According to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, the college basketball season will tip off Nov. 25, and Big East conference play will begin Dec. 11. Georgetown basketball is looking to establish some chemistry among its new players and prepare for what could be a tumultuous season.
Georgetown will reportedly play 25 regular season games and will not participate in any multi-team events before the Big East tournament. The Hoyas had previously dropped out of the Wooden Legacy, a season-opening tournament set to take place in Orlando, Fla., featuring Virginia, Kansas and UCLA. This change came on the basis of concerns regarding COVID-19. The schedule was further reduced by the news that the Gavitt Games, which have been played as tip-off games annually since 2015 between the Big East and Big Ten, will probably not take place this year. This leaves Georgetown with a non-conference slate that will likely include UMBC in November, West Virginia in early December and Syracuse in January. The remaining two slots will be filled sometime in the coming weeks. Cutting the non-conference schedule down to five games from the usual 13 or 14 will make it difficult for Georgetown to develop much of an NCAA tournament resume outside of Big East play this year.
There has been much speculation but little credible information on how college basketball will look this fall. We’ve heard talk of NBA-style bubbles, proposals for an NCAA tournament incorporating every Division I team and much more. In the absence of actual games, analysts are sometimes left to speculate about decisions that are still in the process of being made, which is why seeing a real plan finally come together is so exciting.
Back in September, the NCAA authorized eight hours of on-court practice a week starting Sept. 21 and allowed full official practices to begin Oct. 14 without the eight-hour limit. There hasn’t been much information released publicly from Georgetown regarding the timeline and status of official practices on campus, but the entire team does seem to be back on the Hilltop, even as most of the student body remains at home. This raises questions about whether other Georgetown student athletes will make it back onto campus as winter sports begin play over the next few months.
The six weeks of practice time are especially important for Georgetown basketball this year. There are an unprecedented nine newcomers to the Hoyas out of a 15-player roster. Incoming transfers include Chudier Bile, Don Carey and Jalen Harris, and freshmen include Collin Holloway, Dante Harris, Jamari Sibley, Kobe Clark, T.J. Berger and Victor Muresan. It is crucial that the team develops some chemistry before the start of the season if they expect to compete in what looks to be a solid Big East conference.
If all goes according to plan, the team will benefit from the leadership of seniors Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett and graduate transfers Bile, Carey and Jalen Harris. This will hopefully result in a Hoya team that is measured and disciplined on both ends of the floor. Pickett and Blair are likely to take on increased offensive roles as they bridge the gap between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 teams.
Last week, the Division I council voted to grant an extra year of eligibility to winter sport athletes, regardless of how their season might be affected by other pandemic-related changes. Basketball is a winter sport at Georgetown, but the impact this will have on the program is not clear. Even if the NCAA also lifts the scholarship limit, Georgetown may choose not to spend the extra money to retain any of their graduating players. Aidan Curran (MSB ’18) of Hoyas247 pointed to Georgetown’s “$50 million shortfall” and associated pandemic budget cuts as reasons why the administration may be hesitant to fund another year of Pickett, Blair, Bile or Harris on top of the incoming class of 2025.
The council also decided to offer athletes a one-time transfer without the typically required year of sitting out, so we can expect to see lots of turnover across college basketball during and after this year. The word “transfer” still traumatizes many Georgetown fans after the departure of Mac McClung and James Akinjo, among others, but next year may bring more of the same.
Looking forward, this Georgetown season will continue to be impacted by the pandemic, but it seems as though, at the very least, the Hoyas will get the chance to take on their Big East rivals once again. There is much to be optimistic about, even if the 2020-21 season is a rebuilding year.
Caden Koontz is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Hoya Headlines appears online every other week.