One of the many beauties in sport is that it's anyone's game once both teams begin competing. Opinions of those that don't suit up simply don't matter; breakdowns by analysts carry no weight, and criticisms issued by columnists are usually recycling material by tip off. It's a lesson that has been on display more often than not in the NCAA tournament at the Georgetown Hoyas expense in the post-season.
The post season performances strung together by Georgetown the past few years have been dismal. Were this not Georgetown, arguably the most prestigious school in the nations capitol with a basketball reputation and history as storied as any program in the country, the aftermath of a second round loss may not be as momentous. But this was Georgetown and winning in March is the standard by which they are held. But should it be at this point?
"You are what you are." You've heard the phrase used before. Fact is, since reaching the 2007 Final Four, Georgetown hasn't reached the Sweet 16, losing five consecutive times to double-digit seeds during the NCAA tournament's first weekend.
I could harp on about all of the glaring issues this team has had, but where would that get us? What would I be telling you that you that you haven't already heard? Underachieving is one of the more upsetting acts one can commit, consequently just as upsetting to write about. It's my job to write about the good, bad and the ugly, but most importantly to inform. This Georgetown team has a plethora of returning talent that should spur optimism amongst a downtrodden fan base. Here are a few reasons fans might be able to find it in themselves to smile, although, I know that prospect is hardly realistic after losing to Florida Gulf Coast.
Most casual basketball fans have no idea who this is and might even be confusing him with the Atlanta Hawks forward who was recently on the NBA trading block. Wrong. Although this Josh Smith was involved in the collegiate version of the trading block, as he played his first two seasons at UCLA then transferred to Georgetown. Smith, one of the top recruits in the county coming out of High school will provide a low post scoring option the Hoyas so desperately need. Smith does come with some baggage, more then 300-pounds of it to be a little more specific. The young man has had weight issues throughout his career as it has fluctuated in excess of 300 pounds. Smith only managed to average 13.5 minutes a game as a sophomore, a direct result of his inability to keep pace with Ben Howland's up tempo offense as a Bruin. His freshman year however, Smith reached his physical peak and it showed in the numbers, averaging 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. The good news? As many of you I'm sure may know, the Hoyas run anything but an up-tempo offense, thrive on low possession games and look to utilize as much of the shot clock as possible. In other words, the Hoyas may have found their next Mike Sweetney. This could make for a strong front court next season led by an emerging Mikael Hopkinins, rebound hungry Nate Lubick, and part time wrestler, part time center Moses Ayegba. With Lubick and Ayegba being defensive specialists and having limited offensive skill sets and Hopkins hesitancy to match up with stronger opponents (that's putting it very nicely), Smith will be a great low post scoring threat.
The kid scored 41 points in back-to-back games in the semifinal and championship as a senior in high school at Oak Hill. He scored the most points as a Georgetown freshman this season (33) since Victor Page dropped 34 in the 1996 Big East Tournament. In his debut season, Smith-Rivera proved he can score the basketball in a variety of different ways. Frequently the third scoring option on this season's team, "DSR" stepped up when fellow teammate Greg Whittington was ruled academically ineligible. The fact is, Otto Porter is likely going to start getting paid to play this sport next season and someone is going to have to fill that missing void (16.2 ppg). Will DSR fill 16 points worth of that void? That I don't know, but after averaging 25 minutes a game as a freshman, I do believe he's capable of it. Scoring the ball comes natural to him, and although JTIII loves to point out all the other ways he affects the game, scoring is without question his gift.
You save the best for last, right? I'm predicting a wealth of progression for the Maryland native. Whittington was a huge reason the Hoyas got off to an 11-3 start, averaging 11 points and seven boards a game. He was the team's second leading scorer when he suddenly got suspended before the fifteenth game of the season against St. Johns. The motivation for Greg to excel this season will be exponentially high, after watching his team go from the high-of- highs in winning the Big East regular season title, to the low-of-lows in being ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Whittington witnessed all of that in a suit and tie on the bench after being ruled out academically ineligible. What makes Greg so valuable is his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. At 6'8, with quick feet and an extremely long wing span, Whittington was Georgetown's most disruptive defender. In a 2-3 zone that only allowed their opponents 55.6 ppg during the regular season, Whittington showcased his ability to stay in from of guards on the perimeter and clog passing lanes with his expanded wingspan. Offensively, being the teams second leading scorer before his suspension showed he's capable. With a motivated off season and time put into his jumper, Whittington has potential to follow in Otto's footsteps as Big East Player of the Year.