PROVIDENCE, Feb. 10 – It wasn’t that bad.

I know when you saw that box score on ESPN.com on Saturday night, you thought to yourself, maybe we’re not that good. But it wasn’t that bad.

When a team shoots 14 of 19 from three-point range, they are going to win, no questions asked. For you English majors out there, that’s 73.6 percent. Frighteningly good.

When a team shoots 63.6 percent in the first half of a game, they are going to win, and that’s exactly what happened night. Forget the second half – this game was over as soon as the Hoyas hit the locker room, largely because of a Providence team that was playing unbelievably above their heads.

That being said, the Hoyas did not come ready to play on Saturday. The loss was part Providence playing really well and part Georgetown being overwhelmingly mediocre.

Maybe it was the seven hour plus bus ride, or maybe it was the food at one of the New Jersey Turnpike’s beautiful rest stops, but clearly something was wrong with the Georgetown University men’s basketball team.

Gangly Providence center Kareem Shabazz was utterly dominant whenever he was in the game, dropping 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Shabazz is a quality player, but at 7-foot-2, 230 pounds, there is no way he should be able to push around the much stronger ike Sweetney and Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje.

And who the heck is John Linehan, and where did he come from? His ball-handling, defense and shooting absolutely killed the Hoyas, reminiscent of Kevin Braswell’s performance against Syracuse last year in the Big East tournament.

Braswell also was not himself, shooting poorly in a vain effort to match Linehan and Abdul Mills’ unconscious shooting streaks.

Sweetney, in addition to being ineffective against Shabazz, looked completely unprepared when he got the ball when the Hoyas were trying to beat the Friar press. The reason for several of his turnovers was that he was forced to try to bring the ball upcourt between the two three point arcs, something at which he is not particularly adroit. No one came to help him out, forcing him to attempt tough passes that he cannot execute at this point in his career.

Craig Esherick should have put the older, wiser and better-passing Boumtje-Boumtje in that position, instead of standing idly by while the Providence press led to an insurmountable halftime deficit.

Playing his senior captain for only nine minutes in a hostile environment was only one of a series of questionable decisions by Esherick. In a regular loss, you can’t fault a coach for being conservative, but you simply can’t let your team get that badly embarrassed, you have to use every weapon in the arsenal.

Yes, Boumtje-Boumtje picked up two early fouls, but at a certain point, say the 25 point deficit, you are probably going to lose anyway, so why not take a shot with your best player, even if it means risking him fouling out?

Playing Lee Scruggs for a sum total of six minutes is unconscionable.

Sure, he’s a defensive liability – a major defensive liability – but again, why not take a shot? Is the difference between losing by 25 and 30 that much that you keep one of your best offensive weapons on the bench?

This is a guy who has the ability to take over a game on the offensive end of the court. When the other team puts 61 points on the board in the first half, defense is obviously not going to reduce that margin – instant offense is the only option. Unless Scruggs is hurt, which there is no indication of, Esherick needs to use him.

Having gone two and four in their last six Big East games, the Hoyas are in danger.

There, I said it.

If the Hoyas don’t get their act together, their return to national prominence will be over as soon as it began.

The Hoyas’ problem isn’t that they aren’t shooting well or rebounding or playing defense. Part A of the problem is that they’re extremely inconsistent in all of those areas. When they’re on, they’re very, very good. When they’re off, they’re very, very susceptible.

Part B of the problem is an unwanted side effect of their unparalleled depth. The Hoyas can’t seem to figure exactly what kind of team they want to be. On any given series of plays, they can be any of the following teams.

The Kevin Braswell floor-general, distributing the ball to the open man Hoyas.

The Mike Sweetney old-school power forward Hoyas.

The Demetrius Hunter highlight reel Hoyas.

The Lee Scruggs unlikely-sized man shooting 3-pointers Hoyas.

And finally, the Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje/Wesley Wilson no one shall score Hoyas.

Esherick needs to decide what direction he wants this team to go. With almost any of the above options, the Hoyas could get back on track, but by trying to put five different teams on the floor at once, they are running around in circles.

It’s starting to hurt their play, and they’re on the verge of running themselves right out of the national spotlight.

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