MEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Struggle Without Smith
Published: Thursday, January 9, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 9, 2014 08:01
Deja vu, all over again.
Georgetown (10-4, 2-1 Big East) dropped a 70-52 decision at Providence (11-5, 1-2 Big East) Wednesday night, hours after revealing that junior center Joshua Smith did not travel with the team due to an academic issue.
Though no further detail was provided, the Smith news arrived on the second semester’s first day of classes — uncomfortably similar timing to last year’s announcement that then-sophomore forward Greg Whittington would miss time due to academics. Georgetown promptly dropped an embarrassing road game at USF, and Whittington went on to miss the rest of the season before being dismissed from the team in late 2013.
While we still don’t know the extent of Smith’s academic troubles, one thing is clear so far: The Hoyas need him back. Badly.
Georgetown looked discombobulated on offense all night without its 6-foot-10 offensive juggernaut dominating the low post. While Smith is only third on the team in scoring at just over 11 points a game, his modest line is more due to spare minutes than lack of offensive effectiveness — in fact, he leads the Big East in field goal shooting at 65.6%.
With Smith out, the scoring load fell almost entirely on the shoulders of senior point guard Markel Starks and sophomore shooting guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The underclassman carried the Hoyas with a barrage of long jump shots.
But Smith’s absence enabled the Friar big men to help out on any attempted drives from the speedy Georgetown backcourt. His game rendered largely one-dimensional, Starks struggled to connect for most of the game and finished with a 4-of-15 line. Smith-Rivera remained a promising bright spot for the Hoyas on the perimeter but struggled to finish at the rim against larger help defenders.
The sputtering Hoya offense made its way to a relatively respectable five-point deficit by halftime, but the second half was all Friars. Providence extended its lead to nearly 20 points as Georgetown repeatedly committed sloppy turnovers and missed defensive assignments. The Hoyas turned the ball over 15 teams against only seven assists, with senior wing Aaron Bowen’s six giveaways leading the way
6-foot-9 Providence senior Kadeem Batts took full advantage of Smith’s absence, scoring 21 points on 67 percent shooting in the win. Senior guard Bryce Cotton added 20 points and seven assists. Smith-Rivera scored 19 points for the visitors, and junior forward Mikael Hopkins continued his impressive play off the bench with a 12-point outing.
The Hoyas continue their road trip in Indianapolis this Saturday, where they’ll tip off against new conference rival Butler. Smith’s status for that game has not been announced; if Wednesday was any indication of the team’s play without him, the Georgetown faithful will be fervently praying the big man’s academics get resolved in the next 72 hours.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.