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Villanova vs. Georgetown: Q&A with CasualHoya

The Inside Scoop on the Fighting Ewings Straight from the Hoya’s Mouth

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova will welcome the Georgetown Hoyas to Philadelphia tomorrow evening as part of a slate of games marking the conclusion of the Big East regular season. In advance of the game, we got the skinny on the Hoyas from Roey Hadar of everyone’s favorite lunch/existential crisis blog, CasualHoya.

Feel free to head on over to CasualHoya and check out my Q&A as well as opine on the best types of peanut butter and Oscars hot takes. And basketball.

If Georgetown gets the upset on Saturday, what will be the reason?

It would help if Villanova can’t shoot. In all seriousness, Georgetown’s 3-point defense has left a lot to be desired, so if the Hoyas can tamp down the outside shooting threat from Nova, that would be great. On the Hoyas’ end, it a win almost always comes down to good games from Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson, a double-figures contribution from at least one other player, and keeping the turnovers down.

As Patrick Ewing’s first season winds down, what are the take-away’s? Do fans like what they’ve seen?

I’d say fans generally like what they’re seeing. I know I do. The Hoyas still suffer from some of the same inconsistencies that have plagued them for several years. They don’t do well in late-game situations and the pace this team plays at is too fast for a team without a strong ball-handling point guard. But the pace serves as an encouraging sign. I imagine that any recently de-committed five-star point guard recruits would love the combination of this offensive system and an abundance of available minutes (Hi, Ashton Hagans!)

Beyond that, though, the individual player development this year has been excellent and served as a testament to the coaching skill of Ewing and his staff. If you told me before the season started that Govan would average a double-double, Derrickson would be shooting over 45% from three, and Kaleb Johnson knows how to score, I would have laughed at you.

Were there any surprises this season, either from a personnel standpoint or as concerns Patrick Ewing’s coaching style or game-plans?

I’ve been impressed with how vocal and engaging he has been on the sidelines and how that’s translated to the team’s energy on the court. His “step-back one-legged” pep talk in the game at DePaul helped propel Marcus Derrickson to his best game of the season to that point. He’s a much more visible and active presence than JTIII was in his last few seasons, and we’ve seen that extend to the team’s on-court play. The Hoyas used to often look fatigued or “low-energy” out on the court and that has not really been an issue this season. The drop in fouling has also been very encouraging. For years, Georgetown would hack away endlessly and looked lost once the NCAA changed their interpretation on fouling a few years back. What looked like a long-term problem got resolved almost from the get-go. This team still has to do better when it comes to avoiding undisciplined fouls in clutch situations, but on the whole, seeing that problem diminish was a pleasant surprise.

What are the Top 3 offseason topics/unanswered questions for the Hoyas looking into next year?

1) Where does the guard play come from? The Hoyas’ frontcourt has been very impressive this season, but their success has been capped by limited success in their backcourt. Our high-flying friend Mac McClung, who according to some of the fine folks at our blog have taken to calling the “Space Admiral” (because he’s more than just a “floor general”) arrives next year but will probably need a season or two to develop into a meaningful director of the Hoyas’ offense. Jagan Mosely shows flashes of potential but has to cut down on the turnovers and still fits better as an off-ball contributor. It will probably take a late recruiting signing or a good graduate transfer to fill that void.

2) Going off of that, can Patrick Ewing recruit? Judging from some of his recruiting last spring the answer seems to be yes, but how he builds a Big East contender still remains to be seen. He’s behind the curve on some of the Class of 2018 and 2019 recruits, but if he can land a big signing late in the game, that would go a long way to helping accelerate recruitment of top prospects for 2020 and beyond.

3) Who steps up next season? The Hoyas aren’t really losing any of their biggest contributors to graduation. All in all only two rotation players are graduated so a lot of the core of this team will be returning and if at least one other player can step up to augment the one-two punch of Govan and Derrickson, it would help a lot. If Jamorko Pickett can increase his efficiency by taking better shots and avoiding turnovers, he could be the guy. Jahvon Blair has shown flashes but needs to improve defensively. Perhaps incoming freshman wing Josh LeBlanc can fill in some of the defensive holes. We don’t know what will happen yet, but there’s a lot of room for growth.

If you could eliminate one squad from the Big East, who would it be and what events should the Prudential Center host instead?

Oh, come on, even if they’re implicated in the FBI thing, you can’t go after the best basketball team in the Greatest State in the Union like that! I’m probably eliminating DePaul. They need to show they can win at least six games in conference play for me to let them back in.

Although I think there are plenty of things the Prudential Center can do to fill its time. Maybe they can get Bruce Springsteen to be their artist-in-residence once he finishes up on Broadway. If they can rectify one of the greatest mistakes in NBA history and move the Nets back to New Jersey, I’d certainly appreciate that. But if not, I imagine there are enough circuses and Harlem Globetrotters games to fill the void.

Did Sean Miller drop bags?

I mean… “innocent until proven guilty” but… the evidence seems pretty strong. Unlike some in this world, I actually trust good investigative reporting to generally be true. The thing that astonishes me is the idea that Miller himself would be the guy dropping bags. If you’re going to do the whole “under-the-table money” thing, why not create a vast network of peripheral people, bag men, etc. to do the work for you and absolve yourself of the responsibility? It’s not like Arizona doesn’t have the money for it.

If the FBI informed you that they have wiretap recordings of every conversation you’ve ever had about Georgetown basketball, what’s the worst single sentence they’ve probably caught?

Well, I assume they probably would have the conversation between me and former Hoyas guard Tyler Crawford from Senior Day last year. For some perspective, as a frustrated graduating senior, I had become a vocal part of the student movement that called for JTIII’s ouster as head coach. As Villanova tore us limb from limb on the court, and after many other people had already been chanting “Fire Thompson” off it, I joined in once and Crawford hustled over to me from his prime seat right next to Big John. Crawford told me to stop chanting or “I’ll kick your f*cking ass.” I was carrying a notepad and pen at the time and he eagerly revealed his identity to me.

In the aftermath of that, I probably said some impolite things about the Thompson family being a mafia, but I’d say the audio of a threat of assault was probably the worst single sentence the FBI would’ve caught on the wire. Long story short, Georgetown basketball has come a *really* long way forward in the last year. We’re all much happier now than we were then.