WASHINGTON DC – It is almost time to write off Georgetown.
I’m not ready to do it quite yet, and that’s only partly because I called the Hoyas the best team in the Big East all of five games and 14 days ago.
We are only halfway through college basketball’s regular season and not even two weeks into Big East play. The Hoyas still have 13 games left on their conference schedule, and when you have talents like Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Jason Clark on your roster, 13 games is an eternity. There is still time to turn this thing around. Remember, this team beat Missouri in Missouri back in November.
But the team that lost 72-57 to Pitt at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night is not the same team that went into Missouri and beat the Tigers.
You can pour over the box scores and you can study Kenpom’s stats all you want and you’ll probably come up with about twenty different theories, like me, as to why Georgetown has lost four of five to open conference play. They aren’t executing their offense. They are executing offensively, but they are missing the open shots they were hitting earlier in the season. The Georgetown back court is being too passive when it comes to making plays offensively. The Georgetown back court is forcing it too much on the offense end. The Hoyas cannot rebound well enough. They are struggling to defend in the post. Or on the perimeter. Or in helpside.
Depending on the game, the half, or even the possession, any or all of those theories could be true.
In other words, there hasn’t been a lot going right for the Hoyas of late. That’s generally the case when you lose four out of five games.
But the biggest issue for the Hoyas isn’t necessarily happening on the court.
This team isn’t playing with swagger. They don’t have the confidence or the mental toughness that you expect out of an elite basketball team. Its a cliched thing to say and I am fully aware of that, but the difference in attitude between the Panthers and the Hoyas was palpable on Wednesday night. Pitt expected to win. They played like it for 40 minutes. Even when their shots stopped dropping in the second half and Georgetown made a little bit of a run, the Panthers didn’t panic. They ran their sets and continued to defend, confident in the fact that they were prepared enough to win so long as they executed what they had practiced.
The same cannot be said for the Hoyas.
Georgetown is playing like the Red Sox did before winning the World Series in 2004. For those unfamiliar with the Curse of the Bambino, the Red Sox always seemed to lose in the most heartbreaking way possible. It got to the point that fans, and players, expected it. They were waiting to see how they would blow this lead or lose this game.
That’s how Georgetown is playing right now, and its how the Hoya fans are reacting.
And if you dig a little bit, its not hard to see why.
This is a veteran Georgetown team led by an experienced back court. But when you look at the kind of experience they have, its not surprising this group expects to disappoint. As freshmen, Austin Freeman and Chris Wright were members of a Georgetown team that won the Big East regular season title and made the finals of the Big East tournament. But they were knocked off in the second round of the NCAA Tournament when they ran into the buzz saw known as Stephen Curry. As sophomores, when Jason Clark and Julian Vaughn were playing their first season in DC, Georgetown started the season 10-1, beating then No. 2 UConn on the road to open Big East play, to climb as high as eighth in the polls before they collapsed, losing 15 of their last 21 games and crapping out in the first round of the NIT. Last year, the Hoyas followed up every impressive win with a confounding loss, capped off by getting upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Ohio.
There is no doubt in my mind that purely in terms of ability, the Hoyas are talented enough to compete for a Big East title.
But winning is a learned skill. Expecting success is a trait developed by experiencing success.
And this Georgetown team has experienced nothing but performing below expectations and disappointment.
From this blogger’s perspective, this team doesn’t look like the group that is going to buck that trend.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.