Georgetown Basketball: Are the Hoyas the Real Deal?

Vin GetzCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2011

Hoyas Head Coach John Thompson III
Hoyas Head Coach John Thompson IIIMitchell Layton/Getty Images

Not yet.

While John Thompson III's teams have distinguished themselves from the senior John Thompson's Hoyas with a more slick and nimble offense, they still have some ways to go before matching the reputation and elite quality of those 1980's squads.  One thing though that teams of both Thompson eras have in common is the impending sense of dread they are able to conjure up in fans.

The long-time faithful know the feeling.  Pulp Fiction's Marsellus Wallace might best describe what it's like watching an important Georgetown game:

"The night of the game, you may feel a slight sting.  That's trepidation ****ing with you."

That fear of the Hoyas not playing up to their potential or losing a big game has reared its ugly head once again, forcing Hoya fans to take their annual leap of faith.  To believe or not to believe, that is the question.

Georgetown (12-2) has soundly drubbed Coastal Carolina, Wofford, Appalachian State and other teams they're supposed to, but there's still a hint of the ol’ let-ya-down Hoyas in their play.

They started the season with a squeak win over "others receiving votes" Old Dominion, 62-59, after trailing for most of the game.

They pulled out an upset on the road over the then higher-ranked Missouri Tigers, but did it by forcing overtime with a last-second three-pointer.

They beat a very overrated Memphis team by 17.

But they also lost to unranked Temple and couldn't handle No. 15 Notre Dame's defense at all, scoring a season-low 55 points.

They've yo-yoed in the rankings.  ESPN had them 21st preseason.  They rocketed up the AP chart to ninth over the first few weeks of the season, only to fall back to 15th following the Temple loss.  They bounced back up to No. 9 again, but look to drop this week following their loss to the Fighting Irish.

And they have some major challenges ahead.  As if normally playing in the Big East isn’t enough, the conference surely is the best in college basketball this year.  The Hoyas still have to face No. 4 UConn, No. 5 Syracuse twice, No. 6 Pittsburgh, No. 8 Villanova and No. 22 Louisville before they even get to the Big East tournament to play some of those teams again.  They’re lucky they don't have to face any other ranked teams for the remainder of the season.

Do the Hoyas have what it takes to beat higher-ranked opponents, to consistently defeat ranked teams,and to defeat other Big East teams like West Virginia or the 14-0 Cincinnati Bearcats, whom they meet twice in their final three games?  There’s certainly a long and interesting road ahead.

For sure, JT3’s program has been head and shoulders above placeholder Esherick’s, when Georgetown went five-and-a-half years with one NCAA tournament appearance.  In Thompson the Younger's six years, the Hoyas have made the tournament four times, including an unexpected Final Four appearance in 2007, their first since 1985 (the Villanova year). The 2007 team was led by juniors Jeff Green (14.3, .513) and Roy Hibbert (12.9, .671), who are now both NBA'ers. 

On paper, this year's team is better and quicker, led by seniors Austin Freeman (19.2, .575) and Chris Wright (13.1, .440) and junior Jason Clark (13.8, .518). Imposing senior forward Julian Vaughn leads the defense with two blocks a game and also averages nine points.  Promising 6’7’’ sophomore forward Hollis Thompson rounds out the starters; he’s got 15 three-pointers.  And finally 6’10’’ junior center Henry Sims leads the charge from a deep bench.

JT3 also embraces the three-pointer, not something necessarily associated with the Blue and Gray.  Back in ’07, the Hoyas nailed 235 from behind the arc.  This year, they’re on pace for 220, but likely it will be more when you look at the competition ahead.

The Hoyas exhibit a crispness, an almost professionalism, that clearly indicates the deeply-held game philosophy and continued progression of an ever maturing and improving coach.  Georgetown would be most fortunate to see another long Thompson reign.

But are they the real deal in '10-'11?

It's a question of which Georgetown team shows up.  Will it be the one that lost to Villanova in 1985, or the one that was bounced out of the tourney in the first round last year by 14-seed Ohio? Or will it be the one that beat Houston in 1984, or the one that surprised everyone upsetting No. 1-seeded North Carolina in 2007?

These Hoyas should consistently beat good teams this year.  They should go far in the tournament.  As the season unfolds over the next two months, we'll get a good look at the skill and character of this team.

The potential and opportunity are there for these Hoyas, more than any other Georgetown team in two decades, to make their mark in Georgetown and college basketball history.

Rankings are AP, as of Jan 2.

Georgetown Hoyas 2010-11.  Click on recent scores for recap and video highlights.

Nov. 12
@ Old Dominion
Nov. 15
vs Tulane
Nov. 18
vs Coastal Carolina
Nov. 19
vs Wofford
Nov. 21
vs North Carolina State
Nov. 27
vs North Carolina-Asheville
Nov. 30
@ Missouri
111-102 OT
Dec. 4
vs Utah State
Dec. 9
@ Temple
Dec. 12
vs Appalachian State
Dec. 18
vs Loyola (MS)
Dec. 23
@ Memphis
Dec. 29
@ Notre Dame
Jan. 1
vs DePaul
Jan. 3
@ St. Johns

7:00 PM
Jan. 8
vs West Virginia

11:00 AM
Jan. 12
vs Pittsburgh

7:00 PM
Jan. 15
@ Rutgers

12:00 PM
Jan. 18
@ Seton Hall

7:00 PM
Jan. 26
vs St. Johns

7:00 PM
Jan. 29
@ Villanova

12:00 PM
Jan. 31
vs Louisville

7:00 PM
Feb. 5
vs Providence

12:00 PM
Feb. 9
@ Syracuse

7:00 PM
Feb. 13
vs Marquette

1:00 PM
Feb. 16
@ Connecticut

7:00 PM
Feb. 19
@ South Florida

7:00 PM
Feb. 23
vs Cincinnati

9:00 PM
Feb. 26
vs Syracuse

12:00 PM
Mar. 5
@ Cincinnati

2:00 PM


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