Last season the Georgetown Hoyas missed out on the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years, as they won 18 games (8-10 Big East) and had to settle for a spot in the Postseason NIT. Yet even with the loss of guard Markel Starks there are expectations of a return to contender status in the Big East this season, with junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera being one of the best guards in the Big East and Joshua Smith back on the floor after academic issues resulted in his playing just 13 games in 2013-14.
Another reason for the optimism is the arrival of a talented freshman class, and in the Hoyas’ 83-62 season-opening win over St. Francis-Brooklyn one of those newcomers stole the show.
Forward L.J. Peak made all nine of his field goal attempts, scoring a game-high 23 points to go along with three assists. Peak was one of three Hoyas to score in double figures, as Smith tallied ten points and senior wing Jabril Trawick added 11. Smith-Rivera made just two of his nine field goal attempts on the afternoon, but the proficiency of players such as Peak allowed the preseason Big East Player of the Year to do more as a distributor.
Smith-Rivera finished the game with six assists, and he committed just one turnover. Smith-Rivera scoring just eight points shouldn’t be much of a concern, as he’s coming off of a year in which he averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. With Starks gone Smith-Rivera will need to do more as a distributor, and he was solid in that regard against the Terriers.
All four of Georgetown’s freshmen played double-digit minutes, with Peak playing 26 minutes and Tre Campbell (seven points), Isaac Copeland (six points) and Paul White (six points) all playing between 15 and 18 minutes. The opportunities will be there for these newcomers in John Thompson III’s rotation, and Saturday afternoon they all took advantage to varying degrees.
Peak was the headliner amongst the newcomers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas in which he can stand to improve. Peak finished the game with two rebounds, and that’s something his head coach would like to see Peak improve upon as the season progresses.
“I would like to see him get more rebounds,” Thompson said after the game. “Obviously he played well. L.J. is a very good basketball player. I though his teammates did a very good job of sharing the game and getting him the ball in positions where he can do what he does. He’s a natural scorer. It comes easy to him.”
Peak looked the part Saturday afternoon, putting together a debut Georgetown fans were hoping for when he arrived on campus.