Georgetown started off strong with its first of three games in five days with a 17-point victory over UNLV, but it was downhill from there with back-to-back Big East losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse. The Hoya Sports analysis reflects Georgetown’s struggles as the Hoyas have hit a midseason skid, dropping three of four games and three straight in the Big East.

Overall

There were definite signs of light in the past two games, but there were also some ugly stretches, and the team failed to get it done in crunch time. The last five minutes against Notre Dame erased what had been 35 minutes of solid basketball, while the first half against Syracuse was downright ugly, and the late comeback by the weary Hoyas against the Orangemen was too little, too late. The Hoyas are struggling with some of the little things right now that need to be corrected before Georgetown can re-establish itself as a force in the Big East.

Backcourt

Against Syracuse, junior point guard Kevin Braswell shed the point guard role when the rest of the offense stalled out, and shifted from distributor (8.0 assists per game in the previous two contests) to scorer (23 points against Syracuse, including 3 for 6 shooting from behind the arc and 8 for 8 from the line). Braswell’s play has been a major factor in Georgetown staying close in the past two games. Shooting guard Demetrius Hunter had an up and down week, struggling from the field against UNLV and Notre Dame, but going 3 of 7 from behind the arc against Syracuse with 12 points and 4 steals. Unfortunately, small forward Gerald Riley struggled in the same game, going 0 for 7 from the field and 1 for 4 from the line.

Frontcourt

Things have been headed in opposite directions for the two frontcourt starters, senior Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and freshman Mike Sweetney. Boumtje-Boumtje has been held scoreless in two consecutive games and has failed to establish a presence in the middle in either contest, not the kind of senior leadership that Georgetown needs. On the other hand, Sweetney came on very strong against the Orangemen, scoring 14 points with 13 rebounds.

Bench

Sophomore center Wesley Wilson celebrated his 21st birthday in style against UNLV by dropping 18 points on the Runnin’ Rebels, but his ejection with 8:30 remaining against Syracuse may have been the difference in the game, killing Georgetown’s momentum. Senior forward Lee Scruggs continued his solid play off the bench against Notre Dame and Syracuse, averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. On the other hand, senior guard Anthony Perry has disappeared in the last three games, scoring just six points.

Defense

Georgetown did a great job shutting UNLV down in the second half, but failed to carry over the performance into Big East play. The Hoyas played very tight defense at certain points against both the Fighting Irish and Orangemen, but failed to come up with the big stop when they needed it in the waning minutes of both games. Georgetown’s half-court defense has improved noticeably since the beginning of the season, but teams still get too many easy baskets when the Hoyas use the full court press.

Free Throw Shooting

The free-throw line has single-handedly made the difference between the win and loss column in the past two contests. Syracuse sunk eight more from the line than Georgetown in only a few more attempts. The Hoyas only attempted 13 free throws against the Fighting Irish while Notre Dame sunk 23. Braswell alone kept the Hoyas from absolute misery at the line, going 11 for 11 over Georgetown’s last three games. In the same span, the rest of the team is an anemic 34 for 59 (57.6 percent).

Coaching

Frustration is the name of the game for Georgetown right now, and the next few weeks will be Craig Esherick’s true opportunity to shine as head coach. There is only so much Esherick can do when the Hoyas go cold from the field (like at the end of the Notre Dame game and the first half against Syracuse), but he made solid adjustments at the half against the Orangemen that led to Georgetown scoring almost twice as many points in the second period as in the first. Job number one is to remind the team that they are the same group that started 16-0 and rolled over Seton Hall twice – not necessarily an easy task right now.

Sixth Man

MCI Center got loud at certain times against Notre Dame, but there was only a dull roar whenever the Fighting Irish got going. By the end of the game, the dull roar had turned into deafening cheers for the Irish. Fair-weather fans? Maybe. Home-court advantage? Barely. Syracuse knows how it’s done, and the Carrier Dome on Monday night was about as hostile an environment as you can play in.

Referees

There’s always a little bit of a home-team bias, although there didn’t seem to be too much of one down the stretch against Notre Dame. At Syracuse, the referees’ calls were a joke. They might as well have worn Orangemen booster jackets, because that’s what they were. There’s a little bit of sour grapes talking here, but the officiating was absolutely atrocious. There’s a flagrant foul on the takedown of Hunter, yet Wilson gets ejected. Did they not see Preston Shumpert use about four steps to float through the lane? The officiating crew didn’t beat the Hoyas on Monday, but they sure made it tough.

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