Reporting Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON — Never has the Georgetown Men’s Basketball media guide received so much use just a mere thirteen games into a season.
Many of the stats and totals have been record breaking thus far in the 2012-13 campaign, but mostly for the wrong reasons.
There was that 37-36 victory over Tennessee on November 30th that proved to remind fans of an era long since gone, before the implementation of the shot clock.
A week later it was yet another offensive offensive performance, this time a 46-40 decision over Towson.
While the majority of the numbers being broken – or just even looked up – haven’t been aesthetically pleasing, the Hoyas had been finding a way to win those games. As a result Georgetown went from unranked to as high as No. 15 in the country – a position it held for a month.
So a few days after failing to score more than 50 points for already the third time of the season, a 49-48 loss to Marquette in their Big East opener, 19th ranked Georgetown set some serious history on Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh continued its recent road dominance over Georgetown by defeating the Hoyas 73-45.
Even though the Panthers previous two trips to the Verizon Center had produced wins of 16 and 15 points respectively, there was still no way in knowing just exactly what was about to unfold.
It was the largest loss since John Thompson III took over in 2004.
But it’s bigger than that.
It was the largest conference loss for Georgetown since the creation of the Big East in 1979.
Still, it got worse.
The 28-point drubbing was the worst loss of any kind since a 104-71 loss to Maryland on Dec. 10, 1974.
The hits, they keep coming.
It was the most lopsided home defeat since December 7th, 1971.
To put that last date in perspective, it predates Georgetown Basketball as everybody currently knows it.
Spelled out further it means that some coach named John Magee was still on the sidelines, just two games into his final season that ended 3-23.
That ‘other’ Thompson, the National Championship winning and Hall of Fame father of the current coach, was still coaching high school basketball and had yet to put the Hoyas on the national basketball map.
“It’s embarrassing,” Thompson III responded when asked about his team’s voyage into uncharted waters .
“I know this isn’t who we are, but tonight it’s very disappointing.”
After taking an early 2-0 lead on a Nate Lubick hook shot, the Hoyas (10-3, 0-2) would connect on just twelve more field goals the rest of the way, trailed by 15 at the half, and by as many as 30 in the second half.
Georgetown had more turnovers than field goals.
Otto Porter, Jr led the way with nine points as Georgetown failed to produce a double digit scorer for the second time this season.
After not allowing an opponent to shoot better than 47 percent from the field, the Hoyas – ranked 7th in the country in scoring defense – gave up 55 percent shooting from the field and a season high in points during regulation.
Anywhere you go looking on the box score, the numbers don’t smile back from the Georgetown portion as the Hoyas finally came across a team not interested wrestling in the mud in Pitt (13-3, 1-2), who avoided an 0-3 start of their own in their final season in the Big East.
In what will likely be the last game in the series for quite some time, Dixon now holds a 7-6 record over Thompson III having won six of the past eight contests. The Panthers coach did seem recepective to the idea of coming back in the future to play in DC.
Who could blame him?
Georgetown has started out 0-2 in Big East play four times. All four poor starts actually occurred during a bleak five year stretch in the program’s modern history, the last coming during the 2001-02 season.
Going forward there is a lot of work ahead of the current group of Hoyas as none of those seasons ended with Georgetown earning an NCAA Tournament bid.
If there is to be a bright side of such a lopsided affair, and there very well still could be considering how much season is left- 16 games plus a conference tournament, its that the players and more importantly the coach now have to find another way.
Although Thompson III doesn’t seem willing to concede that Tuesday night’s performance is a true representation of who his team is, it kind of is, at least offensively.
Something has to change in order for the points to come against tougher competition in the conference. And while no coach wants an epic loss on their resume, continuing to grind out wins in the 40′s probably isn’t the way this team is best built to succeed down the stretch.
Finishing in the top half of the league seems a daunting task if the defense needs to hold opponents to less than 50 points on a nightly basis. It sounds simple enough but it might have been needed – there are going to be nights where you need to score to win.
Pitt just proved that.
The most glaring weakness is the lack of a polished big man for Thompson III to run his offense through. There isn’t a Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe, Henry Sims, or even Julian Vaughn – the Princeton engine, if you will.
Current front court starters Mikael Hopkins and Lubick combined for only two assists and five turnovers after combining for just four points in the Marquette loss.
Seldom used front court reserve Moses Ayegba saw a season high 16 minutes and tied a career-high with six points, all in the second half, but the Nigerian native doesn’t seem ready to be the point man in the half court sets.
What does that leave?
Thompson III’s little used bench – generally just two deep in Jabril Trawick and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera – could provide the ninth year Georgetown coach with a different option, a different way to skin the cat, as he often says in referring to ways to win games.
In order to play at a faster tempo and create easier baskets for a scoring deprived team, the bench likely will have to be extended to also include the likes of Aaron Bowen and Stephen Domingo, two players who don’t see action every game.
Bowen has now been in the program for three seasons while Domingo skipped his final year of high school to provide a shooting spark with the early departure of sharp shooter Hollis Thompson.
There’s even another option as two seasons ago Thompson III, in a bit of a shock, used then point guard Chris Wright in the high post offense to upset Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. It’s the last loss at home for the Orange who have currently won 33 straight since – good enough for best active streak in the nation.
Could Markel Starks be used in a similar fashion against teams throwing out mostly zone against the Hoyas?
In the coming weeks, as the competition becomes more familiar and more difficult, we will all find out what Plan B is because Plan A is currently stuck in neutral.
That’s not the most desired gear for an uphill climb in the Big East standings.
Notes: Lost in the shuffle was the end of Georgetown’s 14-game home winning streak that began last season. Washington Capitals all-star Alex Ovechkin, recently back in the country as the NHL season appears imminent, took in the first half action from a court side seat sporting a Hoyas hat. Former UCLA big man Josh Smith was on the Hoyas bench after enrolling in school. Smith will not be available until approximately December 2013 – or upon the completion of the Fall Semester.
Up Next: The Hoyas look to avoid an 0-3 start in Big East play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season when they travel to Madison Square Garden to take on St. John’s in a rare 11 a.m. tip in New York City.