Going in I had a bad feeling about this game. The Mountaineers came on the heels of a thrilling Georgetown comeback victory over Marquette. Morgantown is a difficult place to play, and while not a ranked team, Bob Huggins led squads are always a problematic opponent. To complicate matters, West Virginia was the last in a formidable run of games that included Memphis, Louisville on the road and Marquette.
It was the ultimate trap game and Georgetown stepped in it and got snarled by a hungrier opponent.
The big question now is how will the Hoyas respond?
John Thompson's group is about to embark on what is likely the easiest five game stretch he could have asked for in the habitually grueling Big East. It hasn't been often over the past several years that a team could go three games, let alone five, without having to face a ranked opponent in Big East conference play. This year the Hoyas caught a fortuitous break and must capitalize on such serendipity in order to extend their strong early season start and turn it into momentum for a late March run.
Usually a conference loss is excusable and easily forgotten. Given Georgetown's recent narrative of post-new year slides, Thompson and the coaching staff must spend extra time correcting the mistakes in order to ensure that this trend of late does not derail yet another promising season.
Last year the Hoyas also entered the new year ranked ninth before a three-game slump left their confidence tattered (While they briefly recovered I still believe those three losses had a damaging legacy). In 2010, the Hoyas lost a handful January games that set the tone for an up-and-down Big East season that amounted to a first round tournament exit.
Perhaps the most pronounced post Christmas swoon was the 2008/2009 Hoya team that returned from break losing seven of their first nine league games in what was John Thompson's most disappointing season on the hill top.
This team is different. The Hoyas play with an intensity and camaraderie that is exceptional for such a young freshman laden team.
It is these youngsters that have brought about the change in attitude. It is Georgetown's four key freshmen who have pushed the upperclassmen to play harder and be improved leaders and, led by Otto Porter, it is these guys who have brought the gritty toughness that is required in the Big East, but a quality that too often Georgetown has lacked.
Now though, it is the coaches and upperclassmen's turn to take the lead. As Georgetown prepares for it's upcoming opponents the coaching staff must instill in its players that these next five games are all must win contests.
Not only will the Hoyas need to bank the wins for tournament security and seeding, they must right the prevailing mindset that Georgetown teams start hot but fade.
If Georgetown wants to leave their mark on the NCAAs and even reach the Final Four (something that with this group is certainly doable), they will need to rely on the confidence, the positivity and the belief that they can win that they establish over the course of the next month.
Seasons aren't defined or won in January but they can be lost. Georgetown has five games to make sure that doesn't happen.