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

Georgetown Opens Season With Win Over Fort Hood

It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but Georgetown’s 71-66 exhibition victory over U.S. Army-Fort Hood on Friday served its purpose, helping the team to shake the rust off and prepare for the rapidly approaching season. With Lee Scruggs on the sideline in a suit and co-captains junior guard Kevin Braswell and senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje playing a combined total of just 34 minutes, the game turned into a foul-plagued opportunity for the Hoyas’ newcomers to adjust to the college game.

The tempo of the game was marred by numerous whistles from the Big East officiating crew, an indication of what is to come due to the NCAA’s directive to officials dictating a reduction in rough play. The result was 60 combined fouls between the two teams and four Fort Hood players fouling out of the game (no Georgetown players racked up more than three fouls).

“Most of the calls were good calls,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said. “When they made the hand-check calls, they were right.”

The late-arriving crowd of 1,727 at McDonough Gymnasium missed Georgetown’s starting five jumping out to an early 8-0 lead over Fort Hood on two buckets apiece from freshman power forward Mike Sweetney and sophomore shooting guard Demetrius Hunter. However, Esherick surprisingly went with a starting lineup of Hunter, Braswell and Boumtje-Boumtje, along with freshmen Sweetney and swingman Gerald Riley.

After the opening minutes, the rest of the first half was relatively even, with the Hoyas widening their lead at times, but Fort Hood did a decent job of holding Georgetown’s offense in check and kept the halftime score 36-24, Hoyas. Esherick’s shuttling of players in and out of the game was the most notable aspect of the first half, as 12 Georgetown players had seen action by the 10-minute mark of the period.

The first 10 minutes of the second half continued much like the first, with Georgetown continuing to slowly widen their lead as the fouls piled up. At the ten-minute mark, the Hoyas had a 22-point lead, 58-36, and had settled into cruise control, but Fort Hood was not ready to roll over.

Some hot hands on the Fort Hood side, including a two-minute stretch where Fort Hood hit three of four three pointers, cut the Georgetown lead to eight with three minutes left. The teams exchanged buckets in the final minutes before the buzzer sounded on Georgetown’s first measuring stick for the upcoming season.

“For the first game, we did a lot of good things. I tried to get all of our freshmen some minutes,” Esherick said. “I thought Sweetney played well. He was clearly our best rebounder.”

The 6-foot-8 Sweetney turned some heads in his Georgetown debut, pouring in 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting and pulling down 15 rebounds while blocking three shots in 22 minutes of action. He displayed his scoring ability in a number of different ways around the hoop, lighting up the scoreboard with dunks, putbacks and lay-ins off of feeds, showing a light touch and impressive moves for such a big man. All in all, it was Sweetney’s solid performance that Esherick said has solidified his spot in the starting lineup, for the time being.

“Mike Sweetney has established himself from the start of practice,” Esherick said. “He is difficult to guard underneath.”

The other four newcomers (Riley, guard RaMell Ross, forward Omari Faulkner and sophomore center Wesley Wilson) all saw significant minutes but none stood out like Sweetney. Ross scored three points but turned the ball over three times while running the point. Faulkner took advantage of his touches at the offensive end, displaying his athleticism and ability to take the ball to the hoop while scoring six points (including 4-for-4 from the charity stripe) and pulling down six boards. Wilson was explosive but struggled with his handle in his time, blocking four shots, but shooting just 1-for-6 from the field, including three consecutive missed putbacks in one series.

Riley had a subpar shooting day in his debut (1-7 shooting), but Esherick expressed confidence in his young starter.

“Riley will start on Friday. Gerald can shoot even though he didn’t look like it today. It was rust and inexperience.”

The veterans of Georgetown’s team had little opportunity to show their stuff, as Esherick used the matchup primarily as an opportunity to get his players back into the flow of game competition. Braswell displayed a solid handle and improved court sense in his time on the court, taking only four shots while only turning the ball over once and making four steals. Boumtje-Boumtje saw little action, scoring eight with five boards in just 12 minutes.

The only standout veteran was senior swingman Nat Burton, who scored 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from both the field and the line. Much of the rest of the team is still working its way back into basketball condition.

“Ruben, Mike and Courtland Freeman are not in particularly good basketball-playing shape,” Esherick said. Boumtje-Boumtje and Freeman both had offseason injuries that limited their practice time on the court.

Overall, there were a number of good things for Georgetown to take from the game, including solid play from some of the freshman, 11 blocks and nine steals at the defensive end and an improved shot selection that led to 43 percent shooting from the field, but the game was far from perfect for the Hoyas.

“Ballhandling-wise, we were awful. We have to shoot free throws better during the season,” Esherick said of Georgetown’s 28 turnovers and 57 percent shooting from the line.

Despite the shortcomings similar to Hoya squads of recent years, Esherick accomplished what he was looking to do – shake the rust off and get all of his players some action. It was only a five-point victory, but none of the three All-Big East players that will be leading the Hoyas come conference play saw significant action in the contest.

Georgetown next hits the hardwood on Friday at 7 p.m. against Latvia Russian Select, the Hoyas’ final exhibition tune-up before opening the season on Nov. 17 against Bethune-Cookman. Both the Latvia game and the season opener are in McDonough Gymnasium.

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