clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022-23 Big East Men’s Basketball Summer Check-In: Georgetown Hoyas

At some point we have to ask if the Hoyas were cursed by winning the conference tournament in 2021.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Seton Hall vs Georgetown
How much longer will Patrick Ewing be safe in his job at Georgetown?
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Team: Georgetown Hoyas

2021-22 Record: 6-25, 0-19 Big East

2021-22 Big East Finish: Winless and therefore dead last.

Final 2021-22 Ranking: #175, their first sub-100 finish since Craig Esherick’s final season in charge, which was 2004. Although they did finish exactly #100 in 2019, which was the current head coach’s second season in charge.

Postseason? Oh, that’s adorable that you even asked.

Key Departures: I want to give you the scope of the people who have left GU’s roster since the end of last season before we break it down into the actual names.

Okay, going by per game averages, Georgetown has lost:

  • Both of their top two scorers, and four of the top five.
  • All of their top three rebounders, and five of the top seven.
  • All but one of the five men who averaged at least an assist per game.
  • Both of their top two steals guys, who account for two of the three who averaged more than one per game
  • Their top shot blocker, who was the only guy north of 1.0 per game, but they also lose one of the three other guys averaging more than a block every other game.

Turning to shooting percentages, Georgetown has lost:

  • Both of the top two most accurate shooters, and six of the top seven overall shooters, no matter how many attempts we’re talking about.
  • Three of the top four two-point shooters, and five of the top seven.
  • Their top five three-point shooters, making the best returning guy someone who shot 27.5% from the field last season.
  • Their four most accurate free throw shooters and six of the eight that shot better than 55%.

It is A LOT.

The top two scorers are Aminu Mohammed (13.7 ppg), who elected to get the hell out of town even though he went undrafted, and Donald Carey (13.5 ppg), who suffered through two seasons as a Hoya after stints at Mount St. Mary’s and Siena, and he’ll spend his bonus year of eligibility at Maryland.

Mohammed (8.2) and Carey (4.4) were two of the top three rebounders that are gone, while Timothy Ighoefe (5.7) was the third of the top trio on the stat sheet. Shifting over to the assists column, Tyler Beard and Collin Holloway were every day contributors for the Hoyas. They landed at #4 and #5 in the column ad 1.3 and 1.2 assists per game, respectively.

Moving along to the shooting percentage bullet points, Malcolm Wilson averaged just over 10 minutes a game in 25 appearances with 10 starts last year, and the 7-foot junior from South Carolina was the most accurate shooter on the team last year at .643. Carey was the most accurate three-point shooter, but #2 on the list and leading the team in attempts was Kaiden Rice, who started 14 times in 30 appearances.

All of this didn’t give me a chance to mention Jalin Billingsley, who played in 30 games and averaged 10.8 minutes a night. That’s (nearly) every game rotation playing time, so we have to mention him.

Some of these departures — As the #24 prospect, Mohammed was probably never staying for a second season, Rice was on his bonus year of eligibility — are not surprises. A lot of them are, if not surprises, not expected for the development of a college basketball program following the fifth season of continuity for the current head coach.

Key Returners: Two. There are two key returning players, and only four total.

The most notable returning guy is Dante Harris. The 2021 Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player followed that up by averaging 11.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 steals, and shooting 28% from behind the arc. He started in all 29 of the games that he appeared in, so it’s a safe bet that he’ll be a major component of whatever the Hoyas do this year. The other rotation level player back after last season is Ryan Mutombo, who averaged 11.8 minutes a night while playing in 27 games, all but one off the bench. As you would expect, his stats aren’t knock your socks off stuff: 5.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, just barely under a block a night.

I’ll mention Jordan Riley here because it seems possible that he’ll play a notable role this year. The New York native played in all of GU’s first nine games, coming off the bench for each one, and averaged 12.8 minutes a game. He suffered a shoulder injury though, and that required surgery last December. I don’t know the severity of it or what the rehab timetable is for that kind of thing, but seeing him back in the rotation when available seems possible, perhaps likely.

Key Additions: There are NINE names on the Georgetown roster that were not there a year ago, and another guy who was who sat out last season. Weirdly, two of the new guys are names that are familiar to you, the discerning Big East basketball fan. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, the freshmen. I will let you decide whether it is good or bad for Georgetown that they have just two freshmen on the roster this winter. One of the two is Denver Anglin, a 6’1”, 185 pound combo guard from New Jersey. 247 Sports rated him as a four-star prospect in their Composite system and ranked him as the #87 prospect in the country. We will have to wait and see how much playing time he gets, as the coaching staff is going to have to deal with transfers of varying type who will also be expecting a decent amount of PT.

These guys do organize themselves into groups, which kind of helps our purposes here. First the familiar faces. Akok Akok (6’10”, 205 lbs) has transferred over from UConn, while Qudus Wahab (6’11”, 245 lbs.) has returned to Georgetown after a sabbatical year 20 miles away at Maryland. Akok has never paid off the potential of his freshman season in Storrs, but that’s largely due to injuries that limited him one way or another. He averaged 3.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 14 minutes a game last season, but Akok only played sporadically after February 1st due to a foot injury. Wahab averaged 12.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as a sophomore for the Hoyas in 2020-21, but then departed to the Terrapins. I guess we can say that things did not go as hoped for him, as he averaged just 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in College Park, but also Maryland let Mark Turgeon go mid-season. Mix the two together, and Wahab is somewhere where he knows he can be productive. We’ll see how the two mix together, since they’re both big men, but Georgetown also does not have a dominant big man returning.

Speaking of coaches being let go, Georgetown is the beneficiary of LSU showing Will Wade the door. Brandon Murray (6’5”, 225 lbs.) had an outstanding season for the Tigers, averaging 10.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while starting as a freshman for an NCAA tournament team. No more head coach in Baton Rouge along with Kevin Nickelberry moving assistant jobs from LSU to Georgetown, and now Murray is a Hoya. Same goes for Bradley Ezewiro (6’9”, 255 lbs.), although the California native didn’t play much at all for the Tigers last season.

I don’t have a fun connectivity story for Bryson Mozone (6’6”, 210 lbs.), who joins GU after playing four years at USC Upstate. He became a bigger and bigger part of the Spartans’ rotation over his career there, finally becoming a starter and averaging 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game a year ago. Mozone is also a 38.5% career three-point shooter, so it certainly seems like his worst case scenario is “competent rotation guy.”

Jay Heath (6’3”, 200 lbs.) may or may not have multiple years of eligibility at Georgetown in front of him, while Primo Spears (6’3”, 185 lbs.) definitely does. Heath spent two years at Boston College and another at Arizona State before coming to D.C. He’s been pretty consistent across all three seasons, so we can just throw his career averages out there — 12.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists — as a data point for what kind of guy he is. Heath is a career 38% three-point shooter, but he maxed out at 43% last season. If that translates from the Pac-12 to the Big East, there’s a lot of playing time available for him. Spears started off his career at Duquesne, and was a Day 1 starter for the Dukes. 12.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game is good stuff for a freshman, even at the Atlantic 10 level, even for a team that went 6-24. Spears didn’t show the ability to shoot it from long range last season (30% overall and in A-10 games), but also Duquesne didn’t have a lot of great options either.

FINALLY, there’s Wayne Bristol (6’6”, 195 lbs.), who was on the roster last year but his own GU bio says he had to sit out because of transfer restrictions. Bristol was a freshman at Howard in 2019-20, and averaged 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game for the Bison. He missed the next season with an injury and also because Howard shut down their season after five games. He hit 42% of his threes overall and 43% in MEAC play as a freshman, so all that remains to be seen is whether that can translate to the Big East.

Head Coach: Patrick Ewing, entering his sixth season at Georgetown and overall. He has a record of 68-84 overall and 26-63 in Big East regular season games.

Outlook: On March 9th, 2021, Patrick Ewing had a career coaching record of 58-58 at Georgetown and a mark of 26-44 in Big East regular season games. It is not unreasonable to say that the Hoyas were not particularly enjoying the head coaching tenure of the best player in program history after a .500 season in Year 1, then a 19-14 campaign that ended with a first round NIT loss, which was then followed by a 15-17 season that ended with seven straight losses, including a first round Big East tournament loss before the entire event was spiked due to COVID-19. The Hoyas had just muddled through a pandemic altered season to sit at 9-12 overall and 7-9 in Big East action. Not what you want from Year Four of a head coach, even within health and safety protocol contexts, and definitely not what you want after a lackluster first three seasons.

And then the Hoyas won the Big East tournament.

Yes, they got clattered by Colorado in the first round of the NCAA tournament, falling behind 17-7 early and needing a 13-2 run late to only lose by 23. The point of the story is that the Hoya faithful got to experience a moment of joy in Ewing’s tenure. Perhaps it was a corner being turned. Maybe Ewing figured out how to properly push the buttons he needed to push to get this team back to a competent winning program.

And then they lost to Dartmouth in last year’s opener.

Not in a “the Big Green were hot all day from three and threw in a prayer and oops, things happen” kind of way, either. Georgetown led 28-10, got more than doubled up in the next 20 minutes, held Dartmouth scoreless for the final two minutes, and lost by nine. An ominous portend, to be sure.

However, Georgetown did pull their act together, and after losing several games off the schedule because of COVID variants and a loss to TCU, they entered Big East play at 6-5 overall. They promptly got shelled by Marquette in D.C., 92-64, in a game that they trailed by just three points with 17 minutes to play. They would not win again, losing all 19 Big East games and their Big East tournament game to end the season on a 21 game losing streak.

I ask the question: What kind of Faustian bargain did Georgetown agree to in order to get that Big East tournament title? More importantly, are the terms paid off now?

I’ll be honest about the Hoyas heading into this season: I don’t know what to expect from them. This is, effectively, a brand new roster. If you want to consider Dante Harris the only contributing player coming back from last year, you’re not wrong. That’s not a great thing, but the flip side of that coin is “maybe Georgetown’s entire roster was a bad mix of players last year and actually it’s good to kind of start over.”

Maybe it is!

But with Patrick Ewing’s coaching history from before the Big East tournament win — remember, exactly .500 overall and well under .500 in league play — and his inability to wrangle that roster into anything resembling a competent basketball team at the high major level, I don’t have to believe anything optimistic about the Georgetown basketball program until I see it happen. Five of their first seven games should, if this is a Big East caliber roster with a Big East caliber coaching staff, be easily winnable. Their Gavitt Games home date with Northwestern in Game #3 of the year will be an incredible litmus test for them, and if they catch Wake Forest in the Jamaica Classic, they’re probably in trouble. Three of their next four? At Texas Tech, South Carolina, and at Syracuse. No gimmes there to say the least. That’s a rough approximation of what they’re going to have to go through before they host Xavier to start the Big East slate.

If they have six or more wins come mid-December, we can talk about Georgetown like a team that can cause problems in the Big East this season. If not, we have to start talking about GU administration gathering up the courage to dismiss Patrick Ewing.