It was a worrisome sight: a player hitting the floor hard in the final minute of a game the opposing team had all but locked up. For a program like Georgetown and the situation it’s in, the scene was even more heart-stopping.
Jagan Mosely was slow to get up after a physical play in which No. 12 Seton Hall fouled Mosely’s teammate Omer Yurtseven. Mosely started to head down the court with a limp and at one point rubbed his tailbone. But he also looked to the far end of the court and flashed a thumbs-up to coach Patrick Ewing.
Mosely remained in for the rest of the game, a 78-71 Hoyas loss, and as of now there’s no indication that Mosely suffered anything that would cause him to miss time. If there’s one team in college basketball that would be on the brink of disaster if it were faced with one more injury, it’s the Hoyas.
Georgetown used a six-man rotation Wednesday because guard Mac McClung is day-to-day with a foot injury he suffered in practice last Saturday. Before that, it was a seven-man rotation ever since December after four players left the program for various reasons.
“The guys who left, they’re gone,” Ewing said. “Mac is injured. So we can’t afford to get anybody else hurt, or we definitely will be in trouble. But everybody has a great outlook and we’re always competing.”
The Hoyas fell behind 16-0 to start the game, but to their credit, they fought back and forced the visiting Pirates to play hard the entire night. They drew as close as three points early in the second half and hung within four with less than three minutes to go. They did this with Jahvon Blair playing all 40 minutes and Mosely and Terrell Allen playing 39.
But there’s no time for moral victories with a little more than four weeks until the Big East Tournament. Georgetown fell to 13-10 and 3-7 in the conference, good for eighth place. Their NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ranking is 52 thanks in part to a better-than-usual nonconference slate, but it’s hard to make room on the March Madness bubble if this team drops just two or three more games.
It may not be what fans signed up for in Ewing’s third year heading the program. The preseason outlook was better than the previous two seasons and Georgetown nearly upset Duke on a neutral court, but then starting guard James Akinjo decided to transfer. So too did Josh LeBlanc, Myron Gardner and Galen Alexander, the three of whom were accused by two women of burglary, harassment and, in one case, sexual assault. (They resolved the charges and no arrests were made.)
After Marquette visited Georgetown on Jan. 18 and escaped with an 84-80 victory, Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski was asked about the Hoyas pressing forward with the short rotation.
“Patrick’s a hell of a coach,” Wojciechowski said. “I think he’s done an incredible job here at Georgetown. Every college program experiences some type of adversity and it just shows the character of the coaching staff and the young men that they have in their program right now to show the resilience that they’ve shown.”
Ewing is realistic about what’s at his disposal the rest of the season and admitted the grind will wear on his players.
“Oh, it’s gonna wear on you, but that’s what sports is all about,” Ewing said. “It’s not like the NBA where you can call up, get a 10-day contract for a guy to come in and help you out. There’s no cavalry coming over the hill. This is what we have, so we’re gonna have to get it done.”
Ewing tries to limit his team in practice and said the program’s trainer “gets the big money” to keep player healthy.
He said McClung could be back in some capacity Saturday when the Hoyas host DePaul — “I’m hoping that he’ll be able to at least give us something” — and said he hadn’t yet talked to Mosely about how he was feeling.
“He’s been playing banged up all year,” Ewing added.
Playing long, hard minutes through the pain is valiant. Playing some of the better teams in the Big East to the wire is respectable. Whether that carries Georgetown to the postseason is another matter.