WASHINGTON -- Five takeaways following Georgetown's shocking 82-80 double overtime loss to Radford Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.
Inexperience: Nine players took the court for the Hoyas, including All-Big East guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Of the nine, six are underclassmen, including three freshman. That doesn't count senior center Bradley Hayes, who scored 19 of his 49 career points Saturday, and junior forward Reggie Cameron, both back benchers for most of last season. At times, primarily in the first half, the lineup included just freshmen and sophomores. This isn't uncommon for this era of college basketball, but it's new for the Hoyas under coach John Thompson III, who leaned on his experienced options late. Smith-Rivera played 29 of the possible 30 minutes after halftime. Talent is one thing and the Hoyas have plenty. Harnessing it is another. By the way, Radford started four seniors, including hero Rashun Davis, who hit the game-winning 3-pointers and finished with 28 points. That helped the Highlanders whenever the Hoyas appeared ready for a game-deciding push.
Looking ahead: Cannot answer this with any certainty either way, but perhaps all that youth led to some looking ahead and past Radford. Tuesday's upcoming game against Maryland dominated local conversation or months. From there, Georgetown plays Wisconsin and either Duke or VCU. No offense to Radford, but those programs are national headliners. Asked about the look ahead possibility, Thompson said, "I don’t think so. They just outplayed us. Who knows what’s in these kids minds, but we were focused. ...We’ll go back and we’ll talk about it, but I told this group every single game on this schedule is tough. There is nothing easy. You play against team like that that has gone to the postseason, has won 22-23 games last couple of years, has all those seniors on the team. They know how to win, they know what it takes and they are coming here to win. I don’t think we were looking ahead, I think they just beat us."
Oh, Thompson is right. Radford's play won the game, though Georgetown certainly helped.
Hoya Hustle Hurting: "Significantly," was Thompson's answer to a question about how much rebounding woes and energy plays by Radford contributed to the loss. The Big South program doesn't start anything close to a big lineup. Brandon Holcomb, a 6-foot-8, 215-pounder, doubles as the Highlanders' tallest and beefiest player. Even after losing big men Josh Smith and Mikael Hopkins to graduation, even without injured forward Paul White, Georgetown used five players 6-foot-7 or taller. Yet Radford finished with a 43-37 advantage on the glass including 15 offensive rebounds. It wasn't the board work that hurt the Hoyas, but also numerous 50-50 balls the Highlanders tracked down. Other than a brief spurt in the second half and those frantic finishes at the end of regulation, the Hoyas lacked a spark, a spark often provided last season by Aaron Bowen, another player lost to graduation.
Leadership: Let's not let the main man and senior guard off the hook. Smith-Rivera scored all 15 of his points after halftime. That included Georgetown's final two baskets with his second layup giving the Hoyas an 80-79 lead with one minute left. You want your big time players stepping up late, but you also want them setting the tone. Smith-Rivera went scoreless in the first half and committed two of their seven turnovers. During that time, Radford's confidence grew and never wavered.
“I just think, in the first half, I started off flat and it carried over to the rest of the team," Smith-Rivera stated. "For the most part, I take the blame for how we started the game off and, coming down the stretch, we just needed to make plays we felt like we usually make and we got a lot of open shots that we just didn’t make.”
The senior isn't a fiery leader type, but rather a lead-by-example player. Considering the roster's youth, Thompson needs DSR's energy and smarts on point from the jump.
Ball movement is back -- For all the Princeton talk always associated with a JT3 offense, the Hoyas went away from that scheme much of the last two seasons. Having Josh Smith hunkered down on the low post took away potential cut/driving lanes. With this group, one with versatile bigs and forward, Georgetown reverted back to more of the motion offense look. Granted the efficiency lacked in the opener.
The Hoyas had 17 turnovers -- to 14 assists -- and the Highlanders turned the miscues into 20 points.
Georgetown was also outscored in the paint 36-34 despite Hayes' production. In time, the ability to spread the court and open the interior for back door looks puts the offense in Thompson's desired comfort zone.
The ball movement played a factor in the Hoyas taking 20 free throws in the first half. After making their first 18, Georgetown missed nine of 14.
Five players made at least one 3-pointer including freshman center Jessie Govan. Georgetown made 7 of 12 3-pointers in the second half, but went 0 for 10 during all other periods. Isaac Copeland and L.J. Peak missed open shots with a chance to seal with the win.
Thompson said he wasn't sure if there were any positives from the loss. Perhaps he'll find some comfort in the general offensive flow upon further film review. Maybe not.