When you talk about consistent winning, the Georgetown Hoyas bark louder than any other sports team in the region. They seem to make the tournament every season, they play smart, they play tough, and they win. However, this area seems to be only mildly concerned with the Hoyas, who are generally regarded as a second class team in Washington DC.
Currently the Hoyas local following doesn't compare to that of the Redskins, Wizards, Nats, or Terps. And even in a year where the Hoyas have earned the Big East crown, the talk is still about if the University of Maryland can somehow sneak into the tournament. Call me crazy, but it seems as if Washington DC has a bone to pick with the Hoyas. But ask yourself this: What’s not to like about Georgetown?
The one common denominator that all of the nation’s elite sports franchises share, is the ability to rebuild without losing. The Wizards have been rebuilding for the last 34 years, the Redskins seem to make the playoffs once a decade, and it looks as if Mark Turgeon just renewed his lease at the NIT.
And lucky for Georgetown fans, a rebuilding season in which the team struggles is rarely the case. But the question that is raised when talking Georgetown basketball is this: Is consistent winning enough, if it's not paired with cutting down the nets?
What sours many spectators about Georgetown, is the fact that the team’s regular season success rarely translates into winning it all. It seems odd to state that Georgetown --and all of its rich history-- has only captured the NCAA championship one time, and that was in 1984.The Hoyas have developed a consistent pattern of struggling during the postseason, and that has continued under John Thompson III.
John Thompson coaches a style of basketball that can be a gift during the regular season, but a curse during the postseason. On an average offensive possession the Hoyas will slow the pace of the game making sure that they use the entire 35 second shot clock. Georgetown is opposed to quick shots, as they would rather wait for high percentage baskets and let their defense win the game. It’s a system that is anti to modern day basketball, where every team seems to subscribe to the Mike D’Antoni system which says shoot fast and play defense last.
Georgetown's methodical offense frustrates opponents as they are forced to aimlessly chase around Hoyas for the entire duration of the shot clock. With this offense, opponents can’t simply key on one player, as the Hoyas system allows all five players to continually touch the ball. When playing Georgetown, you can't hide your best player and let him rest on defense; all five men must defend.
The level of energy that it takes to defend Georgetown is something that most opponents are not ready to exert during the regular season. But when the Big Dance rolls around, teams are more focused and more willing to play defense for the duration of the shot clock.
All of a sudden, those wide open back-door cuts are no longer there for the Blue and Gray. The Hoyas quickly learn the hard way, that their methodical slow pace becomes a deterrent to winning. When it’s a win or go home format, every dribble, every shot, and every possession is heightened. But for Georgetown things are heightened beyond epic proportions, as the Hoyas methodical offense doesn’t allow for many shots throughout the course of the game. Teams know that if they get up on Georgetown early, they can flip the script and turn Georgetown's snail-paced offense against them.
And this is one of the reasons why Georgetown is usually in jeopardy of losing in the early rounds. Teams without anything to lose are essentially playing with house money, and they risk everything to try to get an early lead on Georgetown. This is why we can expect the Hoyas' early round opponents to blast as many three balls as humanly possible. And if they're able to connect on a few, Georgetown's offense is not geared to make a comeback.
The simple solution for John Thompson III would be to speed things up. Especially if Georgetown finds themselves trailing by double digits. Instead of using the entire shot clock, for tournament play the Hoyas should aim to speed things up by 5-10 seconds. This would give them a few extra key possessions in a tournament where every possession is paramount.
But when the X's and O's are wiped away, essentially Georgetown's postseason run will rest on the shoulders of Otto Porter. Star players and their talents can compensate for a multitude of deficiencies. If Otto Porter is everything that they say he is, he'll be Georgetown's remedy to the curse.
Stay Classy, DC