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A series of late-game collapses and several benching incidents marred what was to be senior guard Jessie Sapp’s star season.

Like a lazy cross-court pass, you could see it coming from a mile away.

Georgetown took a lead early, let Baylor back into the game early in the second half, and down the stretch with the score close, the Hoyas could not execute. Just like that, after shooting 76 percent in the first half, Georgetown was out of the NIT in the first round.

Perhaps worse than the early exit, however, was the sheer predictability of it. For the 10th time since Jan. 25, Georgetown found itself in a game that was within one possession in the final 10 minutes. For the eighth time, the Hoyas found themselves on the losing end.

Indeed, whereas late-game poise and execution became a Georgetown hallmark over the past two seasons, this year’s squad was defined, and hindered, by a complete inability to take control of the game when it mattered most.

Against the Bears, the Hoyas scored on a DaJuan Summers dunk with 6:10 left to take a 67-63 lead. But over the next four-and-a-half minutes, Georgetown failed to score a single point, turning the ball over three times and missing four three-pointers. Meanwhile, Baylor capitalized and took a 72-67 lead.

Then, after pulling with three and forcing a Curtis Jerrells turnover, the Hoyas had a chance to tie the game, but rather than milking the clock down under 10 seconds and working through the offense, sophomore guard Chris Wright pulled up for an NBA-range three-pointer with 14 seconds to go.

Summers had a chance to tie the game on a half-court heave at the last second, but the miracle try fell short.

And now the season is complete. What once seemed so positive, thanks to wins against an NCAA tournament No. 1 seed, a No. 2 seed and two No. 3 seeds (as well as three other tournament teams), the Hoyas are home and idle earlier than in any of Head Coach John Thompson III’s other four seasons on the Hilltop.

After Georgetown fell to St. John’s in the Big East tournament, officially putting an end to any NCAA tournament aspirations, Thompson took a few moments to analyze the team’s surprisingly difficult season.

Throughout the season, Thompson has said it has been the team’s offense that has most frustrated him.

Is it a youth issue?

“I hope so,” Thompson said.

Or is it a product of Georgetown’s more complicated, intricate Princeton-style offense?

“Everyone has a system that they run, whether it is us or whether it is any other team in the NCAA or any other team in the pros,” he added. “And it takes time. It has taken this group a very long time just to get into a rhythm. . I think we have an intelligent group. I think that they can make decisions. It is not rocket science. You’ve heard me say this many times. People talk about our offense too much. It is not that dissimilar from anyone else’s. And so, do we want to screen down, screen across and have little Billy come off the shooter, I trust in their decision making, I trust in their intelligence, I trust in their offensive skill sets that they can make reads and in doing that, eventually, it will make us more difficult to guard and eventually it will make them better basketball players.”

After three straight seasons ranked in Kenpom.com’s top 20 most efficient offenses, the Hoyas fell to 45th this season. Perhaps the absence of Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace and Patrick Ewing Jr. was felt even more than was expected.

In fact, it may be Ewing who the team missed most. Throughout the year, it has been a defensive-minded, rebound-grabbing, energy-exuding glue guy that Georgetown has seemed to miss most. The Hoyas lack little in talent, but simply were unable to put it together.

While Thompson struggled to really put a finger on what was to blame for the team’s demise this season, he spoke of next year with a sense of optimism.

“I think it’s a long season and I’ve said that from the first team meeting, first press conference and during the course of the season: You have to handle the highs and the lows and we haven’t responded well this season to the lows,” Thompson said. “Whether it be from a possession on a court, to a loss, the ability to forget, to learn from, to get the emotion out of it and move on, we haven’t done well this year.

“And I mean that in every aspect, from play to play, to game-to-game. . I’m not trying to put all of it on this, but a large part of it is youth. I’m not trying to place the blame on that but it is a fact. We have one senior, with Jessie [Sapp]. Bryon [Jansen] is a walk on. We have one junior with DaJuan [Summers], and you have Chris [Wright] who is a sophomore but he’s going through the league for this first time, so that factors into it.

“Hopefully, as a coach you hope that the lessons learned, you can learn them quickly and not make the same mistakes. Obviously, we’re going to have the core group back and its not the time to talk about next year, but like I said, I felt confident going into every game this year and the hurt of this year hopefully will help us in the future.”

Thompson’s optimism regarding next season is not without cause. If Monroe stays true to all of his public statements and does indeed return for his sophomore season, the Hoyas should have one of the best big men in the whole country donning the Blue and Gray.

“Definitely I have to get a little stronger,” Monroe said last week in New York. “I mean, the system will get better, I will get better in the system. . There’s never time you can’t improve your game. Just improving everything and doing all the things I did this year and getting better at everything, and try to come out and have a better effort next year.”

Summers has also said he plans to return. And if all of the other young players do indeed elect to return, Thompson should actually have one of the Big East’s more experienced rosters, hard as that may be to believe.

That is to say nothing of the addition of Hollis Thompson and any spring recruits Thompson nabs.

This season has been a bit unbelievable for all involved: coaches, fans and players. But with a productive offseason, the Hoyas have a chance to make next season equally unbelievable.

For the right reasons.

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