- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2016

Other than a win last Monday over No. 13 Oregon, November’s been tough to swallow for coach John Thompson III and his Georgetown Hoyas.

Each of Georgetown’s four losses in the young season have come with pain — either embarrassing blowouts, including big losses to No. 16 Wisconsin and Oklahoma State; or nail-biting shockers to Maryland and Arkansas State.

But an 85-72 win Sunday over Howard University gives Georgetown some positives, finally, to chew on in an up-and-down, 3-4 start to a season that began with some speculation the Hoyas might be a Top 10 team.

Georgetown jumped out to a 16-0 lead at the Verizon Center on Sunday, thanks to a breakout game from forward Akoy Agau, who finished with a personal season-high 14 points. Agau, a junior who transferred from Louisville last year, seemed to feel comfortable both with the ball and on the boards, co-leading the team with six rebounds.

“He gives us energy,” Thompson said. “He plays hard. You look at that first half, I believe he took two charges in the first half. He’s going to compete. If you look at a couple of plays, he went in to challenge guys that were coming to dunk, he’d challenge shots at the rim. A whole lot of guys, they wouldn’t attempt that because they are scared they might get dunked on. Akoy goes up there and challenges shots.”

The effort was critical Sunday. Not only has Georgetown struggled with opponents this season, the team has struggled with the availability of its own players.

The Hoyas missed Marcus Derrickson for four games before the forward returned Sunday against Howard. He looked rusty early, going 0 for 4 from the three-point arc. But, in the final three minutes of the game, Derrickson hit two consecutive threes from the left corner.

Thompson said he was satisfied with what he saw from Derrickson, but wants to see the shooter add more facets to his game.

“[He looked] anxious,” Thompson said of his return. “Marcus can shoot. I think he was trying to get everything back at once. I don’t necessarily mind Marcus taking six threes, but he needs to get [inside] and rebound. He was trying to get back in the flow. He hit his last two. Now we can tell him, ‘OK, you’re back. Now go to the block a little bit.’”

Derrickson’s return is only part of the medicine for what ails the Hoyas.

Still out are Reggie Cameron II, a senior forward who averaged 5.6 points per game last year and junior forward Isaac Copeland, who was averaging 6.3 points per game when he was injured against Oklahoma State.

Without them, Georgetown has not been able to put its best team on the floor on a consistent basis.

“We haven’t been 100 percent,” Thompson said. “As frustrating and difficult as the last couple of weeks have been, we have to keep that in mind, that we have to get healthy and we have to improve. There’s a lot of season left.”

Not only is there a lot of season left, but Georgetown now gets to settle down a bit. Following their 76-75 loss to Maryland, Georgetown had one day before playing Arkansas State, meaning the single day of practice was spent preparing for that very game. Following the 78-72 loss to Arkansas State, Georgetown flew to Maui, Hawaii, to play three games in three days against Oregon (a win), Wisconsin (loss) and Oklahoma State (loss).

Now, the schedule spreads out a bit: Three games over the next 13 days against Coppin State, Elon and La Salle. Thompson plans to use the time to focus on getting better at practice — something that’s been tough to squeeze into the start to the season.

“We are a work in progress,” Thompson said. “You look seven games in, are we necessarily where we want to be? No.”

“Now we go have a practice and work on Georgetown, not just, ‘This is what so-and-so is going to do,’” Thompson said. “We need some gym time. A lot of the things we’ve seen the last couple of games, we literally haven’t had time to work on them, to improve, other than showing film. That’s just the way our travel and schedule was laid out. We can get in the gym the next day or so and work on us.”

Thompson stressed that he’s not using the schedule as an excuse for his team. But he recognizes that this time will allow his team to nurse bumps and bruises and become more competitive as they hit the heart of their Big East schedule in the next couple of months.

The Hoyas most recent win gives the school an 8-0 record against winless Howard, which dropped to 0-5 on the season. Guard Rodney Prior led the Hoyas with 26 points, shooting nine for 12 from the field. Prior leads the Hoyas this year with 18 points per game. Akoy and guard L.J. Peak both finished with 14 points.

The 3-4 Hoyas play 0-7 Coppin State Wednesday at the Verizon Center.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide