Georgetown is in a tailspin, and as each game goes by, the chance of the Hoyas not qualifying for the NCAA tournament increases. After Wednesday’s loss to St. John’s, Georgetown is in a precarious position in the Big East and is running out of time to rediscover whatever it was that led the Hoyas to a 16-0 start to the season.

The losses have been piling up lately, and they have come in an excruciating fashion, as only one of Georgetown’s five losses was decided prior to the closing minutes. Over the last month it has been six close games, five losses.

Pittsburgh by four points. Notre Dame and Syracuse by seven points apiece. And of course the two toughest losses to swallow have been the recent three-point losses to Villanova and St. John’s. I don’t see a trend, do you?

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of Georgetown’s slide, because a couple three pointers here and a few turnovers there and this team isn’t on the NCAA bubble and there is no `the sky is falling’ talk. Instead the team has lost 6 of 10 games and there is trouble in Hoyaland.

The biggest thing that seems to be lacking during the last month is the chip on the Hoyas’ shoulder that got them off to their undefeated start.

Walking out of Continental Airlines Arena one month ago, I thought this team could play with any team in the nation. The sky was the limit. The team was playing well at both ends of the court, everyone was contributing and there was an air of confidence surrounding the team.

The pressure defense was smothering, the outside shots were falling, the bigmen were dominating inside, Braswell was excelling in the role of point guard and floor general and Esherick seemed to be making all the right moves. But most importantly, the team was playing to win.

It is a different bunch out on the hardwood now, as the same players are out there (more or less – where are you Lee Scruggs?) but they are playing not to lose. Instead of aggressive play, in-your-face defense and a can’t-lose attitude, the team is tentative at both ends of the court and the players tense up and struggle in the closing minutes of tight games.

So, what is the solution?

That was a rhetorical question, because I seriously hope you’re not looking to the captain of an 0-3 intramural team to provide answers regarding the woes of a major Division I program. Making three pointers (see Villanova), avoiding bounce passes to the front row of the stands (see St. John’s) and not playing like Bobo the Clown in the first half (see Syracuse) would be steps in the right direction, however.

Senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje needs to continue to assert himself like he did against St. John’s in his 14 point, 12 rebound, 3 block performance after enduring criticism for his struggles in previous games. Solid play from Boumtje-Boumtje to compliment freshman power forward Mike Sweetney will go a long way to helping the Hoyas reestablish themselves as a force in the Big East down the stretch and in Madison Square Garden.

In the backcourt, sophomore Demetrius Hunter has stepped up as Georgetown’s most consistent three-point shooter and seems to be over his Achilles’ injury. Braswell has been the team’s most consistent scorer in recent games, but has at times reverted to his old form of shoot first, distribute second. He has been out of control at times and has seen his turnovers balloon while his assist numbers have leveled off.

At the forward position, a pair of players are missing in action. Freshman Gerald Riley remains in the starting lineup; however he has gone scoreless in back-to-back games and has not scored more than 10 points in a game since Jan. 3 against West Virginia. Senior Lee Scruggs has only played more than 10 minutes in one of Georgetown’s last six games, against Villanova, and the lanky bigman shot 2 of 15 from the floor in that game. No one played a bigger role than Scruggs in last year’s Big East run, and if he continues to languish on the bench, the Hoyas may not find that needed spark. In addition, backup center Wesley Wilson has also seen very limited minutes lately and has had lapses at the defensive end.

Off the bench, seniors Nat Burton and Anthony Perry have been up and down, with Burton providing a defensive presence in limited minutes while Perry has had both hot and cold games shooting from behind the arc. Sophomore Victor Samnick has greatly improved his game at the offensive end and has often been the player Esherick looks to for a spark off the bench at the defensive end.

The weight of the Hoyas’ struggles can not be placed on the shoulders of any one player, but at the same time no player is immune from a piece of the blame.

It is time for Georgetown to take one last look at the NIT banners hanging from the rafters of McDonough and ask themselves if they are ready to accept that fate. There is a storied history of dedication, excellence, perseverance and heart that accompanies each and every Hoya uniform, and it is up to a dozen or so young men to dig down deep and add a new chapter to Georgetown’s history.

The Orangemen are waiting.

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