points against the Hoyas. His only real fault was the fact that he was in foul trouble for a large chunk of the game.
Less than Desired
Foul trouble has plagued this Blue Demons team all season long, and it is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. Tuesday's game illustrated a problem that is continuing to damage DePaul's odds of winning ballgames. With two players fouling out (Durrell McDonald and Myke Henry), as well as Simpson having 4, the main factors for DePaul's success were critically hindered by fouls. Not only was this the case, but Georgetown ultimately went 26/32 from the free throw line, a number that is deplorable when looked at through a defensive lens. DePaul gave Georgetown points, something they certainly don't need any help doing. The Blue Demons have all the players necessary to get wins, but it doesn't matter if they aren't on the court long enough to play to their fullest capability.
After watching even a modicum of this game, it could rightly be surmised that DePaul simply had no answer to D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The Hoyas guard is one of the best players in the Big East, and he certainly highlighted why on Tuesday night against DePaul. In his 35 minutes spent on the court, Smith-Rivera knocked down threes, crashed the boards, and hit a voluminous amount of free throws. He finished with a whopping 25 points, scoring nearly a third of his team's total points for the evening. It was an awesome performance, sullied only by the fact that he was putting it on against the Blue Demons.
What this Entails
I can sit here and pontificate for hours about how great DePaul played and how it was great to watch their toughness on full display against Georgetown, as they hung with them until the closing bell. Nevertheless, none of that really matters. The fact remains that DePaul still lost this game. They still allowed a team to shoot 50% against them and they still allowed a player to put up 25 on their seemingly addled defense. I hate to sound so sardonic, but it is the callous truth of the matter. If DePaul's dream is to continue, things must be winnowed down and a better show must be put on this Sunday. Otherwise, their postseason dreams will only become more and more evanescent.