Analyzing Georgetown’s Defensive Inconsistencies This SeasonPosted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on December 31st, 2013
After their 92-57 win over Florida International on Saturday afternoon, Georgetown’s non-conference portion of the season has come to an end. After 11 games, this is what we know about this year’s Hoyas: their record of 8-3 has failed to impress voters enough to break into the Top 25 in either national poll; they have one bad loss against Northeastern in the Puerto Rico Tip-off; their best win is against VCU in the same tournament; and they are ranked #53 in Yahoo’s RPI rankings and 1-2 against RPI top 50.
What we don’t know, as the Hoyas will tip off in Big East play this evening, is how to interpret this as it relates to determining the Hoyas’ full potential. Due to a weaker-than-expected Big East this season, it is safe to assume that they’ll be in the upper tier of the final league standings and, therefore, most likely will find themselves on the right side of the bubble. In this analysis, we take a deeper look into Georgetown’s performance thus far and compare it with last year’s highly successful team –which ended up with a share of the Big East regular season championship and as a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament — to find out what is preventing these Hoyas from reaching the next level.
At this point last year, the Hoyas were ranked #15 in the AP poll – complete with a signature win against UCLA — and were perceived as a realistic contender to make it to the Final Four. Today, on the other hand, Georgetown is not considered likely to go far in the NCAA Tournament. One major reason is the loss of a player of the caliber of Otto Porter; another is, unlike last year’s team, this squad has lost both contests to teams currently ranked in the Top 25 (Oregon and Kansas). But the root of these outcomes is found in the difference in its performance from last season. To examine this, the table below compares important statistics from the two teams. The net change is quantified in the far right column.
This season’s Hoyas score more efficiently than last, scoring on average 6.7 more points per 100 possessions. On the flip side, this season’s defense has allowed 9.9 more points per 100 possessions. From the table, it’s evident that even though these Hoyas are more prolific scorers (and even or ahead on most other statistics), their defense doesn’t match up to last season’s and, as a result, there is a point-differential deficit of over three points per 100 possessions. Georgetown’s current defense is still ranked in the top 40 in the nation, but is not at the elite level it was a year ago when they were ranked second. The crux of it is that this year’s Hoyas have not played very well defensively when they’ve faced high-quality teams. In their non-conference showdown against Kansas, defensive vulnerabilities bubbled up when Joel Embiid and Tarik Black exposed the interior and put up 34 points and 14 rebounds between the two of them. For further proof, the chart below examines each of this year’s Hoyas’ opponents’ offensive performance with their Pomeroy ranking. As the table shows, they are giving up over a point per possession whenever they play a high quality team.
John Thompson III surely recognizes this, and may be starting to address the issue. Against FIU over the weekend, the Hoyas pressed a majority of the game, even in possessions when their lead was more than 30 points. It seemed to work well against the turnover-prone Panthers, who only managed to score a measly 14 points in the first half and were held to an offensive efficiency rating of 85.1 points per 100 possessions. The jury is still out on whether this style of play can work in the Big East, but JTIII knows what needs to be fixed — the only questions is whether he can do it with this roster. We’ll start to find out tonight versus DePaul.