Point Guard Play Already an Issue at Georgetown

Posted by Mike Knapp on November 16th, 2016

Coming into this season, the biggest question surrounding Georgetown was whether it would finally let go of the Princeton offense. While head coach John Thompson III has experienced considerable success — including a 2007 trip to the Final Four — running the patient, half-court oriented system, last season’s 15-18 overall record (7-11 Big East) seemed to have been something of a breaking point. In the Hoyas’ first game this season against South Carolina Upstate, Georgetown pushed the ball in transition, fill the lanes on the fast break, and pressed after made baskets. It was refreshing to a see a Thompson team play with so much freedom, especially given the athleticism he currently has on his roster.

Georgetown Pushed the Ball in (USA Today Images)

Georgetown Pushed the Ball Against Maryland When the Referees Let Them Play (USA Today Images)

Tuesday night’s one-point loss to Maryland was a different story. The Hoyas tried to establish the frenetic pace they had showcased in their season opener, but an astonishing 56 foul calls between the two teams prevented either from finding much of an offensive rhythm. Despite the stagnant nature of the game’s flow, the loss also revealed a major flaw for the Hoyas’ plan to push the ball this season. It takes a competent point guard to keep up the pace, and Thompson’s early season choice to start freshman Jagan Mosley at the position (59 percent of the point guard minutes) is already causing problems. Despite having great size at 6’3″ and possessing many point guard intangibles, Mosley never played consistent minutes there in high school. Junior Tre Campbell has also seen minutes at the position (20%) so far this season, but he has been plagued by the same indecisiveness that hurt him last year — including a late turnover against Maryland. Junior college transfer Jonathan Mulmore has seen a few minutes in the spot as well, but he did not yet look ready for the big stage on Tuesday night — also committing a critical turnover down the stretch.

To run the kind of offense the Hoyas are looking to play this season, Georgetown’s biggest positional strength lies on the wing with juniors LJ Peak and Isaac Copeland along with Robert Morris transfer Rodney Pryor. All three have gotten off to promising starts this season — each boasts offensive ratings over 120.0 — but all too often these are the same players trying to make plays in transition. Peak is the only above-average ball handler of the group, but all would be better served in streaking up the sidelines and looking for the ball to come to them rather than trying to facilitate in transition. The problem is that none of the Hoyas’ point guard candidates have yet showcased an ability to successfully lead the break in fueling a new high-powered offense. Pryor, Copeland and Peak have committed 13 turnovers as a group through the first two games and the Hoyas currently rank outside the top 200 in team turnover percentage.

There are also definitely some positives that can be taken from the Hoyas’ rollercoaster start to the season. They scored over 100 points against South Carolina Upstate for just the fifth time in Thompson’s history, and while they have not completely removed the Princeton offense, there is a clear emphasis on pushing the ball in transition and being aggressive defensively. Georgetown has the frontcourt in place to play this new brand of basketball, but the problems stemming from the backcourt do not seem to have a simple solution. If none of the three lead guard candidates in Thompson’s rotation figures it out soon, a season that appeared so promising through the utilization of a high-octane offense could ultimately fizzle.

Mike Knapp (8 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *