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Game 19: Hoya-Smacka - St. John's blown out by Georgetown, 77-52

I. Recap | II. Killer jump shot? | III. Keys of the Game Recap | IV. News coverage

I. Recap


Let's make no bones about it. The Georgetown Hoyas' 77-52 victory over the St. John's Red Storm was decisive and thorough. As the Red Storm try to make it back through the uncleared, car-clogged snowy streets of the District of Columbia in the THUNDERSNEEZE or THUNDERSNOW, they are obviously wondering where the crispness of the early season - the effectiveness of the offense and peskiness of the defense - went. It's not just that they are losing these games to tough teams - they're getting blown out like they don't belong in the middle of the Big East.

The players, fans, and media believed that this year is not like the others. And this is the tough part - fighting through the January blizzard of ranked teams - 7 opponents and counting - and coming out competitive and confident in February, when the assault lets up a bit.

It's a tough stretch, and it's wearing on the team. Dwight Hardy and Justin Burrell are planning to call a players-only meeting, according to the NY Post's Lenn Robbins. Sean Evans delivered an overly zesty foul with less than a minute to go... to a Hoya walk-on.  And the turnover rate is more indicative of the cursory blowout-time nature of the second half than it is of how the Red Storm played.

Still, the Red Storm struggled to get much going. They were led by Justin Burrell's 12 points and 8 rebounds (all defensive). Leading scorers Dwight Hardy and Justin Brownlee combined for 19 points on 16 shots in 65 minutes, with 2 free throws attempted. St. John's falls to 11-8, 4-5 in the Big East... but the schedule eases up slightly after this. There are winnable games.

The Hoyas got 14 points from Austin Freeman, and a ridiculously sharp performance from Jason Clark, who scored 16 points on 5 of 5 shooting with 2 steals and generally bothersome defense. Nate Lubick was gifted his first start of his career, but deposed starter Hollis Thompson scored 15 points off of the bench. And the Georgetown faithful got to work on their Hoya! Saxa! chants. Georgetown is getting their Big East season back on track after a January lull; they are 15-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big East, solidly in the middle of the league standings.

More game notes, a Keys of the Game recap, news links, and more - after the jump.

"I thought clearly Georgetown played with intelligence, aggressiveness and sustained their effort and level of execution for the 40 minutes and thoroughly dominated us in every aspect of play. I thought the first 8 minutes of the second half, our team showed some grit, some resolve and cut it to 6. We had some possessions where it could have been cut even closer in terms of cutting the deficit to a closer score but then Georgetown responded well on another run of their own and closed out the game: kind of salted the victory away in an impressive fashion."

- Steve Lavin, postgame

Georgetown really responded to the Red Storm's runs, beating St. John's in all aspects of the game. The surprise for me was in the turnovers - on 19% of the Red Storm's possessions. But the result that was really off-kilter, based on their Big East performances, was the effective FG% of 37.3. Or the offensive efficiency of 76.5 points per 100 possessions. That can only be called awful.

That is the lowest efficiency mark of the season.

It's actually been 2 years since the Red Storm were that poor on offense in a game. They were worse against Marquette in the second round of the Big East Tournament on March 11, 2008, and hit that 76.5 mark against West Virginia of January 28th of the same year.

It should be noted that St. John's came close to that effective FG% against none other than Wagner this year. And the Red Storm shot worse than this on 5 occasions last season, winning 2 of those games - ugly-fests against Temple and Fordham.

All of which is to say, maybe these players' scoring skill sets are limited/ defensible. Or....

II. Killer jump shot?

Game Thread

This team... can't shoot. It's not just the team playing against height, which has been a problem against lengthy teams like Cincinnati or Syracuse. But right now, the whole team is in a shooting slump. They set their feet, and the shots don't necessarily fall. And under pressure, the team can't score. Shots hit the rim hard. Shooters can't get open.

Hardy, in particular, is struggling. He shot 2-8 inside the arc, and 2-8 outside the arc. I don't know if the staff is working on him being more deliberate with the shot, or he's feeling less quick, but his jumper looked a little slower than it has in the past. Justin Brownlee is quick and crafty, but is having a hard time making himself the focal point of the offense.

As for the rest of the team, it's known that they cannot shoot. Burrell had a pair of nice moves in the game, but isn't a go-to scorer. D.J. Kennedy's slashing abilities haven't found a home in the flow of the St. John's offense, though his ability to make plays, grab steals, and rebound from his position are very good. But when Brownlee and Hardy aren't hitting, this team is worse at scoring than last year. 

Malik Stith is no help right now, despite his fighters' mentality - he struggled badly in trying to convert his drives, and the refs weren't eager to call fouls (they had planes to try and catch). Paris Horne is okay, but needs screens to get open or transition opportunities.

All of which is to say: there needs to be a sign in front of Taffner Fieldhouse: JUMP SHOTS NEEDED. INQUIRE INSIDE.

Can this change against lesser opponents? Will setting their feet to shoot help? Can touch around the basket be learned in a player's last season? We shall see.


III. Keys to the Game

Pregame notes, with original Keys to the Game.

Cold Clark/ Wright Case. Chris Wright may have been cold, but Jason Clark supported Freeman very well with 16 points on 5 shots. He was hot, and the Hoyas' offense had some nice runs. F

No Unforced Errors. The Red Storm struggled at times to maintain their cohesion and pace. Not a lot of turnovers, necessarily - the Hoyas had 10 points off of turnovers - but St. John's couldn't get the ball to where they wanted to. C-

Inside Out Scoring. The scoring in general was lacking, but every player who took a shot from outside of five feet (and some who took shots inside of five) missed. The team shot 15 threes, and made four of them, a 26.7% performance, coupled with a 36% (16-44) inside the arc. F

Rebound When Available. The Johnnies needed to get some offensive rebounds off of all of their misses. Instead, a Hoya team that only gets to 61% of their available defensive rebounds boarded 75.6% of them. Part of that was the strength of Nate Lubick and the length of Henry Sims, but... the Johnnies needed more. C

IV. News coverage

Red Storm Sports recap

Hoya Prospectus: Recap: Georgetown 77, St. John's 52

Well, when Pico over at Rumble in the Garden answered my five questions yesterday, one point he made emphatically clear was that St. John's is not a good shooting team.

Apparently, Coach Thompson and the Hoyas were also aware of this, as they managed to force the Johnnies into 43 jump shots tonight out of 59 total FG attempts. St. John's didn't make many of them [7/28 2FG jumpers, 4/15 3FG], and the rest was history. Georgetown won with the second largest victory of the season tonight, 77-52. Only the Appalachian State game was more lopsided.

NY Post: St. John's routed by Georgetown -
"I think we just need to have a players'-only meeting," senior guard Dwight Hardy said. "We just need to talk about getting about to the way we were playing when we started out 3-0 in this league.

"We just got to come together. . . It's 10 seniors. It's our last year. It's all we got left. If we want to make it to the NCAAs, we got to pick it up right now."

Hardy (4-of-16 shooting, no trips to the foul line) and Justin Burrell addressed their teammates in the locker room, but it was not the formal sit-down that could come as soon as today. Now is the time.

NY Daily News: Georgetown Hoyas rout slumping St. John's, 77-52, as Red Storm falls below .500 in Big East
"We have to figure this out," [Justin Burrell] added. "At the end of the day, our coaching staff has another shot at (the NCAAs) next year. We don't have another shot. So we have to figure it out." Not everyone agrees that a meeting is called for.

D.J. Kennedy, another one of the seniors, sees it as the wrong move. "There's no need to panic. After every Big East loss everybody feels like it's a reason to panic," Kennedy said. "We can't panic. Everybody's got to keep their heads up. Every time we go on a little losing streak, everybody looks for the panic button. Stay together, learn from this. If we win the next three, it will be a whole different story....It's the Big East....We just happened to get the rough end of the schedule."

St. John's suffered its third straight road loss of 15 points or more (two were by 25). It shot 34%, and its defense was ineffective against the Hoyas (15-5, 4-4), whom they beat at the Garden on Jan. 3. Georgetown shot 52% and 50% on three-pointers.

ESPN NY: St. John's -- mired in a deep slump -- has issues to overcome before March - ESPN New York
Just 23 days ago, St. John's (11-8, 4-4 in the Big East) was the talk of the college basketball world, following a 61-58 win over these same Hoyas at Madison Square Garden. New coach Steve Lavin was interviewed live on "SportsCenter" the following afternoon, basking in the glow of the Red Storm's first win over a ranked opponent in two years.

Since that game, however, the Red Storm have been reeling. They've now lost five of their past six games, heading into another very difficult matchup with No. 3 Duke on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Granted, that Duke game will be the Red Storm's eighth straight against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 -- a brutal stretch, by anyone's standards. But the margins of defeat in many of the losses is troubling -- 15 against Notre Dame, 17 against Syracuse, 25 against Louisville and now 25 against Georgetown.

Washington Post: Hoyas show they're good at rebounding
As important as Thompson's contributions were, the Hoyas won because of a re-dedication to team defense, which was the team's primary focus in practice this week. Georgetown's players communicated, helped one another and aggressively pursued guards along the perimeter.

The best individual effort on defense was Chris Wright's handling of St. John's leading scorer Dwight Hardy, who was held to 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting. Hardy scored a game-high 20 points in the Red Storm's 61-58 victory at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 3.

Fanhouse: Georgetown Passes St. John's on Brutal Big East Escalator -- NCAABB FanHouse
St. John's, however, looked nothing like the team that had opened eyes all over the country, eyes that had been trained on new coach Steve Lavin as he led the chronically disappointing Red Storm to early league wins over the Hoyas and West Virginia. Since the win over Georgetown, St. John's has lost five of six, three of the losses by more than 20.

On Wednesday, the senior-laden Red Storm let Georgetown open up a 13-point halftime lead on them by going scoreless over the last five minutes of the half, then closed the gap to five early in the second half -- then, in the final 15 minutes, got plowed under like a double-parked car on 6th Street outside of the arena.

To Lavin, the reasons weren't complicated. Georgetown, he said, "really played with a sustained, hard edge. There was a alert, aggressive mindset throughout ... Old-school basketball -- they put on a clinic offensively. And they played with a hard-nosed, aggressive, maybe payback mentality, and I'll be talking to the kids about that.'' Georgetown finds shooting touch against St. John's - Chamberlain |
St. John's started the second half brightly, scoring nine of the half's first ten points and making the score 41-36 to the Hoyas on Justin Burrell's layup with 15:45 to go.

But Georgetown responded with baskets from Henry Sims and Jason Clark (who led all scorers with 16 points) to push the margin back up to 45-36, and after a three-point play by Justin Burrell brought St. John's within six, the Hoyas ripped off an 8-0 run to make the score 53-39 with 11:38 remaining, and the Red Storm never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

Johnny Jungle: Capital Punishment
Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: A team starts off strong, stays with their opponent through most of the first half before going to pieces heading into the locker room. Then, in the second stanza, it’s more of the same. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s been the story of the St. John’s Red Storm for each of their games over the last three weeks, save for their 18-point win over Notre Dame last Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Washington Examiner: Hoyas thrive in a storm | Craig Stouffer | College | Washington Examiner
With the white stuff covering everything outside Verizon Center on Wednesday, the Hoyas smothered St. John’s inside the arena with defense and put their foot on the gas offensively in a 77-52 rout in front of a brave crowd of 7,160.

The Hoya: MEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Dominate Johnnies, Win Third Straight - The Hoya - Sports
From the start, it was clear what the Hoyas worked on most in practice during their week off. They came out with a sense of urgency on the defensive end and limited St. John's to 34 percent shooting, forced 13 turnovers and rarely gave the Johnnies anything easy. It was Georgetown's best defensive effort in recent memory.

The Hoyas had a few turnovers during the first 10 minutes and were locked in a tight 19-18 game while hovering around 60 percent from the field, but a 21-9 run to end the half – highlighted by a patented four-point play from senior guard Austin Freeman and five straight points from senior guard Chris Wright – gave Georgetown control of the game going into halftime.

Glide Hoyas: Hoyas attack for the big payback in big win at home against the Red Storm 77-52
The Hoyas arrived to the Verizon Center at 6:00. Once they arrived, the Hoyas came onto the court with some serious faces. I guess you could say it was all business. I mentioned to a friend that was sitting in front of me, "man, look at their faces, those Hoyas are serious man, their not jumping up and down chest bumping or anything. The looks on their faces were "focus." and they also had the look of a "sense of urgency" big time. The Hoyas know what time it is!