Locked in a three-way tie for second place in the Big East, the Georgetown men’s basketball team’s (19-9, 11-6 Big East) last regular season game against Seton Hall (16-13, 6-11 Big East) tomorrow at noon carries huge implications for Big East tournament seeding.
Seton Hall has lost seven of its last eight games, including a 19-point loss to Georgetown on Feb. 10 in Newark, N.J. The Pirates are a young team; eight of their 13 players are freshmen, and their youth and inexperience shows. Plagued by unwise shot selection and poor free-throw shooting — the team has made a mere 66 percent of its free throws this year, which is second lowest in the league — Seton Hall could prove to be a relatively easy win for the Blue and Gray.
The Seton Hall players to watch include freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead and junior guard Sterling Gibbs. Gibbs and Whitehead are the team’s two leading scorers, and they each pose scoring threats from any position on the court.
The game will cement the Hoyas’ position in the Big East tournament, but as the last home game for five graduating seniors, the game is also heavy with sentimental value. Ahead of senior day on Saturday, The Hoya looks back on the five seniors’ careers in blue and gray.
CENTER JOSHUA SMITH
The path to senior day has been a circuitous one for Joshua Smith. The 6-foot-10 center transferred to Georgetown from UCLA during the latter half of the 2012-2013 season, a former McDonald’s All-American looking for a second chance at a program renowned for sending big men to the NBA. Smith tantalized with 25 points in his first game as a Hoya, but struggled to replicate the performance and missed the entire second half of his junior season due to academic issues.
Facing the reality of his college career coming to a close, Smith has played with a newfound sense of urgency this season, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. As Georgetown’s top rebounder, second leading scorer and a troubling mismatch for most teams in the country, the Kent, Wash., native figures to play a large role in any postseason success that awaits the Hoyas.
GUARD JABRIL TRAWICK
Jabril Trawick’s steady development as a college basketball player during his four years at Georgetown is not particularly extraordinary.
In his freshman season, the Philadelphia native averaged 11.4 minutes per game off the bench. Throughout his sophomore season, he started in 20 of 32 games. In his junior season, he averaged 9.1 points per game. This season, as a senior, he has started every game.
His statistics are not extraordinary, but his passion and drive are the skills that he has brought to every stage of his career, and they merit remark.
“His effort, his energy — he got beat up out there and he comes in, not necessarily scoring baskets, but on the defensive end and on the boards, making the passes on the offensive end,” Head Coach John Thompson III said of Trawick’s performance after the Hoyas’ upset win over Villanova on Jan. 19.
In the game, Trawick took an elbow to the eye but barely missed any minutes on the floor.
Trawick credits his hometown of Philadelphia for helping him develop that toughness that has helped define him on the court.
“It made me mentally tough, which helped to make me physically tough. It shaped me into who I am today,” Trawick said. “Philly is a tough town, and I like to carry that.”
FORWARD MIKAEL HOPKINS
Hopkins arrived at Georgetown from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md., one of the premier high school programs in the country. Hopkins has averaged more than 20 minutes per game since his sophomore season. Through offseason workouts, Hopkins has filled out his 6-foot-9-inch frame and evolved into a key rim protector for Georgetown.
“When you feel strong, you play strong; it’s all a mental thing,” Hopkins said. “You see yourself in the weight room lifting a lot of weights; a guy a little bit smaller than you isn’t going to be able to get past you.”
In last Tuesday’s crucial win over Butler, Hopkins’ performance embodied what he has meant to his team over his Georgetown career. With six points, six rebounds and four blocks, Hopkins did the dirty work that is absolutely necessary to grinding out wins down the stretch.
This season, Hopkins is fourth in the Big East with 1.7 blocks per game.
FORWARD AARON BOWEN
Aaron Bowen has a flair for the dramatic. Over his four years, the 6-foot-6-inch swingman from Jacksonville, Fla., known simply as “AB” has come off of the bench to energize a sometimes-lackluster Georgetown offense. On Dec. 27 against Indiana, Bowen had his best game as a Hoya, scoring 22 points in a 91-87 victory over the Hoosiers.
CENTER TYLER ADAMS
Adams played in four games in his freshman season before being permanently sidelined with a heart condition. He has remained as a part of the team for the past three seasons, providing support and advice for his teammates throughout his time on the Hilltop.
Hoya Staff Writer Tyler Park contributed to reporting.