HOLLANDER | Foul Deficit a Point of Emphasis
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 00:02
After hitting a nadir with a 73-45 loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 8, Georgetown has turned itself around in spectacular fashion and returned to the rankings Monday on the back of a four-game winning streak.
But someone who wants to hunt for clouds on the horizon doesn’t have to look far. The Hoyas’ poor percentage from the free throw line, abysmal penchant for fouling and seeming inability to draw fouls in recent days all spell trouble for the team.
Sure, the days are long gone when nailing free throws at a Steve Alford-like clip was a point of pride. But Georgetown’s predicament goes beyond a poor percentage at the charity stripe.
The Hoyas shoot .661 from this line this season, while their opponents have averaged .673. And the former figure is liable to worsen, considering that junior forwards Aaron Bowen and Moses Ayegba, both woeful from the line, have replaced the already poorly performing Greg Whittington in the lineup.
Meanwhile, sophomore center Mikael Hopkins has the dubious distinctions of being the team’s worst free throw shooter and having been assessed the most fouls, 62, on the Blue and Gray this season.
Hopkins has played sparingly in recent games because of his foul trouble, but given the sophomore’s badly negative assist-to-turnover ratio and low shooting percentage from the floor, this may have helped the Hoyas.
Georgetown has committed just one fewer foul than its opponents in Big East play. Given the fact that John Thompson III’s offense frequently brings the ball inside, that figure is certainly disappointing, something the coach noted after the Blue and Gray were held off the line for the first 38 minutes and 37 seconds of Saturday’s win over St. John’s.
“It’s not like we were just passing around the perimeter. We were going inside, and you can’t shoot foul shots if the ref doesn’t call fouls,” Thompson III said.
With the exception of Georgetown’s win over a weak Seton Hall squad that fouled repeatedly late, the Hoyas have drawn seven fewer fouls than their opponents during the four-game winning streak. Because three of those games were at home, where it is slightly more likely that the referees will call fouls on the visitors, that disparity might increase when the Blue and Gray take the show on the road.
Of course, problems around the stripe seem minimal during a winning streak and are admittedly somewhat marginal compared to concerns over offense and defense. But Big East road games are won on the margins, and Georgetown cannot afford to give up easy points.
What, then, can Thompson III and his team do to strengthen their hand?
Junior forward Nate Lubick, who has played very well of late, should work to avoid cheap fouls like two of the four fouls he picked up against St. John’s. Moreover, at risk of stating the obvious, Hopkins would benefit from a more controlled style of play.
To boost the pure percentage, however, there is little Georgetown can do but practice. And then practice some more.
EVAN HOLLANDER is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and former sports editor of The Hoya.