Thompson: 'We're going to get out of this hole'
Hurt resurfaces with every loss for the Hoyas. The ache, however, is becoming too familiar with five straight setbacks and six in seven games. You know those face pain charts in doctor's offices? Considering the agonizing way several of the previous defeats went down for coach John Thompson and his players, Monday's 65-60 loss to No. 9 Villanova wouldn't generate much more than a basic frown.
"We're in a hole right now," Thompson stated postgame after Georgetown's third consecutive loss at the Verizon Center. "[The Hoyas] played hard. This group is going to stay together. We're going to look under every rock, we're going to try and figure it out. We're going to get out of this hole. I don't know the answers as to how, but collectively we're going to figure it out."
The Hoyas (11-9, 3-6 Big East) didn't blow a double digits lead as they did against Xavier and Seton Hall. They didn't surrender a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds before losing in overtime as was the case last week against Marquette. They did however match the longest losing streak, both at home and overall, since Thompson took over the program in 2004.
Georgetown outscored Villanova 34-22 in the paint. The Hoyas held the Wildcats (18-2, 7-1) to 35 percent shooting from the field in the second half and 40 percent overall. The home team committed 18 turnovers, but forced 16 from the visitors, the most by Villanova in 2014. While 10 bench points might not sound impressive, it was three more than Villanova's reserves and equal to what the Hoyas scored in their last two games combined.
Sure, the team only found out hours before the 9 p.m. tipoff that backup center Moses Ayegba would miss the game due to a bizarre NCAA suspension. They also got guard Jabril Trawick back after a five-game absence with a broken jaw, a swap all would take if forced to pick.
Ye the losing pattern continued. Two stats worked against the Hoyas. Villanova took 19 more free throws and made 22 to Georgetown's eight.
"We're getting the ball into the paint, we're getting penetration, we're getting drives," Thompson said. "We're getting the ball down [low]. Fouls aren't being called. I'm not saying we're being fouled and they're not calling them. I don't know. You look at that stat right away. We shoot nine foul shots. They shoot 28. Same was true last game. We have to figure out how you get fouled."
Sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the Hoyas leading scorer and top 3-point shooter, missed all six of his attempts from beyond the arc and went 2 of 11 overall. Shooters have bad games. This was his.
Those are significant numbers working against the Hoyas. For a team with roster and offensive limitations not to mention a constantly changing lineup, those bad scenarios cannot happen. Yet, they do.
NCAA Tournament talk must cease until the losing skid does. Even then, Georgetown must string together several wins to sniff the bubble. The Hoyas need five regular season victories for a winning record before the Big East Tournament, which would in reality keep NIT hopes alive. For now the focus is on claiming a single win.
Thompson and senior guard Markel Starks spoke about staying positive even as their numb faces struggled to register hope.
"We are still a confident team," said Starks, who led the Hoyas with 20 points, but was whistled for a crucial charge foul in the final minute. "We just have to get better."
Asked about his ability to keep up the player's morale, Thompson said, "We’ll see. We haven’t been in this situation too often. Don’t plan on being in it too long."
Georgetown faces No. 7 Michigan State on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. On paper it would appear that hole is about to get deeper. That is unless talk of positivity finally translates to positive numbers on the scoreboard.