After a Long Climb, Georgetown Once Again Atop the Big East

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on January 22nd, 2015

Monday night was it, “it” being the capstone moment of Georgetown’s slow rise to the Big East mountain top that began when the Florida Gulf Coast debacle happened and was followed by Otto Porter’s subsequent departure to the NBA. What made that night so special? The Hoyas hosted #4 Villanova – an original Big East member, longtime conference rival, and the unquestioned dominant team in the league – with first place in the conference standings at stake. Just two days before, Georgetown had fended off pesky Butler from giving the Hoyas their second home loss of the season (the first was to Kansas), avenging an earlier loss to the Bulldogs in the Battle 4 Atlantis. In Monday night’s dominant 20-point win over the Wildcats, Georgetown notched the program’s best victory in over three years and showed once and for all that Hoyas basketball is indeed back.

Students celebrate after Georgetown routed Villanova for first place in the Big East.

Students celebrate after Georgetown routed Villanova for first place in the Big East (USATSI).

After a successful 2012-13 regular season when Georgetown won a share of the Big East regular season title, head coach John Thompson III had to regroup with Porter leaving to become a lottery pick and it becoming clear that Greg Whittington would not remain a part of the program. To kickstart the rebuilding process, Thompson convinced Joshua Smith to transfer from UCLA and also inked a top-15 recruiting class full of talented players who are likely to stay within the program for several years. What’s been the result two years hence is that four of the five players among that group of freshmen play significant minutes for a team that is now evenly dependent on veterans and young players. Thompson has done a laudable job in meshing the roles between the two and has his team improving with each passing game.

On Monday night, it all came together for 40 minutes. Smith acted as the anchor in the middle of the offense, either scoring by himself (nine points, eight rebounds) or dishing it out to his youthful counterparts, Isaac Copeland (17 points) and Paul White (9 points), both of whom are capable scorers who can drive to the basket or hit the long ball. Smith’s fellow seniors, Mikael Hopkins and Aaron Bowen, protected his weak side on defense with their high-energy play, getting rebounds and altering shots. On the perimeter, junior D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored as he always does (17 points), but senior Jabril Trawick also provided some offense (10 points, four steals), hitting a big three-pointer early to extend the lead and put the game out of reach. The veteran guards are bolstered by freshman L.J. Peak, who gets most of his scoring (eight points) on aggressive moves toward the basket. Combine this with the stubborn defense Thompson’s teams typically show, and you have the makings of a very dangerous team that is starting to peak at just the right time. The rest of the Big East is now on notice. Georgetown has figured it out and is back where it belongs as a Big East title contender.

Alex Moscoso (170 Posts)

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