After facing two ranked teams during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (4-2) will return for a home matchup against Towson (7-1) at noon on Sunday. The game will give the Hoyas the opportunity to perfect their half-court offense for the highly anticipated game against No. 11 Kansas next Wednesday.
The Hoyas come into the Towson game licking their wounds following a 1-2 performance in the Bahamas. Georgetown defeated then-No. 18 Florida (3-3) in a thrilling 66-65 overtime contest before falling to No. 2 Wisconsin (7-1) and Butler (6-1) in two tight games.
“That’s not a good thing to get experience and come away with a loss,” Head Coach John Thompson III said following the Butler loss, making it clear that the two defeats by a combined nine points will not be considered moral victories.
Moving forward, the Hoyas will need to work to limit turnovers. The team has committed 15 turnovers per game in its first six games. Freshman forward L.J. Peak, senior center Joshua Smith and senior forward Mikael Hopkins have, in particular, turned the ball over too often, combining to commit over seven turnovers per game thus far.
Last weekend’s trip to the Bahamas also confirmed that the Hoyas are going to have to rely on their freshmen to provide immediate contributions. There were some promising signs, as forwards Paul White and Isaac Copeland combined for half of Georgetown’s points in the loss to Butler. White had a particularly strong tournament, scoring 30 points in the three games while displaying excellent poise and a deadly mid-range jumper.
However, the performance of the freshman class was not perfect. While the Hoya faithful celebrated Peak’s 9-of-9 shooting performance in the team’s season opener, the South Carolina native cooled off in the Bahamas, recording only 10 points in 75 minutes across the three games.
Georgetown will look to junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera to stabilize the team’s inexperienced rotation. After a slow start to the season, Smith-Rivera erupted for 29 points against Wisconsin, and he averaged 19.3 points per game over the course of the tournament.
The veteran guard will try to continue his run of strong play against a Towson team that was run out of the gym in its season opener against Alabama (5-1), losing by 28 points in Tuscaloosa. However, it has won seven straight games since then, albeit against inferior competition. Junior guard Four McGlynn leads the Tigers with 14 points per contest, while sophomore forward John Davis adds 11.5 points per game. Towson’s front line features graduate student Alex Gavrilovic, a 6-foot-9-inch forward from France and Timajh Parker-Rivera, a 6-foot-7-inch junior forward.
Towson will likely struggle to generate offense against a bigger and more athletic Hoyas squad. At 245 pounds, Gavrilovic is the Tigers’ heaviest player, meaning that Smith will have a size advantage of at least 100 pounds against any Towson defender.
No matter what happens on the court against Towson, a feeling of “what could have been” is sure to haunt Verizon Center as the men’s basketball teams from Georgetown and George Washington will play in the same arena on the same day — but not against each other. The Tigers-Hoyas matchup is the first game of the BB&T classic, and GWU will play Charlotte immediately following to close out the 20th rendition of the event. Hoya, Colonial and local basketball fans alike must all be left wondering why the talented D.C.-area programs have been unable to agree on an annual rivalry series.
Moreover, next Wednesday’s visit from No. 11 Kansas will undoubtedly cast a specter over this matchup. Thompson will have to ensure that his team is focused on the present task, as the Towson matchup could be a surprisingly difficult test if the Hoyas do not take their opponent seriously. Saturday’s game represents the final opportunity for the freshman class to test their legs at Verizon Center before their home-court advantage is tested by a traditionally powerful opponent for the first time.