Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

After St. John’s Loss, Old Doubts Resurface

NEW YORK – The main storyline from Monday night’s 61-58 Georgetown loss to St. John’s might center on the potential return of the Red Storm (10-3, 3-0) as a legitimate factor in the Big East, but the chief question that should be posed has to do with the identity of this Georgetown team.

Are these Hoyas (12-3, 1-2) truly the group that shot the lights out, that got what it needed from its frontcourt and that made clutch plays when necessary en route to an 11-1 non-conference record?

Or is this another inconsistent team dependent on the three-point shot and led by two senior guards – Austin Freeman and Chris Wright – whose college careers have largely been defined by their teams’ ultimate underachievement?

“It’s a rough start for us,” said sophomore forward Hollis Thompson (16 points, seven rebounds) when asked about the No. 13 Hoyas’ current psyche. “But it’s early in the season and we just have to keep preparing ourselves, bounce back and move on.”

The Freeman-Wright era of Georgetown basketball has seen a number of eye-catching victories that have driven expectations toward – and oftentimes through – the roof. But for every exhilarating win, for every impeccable backdoor cut, there has been a careless, unfocused, Ohio-like loss that leaves many scratching their heads.

The Hoyas lost to St. John’s, a quality Big East team, on Monday by just three points on the road as Freeman, Wright and junior guard Jason Clark combined for a meager 20 points on 7-of-25 shooting. As a team, Georgetown went 4-of-17 from beyond the arc against the Johnnies and is now 8-for-39 from that distance through two conference road games.

Despite those numbers, the Hoyas still controlled their fate in the final seconds at Madison Square Garden.

“It was probably a little bit of both,” Head Coach John Thompson III said when asked whether it was St. John’s defense or his guards that led to the shooting woes. “That being said, coming down the stretch we had to get one stop and we win or rebound and you win. We had several opportunities to do that, and we didn’t.”

The fact that the Hoyas lost by such a narrow margin on a night when their key players performed so poorly can be spun as a silver lining, and looking at the game individually, one can chalk up the defeat to poor shooting, a few bad breaks and nothing more.

But this same script has been acted out before over the past few years. Just when Freeman, Wright and the Hoyas play like they belong in the Final Four, just when they convince you that they have the words “comeback” and “poise” wired in their DNA, they put on lethargic, uninspired performances in games they have no business losing.

“We lost a tough game today. We just have to bounce back,” Wright said. “We have a lot of games left to play and a lot of games left to win. We can learn from it. This hurts, but we can’t look too deep into it because we have a tough West Virginia team on Saturday.”

No matter how many players say the right things and insist that they can go through their schedule with forward-looking attitudes and short memories, it is clear that Georgetown’s energy and effort continues to vary from game to game and from possession to possession.

As the Hoyas have shown, it is easy for them to get up and put forth an all-out effort in games against higher-ranked teams or ones in which they are perceived as clear underdogs. But in college basketball, it is a consistent will to win and to get better with every tip-off, no matter the opponent, that separates the elite from the physically talented. So far, the Georgetown teams that Freeman and Wright have played on have failed to bridge that gap.

Yet at 1-2 in the Big East, with all the perennial league powers still to come, the two seniors still have one final chance over the next three months to right the Hoyas’ ship – one that recent history suggests will eventually sink.”

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