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Big East Season Recap: Georgetown Exit Interview

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Our 10-part series keeps rolling right along as we focus on the Georgetown Hoyas.

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Coming off a disappointing 2013-2014, the Hoyas had a nice bounceback year. Who do you think contributed the most to their success?

Derek Rayment: I think Jabril Trawick had the biggest jump from the previous season to this last season and that propelled them to the success they had. He was a tough guard for many defenders and he played good on both ends of the floor. And having Josh Smith available more this season contributed.

Mike Murtaugh: It's hard to pin that down to just one player. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Joshua Smith both put up similar numbers (and slightly worse, actually) to their 2013-14 stats, but the real difference this year was the team around them. As Derek said, Trawick was a difference maker, especially late in the season, and he was often the team's defensive stopper in a conference ripe with scorers at the guard and wing positions. The Hoyas have a really, really good outlook going forward with the freshman trio of Isaac Copeland, Paul White and L.J. Peak, and their emergence throughout the year gave the team some depth that they haven't seen in a long time.

DevonTe Brooks: I agree with Mike. I do not think we can pin down just one player who improved because it was much of a team effort and that is what John Thompson III emphasized during post-game press conferences because each player that had quality minutes contributed in some type of way. If I had to chose, I would say Jabril Trawick because he was aggressive and played good defense. Trawick is the type of player that really does not need to score the ball a lot in order to have an impact on the game because he is the guy that did a lot of the dirty work.

Phil Neuffer: Let me be the fourth to speak glowingly of Trawick, who played with an aggression on both ends that you don't always see. However, as has also been put forth previously, I think Georgetown developed into a strong unit, rather than a team that relied heavily on the solo performances of one player to push it back into contention. I think a player who really didn't get a ton of credit is Mikael Hopkins. He wasn't the game-changer that some of those mentioned before were, but he set career-highs in minutes (22.2 pg), rebounds (5.8 pg) and blocks (1.6 bpg) this season and was the rim protector the Hoyas needed since Smith never developed into a defensive force.

Georgetown had, arguably, the best freshmen in the conference last season (outside of Seton Hall). Those guys will all likely be asked to play a bigger role this season, do you think they can handle it?

Derek Rayment: Absolutely. Sometimes there's the sophomore slump but I don't think these guys will have that. They'll be ready to step into bigger roles next season and lead the Hoyas to more victories.

Mike Murtaugh: Most definitely, yes. It's going to be tough to replace the toughness Smith and Trawick brought to this team, but the Copeland-White-Peak trio alongside Smith-Rivera is a ferocious team going forward. Copeland made the biggest leap as the season went along and is a serious threat from deep at any time, and Peak closed the year on a high note with an 18-point performance in the Hoyas' first-round loss to Utah. Those two will surely begin the year in the starting lineup, and should be really successful. White is the most inconsistent of
the three, but showed some real flashes in big games. It should be really fun to see how these guys develop.

DevonTe Brooks: It will be hard to replace the seniors that left, but with the development of Copeland-White-Peak trio, there will be more offense for Georgetown because they all can run the floor really well. Copeland and White can stretch the floor because they are an inside out type threat to other teams because once they get going, they will continue to work. Jessie Govan, who will be a freshman, will get quality minutes and I feel like he's going to be able to develop the toughness from the start because Thompson III puts a lot of trust in freshman and it worked out this year and will work out again.

Phil Neuffer: There won't be as much pressure on the young guys as expected since DSR is coming back, but I wholeheartedly believe they can handle whatever is thrown their way. I think Copeland is going to be a POTY candidate in a year or two and Peak can really help make up for the departure of Trawick. Both still need to be more consistent. Copeland had games where he looked like the second coming of Otto Porter, but in many others he looked lost. I believe he will be closer to the former next season.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera made the decision to forego the NBA Draft to return for his senior season. Is he the favorite for Big East Player of the year in 2015-2016?

Derek Rayment: No, I think the favorite should be Kris Dunn. In my opinion, Dunn is NBA ready and should have left. I think he's the best player in the conference and will showcase what he's capable of next season even more so than he did this past season. Smith-Rivera is a great player and can change any game in an instant, but Dunn provides more for his team.

Mike Murtaugh: Kris Dunn will be the early favorite for Big East Player of the Year, and deservedly so. However, I wouldn't call that a foregone conclusion just yet. Dunn's going to have to be the primary scorer at Providence this year, and given his previous issues with efficiency and turnovers, I'm not convinced yet that coming back for another year was the right move for him. Smith-Rivera, on the other hand, is coming back for one last stand with a young group of guys he showed real chemistry with last season. I'd still put my money on Dunn, but Smith-Rivera could be in for a renaissance year to close things out at Georgetown.

DevonTe Brooks: Well, Kris Dunn will be the early favorite to win the Big East Player of the Year award because he is just that good, but I would put my money on Smith-Rivera to win depending on the head-to-head matchups these two have because they might dominate nonconference schedule and it will be about how they perform in conference play. Even though at times Smith-Rivera does not score, he still finds a way to impact the game by creating for his teammates or coming down the stretch to make a big play.

Phil Neuffer: The POTY race begins with Kris Dunn, since he's the defending award winner and the best player in the conference. However, losing LaDontae Henton could really hurt him, at least statistically, as teams can zero in on him without worrying about Henton. That could open things up for DSR, who had a legitimate claim to the throne in 2014, as the Big East leader in win shares (5.6). If Dunn is the favorite, and he should be, then DSR is next in line.

What can Georgetown expect from their two big-time recruits Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson next season?

Derek Rayment: John Thompson III isn't afraid to use freshmen like he showed last season. But they'll have to prove their worth like any other player on the team. To jump ahead of the guys they'll have back they will really have to do well over the summer to become Big East ready.

Mike Murtaugh: Govan will probably be forced to play a lot early, as he looks to be one of Georgetown's only options with real size down low other than Bradley Hayes. Derrickson will get his chances, and if he shows anything like this year's freshman trio did, Coach Thompson should find a spot for him in the rotation. There's a lot of really fun youth that's about to infuse this roster.

DevonTe Brooks: The staff really likes both of them and I expect them both to be used in the rotation because you have Govan, who is becoming athletic enough to run the floor with the guards and can stretch defenses out with that 15 to 18 foot jump shot, while Derrickson can do a lot and hit perimeter shots on a consistent basis. Thompson III will find a spot for both of them because the big men can shoot really well.

Phil Neuffer: After seeing Copeland, Peak and White play critical roles for the Hoyas last season, it is clear that JTIII has no problem leaning on freshmen and I think the same thing will happen with Govan and Derrickson. Govan feels a real need. The Hoyas have lost a lot in the paint (Hopkins and Smith), so he should get every opportunity to get on the floor. Derrickson has size and strength and should help the Hoyas maintain the tough identity they always strive for.

Early prediction for the Hoyas next season?

Derek Rayment: They have to be one of the favorites heading into next season. With Smith-Rivera back, I don't see why this team can't finish in the top three in the Big East at least. I think another NCAA Tournament appearance is certainly expected and hopefully they can make more of that opportunity than they have in recent seasons.

Mike Murtaugh: Anything outside of the NCAA Tournament is a disappointment for this Georgetown team. A lot is going to ride on how the Copeland-White-Peak group develops, and if they take a step forward (especially Copeland) this team is going to be really tough to beat. Their depth is enormously important, but don't get confused: this is going to be Smith-Rivera's team. Smith-Rivera will be one of the best seniors in the country, and he and Dunn will both be in the discussion for National Player of the Year as well. This team is going as far as he'll take them.

DevonTe Brooks: I feel like they will be a top three team in the conference just like last year and Smith-Rivera will be the leader for this team because it is a lot of youth on the team. With a tough nonconference schedule and a trip to Italy, it will develop the camaraderie with the team as a whole and make the chemistry better. Georgetown will be one of the best teams in the country and will go unrecognized for a while for a lot of the national people and they will carry that underdog mentality. One thing that will need to be focus on is giving up big leads this year for them.

Phil Neuffer: Just getting back DSR makes this team a Big East title contender. With the depth and youth the program has cultivated, they should be set to be NCAA Tournament participants for some time. In the immediate future, I see the Hoyas finishing in the same vicinity they did this past season. I still don't think they have enough to overcome Villanova, but the chemistry that DSR, Copeland and Peak have, along with the infusion of young talent, should help them stay near the top.


Check back next week as we'll take a look at Marquette and Providence!