As it was ramping up for the regular season, Georgetown eschewed the traditional college basketball practice of playing an exhibition contest against an overmatched patsy in favor of keeping things secret.
The Hoyas participated in two "secret scrimmages" against North Carolina and James Madison that were closed to the public and off-limits from the prying eyes of the media, allowing the teams to work on strategy and explore their playbooks in private.
"I prefer doing scrimmages as opposed to exhibition games, because I can control it," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I can go to Roy Williams and say, 'Press us for the next two quarters' and he can say, 'Hey, play a 1-3-1 (defense).' We can work on things that we want each guy to be exposed to. They were very, very productive."
For a team with just two seniors and 10 freshman and sophomores, finding cohesion on offense and defense is critical, and the scrimmages allowed the Hoyas to work on specific things within a vacuum.
That doesn't mean everyone's comfortable with the concept, however.
"Can I talk about the scrimmages?" junior forward Hollis Thompson asked a member of the Hoyas' media relations staff. When given the go-ahead, Thompson expressed how much they helped the team.
"Everybody got a good feel of what it's like," he said. "The young guys got a feel of what it's like to run the offense. We got a good idea of how we're going to play defensively. We are starting to shape who we are through those scrimmages."
Now, the Hoyas will put what they've learned to the test in Saturday's season opener against Savannah State, a MEAC squad coached by former Georgetown guard Horace Broadnax.
"The scrimmages were OK, the time we spent in China was good and the time in the gym has really helped, but Nov. 12 is the benchmark," Hoyas guard Markel Starks said.
The Tigers were just 12-18 last season, but finished strong, winning 10 of their final 11. Still, given that the Hoyas will be prohibitive favorites in this game and Monday's contest against UNC-Greensboro, the games are more about fine-tuning and establishing a rhythm before heading to the Maui Invitational and a date with Kansas.
"We want to win those first two and set a really high tone," senior captain Jason Clark said. "We're a team that's not going to back down. We're competitive and we want to play with any team in the country."
Note: Coach Thompson said the Hoyas would go with their experienced starting five of Clark, Thompson, Starks, Nate Lubick and Henry Sims, but that the Hoyas' talented freshman class would see playing time.