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2020-21 Big East Women’s Basketball Team Preview: Georgetown Hoyas

Expect losses, just like their roster from last season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Georgetown vs Marquette
This is the most positive picture I can find of Anita Kelava, Georgetown’s best returning player. Yes, it’s from March 2019.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Georgetown Hoyas

2019-20 Record: 5-25, 2-16 in the Big East

2019-20 Big East Finish: Tied for ninth, which was also then a tie for last. The Hoyas picked up the #9 seed in the conference tournament by way of tiebreakers.

Final 2019-20 Her Hoop Stats Ranking: #249

Postseason Projection: Lol, nope

Key Departures: Alright, buckle up, we’re going to be here for a minute. There were three women on last year’s squad that were on their final year of eligibility. Two of them, Taylor Barnes and Brianna Jones, were graduate transfers into the program, and ended up as the #1 and #2 scorers in their only year as a Hoya. So there’s 22.3 points per game out the door, and the only two players averaging over eight points per game. Marvellous Osagie-Erese was the only traditional senior on the roster, and she departs after averaging 5.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.

And now, we move on to the transfers.

[deep breath]

There are five of them. Four of them started at least one game for Georgetown last season, and all four of those women appeared in at least 25 games and averaged at least 14 minutes per game. This is where it gets messy. Two of the transfers — Cassandra Gordon and Tayanna Jones — were on the roster at the end of the season, or at least the 2019-20 roster as it exists now on the Georgetown website. Three of them — Nikola Kovacikova, Olivia Snyder, and Tatiana Thompson — are not listed there, but are thankfully included in Georgetown’s yearly statistics. Snyder was a freshman and broke her hand after four appearances early in the season, so she’s only a key departure in terms of Georgetown having a mass exodus. I’m not 100% sure when Kovacikova and Thompson headed out the door, as both of them played in Marquette’s game at GU on February 23rd. They’re not in another box score for the rest of the season for the Hoyas, though. I remember tuning into a Georgetown game at some point late in the year and hearing the announcers talking about the Hoyas dealing with departures from the roster. It might have been one of their final two regular season games or it might have been their Big East tournament loss to Providence.

ANYWAY Kovacikova has transferred to Penn for her final two years of eligibility, while Thompson will wrap up her final year at North Florida. Kovacikova was the #3 scorer on the team last year at 7.9 points per game, so the Hoyas have lost all of their top three scorers. They’ve also lost two of their top three rebounders, and three of the top five. They’ve also lost six of the seven women who had at least 10 assists last year. Because of Georgetown’s pace — #285 in the country per Her Hoop Stats — it’s almost hard to declare any of the outbound transfers as “key” departures based on raw statistical contribution. However, when you lose three seniors and five transfers, the entire group of eight becomes a huge loss collectively.

Related: I think I figured out why Georgetown was voted last on all 10 ballots in the preseason poll.

Key Returners: Well, there’s always Anita Kelava. The 6’3” graduate student/redshirt senior forward averaged 6.6 points and a team high 7.4 rebounds a year ago while starting in 25 of her 30 appearances. She also averaged over an assist and block per game, so that’s something, as is the fact that she led Georgetown in minutes per game. I know that sounds dumb, but when you’re talking about a team dealing with five transfers on top of three seniors leaving, not having to worry about 32 of your 200 player minutes is no small matter.

That no small matter is made bigger by the fact that no one else on GU’s returning roster averaged over 13 minutes per game. Top honors there goes to Graceann Bennett, who started 16 times in 23 appearances while averaging 12.6 minutes per game. Honestly, that’s pretty good stuff for a freshman like the 6’3” Bennett was last year. Shanniah Wright averaged 10 minutes a game in 23 appearances as a sophomore last year, and 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game is perfectly acceptable stuff for a end of the rotation player with that kind of playing time.

There’s not much else. Sari Cureton and Lexi Kimball are seniors who have essentially never played for the Hoyas, while Breonna Mayfield has played 440 total minutes in three seasons.

Key Additions: Well, let’s start with transfers. Taylor Baur is a graduate transfer from Princeton. The 6’2” forward out of Saint Louis missed her freshman year with an injury, played a decent back-up role for two years with the Tigers, then started in 27 games last season. Baur averaged 6.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game as Princeton rolled up a record of 26-1 and was on track for a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament. Taylia Stimpson is a junior college transfer out of College of Southern Idaho. She stands 5’10” and averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 2.2 steals as her squad went 22-9. If she’s coming to Georgetown after one year at CSI, then I presume she’s immediately eligible. Finally, there’s Jillian Archer, who sat out last season after transferring from USC. In 2018-19, her only season with the Trojans, the 6’2” Archer saw action in 18 games and chipped in 2.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in her 9.2 minutes per game.

There are also four freshmen on the roster for the Hoyas. Considering that GU is returning just three real contributors from last year’s roster and adds three newly active transfers, I think it’s safe to say that at least one of these four first years will end up being a notable contributor by the time the season is over. All four are listed as guards, and given the massive loss in assists across the board, that could end up being a boon for the Hoyas. Jazmyn Harmon is the only Georgetown recruit listed by Prospects Nation and Blue Star, although Blue Star marks her at #280 in the country. Weirdly, Harmon is the only one of the four that ESPN doesn’t mention, but the three that are mentioned — Teaghan Flaherty, Yasmin Ott, and Kelsey Ransom — are all outside the top 100 and thus the Worldwide Leader doesn’t really put much work into figuring out where to rank or rate them.

Coach: James Howard, entering his fourth season in charge at Georgetown as well as in Division 1. He has a record of 40-57.

Outlook: Uh, how does bad grab you?

Okay, look. Let’s just boil it down to essentials here. Georgetown was a bad team last year. They went 5-25 and won just two games in Big East play. In fact, they went 1-15 in the final 16 games with a road win over Xavier snapping a 10 game losing streak. 11 of their league losses were by double digits. They had two players straight up quit the team late in the year. Three more players transferred on top of those two. It was an absolutely awful situation all around.

It can not possibly get worse for Georgetown.

This year will assuredly be absolutely no fun for anyone on the roster or the coaching staff. There are seven newcomers to the roster who are probably going to have to do most of the heavy lifting for the team and the three incoming eligible transfers have never actually done heavy lifting for a Division 1 team before.

I don’t even have an idea of where to try to begin to talk about things that Georgetown needs to improve on from last year. There’s almost zero roster continuity, so you can’t look at literally any department and say “oh, they need [insert player here] to step up to shore up rebounding” or whatever. Nothing that was good last year can be counted on to be good again this year because the team is so wildly different. I guess the positive news if you’re a Hoyas fan is that the reverse is true if you’re talking about all the bad things. Maybe lots of things will get better because it will be a lot of different players involved!

We probably should close on wondering how long Georgetown will allow James Howard to continue as head coach. He was elevated to the top job in the summer of 2017 when Dorothy Adair suddenly took the Delaware job, and boy, I can’t think of any bigger red flags for your program than “the coach would rather be working in the CAA instead of the Big East.” Anyway, Howard was fine for two years, keeping the Hoyas hovering around the .500 mark, and actually improved on his overall win-loss record from Year 1 to Year 2. The bottom fell out last season in Year 3, and with Kovacikova and Thompson just bailing with a couple of games to go, the bottom fell alllllll the way out. It’s going to probably take a couple of years to get this oriented in a positive direction again, and how much time Howard gets to do that is going to be completely dependent on how much the athletic department cares about being competitive in women’s hoops. The league is now more competitive than it has been in Howard’s tenure as DePaul and Marquette are going to gear up to take aim at Connecticut as opposed to just going to war with each other constantly. We’re probably going to see very little in positive momentum this season out of Georgetown, but if things are going to get tougher quickly, then Howard and the Hoyas need to jump on board that train pretty soon.