Well before the 94-57 season opener win against Le Moyne College was over, the game already seemed prophetic of what Georgetown University men’s basketball could be.
With over two minutes remaining in the first half, Head Coach Ed Cooley walked onto the middle of the court, enthusiastically waving his hands as the Hoya faithful filled Capital One Arena with boisterous cheering.
The Cooley era of Georgetown men’s basketball (1-0) officially began with a new-look roster putting on a dominant showing against the newly promoted Division I side Le Moyne Dolphins (0-1). The Hoyas were ruthlessly efficient, excelling in ball movement and transition play while largely neutralizing their opponents’ 3-point threat with sound defense.
Cooley said the team’s gutsy play represented his vision as a coach.
“Our teams will always be unselfish,” Cooley told The Hoya in a postgame interview. “Our teams will always be physical, and we’re always gonna do our best to defend.”
Although Georgetown tipped off the game with a lineup consisting entirely of newcomers, the team played with confidence and composure from the get-go. The team distributed the ball evenly and looked fluid in motion offense, creating multiple mismatches near the rim while also generating open looks from beyond the arc.
The Hoyas held a noticeable advantage in physicality over the Dolphins, who were missing forwards Jamel Melvin and Nate Fouts. Georgetown locked down the paint and forced Le Moyne to fall back on 3-point shooting to generate most of its offense, albeit to little success.
On the other end, sophomore guard Jayden Epps and redshirt first-year guard Rowan Brumbaugh formed a formidable backcourt duo. Epps’ sharp passing and Brumbaugh’s disruptive pace facilitated much of the early offense for the Hoyas, helping lead Georgetown to a fast 20-7 start with 11:00 remaining in the first half.
Le Moyne had little to no answer for Georgetown in the rest of the half. Although guard Isaiah Salter managed to be a defensive nuisance with 2 steals and guard Mike DePersia earned 7 quick points, the Hoyas simply looked like the more dominant, organized side. The Dolphins, who pride themselves as a strong shooting squad, made 3-of-19 three-point attempts in the first half.
The Georgetown squad had a few flashy moments to close out the half. Junior guard Donovan Grant held his shooting pose after nailing an open 3-pointer to an enthused crowd, senior guard Wayne Bristol Jr.’s sprinting transition layup prompted Cooley to fire up the student section and junior guard/forward Dontrez Styles’ buzzer-beater 3 sparked deafening roars from the 9,335 in attendance.
Styles was the clear standout of the first half, hustling on both offense and defense and accruing 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and 7 rebounds as a result. The rest of the Hoyas had a similarly impressive showing, posting a 56.3 field goal percentage and 43.8 three-point percentage to jump out to a commanding 47-23 lead.
The start of the second half saw both teams cool off significantly. Epps contributed to 4 of the 5 Georgetown turnovers in the span of just over two minutes, prompting Cooley to rotate him out in hopes of waking up a dormant offense. However, Le Moyne was similarly unable to capitalize on any scoring opportunities, going 1-for-9 in field goal chances to open the half.
Following the substitution, the Hoyas rekindled their blazing pace. Brumbaugh looked dangerous shooting threes and nabbed multiple rebounds, Bristol Jr. continued his energetic play, particularly in fighting for rebounds and Heath fought past stout defenders to sink multiple contested shots.
But it was senior forward Supreme Cook who dished out the most impressive performance of the half. Cook utilized his strong 6’9” frame to the fullest advantage, shooting 6-for-6 on field goals and landing 2 emphatic dunks to completely outclass the Dolphin defense. Even beyond his stellar scoring, Cook drew 5 fouls and grabbed 7 rebounds to continue disrupting Le Moyne.
Cook said he aims to continue providing the team with much-needed physicality, hoping to be the answer to Georgetown’s lack of front-court depth.
“I wanna be that guy,” Cook told The Hoya in a postgame interview. “I wanna be that guy who rebounds and does the dirty work. So I’m willing to do that sacrifice and play my role to ensure that we win.”
Even as the Hoyas began to open up defensively toward the end to give the Dolphins their first truly competitive streak of the game, the final scoreline gave a glimpse into the team’s immense potential moving forward.
Cook and Styles both had double-doubles on the night: Cook led the team with 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Styles followed closely with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Heath and Brumbaugh supplied a steady stream of scoring with 15 and 13 points, respectively, while Epps collected 11 assists even with a quiet shooting night. Bristol Jr. was a spark plug off the bench, drawing praise from Cooley after the game for his willingness to sacrifice his body for the team.
Forward/center Drew Fielder, the only true first-year on the roster, impressed in his collegiate debut. Despite drawing 3 quick fouls in the game’s beginning, Fielder displayed impressive agility for his 6’10” size and contributed 11 points in the matchup, including a highlight reel-worthy dunk to seal the game.
Cooley praised Fielder for holding his own and quickly adjusting to Division I play.
“I was proud of Drew. He’s come a long way,” Cooley said. “He had the jitters a little bit, but overall, I think he’s gonna be a player we’ll be talking about later on in his career.”
The Hoyas have plenty of room to grow; nevertheless, they are a young squad on the rise. Georgetown looks to continue its early successes against Holy Cross (0-1) on Nov. 11.