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2023-24 Big East Women’s Basketball Summer Check-In: Georgetown Hoyas

We have a program in transition here, as the Hoyas kick off their first year with new head coach Tasha Butts.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 13 Women’s Georgetown at Butler
Kelsey Ransom returns after doing a whole hell of a lot for Georgetown last season.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Team: Georgetown Hoyas

2022-23 Record: 14-17 overall, 6-14 Big East

2022-23 Big East Finish: Tied for eighth with Butler, but they lost the conference tournament tiebreaker by way of a 2-0 season series loss to the Bulldogs.

Final 2022-23 Her Hoop Stats Ranking: #180

Postseason? They got revenge on that season sweep at the hands of the Bulldogs in the first round of the conference tournament, but top seeded UConn ended their season, 69-39, in the quarterfinals.

Key Departures: For a team that went through a coaching change here in 2023, almost none, relatively speaking. Kristina Moore was a fifth year grad student last year after four years at Florida, so obviously her time in D.C. was coming to an end. She started in all of Georgetown’s games, and averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in over 30 minutes per night.

Big East Freshman of the Year Kennedy Fauntleroy opting to leave Georgetown is a little on the surprising side, but that’s life these days when you make a coaching change. The 5’7” guard from Maryland is at Oklahoma State now, of all places. While starting in 29 of 30 appearances, Fauntleroy chipped in 20.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.4 steals per game for the Hoyas.

And of course, because I’ve already mentioned it, Georgetown parted ways with head coach James Howard. It’s not a surprising move, as the Hoyas had just one winning season in his six seasons in charge, and that was in Year 2 after going 16-16 in Year 1 for his second best finish.

Key Returners: With Fauntleroy and Moore off the board, Georgetown still returns two of their top three scorers. Kelsey Ransom led the way with 12.6 per game last winter, and that makes her the only returning double digit scorer from a squad that was in the bottom half of tempo teams in the country according to Her Hoop Stats. The 6’3” forward also led the team in rebounds and assists and steals, so keeping her on board is pretty good news. Graceann Bennett was the #3 scorer a year ago, adding 8.2 points per night. 3.9 rebounds per game is pretty good in a big picture, but for a 6’3” fourth year forward, maybe it’s not so great, and her rebounding rate numbers agree with that idea, too.

The Hoyas also bring back four every night rotation players. Jada Claude got more than 21 minutes of burn per game last season, while Brianna Scott was a bit of a super-sub with 18 minutes per game off the bench in 28 appearances with just one start. Kaliyah Myricks and Ariel Jenkins appeared in 31 and 30 games last season, and they definitely qualify as rotation players with 11.2 and 10.0 minutes per game respectively. It’s nothing that knocks you dead, but the Hoyas had them on the floor for 25% of the game last season, and that helps with a bit of team coherence with the coaching change.

Does Modesti McConnell count as a notable rotation player? Appearing in 28 of 31 games seems pretty notable.... but she only averaged 7.4 minutes per game. Part of that is her minutes going way way down as the season went along with just single digit runs in 16 of her last 18 games.

Key Additions: As you’d expect with a team that’s only losing two rotation players and just four women that appeared in a game at all last year, the Hoyas don’t have much in the way of new faces. The most familiar name to Big East fans is Mya Bembry, who makes her way south from Seton Hall. Bembry was never a star for the Pirates, but she was a most-of-the-time starter for the past two years, and averaged 4.6 and 5.4 rebounds per game last season.

The other transfer addition on the roster is Alex Cowan, who is a grad transfer from Wagner. She missed the entire 2020-21 season with an injury, so this might be her only year with the Hoyas. She was a Second Team All-NEC guard a year ago, leading Wagner in scoring at 14.1 points and also added 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Cowan has also been a reliable three-point threat during her time with the Seahawks.

Mayla Ham is the only freshman on the roster for 2023-24. The Detroit product signed with the Hoyas last fall and elected to stick with Georgetown even after the coach she signed to play for was let go. She doesn’t register with Blue Star Basketball as a rankable recruit, so we’ll have to wait to see how she fits in with this roster and this coaching staff.

Speaking of, that brings us to our final notable addition to the program....

Coach: Tasha Butts, entering her first season with Georgetown and first as a Division 1 head coach. She’s been a full time assistant at Duquesne, UCLA, LSU, and Georgia Tech, where she was most recently the associate head coach for the Yellow Jackets.

Outlook: Let’s keep this simple, shall we?

Georgetown has had three winning seasons since they last made the NCAA tournament in 2012. The records in those three seasons: 16-14, 17-13, and 19-15.

Since 2011, when Tasha Butts joined the LSU coaching staff, she has been on staff for eight NCAA tournament teams.

If nothing else, Georgetown has hired a coach that has seen up close and personal what it takes to be an NCAA tournament team coming out of the SEC and the ACC. Since she wasn’t the head coach, we can’t ascribe particular style of play ideas from her stops at either LSU or Georgia Tech, but it’s hard to argue with the idea from the Hoyas’ admin here.

The question for Butts’ first year on the Hilltop then becomes what is she going to change about Georgetown?

This is mostly speaking the same roster that went 13-17 last year with a 6-14 record in Big East play. It’s mostly speaking the same roster that had the #233 offense in the country last year according to Her Hoop Stats as well as the #118 offense. Whatever decisions that James Howard was making in his final year in charge — and to be clear, I respect Howard as a coach, his teams gave Marquette fits repeatedly over the past several seasons — they weren’t working in 2022-23. Is that his tactics or is that the limitations of his roster?

If it’s the tactics that were used, then by default, Butts doing something different with the Hoyas is good. Whether that turns into more wins than last year, we’ll have to wait and see, but changing tactics away from whatever led to GU winning less than one-third of their league games is big picture a good thing.

If it’s the limitations of the players on hand, then we’re going to have to see if Butts is capable of finding away to maximize the good and minimize the bad, or at least do that in a way that Howard was unable to do last season. If she’s got enough heat behind her from coaching those NCAA teams over the past decade-plus, then perhaps she can find a way to do just that.

Whatever direction Butts takes the Hoyas in for the immediate future, it still might not turn into a fun time right away. UConn figures to be better than they were last season just by way of health in the lineup, Creighton is looking to build on their recent successes, Villanova is going to want to keep up the standard set by the Maddy Siegrist Era, and Marquette is going to have their eyes on the NCAA tournament for the third time under Megan Duffy’s direction and consecutive tourney appearances for the first time. There’s a lot of space for growth for the Hoyas, but they still might be a long ways away from being able to comfortably call themselves a top half of the league program if those four programs keep hold on their spots in the conference.

But hey, it’s Year 1, let’s let Georgetown take one step at a time and see what things look like next year at this time.