Georgetown, Texas Story of Two Teams Going in Opposite Directions
NEW YORK — Unlike Texas, Georgetown doesn’t have two players sitting out.
But the No. 15 Hoyas — who destroyed Texas in the Jimmy V Classic, 64- 41, at Madison Square Garden — still appear to have a big upside going forward.
“We are a work in progress,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after his team improved to 6-1. “I think that we are going to be much better than we are today.”
Thompson III has his youngest team ever and Georgetown is the youngest team in the Top 25, so there is reason to believe the ceiling is high going forward.
The Hoyas already have wins over both UCLA and Texas — two struggling teams that face off Saturday in Houston — and a gritty overtime loss to No. 1 Indiana two weeks ago at the Barclays Center.
In their past two games, they have held their opponents — Tennessee and Texas — to a combined 77 points. Texas shot 14-for-48 (29 percent) and committed 22 turnovers.
“I think they had to work for everything and that’s what we want them to do,” Thompson III said. “We want them to earn their baskets. Our guys did a pretty good job of helping each other out today.”
Georgetown has a couple of NBA prospects in Otto Porter (14 points, eight rebounds) and Greg Whittington (five points, six rebounds) and a strong point guard in Markel Starks (11 points, four assists) as well as capable role players like Nate Lubick (13 points on 6-for-7 shooting) and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (seven points, six rebounds).
Porter, who was mysteriously left off the All-Tournament Team at the Barclays Center two weeks ago, is currently ranked No. 13 on the DraftExpress.com mock draft board for 2013, and Whittington is considered a top sophomore.
“The team and coaches want me to be aggressive and that is one thing I wanted to pick up coming into this year, to be more aggressive,” Porter said.
If he does, and if the young Hoyas continue to play defense like this, they could be a real factor in the Big East and nationally coming crunch time.
“I think that’s what makes this very exciting,” Lubick said. “The fact that we can get a lot better. There are a lot of things we can sharpen up on, on both sides of the floor. We’re a young team and we don’t really pay attention to those rankings too much but we are just very excited to get better.”
TEXAS STRUGGLING, ESPECIALLY AT POINT GUARDTexas continues to play without point guard Myck Kabongo, who is awaiting word from the NCAA on his eligibility, and forward Jaylen Bond, who is out with a foot injury.
“We’ll be a much better team when we’re back,” Bond told Andy Katz earlier Tuesday.
Without them, Longhorns point guard Javan Felix struggled, going 1-for-9 for four points with three assists and five turnovers.
All told, the Longhorns’ 22 points led to 19 Georgetown points.
“At the first timeout I asked them, ‘Do you guys have any idea how many turnovers we have?'” Texas coach Rick Barnes said.
“I had a response from one guy. ‘Two.’ We had seven. Well, you’re not in there mentally in the game. As a group we should know that.”
Barnes also said his team — now 5-3 — lacked a winning mentality.
“We don’t have that winning attitude as a group that you gotta have,” he said.
Barnes refused to blame his team’s struggles on the absences of Kabongo and Bond.
“It’s not about that,” he said. “These guys are better. We’re better than we’re playing and obviously I’m going to hold myself responsible for that.”
Thompson III conceded it is hard to coach when a team is missing key players like Kabongo.
“This is a fragile business,” he said. “It’s very fragile and so a couple people leave, you don’t anticipate them leaving. They got injuries and got guys sitting out for NCAA reasons. It’s fragile and a lot of times it can make a big difference.”
Photo: Daily News
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.