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2021-22 Big East Women’s Basketball Team Preview: Georgetown Hoyas

What will the Hoyas look like with a normal start to the season?

NCAA Basketball: Maryland - E. Shore at Georgetown Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Georgetown Hoyas

2020-21 Record: 2-15, 2-14 Big East

2020-21 Big East Finish: 11th, one game behind Butler in the standings

Final 2020-21 Her Hoop Stats Ranking: #291 out of 343 teams

Postseason? Only their 52-46 loss to Creighton in the conference tournament.

Key Departures: Just one notable departure with just two total departures for the Hoyas. Taylor Baur appeared in all 17 games last season with starts in nine and 26.2 minutes per game. The 6’2” forward didn’t score much at just 3.4 points per game, but she did grab up 6.5 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per night. The only other departure is Taylia Stimpson, who was a sophomore last year. 13 games played with three starts, but she only averaged 7.8 minutes per appearance and didn’t chip in much else.

Key Returners: We’ll start with the three women who started all 17 games: Kelsey Ransom, Jillian Archer, and Graceann Bennett. As luck would have it, that trio went 1-3-4 in the scoring race on the Hoyas’ roster with Ransom leading the entire team at 10.5 points per game a year ago, and she gets the assists title with 3.9 per game. That’s more than twice as many as anyone else on the team. Archer, a 6’2” forward from California, gave the Hoyas 7.9 points and 7.3 rebounds, the latter of which led the team. She did a lot of her work on the defensive glass, where she ranked in the top 400 in the country in rebounding rate. Bennett nearly matched Archer, going for 7.5 points and 6.4 rebounds in her 25 minutes a night.

The #2 scorer on the team last year was Milan Bolden-Morris, who went for 9.5 points per night. That’s the good news while she appeared in 15 games and started 13 of them. The bad news is that the coaching staff let Bolden-Morris fire off nearly twice as many three-pointers as anyone else on the team last year and she only made 23% of them.

As we dig into Georgetown’s bench from last season, we have to start with Yasmin Ott. She appeared in all 17 games as a freshman last year and started in eight of them. 5.4 points per game isn’t too bad considering GU’s glacial pace last season, although her shooting clearly needs some work. Shanniah Wright got about 12 minutes of burn a night while coming off the bench in 15 games and contributed 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds. Jazmyn Harmon appeared in 12 games with one start and averaged 20 minutes of action a night, which is itself notable while the rest of her stats really aren’t.

We also have to note the mere existence of Anita Kelava on the roster. The 6’3” Croatian did not play at all for Georgetown last season, but she’s on the team now just like she was the two years previous. In her 65 game Hoya career, Kelava is averaging 4.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game after a 6.6 & 7.4 set of averages in 2019-20.

Key Additions: Georgetown has two graduate students listed on their roster. Mary Clougherty is a 6-foot tall guard from Lehigh where she averaged 11.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while leading the entire Patriot League in total made three-pointers. Still, she only started in nine of 16 games a year ago. Kaylin West, a 5’7” guard from Coastal Carolina, is the other GS. She started in 16 of 18 games for the Chanticleers last season and averaged 5.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.

Of the four freshmen on the roster, Blue Star Basketball notes just two of them, and only one of them is a top 200 prospect. That one is Ariel Jenkins, a 6’3” center from New Jersey. She comes in at #142 in the country, which makes sense given that she averaged a double-double as a junior in high school.

Coach: James Howard, entering his fifth season in charge at Georgetown as well as in Division 1. He has a record of 42-72.

Outlook: Well, the good news is that Georgetown is bringing most of their roster back from last season with the added bonus of the return of Anita Kelava to the active roster. Most of the roster understands exactly what the coaching staff expects from them and that provides the newcomers with some nice guiding lights as they get their feet wet in D.C.

The bad news, of course, is that Georgetown was a bad basketball team last year. They were an absolutely wretched offensive team, ranking #322 in Her Hoop Stats’ metric on that end of the floor and coming in sub-#300 in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three-point percentage, and effective field goal percentage. That was just the shooting problems, as Georgetown was also one of the worst 40 teams in the country in turnover rate.

The Hoyas weren’t totally woebegone, as they were a top 100 field goal percentage defense, although some struggles on three-point defense let them drift north of 100 in effective field goal percentage defense. They were also a really great offensive rebounding team, ranking #84 in the country per HHS in that rate. We have to wonder, however, how much of their rate was propped up by the fact that they had one of the highest total of misses in the country that they could potentially grab up?

To a certain extent, a lot of things here can be answered with the question “How much of their problem last year was COVID?” The Hoyas did not even play a game until December 19th last year, ending up with seven contests canceled or postponed. They didn’t play their third game of the year until January 13th and ultimately never played a non-conference game with their only game outside the league schedule coming as their Big East tournament game. That’s going to mess with you, that’s for certain.

But Georgetown was supposed to be bad last season. They were picked to finish last, largely because Kelava was their only major minutes returning player from 2019-20 and as it turns out, she never played. Howard was running around out there with a team that either A) never played notable minutes in college or B) had never played for Georgetown before. Mix in their terribly disjointed start to the year, and yeah, it went really badly.

The Big East coaches seem to think things are going to be better for Georgetown this year, as they were picked to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Of course, there is the question of how much of that is actual Georgetown related reasons and how much of that is Butler and Xavier related. Those two teams have even bigger problems than the Hoyas do this year. Is Georgetown going to be better with experienced players on the floor or are they merely going to be “not noticeably worse”? I’d imagine the coaching staff would prefer the former over the latter, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens once the games get going.