You know that awkward feeling when you draw the name of a person you barely know in a Secret Santa pool? You vaguely know the person, but not quite well enough to buy them a thoughtful gift without feeling like a fool. This year, that person is Patrick Ewing. Ewing and his Hoyas enter the holiday season with the conference’s third-best record (10-1) and boast one of the most dynamic frontcourt duos in the nation in Jessie Govan (19.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game) and Marcus Derrickson (13.4 points and 7.0 rebounds per game), but no one is quite sure just what to make of the team. During a nonconference slate that featured just one power-conference opponent (Syracuse) and one road game (Richmond), Georgetown has shown its blatant inconsistency. Periods of excellence have been interrupted with stretches of mediocrity, leaving Hoya fans cautiously optimistic about the future. As for now, the Blue & Gray could use a little help from Santa to shore up their deficiencies and compete in the Big East.
A Deeper Frontcourt
Ewing has utilized a four-forward starting lineup through the team’s opening 11 games, with Jamorko Pickett, Kaleb Johnson and Jonathan Mulmore joining Govan and Derrickson for the opening tip each game. With Chris Sodom’s recent dismissal (violation of team rules) and Trey Mourning’s medical redshirt, only one frontcourt player on scholarship, 6-foot-9 freshman Antwan Walker, remains on the roster. That’s meant extended minutes for the team’s feature duo, with Govan logging a team-high 32.9 minutes per game and Derrickson adding 28.6. If the Hoyas are going to compete in the Big East, they’ll need productive nights from their front line on a consistent basis, which could be more difficult as fatigue becomes a factor.
Luckily, Christmas might have come early for Hoya fans. After two consecutive DNP’s (coach’s decision), Walker led the team in scoring on Saturday against Alabama A&M, racking up a team-high 16 points on 6-7 shooting from the field. He ran the floor well in transition and showed newfound composure against the undersized Bulldogs. If Walker maintains that form throughout conference play, it will be one of Santa’s best Christmas gifts to date.
A True Point Guard
Whereas the frontcourt suffers from a lack of depth, the backcourt has the opposite problem. Four Hoyas, Mulmore, Jagan Mosely, Jahvon Blair and Trey Dickerson, each bringing a different skill set to the table, form a serviceable backcourt rotation. Mulmore provides unparalleled speed and quickness; Mosely demonstrates consistent composure; Blair’s shooting ability supplies immediate scoring off the bench; and Dickerson is a solid slashing guard, despite his size disadvantage. The problem? None of these players possesses a true point guard’s repertoire, a critical hole in Patrick Ewing’s pro-style offense. Each of these players could certainly develop into a pure point guard, but the transition will likely take more time than the Hoyas have available. A little bit of Christmas magic could be just what Georgetown needs.
Good Fortune on the Road
Georgetown’s nonconference schedule was widely criticized in the national media. Part of that criticism was aimed at the fact that the Hoyas dropped out of the Phil Knight Invitation, leaving them with just one road game prior to conference play. While they took care of business on the road at Richmond, the Big East presents a bevy of better teams and daunting environments, that the Hoyas are yet to encounter this season. The team has managed difficult road wins over then-No. 5 Xavier in 2016 and then-No. 11 Butler in 2017. But the team also had experienced the 2K Classic and Maui Invitational in those respective seasons, tournaments which undoubtedly helped the team prepare for the Big East gauntlet. Good fortune on the road could help make up for this lack of experience and help the Hoyas grab another signature win away from D.C.
The Hoyas are hard to shop for in that they are still searching for a unique identity under their new head coach. The best way to buy for an unknown person is to play it safe, purchase something that anyone could use. The same applies to the Hoyas. Every team needs the items on their wish list, but these needs are particularly strong for Georgetown. If the Hoyas are to compete in the Big East, they’ll need some help from St. Nick to jump to the next level.