Dante Taylor, J.J. Moore, Jabril Trawick

Offensive issues spillover to defensive side for Georgetown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Disappointing”.

“Frustrating”.

“Embarrassing”.

Those were the words used by members of No. 19 Georgetown to describe their performance after suffering through a 73-45 loss to Pitt at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night. The loss was just as bad as the final score would indicate. Probably worse. It was a siege, a slow and methodical deconstruction of everything that this Georgetown team prides themselves on. It was the kind of unadulterated dominance that is expected when Pitt hosts a guarantee game, not when they are on the road against a top 25 opponent in league play.

And to make matters worse, the Panthers managed to expose the Hoyas on the one end of the floor where they had actually had some success this season.

Simply put, Georgetown has been a misery to watch on the offensive side of the ball since they got back from the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. They scored 37 points against Tennessee and 46 points against Towson, both wins. On Saturday, however, the Hoyas scored just 48 points in a one point loss at Marquette. They entered Tuesday night outside the top 150 according to Kenpom’s offensive efficiency rankings.

But we knew the Hoyas struggle to put points on the board. The 45 points they scored against Pitt is nothing new.

The problem? Georgetown had thrived defensively. Thanks to their length, their athleticism and their discipline, Georgetown was still able to win games despite the issues on the offensive end of the floor. The missed shots? The ugly possessions? They were frustrating and something that the Hoyas spent a lot of practice time on, but that frustration hadn’t seeped into their defensive effort.

On Tuesday night, it finally did.

“Our defense was nowhere near where it has been all year,” John Thompson III told reporters after the game. “I’m not sure if that’s related to the offensive end of not.”

“We always say, ‘try not to let a break down or a bad possession at one end of the court affect what happens at the other end of the court’. These guys are confident. They’re ball players. It’s not like these guys are little babies. You’re going to miss shots. You have to keep playing.”

And that’s why this loss should be so concerning to Georgetown fans.

These offensive struggles weren’t exactly unexpected. The magnitude of them, maybe, but this is simply not the kind of roster makeup we’re used to seeing a Georgetown team have. They’re young — juniors Nate Lubick and Markel Starks are the elder statesmen on the roster. They don’t have that playmaking big man that can score out of the high-post and make the back-door pass that the Hoyas have patented over the years. There are no knockdown shooters on this year’s team. There is no dynamic playmaker at the point. There is no lowpost scoring threat.

Georgetown does not have the talent to get baskets outside of their system. Factor in that they don’t have the ideal personnel for their system, and this is the result.

“It’s not just bad luck with the rims,” Thompson said. “We’ve continued and tried to make changes as the season’s gone on. It’s not like we’re sticking our heads in the sand, ‘Hey, let’s not worry about it’. We’ve worked on a lot of different things as the season’s progressed.”

“We have some things we need to address,” Lubick added, “and they will be addressed. We have to remain positive that we’re going to fix these things.”

If there is a change that Georgetown needs to make, it should come on the defensive end of the floor. The Hoyas are as lanky and athletic as anyone in the country. Their starting lineup includes 6-foot-8 Greg Whittington at shooting guard and 6-foot-9 Otto Porter at small forward. They bring Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen — who are both big, uber-athletic wings — off of the bench. They have a handful of big guys to rotate through along their front line.

Why not get out and pressure more? They are already above-average when it comes to defensive-playmaking — collecting steals, blocking shots, forcing turnovers. If you’re struggling to score in the half court, why not try and create some points off of your vaunted defense?

But as of Tuesday, no drastic — positive — changes had been made.

“We’re still the same guys we were a couple weeks ago,” Thompson said.

And therein lies the problem.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.