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

What, if anything, will be different about the end result for the Hoyas this year?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 13 Women’s Georgetown at Butler
What is the ceiling for Kelsey Ransom and Georgetown this season?
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Team: Georgetown Hoyas

2021-22 Record: 10-19, 4-15 Big East

2021-22 Big East Finish: Ninth, one game ahead of Xavier in the loss column.

Final 2021-22 Her Hoop Stats Ranking: #282 out of 356 teams.

Postseason: Well, they did upset Providence in the first round of the Big East tournament, but then got wrecked by UConn in the quarterfinals, 84-38, to end their season.

Key Departures: The Hoyas will be dealing with the loss of two of their top three scorers and three of their top five. We’ll get to it in a second, but that’s not actually as bad as it sounds. Milan Bolden-Morris is gone after two seasons in D.C. She was GU’s leading scorer a year ago at 12.6 points a game, and she added 4.1 rebounds and a steal as well. I can’t help but look at her 28.4% shooting percentage inside the arc and not wonder if this is addition by subtraction for Georgetown. Jillian Archer was the Hoyas’ #3 scorer last season at 7.7 points per game. The 6’2” forward also led the team in rebounds at 6.6 per game, but she has left Georgetown to transfer to St. John’s of all places. Mary Clougherty is that third of the top five that has departed the program, and that’s an expected loss for Georgetown as she came over after four years at Lehigh. Here’s why losing her as the third of the top five departing: Clougherty was #5 on the team in scoring.... and she averaged 5.2 points per game. All due respect to her, but if you can’t replace five points a game with ease, you probably shouldn’t be coaching college hoops.

Kaylin West started 18 times in 27 appearances last season and averaged just under 22 minutes a game, so that’s a pretty notable loss just in terms of the Georgetown rotation. West averaged 3.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, with that assists number coming in at second best on the team. Shanniah Wright played in 27 of Georgetown’s 29 games, earning seven starts along the way and averaging 12.6 minutes. 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds isn’t much in terms of counting stats, but remember that Georgetown wasn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse here. It’s probably worth mentioning Anita Kelava here as well as she bounced back from missing the 2020-21 season due to being unable to return to the U.S. from her native Croatia. She averaged just 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds, a far cry from what she was doing for the Hoyas before her forced year off, but I think 9.4 minutes per game in 24 appearances for someone in their third season with the program is a notable contribution that’s no longer there.

Key Returners: Kelsey Ransom and Graceann Bennett are the 1-2 punch in the five-pack of returning players on the roster. Ransom, a 5’10” guard, led the team in assists last season at 3.7 per night, and she was the only other double-digit scorer after Bolden-Morris at 12.1 per game there. Bennett was a most-of-the-time starter for Georgetown, getting the nod in 17 of her 25 appearances. She put up 7.0 points per game but was second on the team in rebounds at 5.5 a night and chipped in 1.4 assists and nearly a block per game as well.

From there, though, it’s mostly a smattering of bench role players coming back for the Hoyas that fall into the category of Key Returners. Yasmin Ott averaged 18.3 minutes in 22 appearances with nine starts. Brianna Scott started in half of her 26 appearances, but still only averaged 15.3 minutes per game. Ariel Jenkins played in 22 games with seven starts, but couldn’t crack 10 minutes a night on average. None of these women have any notable stats to pass along, not even three-point shooting, as Bolden-Morris (35.4%) was the only Hoya to shoot regularly and make more than 26% of her attempts.

Key Additions: Georgetown has two transfers and four freshmen on the roster this season. We’ll start with the transfers, since they’re the ones that are most likely to grab a big role right away. Of the two, I’d guess that Jada Claude, a 6’0” forward from Georgia, is the better candidate for a big time performance. After two nothing to write home about seasons at Duke, including a 2020-21 campaign that was completely shut down for the whole team after four games, Claude moved on to Morehead State last season. She started in all 27 games she appeared in and averaged 13.7 points and 7.1 rebounds. If she could replicate that for the Hoyas, she would instantly be their best player. Kristina Moore has spent the past four seasons at Florida. For three years, she was a starter for pretty much every game, but that changed last season when she started just three times in 25 appearances. Even with that starting role, Moore never made a splash for the Gators, posting four year career bests of 6.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.0 assists. The 6’1” guard from Australia is a career 28% three-point shooter on 192 attempts in four seasons.

While there are four freshmen on the roster, Blue Star Basketball only notes three of them. Two of them are top 150 prospects. Kennedy Fauntleroy (5’7” guard, Upper Marlboro, MD) comes in at #124, while Morgan Lee (6’5” center, Kent, CT) is ranked at #142. ESPN has Fauntleroy at #75 in their top 100, which seems absolutely wild for a prospect headed to a program with as many problems as Georgetown, but it is hard to turn down a free GU education. She’s a former MaxPreps Maryland Player of the Year, so she’s definitely got some game.

Coach: James Howard, entering his sixth season in charge at Georgetown as well as in Division 1. He has a record of 52-91.

Outlook: Georgetown has not recovered from Terri Williams-Flournoy taking the Auburn job in 2012, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to start getting back in a positive direction this year, either. Hiring Keith Brown and then being forced to fire him because of his behavior before his second season got underway was ultimately a mistake that the women’s basketball program is still paying for today.

Williams-Flournoy had the Hoyas in three straight NCAA tournaments in her final three seasons, including a Sweet 16 in 2011. Georgetown hasn’t won 20 games in a season since. Heck, Georgetown has only had three winning seasons since. Two of those were run by Natasha Adair, and after the second one, she left Georgetown to take the Delaware job. Since going 19-16 in 2019, GU’s most recent winning season, current head coach James Howard has guided the Hoyas to a record of 17-59 over the past three seasons. That includes a mark of just 8-45 in Big East games.

What’s going to change about the Hoyas this season? Last season, Her Hoop Stats had them in the bottom 100 teams in the country, and that’s overall, on offense, and on defense, no matter how you want to slice it. They were the worst shooting team in the entire Big East, at least in league play, and they committed the most turnovers out of any team in the league as well. Now they’re going to have to try to attack things without three of their top five scorers, or quite honestly, do it without Milan Bolden-Morris, because she was the only offensive player that was really accomplishing anything worth going on at length.

What’s going to change? Are they suddenly going to start being wildly competent on at least one side of the ball so you know what their identity is? Is Howard and the rest of the coaching staff going to lean into the freshmen in an attempt to let this team grow over the next few years, or is the writing on the wall for Howard’s tenure in D.C. and it doesn’t really matter what his plans are going forward? What’s the source of optimism in this program? Is there one? Is having a source of optimism here something that Georgetown is even interested in?