For much of this season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-11, 6-5 Big East) has attributed its inconsistencies to its defensive shortcomings. While that has held true most of the time, this team has once again failed offensively, losing 69-61 to the Seton Hall Pirates (17-6, 7-4 Big East) Saturday night when the Hoyas shot an inefficient 34 percent from the field.
Not only does the team still repeatedly take contested threes, it also settles for contested long two-point jumpers, the most inefficient shot in basketball in terms of the ratio of distance to points produced. Georgetown shot 20 two-point jumpers, 20 three-pointers and just 16 shots at the rim against Seton Hall on Saturday. For a team that boasts two true big men in senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes and freshman center Jessie Govan, this is an underuse of the team’s strengths.
Even the Hoyas’ two best slashers, sophomore guard L.J. Peak and sophomore forward Isaac Copeland — who have combined to shoot 63 percent at the rim this season — shot a combined 15 jump shots against the Pirates. While they made six of their 10 attempted three-pointers, en route to a combined 35 points, the Hoyas’ offense is decidedly more inefficient when the team’s slashers and post players are not attacking the rim as often as the numbers say they should.
Not only did the Hoyas’ offense fail them on Saturday, but its inability to consistently secure defensive rebounds also gave the Pirates 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 10 putbacks, which is defined as a shot attempt within four seconds of an offensive rebound, per hoop-math. Seton Hall scored 12 points off its putback attempts, compared to Georgetown’s two.
Despite a stellar performance after seemingly disappearing from the scoring column for the majority of Big East play, Copeland’s 18 points were in vain.
Copeland, a player who many considered crucial to this team’s success at the start of the season, started off red hot, averaging more than 15 points through the Hoyas first few games. He then entered a slump that saw him shoot inefficiently and seemingly disappear from games despite playing in 77.9 percent of the team’s total minutes this season, per KenPom.
Copeland was ignoring his athletic gifts and ability to take it to — and score at — the rim. The sophomore forward is shooting nearly 74 percent on all of his attempts at the rim this year. While he has a technically sound shooting motion, and did shoot 39 percent from three his freshman year, he is best when he is using his leaping ability and finishing ability close to the basket.
After his performance at Seton Hall, Copeland ought to have a greater level of confidence going forward. The same can be said for Peak, who despite his early season inconsistencies and foul troubles, has found great success coming off the bench. Peak has reached double figures in six straight games, and over his last three, shot 51 percent from the field and averaged 19.3 points per game and four rebounds per game.
Peak has undoubtedly been the Hoyas’ most consistent player over the past three games, which have all been losses despite his stellar play.
Much of the Hoyas’ struggles, then, can be attributed to sophomore guard Tre Campbell. Many fans and pundits thought Campbell had finally broken out onto the scene after a career-high 21 points against No. 5 Xavier in the Hoyas’ signature win of the season.
However, in the five games since then, Campbell has averaged two points per game, going scoreless in the last three contests, all losses for the Hoyas. The sophomore guard, while not known for his scoring, is a crucial part of initiating the offense and feeding the ball to the right spots for players like Copeland and Govan to get their looks.
Even more concerning than Campbell’s lack of scoring is his hesitation when shooting the ball. He has attempted just three three pointers over the last three games.
As the season draws to a close and Georgetown enters into must-win mode for every single game, one thing is becoming more and more evident. While the Hoyas have defensive inadequacies that are based mostly on lack of quickness, athleticism and discipline across the board, their offensive struggles are inexcusable.
A team that struggles on defense must make up for it with a high-powered offense, which the Hoyas have, in theory. In addition to Campbell’s shooting ability, Peak and Copeland’s slashing ability and Hayes and Govan’s post play, the team still has senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Moreover, they have two more shooters in junior forward Reggie Cameron and freshman forward Marcus Derrickson. Every single one of the aforementioned players has led the Hoyas in scoring at least once this season.
There is no excuse for a team as offensively talented as the Hoyas to consistently be shooting under 50 percent from two-point range, and more recently, under 35 percent from deep. The defensive struggles — contesting shots, defensive rebounding and contesting without fouling – have been unavoidable. But the offensive struggles will doom this team from making any sort of push for the NCAA tournament, and if the team fails to finish with a winning record, maybe even the National Invitation Tournament.
The Hoyas have more than their share of offensive talent. Now is the time for them to show it — and all of it — because with the way the team plays defense, only an offense firing on all cylinders can save their season.
Paolo Santamaria is a sophomore in the College.
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