GEORGETOWN HOYAS SEASON PREVIEW
Patrick Ewing (15-15, second year)
Georgetown hosted Butler on Dec. 27, 2017 in Ewing’s first Big East game as coach of the Hoyas. That game, in its entirety, encapsulated the highs and lows of his first season as a head coach. The Hoyas, having played one of the weakest nonconference schedules in NCAA history, surprised everyone by jumping out to a 42-24 halftime lead over the Bulldogs. But the Hoyas committed 21 turnovers in the game and surrendered a game-tying tip-in as the clock expired, before Kelan Martin won the game in double overtime on an open floater.
At times, the Hoyas looked to be on their way to exceeding expectations. Still, past errors slipped through the cracks and re-established themselves. Like the final years of the John Thompson III era, fans didn't know which Georgetown they would get each game. Would they get the squad that took Xavier to overtime in Cincinnati? Or, would they get the team that lost by 32 at home to Villanova?
It’s difficult to know how much of this inconsistency can be attributed to coaching. In year two, Ewing doesn’t necessarily need to raise the Hoyas’ ceiling, but he does need to raise their floor. It’s hard to argue a team is ready to take its next step in rebuilding when it can, on any given night, lose by double digits. If Ewing can turn the flashes of positive play from last season into extended runs of good form, the Hoyas might yet be on their way back into the postseason.
2017-18 Season At A Glance
15-15, 5-13 Big East; 8th in Standings; 57th KenPom
Departures from 2017
|Player||Departure Reason||2017 Stats|
|Player||Departure Reason||2017 Stats|
|Marcus Derrickson||NBA Draft||15.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, .505 FG%|
|Jonathan Mulmore||Graduation||5.6 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, .459 FG%|
|Trey Dickerson||Graduation||4.4 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, .427 FG%|
|Antwan Walker||Dismissed from Program||2.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.2 APG, .490 FG%|
|Ra'Mnod Hines||Graduation||0.3 PPG, 0.2 RPG, 0.2 APG, .000 FG%|
Returnees for 2018
|Jessie Govan||Sr.||17.9 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, .508 FG%|
|Jamorko Pickett||So.||9.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, .363 FG%|
|Jahvon Blair||So.||9.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, .332 FG%|
|Kaleb Johnson||Sr.||7.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, .542 FG%|
|Jagan Mosely||Jr.||6.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.9 APG, .486 FG%|
|George Muresan||Jr.||0.3 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 1.00 FG%|
|Trey Mourning||Gs.||Medical Redshirt (hip surgery)|
Newcomers for 2018
|Player||247Sports Composite Rankings|
|Player||247Sports Composite Rankings|
|Greg Malinowski||Transfer from William & Mary|
|James Akinjo||4-star, 90th Ovr, 13th Pos, 8th St (California)|
|Grayson Carter||3-star, 235th Ovr, 40th Pos, 16th St (Texas)|
|Josh LeBlanc||4-star, 98th Ovr, 24th Pos, 3rd St (Louisiana)|
|Mac McClung||3-star, 245th Ovr, 23rd Pos, 11th St (Virginia)|
|Omer Yurtseven||Transfer from NC State (ineligible this year)|
What Happened Last Year
Georgetown won its opening eight games before dropping an overtime thriller to Syracuse at home. By the time conference play started, the Hoyas had won 10-of-11 nonconference games, including eight over sub-300 KenPom teams. Having avoided a catastrophic loss to the likes of Alabama A&M or Jacksonville, the Hoyas entered conference play with a small—like, really small—chance of making the NCAA Tournament.
Georgetown was unable to defend its home floor in Big East play, notching just two wins at the Capital One Arena. On the road, the Hoyas managed three wins, including a four-point victory over Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where the Hoyas have won four out of five matchups since the conference’s realignment. The Butler victory was the last the Hoyas would enjoy on the year, losing their final five games of the season.
Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson provided a potent 1-2 punch. Averaging 18 and 16 points, and 10 and 8 rebounds per game, respectively, the big men were Georgetown’s most consistent options throughout the season. Derrickson, in particular, provided clutch shots when needed, while Govan demonstrated a steady composure on the block that hadn’t been evident in years past.
Jamorko Pickett was a bright spot, earning a unanimous All-Big East Freshman Team selection after averaging 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. While primarily a 3-point shooter early in the year, Pickett really came into his own as the season wore on. He steadily grew more comfortable slashing to the rim and creating his own shots. He scored a career-high 21 points twice, with both instances coming against Xavier.
Georgetown struggled for production outside of Govan, Derrickson, and Pickett. Four other players averaged more than 20 minutes per game (Jahvon Blair, Kaleb Johnson, Jagan Mosely, Jonathan Mulmore), but inconsistent play off the bench plagued the team. Turnovers, as already mentioned, were the most glaring weakness, as Georgetown committed 81 more than it forced.
The Blue & Gray were average defensively, allowing 44 percent opponent field goal shooting, including 35 percent from deep. Despite shooting at a better clip than opponents on the season, Georgetown allowed 290 offensive rebounds and opponents attempted 107 more shots, which often stymied momentum during comeback efforts.
Key Nonconference Matchups
You probably heard about Georgetown’s nonconference schedule last year. You know, the one that Ken Pomeroy dubbed “the worst nonconference schedule for as long as [he has] been tracking... power conference or not”? Yeah, that one.
Here’s the good news: this year’s schedule is better. The Hoyas will play four games away from Capital One Arena, including a Dec. 8 matchup with archrival Syracuse and a Nov. 13 date with Illinois. They’ll also play in the Jamaica Classic, their first nonconference tournament since the 2016 Maui Invitational.
The nonconference schedule certainly won’t help if the team finds itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but it will prepare them for Big East play better than last year’s schedule did. That said, the Hoyas probably can’t afford to lose more than two games if they want to have any legitimate chance of earning a bid.
Reasons for Optimism
Govan Sets Sights on the NBA
Jessie Govan has improved in each year of his Georgetown career. He averaged 17.9 points and 10 rebounds as a junior, compared to 10.1 points 5.0 rebounds as a sophomore. He also got to the foul line more consistently, hitting his 155 free throw attempts at a 76 percent clip. His former frontcourt mate, Marcus Derrickson, signed a two-way contract with the Warriors prior to the start of the season, and Govan has reiterated his desire to make it to the Association as well. His yearly development coupled with his desire to prove his ability to NBA scouts makes for a potentially special season.
Malinowski and Mourning Eligible
Marcus Derrickson entering the NBA hurts. But with Greg Malinowski (transfer rules) and Trey Mourning (medical redshirt) eligible, Georgetown might be able to replace some of the lost production. Malinowski shot 40 percent from 3-point range in the 2016-17 season at William & Mary, ranking fourth in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Mourning has only played spot minutes throughout his career, but he has demonstrated strong offensive awareness in his short time on the court and in Kenner League play. Replacing Derrickson’s production will be a burden, but at least Ewing will have experienced players to rely on in addition to newcomers LeBlanc and Carter.
Strong Recruiting Class
Ewing’s first recruiting class is solid and adds depth to both the frontcourt and backcourt units. James Akinjo provides immediate impact potential and will likely see the most minutes of any incoming freshman. Only Ewing knows how much Mac McClung, Grayson Carter and Josh LeBlanc will play, but they provide depth when needed and a solid foundation for the future.
Read more about the incoming freshmen here.
Reasons for Pessimism
Turnovers on Turnovers
I might sound like a broken record, but Georgetown really struggled to protect the ball last year, posting the conference’s worst turnover margin (-2.7). Players like Jagan Mosely and Jahvon Blair will have last year’s experience to learn from, but if Ewing leans on his incoming freshmen guards, there’s a chance these turnover issues resurface as the incomers get collegiate game time. These turnovers could be the difference between a 18-12 and 15-15 record.
The Hoyas haven’t performed well at home in recent years. They’ve won just 29-of-53 games (54 percent) at home since the start of the 2015-16 season, a record which includes losses to Radford, Monmouth, and Arkansas State. A lot has changed in recent years, but the Blue & Gray must defend home court better in order to build a proper NCAA Tournament resume.
Missing Third Piece?
Govan and Pickett are the two pillars Georgetown will rely on this season. With Marcus Derrickson out of the picture, there isn’t a clear third option for the Hoyas to turn two when Govan or Pickett struggles. There are several candidates, including Akinjo, Malinowski, or Johnson, but until someone fills this role it will be hard for Hoya fans to breathe easy until the team has found its third piece.
Best Case Scenario
Govan lives up to his preseason All-Big East First Team selection, Pickett increases his scoring output and Akinjo develops into the pure point guard he’s touted to be. The Hoyas will face stiffer competition in the nonconference this year, but it’s possible—though not likely—they run the table early on and enter Big East play undefeated. They could challenge for eight to ten Big East wins and finish the season around the 22 win mark. Provided some of those conference wins come against teams like Marquette and ‘Nova, the Hoyas could find themselves in the Next Four Out of the NCAA Tournament.
Worst Case Scenario
Dropping multiple nonconference games and dropping home games to weaker Big East opponents. Failing to finish above .500 for a fourth straight year would be a nightmare for a program trying to recruit high-profile players. Missing all postseason basketball is a doomsday scenario.
20-11, (9-9 in Big East play)