Rough first outing, even rougher post-game fan discourse
Until seeing notes about the post-game press conference, I was not expecting to compile links on the Marquette game. I was glad to let the commentary and game tape of a 64-92 loss to Marquette, after a 2021-22 COVID pause, disappear. But then Patrick Ewing invoked imagery of John Thompson Jr. rolling over in his grave.
Ewing had every right to be mad after the Georgetown Hoyas loss, and probably plenty of reasons to cut the press conference short, but he went another route. Ewing publicly laid blame on the players, which feels a bit unfair. It also ignited a fire of wild fan discourse on Twitter, Facebook, and the comments of this lunch blog.
I think it was pretty clear that the athletes in Blue & Gray lost on Friday night because their legs were cooked about 12 minutes into the game, not because of any great lack of desire or focus. Thompson’s spirit can likely forgive them … if everyone associated with Georgetown can learn something from the loss.
We did not compete. Every effort thing we didn’t do it.
As a person who’s played 17 years, coached 23 years. I was disappointed in my team’s performances
Guys are always bitching about you want playing time. Now you have to show you deserve to be on the floor.
— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) January 8, 2022
The problem is that, with Pat’s comments, he abandoned his “patience is a virtue” motto from earlier this year and opened the flood gates for fan criticism about the everything—the players, the program, his staff, the offense, the defense, the arena, the fan engagement, the BIG EAST Tournament Championship, his job, and more. Oh, and folks wanting to rehash the fucking transfers.
No doubt about it, the game stunk. It felt way more like Game 1 against Dartmouth than the effort against Syracuse. Perhaps the fact that fans saw these Hoyas play pretty high-level basketball against the Boeheim family, et al. one month ago raised the expectations for the Georgetown faithful. Perhaps visions of last year’s post-COVID pause propelling the BIG EAST Championship run crept into the hopes and dreams of the Hoya faithful. Perhaps losing to a coach many fans wanted as JTIII’s replacement stirred up some old bitterness.
But maybe the loss is not some microcosm of the state of the program. Perhaps the loss is just a really rough loss for a team interrupted in their progress. On the other side of the court, Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles came in with a well-known plan and wore the short-handed Hoyas out before the end of the first half. Marquette worked the ball around a bit more in their half-court sets with extra passes and off-ball screens to further test the Hoyas’ stamina after their 20 days off. Generally, Georgetown had short possessions on offense and prolonged exertion on defense. That’s a bad recipe for healthy players, let alone a couple potentially recovering from upper respiratory illnesses. It was a good game plan and there was minimal GU bench to counter it.
One thing that may change over the next game or two is, hopefully, Patrick Ewing’s limited bench. With Jordan Riley out for the foreseeable future, Timothy Ighoefe expected back soon, a pregame announcement of Don Carey having an illness, and Ryan Mutombo on the bench but not playing, maybe one or more comes back and helps eat some quality minutes. Along with an extra body, maybe the Hoyas’ conditioning changes against Butler, after another week of practicing together—and probably plenty of some shuttle runs.
So yeah, fans, including this humble lunch blog contributor, are pretty disappointed with the team performance on Friday night and Ewing’s post-game comments did not help one bit. If he mentions Big John’s grave ever again, there better be a real injustice or tragedy going on, and not just some huffing and puffing and piss-poor defensive communication.
Now, on the other hand, please don’t get this confused with a “Ewing-haters’ agenda.” They certainly came out of their dark crevices and caves these past couple days. This humble lunch blog contributor is not ready to take a 20,000-foot view of the program’s success (or struggles) during the Ewing-coaching era with 18+ games left in the season. I certainly don’t want to relitigate “but all the transfers” all over again. Please, no. Pointed criticism of Ewing’s rotations and defense are probably necessary, but nebulous calls for his firing are premature. So much can happen in the next 20 games.
We’ve seen some glimmers of hope and growth with several of these players in December that we can’t just throw out. Dante Harris getting back to himself is fixable. Kaiden Rice’s defense can take a step forward. Don Carey needs to do a bit more scoring. The center position can be developed into a plus. And Aminu Mohammed will be the most talented player on the floor for every game the Hoyas play. As I said before, beating Syracuse—as bad as they may turn out to be—demonstrates that Georgetown has the talent to at least compete and fight with the best in the conference this year.
One potential hiccup, though, is that with these rescheduled matchups, days with games in January and February will definitely be packed closer together than usual. Nights of tired legs might be more frequent, even if Ewing runs them like sled dogs at practice this week. But fans won’t have to wait more than 4 days between Hoyas basketball games any time soon, and the players’ minds should be sharp going game-to-game in only a few days. Let’s hope that any post-game mentions of John Thompson will be for the right reasons—like good hustle and toughness and not lack of energy or effort.
Here are the links:
MU finished shooting a pupil-dilating 39 for 56 (59.1%), leaving Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing livid.
“Their whole team played well,” Ewing said. “I tip my hat off to them. They played harder than we played and they out-competed us. If we want to win in the Big East, we have to compete.
“As a player who helped build this program, I am disappointed in my team’s performance. This is not what Georgetown basketball is about. Big John (Thompson, former Hoyas coach) is rolling over in his grave for the performance that we showed tonight. This is not what I’m about. This is not what my team is about.”
It was the first Big East game for Georgetown which had its first four league matchups canceled. Due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Hoyas hadn’t played since a loss to Texas Christian on Dec. 18. Georgetown was still without sharpshooter Donald Carey, who was hitting 44.9% of his three-pointers this season.
“Felt like we just didn’t run back in transition,” redshirt first-year forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper said. “They were getting buckets in transition on us so we just have to get back quicker and set defensively. Thought in the second half we were more focused on that.”
The start to the second half was not much better for Marquette, as Georgetown opened on a 7-2 run, bringing the deficit to 47-44…
“Georgetown actually made some really, really good plays early in the second half,” Smart said. “Thought our guys continued to fight, share the ball with each other and then turn defense into offense was a big deal for us going on that run.”
Marquette would outscore Georgetown 47-27 and shoot 62.5% from the field in the second half, pulling away with the 92-64 victory.
Here are the top 5 CBB games from the weekend by total at @BetRivers:
4. Purdue-Penn State
5. Saint Mary’s-BYU
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) January 10, 2022
17:14 to go, and a layup from Malcolm Wilson pulled Georgetown within three, 47-44.
This happened! This was a real game with 17 minutes to go! Even though Marquette led by as many as 19 at one point in the first half! Not ideal!
Things that are ideal? Answering an 18-2 run with a 25-4 run of your own. After that Wilson bucket, Justin Lewis scored for MU on the other end to start a 7-0 burst. After some free throws for both sides and a layup from 2021 Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player Dante Harris (who finished this game 3-for-15 from the field), Oso Ighodaro scored for the Golden Eagles to ignite a 17-0 run. The capping dunk from Olivier-Maxence Prosper — who was unreal in this game — left Marquette up 72-48 with 11:16 to go.
This effectively ended the game.
— Jon Teitel (@jonteitel) January 8, 2022
One second-half sequence summed up the night for Georgetown. Ewing called a timeout after falling behind by 28 points and the Hoyas couldn’t inbound the ball, so Aminu Mohammed called another, the team’s last, with 11:29 remaining. Georgetown came out of the break and Mohammed immediately turned over the ball. Seconds later, Dante Harris simply lost the ball while dribbling and Marquette’s Olivier-Maxence Prosper threw down a dunk on the ensuing fast break.
A pair of Marquette runs spelled doom for Georgetown, and both left the Hoyas’ defense looking completely lost. The first-half blitz came quick and left the Hoyas’ heads spinning. A one-point Marquette lead turned into an 18-point margin in just under five minutes of court time as the Golden Eagles (10-6, 2-3) attacked both inside and out. Prosper followed a three-pointer with an alley-oop dunk. Then it was Darryl Morsell’s turn. The former Maryland standout delivered his own thundering alley-oop dunk that was followed by a steal and layup by Prosper. Greg Elliott capped the run with a triple of his own.
The Hoyas couldn’t guard inside or out. Marquette scored 56 points in the paint, compared to Georgetown’s 28, and shot 34.6 percent from behind the arc.
“They made their runs because we made stupid decisions,” Ewing said. “We took bad shots. We forced it when we were supposed to pass it. Guys were open. Everybody’s trying to do it on their own. I keep telling them, you have to trust your teammates, trust your teammates.”
AT was living in the lane Friday night. He posted the second 20-point game of his career and was one shy of his personal-best. pic.twitter.com/d7C2CtG3re
— Butler Basketball (@ButlerMBB) January 10, 2022
Xavier went 10-of-22 from three-point range and shot 55 percent overall from the field for the game. The Musketeers (12-2, 2-1 BIG EAST) hit six of their first nine attempts from behind the arc on their way to a 29-17 lead with 6:55 remaining in the first half. Xavier led 42-31 at the half.
Aaron Thompson’s driving layup pulled Butler within 62-55 with 8:47 to play before Kunkel grabbed a loose offensive rebound and hit a three-pointer to return the game to double figures.
Thompson (20) and Bryce Golden (19) each finished the game one shy of their respective career-highs. The duo combined for 39 of the team’s 72 points…
The Bulldogs (8-6, 1-2 BIG EAST) next set out for a three-game, six-day East coast road trip that begins with a Thursday night game at Georgetown.
Meanwhile, Butler was 1-of-9 on 3s in the first half. So that 18-3 margin at the arc was the difference Xavier needed to lead by as many as 13 and build a 42-31 halftime bulge.
In their past four losses, Butler has been 5-of-20 (Texas A&M), 4-of-28 (Purdue), 6-of-25 (Seton Hall) and 5-of-21 (Xavier) on 3s…
Heading into the game, Butler was 11th (last) in the Big East in points per possession, 11th in scoring (62.8), 10th in field goal percentage, ninth in free throw percentage and 11th in offensive rebounding
It is no slight on Butler to suggest Xavier has more and better offensive players. Xavier does. You can defend and scheme and fight and dig to compensate. Better to have shotmakers.
— Xavier 247 (@musketeerreport) January 8, 2022
It’s no secret that Butler’s offense has been struggling. The team hadn’t hit 70 points — excluding the game versus Division II Chaminade — since Nov. 13 versus Troy. That puts a lot of pressure on the defense to play at an elite level, and if they don’t there is only a slim chance of coming out with a win.
Despite these struggles as of late, Golden has completely turned his season around and is currently Butler’s most consistent scorer. After dropping 19 last night, he has now scored double digits in seven of the last eight games, the lone exception coming against DePaul when he got into foul trouble and played only 18 minutes. Golden has been efficient too — he has not shot lower than 55% over this stretch. While he is a liability at times on the other end of the floor, he has to play big minutes because of the presence he has in the post offensively and seems to be the only Bulldog to consistently get buckets.
While Golden is scoring at a high level, Thompson has been Butler’s best offensive player this season, and he showed that last night. Thompson usually does not take it upon himself to score, but there is no doubt that he can get to the basket against anyone. His 20 points came on 9-10 from two, most of which were him driving hard to hoop and making a tough layup. With seemingly all the other guards on cold streaks, Thompson may have to continue to score rather than drive and kick to keep the offense alive.
Kunkel goes crazy: Xavier basketball returns with a convincing win at Butler https://t.co/lsMui0KfK9
— Enquirer Sports (@ENQSports) January 8, 2022
Butler scored 40 points in the paint and there were some long stretches where Xavier struggled to get stops. Most of that was a matter of ball-screen coverage. The Musketeers had some issues defending Butler’s high ball screens.
But it was also a product of Bryce Golden and Aaron Thompson, who combined for 39 points, being really good at what they do. Xavier had trouble stopping Thompson from getting downhill and Golden did whatever he wanted…
Freemantle has to be better on that end of the floor. Sometimes he’s out of position, and other times he doesn’t provide the resistance required to get stops. It wasn’t only Freemantle, though. There were a number of Musketeers who missed assignments and let Butler have open looks.
Three players, including the team’s leading scorer Chuck Harris, were held scoreless from the bench. Since his best performance of the season against Oklahoma on Dec. 7, Harris has shot 6-for-28 from the field and 3-for-17 from beyond the arc.
The poor shooting streak may not have always ended with a loss, but it doesn’t help the team right now — especially when it looks like Jordan just wants Harris to come off the bench and score. Harris still has time to shake off his scoring funk, but hopefully it comes quickly…
In basketball, it’s often said that the team that wins the battle on the glass is usually the team that wins the game. This was the case on Tuesday night for the Seton Hall Pirates. They outrebounded Butler 36-25, including eight offensive rebounds…
In the first eight games of the season, Bolden was setting the net on fire — shooting 46% from the field and from three. The last five games, however, haven’t been as productive. In that span, Bolden is shooting just 23% from the field and 19% from three.
Hot off the press, it’s the #BIGEASThoops Update!
Looking ahead to Wednesday’s Top 20 matchup between @NovaMBB and @XavierMBB, breaking down @SetonHallMBB‘s OT victory over @UConnMBB and a preview of Tuesday’s @CBBONFOX All Access Broadcast as @DePaulHoops visits @MarquetteMBB. pic.twitter.com/K1wpdxGkNS
— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) January 10, 2022
Butler has the fourth worst defense in the Big East. That’s not great. Their offense, though, is tragically bad. At 180th in offensive efficiency they come in dead last in the conference and find themselves between Florida Gulf Coast and Seattle overall.
Butler struggled to get past IUPUI and somehow only beat Saginaw State by 11. In DI games the Bulldogs are 6-5 and have won exactly one KenPom top 100 game. That leaves Butler at 115th in the KenPom again this year. The last time that Butler had back to back seasons this bad, Todd Lickliter was at the helm and some guy named Brandon Crone was getting big minutes in conference games against Youngstown State.
Is this a full on tailspin for Butler? Unfortunately not. They aren’t going the right way, though, and they are getting rotation minutes from five seniors.
“Players that are vaccinated and boosted, or players that have antibodies in their system and aren’t required to be tested for 90 days — I think the combination of those things gives us a fighting chance to play as many games as we can,” Jackson said. https://t.co/X00yyqxtyD
— Philadelphia Hoyas (@PhillyHoyas) January 11, 2022
“I guess the positive is there’s not going to be much time to stew over losses, and not much time to celebrate any victories,” said Hurley. “We’ll just deal with it. We’re thrilled to be able to play out a full season, after last year. Players love to play games and love less practice time, so victory for the players and bad for the coaches.”
While rescheduling games is in the league’s hands, cancelling games is essentially in the hands of the programs. If a program can’t field a team with seven healthy scholarship players, it provides the league with a detailed rundown of their roster, identifying players that are unable to compete for whatever reasons — COVID-19 protocols, injuries, red-shirts, disciplinary reasons.
Likewise, when a team is able to compete, it provides a similarly detailed breakdown — without citing players’ names.
Jackson said the league’s schools “have been great” in communicating their issues. He shares in Hurley’s optimism that there is a runway to complete the rest of the season with few cancellations — to a degree.