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January 23, 2009

Georgetown’s Internal Bleeding

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 3:12 pm

Since defeating Connecticut 74-63 in Hartford on December 29, Georgetown has been one underwhelming team. The 14-point win over Syracuse at home was nice, of course, but overall in calendar ’09 you are looking at a team with some serious deficiencies. Nevertheless, John Thompson III is trying to stay positive. Last night after his team went down to West Virginia with a whimper at home, 75-58, the coach sounded like someone ready to burn the tape and move on. “Today was a blip,” he said. “Today is not the norm.”

Me, I’m not so sure. The Hoyas have now played a third of their conference slate. There’s plenty of season left to be played, of course, but in order to make something of that season GU will have to improve dramatically on defense.

The Hoyas’ relatively slow pace (which by the way isn’t as slow as it used to be) can still fool writers into speaking of a “normally reliable defense.” It’s reliable, alright. Reliable for allowing the opponent to score at least a point per trip, as has every Big East team GU has played. A month ago I remarked somewhat raffishly that Georgetown appeared to be inventing a new category: “oustanding defense without rebounds.” Well guess what. Turns out you need rebounds after all. In a conference with Seton Hall, the Hoyas can at least take solace in the fact that they will always be spared the indignity of being “last in defensive rebounding,” but the truth is their defensive rebounding is terrible.

Which brings me to Greg Monroe. You might remember Monroe, hailed in these parts as the best freshman in the country. In terms of Georgetown’s struggles on D, Monroe’s well-documented failings as a defensive rebounder aren’t directly causal–good defensive rebounding requires more than one player, even for Oklahoma–but they are at least emblematic. When you can’t end your opponent’s offensive possessions, you need to score a lot of points to win. Thompson’s team is good on offense–better than last year–but not good enough to overcome their weak D.

There’s a sense at large that Thompson will right this talented ship and, who knows, that sense may be proven correct. But as of this moment Georgetown has been merely the tenth-best team in Big East play on a per-possession basis. Unthinkable on December 29, but true.   

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