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

The Hoyas Will Survive Plight Without Scruggs

Attention Hoya fans: Please refrain from pushing the panic button.

OK, so the men’s basketball team didn’t get the best news Wednesday when they found out that senior bigman Lee Scruggs has been ruled academically ineligible for the first semester. In no way should this be construed as the ideal situation for the Hoyas, but at the same time, it isn’t the worst cast scenario either.

First of all, Scruggs can still practice with the team, which essentially means that all he is going to miss is a free trip to Hawaii, and not too much more.

This scenario may be the only way in which the Hoyas’ lollipop-cupcake-creampuff-worthless early season schedule will turn out to help the team. His earliest possible return would come against Maryland-Eastern Shore, which puts him on the sidelines against the likes of some army base, the Latvian embassy staff, Bethune-Cookman, Central Florida, Nicholls State, Grambling, Coastal Carolina and cross-town “rival” Howard. The only real games he will miss are likely matchups against Charleston and TCU or Minnesota in Hawaii and an early season road trip to Louisville for a rematch of last year’s MCI Center thriller.

Against most of these teams, the Hoyas’ second-string squad is better than the opposing starters anyway, so he won’t be missing all that much in terms of game experience.

Speaking of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, having Scruggs on the bench will more than likely free up some playing time for other inexperienced players. Sophomore center Wesley Wilson and freshman forward Mike Sweetney, who are expected to be big contributors this year despite never having played an intercollegiate game, could definitely benefit from some garbage time in blowouts against Coastal Carolina.

Still, having Scruggs out of action is bound to hurt the Hoyas as well. Anytime you lose a second team All-Big East player it does. This is going to be a distraction with a capital D, until Scruggs sets foot on the court for the first time this year. Until this mess, all indications were positive for this season. Junior point guard Kevin Braswell was named to the preseason All-Big East first team and senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje joined Scruggs on the second team, as the Hoyas were pegged to finish second behind a strong Seton Hall team in their division. Several preseason polls have the Hoyas in the top 25. Now, all those predictions are on hold until Scruggs’ ultimate fate is decided.

This will prove an early season test for Head Coach Craig Esherick and his co-captains Boumtje-Boumtje and Braswell to keep this team focused and ignore the nagging questions about Scruggs. If they can block out this distraction, they can definitely weather the storm and last until Scruggs’ return. The Hoyas have most definitely not been crippled by Scruggs’ problems – at this point, there is no reason to believe the Hoyas won’t make a return to the NCAA tournament.

That is of course contingent on Scruggs getting his academic act together for the rest of this semester in order to become eligible to return for the bulk of the regular season. If he doesn’t, the Hoyas can pretty much forget the NCAA tournament.

Without Scruggs, the Hoyas are a different team, period. He makes everyone around him better with both his size and athletic ability, and his raw talent is enough to guarantee a double team against most opponents. Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun to call Scruggs “unstoppable” in last season’s Big East tournament. Esherick has described him as a “two guard in a 6-11 body.”

“One guy alone couldn’t defend him,” Calhoun said after Scruggs’ 27 point, 10 rebound performance.

“He’s 6-11 with a fade away . that’s virtually impossible to find,” Calhoun said.

Without Scruggs, the Hoyas are an above-average team at best; with him, their potential is limitless. The entire Georgetown community should be holding its breath, crossing its fingers and petting their rabbit feet. Without Scruggs for the whole season, the Hoyas won’t be in the NCAA tournament.

Forget the Third Century Campaign, Georgetown’s number one priority right now should be making sure Scruggs is on the floor come next semester. I’m not suggesting Georgetown break any rules to do it, but we shouldn’t be averse to “bending” them. I’m not saying professors should cut him a break just because he has the hopes and dreams of this university on his shoulders, just that any professor who fails him be denied/revoked tenure. Nothing drastic, you see.

It actually looks like those kinds of “crazy” plans might not be necessary. Odds are, Scruggs is in good shape for next semester. If he wasn’t going to be able to play for the whole year, he would have left school already. Scruggs is still around, so I don’t think all is lost for the season. Let’s hope so.

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