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Offensive issues spillover to defensive side for Georgetown

Jan 9, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Dante Taylor, J.J. Moore, Jabril Trawick

WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Disappointing”.

“Frustrating”.

“Embarrassing”.

Those were the words used by members of No. 19 Georgetown to describe their performance after suffering through a 73-45 loss to Pitt at the Verizon Center on Tuesday night. The loss was just as bad as the final score would indicate. Probably worse. It was a siege, a slow and methodical deconstruction of everything that this Georgetown team prides themselves on. It was the kind of unadulterated dominance that is expected when Pitt hosts a guarantee game, not when they are on the road against a top 25 opponent in league play.

And to make matters worse, the Panthers managed to expose the Hoyas on the one end of the floor where they had actually had some success this season.

Simply put, Georgetown has been a misery to watch on the offensive side of the ball since they got back from the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. They scored 37 points against Tennessee and 46 points against Towson, both wins. On Saturday, however, the Hoyas scored just 48 points in a one point loss at Marquette. They entered Tuesday night outside the top 150 according to Kenpom’s offensive efficiency rankings.

But we knew the Hoyas struggle to put points on the board. The 45 points they scored against Pitt is nothing new.

The problem? Georgetown had thrived defensively. Thanks to their length, their athleticism and their discipline, Georgetown was still able to win games despite the issues on the offensive end of the floor. The missed shots? The ugly possessions? They were frustrating and something that the Hoyas spent a lot of practice time on, but that frustration hadn’t seeped into their defensive effort.

On Tuesday night, it finally did.

“Our defense was nowhere near where it has been all year,” John Thompson III told reporters after the game. “I’m not sure if that’s related to the offensive end of not.”

“We always say, ‘try not to let a break down or a bad possession at one end of the court affect what happens at the other end of the court’. These guys are confident. They’re ball players. It’s not like these guys are little babies. You’re going to miss shots. You have to keep playing.”

And that’s why this loss should be so concerning to Georgetown fans.

These offensive struggles weren’t exactly unexpected. The magnitude of them, maybe, but this is simply not the kind of roster makeup we’re used to seeing a Georgetown team have. They’re young — juniors Nate Lubick and Markel Starks are the elder statesmen on the roster. They don’t have that playmaking big man that can score out of the high-post and make the back-door pass that the Hoyas have patented over the years. There are no knockdown shooters on this year’s team. There is no dynamic playmaker at the point. There is no lowpost scoring threat.

Georgetown does not have the talent to get baskets outside of their system. Factor in that they don’t have the ideal personnel for their system, and this is the result.

“It’s not just bad luck with the rims,” Thompson said. “We’ve continued and tried to make changes as the season’s gone on. It’s not like we’re sticking our heads in the sand, ‘Hey, let’s not worry about it’. We’ve worked on a lot of different things as the season’s progressed.”

“We have some things we need to address,” Lubick added, “and they will be addressed. We have to remain positive that we’re going to fix these things.”

If there is a change that Georgetown needs to make, it should come on the defensive end of the floor. The Hoyas are as lanky and athletic as anyone in the country. Their starting lineup includes 6-foot-8 Greg Whittington at shooting guard and 6-foot-9 Otto Porter at small forward. They bring Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen — who are both big, uber-athletic wings — off of the bench. They have a handful of big guys to rotate through along their front line.

Why not get out and pressure more? They are already above-average when it comes to defensive-playmaking — collecting steals, blocking shots, forcing turnovers. If you’re struggling to score in the half court, why not try and create some points off of your vaunted defense?

But as of Tuesday, no drastic — positive — changes had been made.

“We’re still the same guys we were a couple weeks ago,” Thompson said.

And therein lies the problem.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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