Commentary | Adair Leads Second Season Turnaround

FILE PHOTO: KARLA LEYJA/THE HOYA Freshman guard Dionna White leads Georgetown in points per game with 14.6, assists per game with 3.8 and rebounds per game with 5.9. White had 17 points in Georgetown’s win over Creighton Friday night.

FILE PHOTO: KARLA LEYJA/THE HOYA
Freshman guard Dionna White leads Georgetown in points per game with 14.6, assists per game with 3.8 and rebounds per game with 5.9. White had 17 points in Georgetown’s win over Creighton Friday night.

Following last season’s disappointing finish with 4-27, the Georgetown women’s basketball team (12-9, 5-6 Big East) has seen a significant and surprisingly quick uptick in wins this year.

The Hoyas beat the Creighton Bluejays (11-12, 5-6 Big East) Sunday to earn their third straight Big East win. In earning its 12th win, Georgetown tripled its win total from last season. The Hoyas won more Big East games in the eight-day span from Jan. 24 to Jan. 31 than they won in the entire 2014-15 season.

Last year, Natasha Adair became the fourth head coach of the team in a span of four seasons. She took over following a period of turmoil in the program that included allegations of verbal abuse against former Head Coach Keith Brown, who resigned in October 2013. Jim Lewis took over as interim coach after Brown’s resignation and stayed with the program until the season ended.

For the first time since longtime Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy departed in 2012, the Hoyas have had the same coach for two consecutive seasons. In addition, all six of the players who started at least 17 games last season returned for this season.

Entering the season, the team was eager to move on from the past and re-establish a winning culture.

“I want to be able for them to have a clean slate, so they can know that they can grow, know that they can achieve,” Adair said. “In such a short time, it can happen.”

Last season, the Hoyas were a team with no seniors, playing for a first-year coach. This season, they have a roster that includes four seniors, a graduate student and a coach who has now had a full season to implement her offensive and defensive systems and establish a new culture in the program.

Senior forward Dominique Vitalis said she was excited about the team’s continuity entering this season, particularly on defense.

“We have ‘pack’ [as] our new defense, that [is what] we call it now,” Vitalis said. “It’s just the overarching theme for this year now. Just being together, being comfortable with each other and just really executing.”

The pack defense has made an immediate impact this year. Last season, the Hoyas allowed 73.4 points per game, which ranked ninth out of 10 Big East teams. This season, they are allowing just 61.9 points per game, good for fourth in the conference and representing an improvement of 11.5 points per game. Georgetown has allowed its opponents to make just 36.5 percent of their field goal attempts, which is down from 41.9 percent last season.

Freshman guard Dionna White is another key contributor to Georgetown’s improvement. White, a 5-foot-5 guard from Milford Mill Academy in Maryland, was a highly regarded prospect who ranked No. 100 in ESPN’s rankings of the prospects in the high school Class of 2015. She has immediately made her mark on the Georgetown program as the team leader in points, rebounds, assists, three-pointers made and free throws made.

White leads an offense that features several tall and athletic wing players, including 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Dorothy Adomako, 6-foot-2 junior forward Faith Woodard and 6-foot-2 junior forward/guard Logan Battle. Adomako, Georgetown’s second leading scorer this season, averages 14.0 points per game and consistently acts as an offensive threat with her ability to attack the basket. Woodard and Battle are the Hoyas’ third and fourth leading scorers, respectively, and are the team’s two most accurate three-point shooters by percentage.

This season, the team has executed more precisely on offense, recording more assists per game than before and taking better care of the ball. Last season, Georgetown averaged 18.3 turnovers per game. It has lowered that number to 14.7 per game this year, giving the team 3.6 extra possessions per game, a critical number for a team that lost 11 games by less than 10 points last season.

There is still room for improvement as conference play is still underway, but the Hoyas have taken the first crucial steps toward restoring the program to its former glory.

TylerPark_SketchTyler Park is a sophomore in the College.

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