Commentary | Losses Doom NCAA Bid

The Georgetown men’s basketball team’s (14-13, 7-7 Big East) season may not technically be over, but in reality, it is.

With showdowns looming against two top-10 teams — No. 8 Xavier (23-3, 11-3 Big East) and No. 1 Villanova (23-3, 12-1 Big East) — as well as a tough road game at Marquette (16-10, 5-8 Big East) and a final home stand against a streaking Butler team (18-8, 7-7 Big East), Georgetown’s odds of finishing those games at least 2-2 — and above .500 on the season — are slim.

Unless the team is 16-15 entering the Big East tournament, the odds of the Hoyas having any kind of postseason are also slim. Based on both NCAA tournament and National Invitational Tournament selection trends, Georgetown would realistically need to win 19 or 20 games to make the former and to finish above .500 to make the latter.

The Hoyas have lost seven of their last 10 games, trailing by double digits at some point in each of the losses.

While the team has generally managed to rally late, it really is just too late this time. Many fans have struggled to find a bright spot in a season that started off with Sweet 16 aspirations, marked by the supposedly season-saving return of the sixth-leading scorer in school history, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The return of Smith-Rivera fueled pundits to propel the Hoyas up the rankings, with ESPN power ranking the team No. 23 in its early season rankings — rankings that were derailed in the first game of the season, a regrettably memorable double-overtime home loss to Radford (14-12, 7-7 Big South).

Despite the early-season bumps in the road, fans and players remained optimistic, citing growth and development as a time-intensive process — a process that, in one of the few shimmers of light this season, may have finally come to fruition.

For all of the program’s shortcomings this year, Georgetown basketball has historically excelled at developing players. Under Thompson, players like Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe, Otto Porter, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims bloomed from inexperienced freshmen to productive college players and seasoned NBA players, with five of the six still seeing regular minutes in the league.

This season, both sophomore guard L.J. Peak and sophomore forward Isaac Copeland were expected to take the fabled sophomore leap that Monroe and Porter experienced under Thompson’s tutelage. Peak, despite his early-season struggles, appears to have made that leap and is now the frontrunner for Big East Sixth Man of the Year. Besides 18 and 23-point performances amid an effectively season-long cold streak, Copeland has been inconsistent and reckless with the ball.

In the team’s 72-64 loss to Seton Hall (18-7, 8-5 Big East) on Wednesday, Copeland went 3-of-8 from the field for just six points. In Georgetown’s 75-72 loss to Providence (19-8, 7-7 Big East) last Saturday, the sophomore forward had 12 points, but on just 4-of-10 shooting. Peak, however, has excelled, scoring in double figures in nine straight games, including minimizing his foul trouble that limited his playing time and scoring output earlier this season.

Peak’s overall game is relentless, as he consistently attacks the hoop, before either drawing fouls or finishing through contact. Moreover, his outside game has improved significantly — he is shooting 14 percent better from three-point range than he did last season, up to 38 percent this season.

The real surprise, however, has been the stellar play of freshman center Jessie Govan. With senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken left hand, Govan has stepped into the starting lineup and is already exceeding expectations. While Govan’s 52 percent shooting from three-point range was already a surprise, his ability to face up to the basket and finish through contact down low has given hope to the future of the center position with Hayes graduating after this year.

Govan notched a career-high 27 points in Wednesday’s loss to Seton Hall on 10-of-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the three-point line. Govan’s development, amid a nearly losing season, should give fans hope for the future.

Even the most elite college basketball programs have down years, and while Georgetown was expected to perform significantly better than its record shows, there still remains a small chance that it wins out. That small chance begins on Saturday when it faces Xavier at home. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. and the game will be televised on Fox.

Paolo Santamaria is a sophomore in the College.

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