Georgetown Basketball: February 2001 News Archive
Last weekend was a great time to catch some basketball in the Washington area, and USA Today columnist Jeff Zillgitt did just that--a combination of six games in three days. Here's a link to his column.
On Senior Night, the seniors came through in a big way.
Lee Scruggs and Anthony Perry led a first half run that put the Hoyas out of danger and onward to a 74-58 win over Rutgers at MCI Center Wednesday, confirming no less than a #3 seed in the Big East Tournament and positioning the Hoyas for a first round bye if they can win in the season finale Sunday.
Georgetown started slow in the game, hitting one of its first eight shots. A series of three pointers by Perry and Scruggs came on a run which saw GU hit 9 of 13 shots and build a 11 point first half lead. Soon thereafter, Georgetown went on a terrible shooting run, missing its final eleven shots of the half. However, the halftime lead was still nine points, a signal that this wasn't Rutgers' (k)night.
The second half lead bounced between eight and 12 points until a pair of three pointers by Perry and freshman Gerald Riley added some additional comfort to the lead, and Rutgers never closed the gap. The shooting was ragged (32 percent) but the Hoyas' rebound advantage (51-38) kept RU's comeback hopes dim. Jeff Greer and Todd Billet combined for 27 points, but the RU front line struggled with foul trouble and was not a factor. The Scarlet Knights (11-14, 3-12) now need a win over Providence and a Seton Hall loss to UConn to qualify for the Big East tournament next week.
Kevin Braswell was a silent but notable figure in the game. Even though he scored only one field goal, Braswell set a career mark in steals that passed Eric Floyd for first place in steals with 256. He also ended the game with 7 assists and only one turnover.
Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje led all scorers with 15 points despite some poor shooting statistics, and the four seniors on scholarship combined for 52 of Georgetown's 74 points. Even senior walk-ons and football lettermen Gharun hester and Glennard Johnson got a chance to play at game's end, wrapping up the home record of the Class of 2001.
Georgetown improved its record in home finales (aka "Senior Night") to 19-3 in the Big East era.
Some post-game links follow below:
This week marks the final home games for the Class of 2001. The women's team closes its home season Tuesday against Rutgers, marking the final home game for one of Georgetown's all-time greats in Katie Smrcka-Duffy. The men's team, of course, meets Rutgers Wednesday in a critical game to lock down an NCAA bid. Here's a recap of the careers of the seniors from an article in The HOYA.
It's also the end of an era for the students which support the teams. Tuesday's HOYA has a feature on Chris Ray, a senior whose passion for the team is not unlike many who have gone before him, and hopefully many to follow.
Also on the agenda Tuesday: Patrick Ewing's first game at Madison Square Garden since being traded to Seattle. As the New York Post wrote: "No matter how poisonous it ended for him here, no matter how much he needed to go, Ewing deserves as mighty a homecoming ovation as any former New York athlete has received."
"New York," Ewing told the New York Daily News, "will always have a special place in my heart."
This link to Tuesday's Washington Post discusses the first year for Princeton coach John Thompson III.
Hoya Blue chairman Ryan Dubose was elected Student Association president Monday night. Dubose, seen Saturday waving a large Georgetown banner at half court at MCI Center after the Syracuse game, awaits the results of a referendum that could also make him the first Yard President since 1968--students will vote March 29 on a constitution to return to a modified form of the long-time student government structure.
Ten years ago, a 6-1 guard named Derrick Curry hoped to be the Hoyas' heir apparent to Mark Tillmon or Dwayne Bryant, but the son of a college professor never signed with GU following an arrest while in junior college. Now, Curry has an unfinished dream, according to the New York Post: he wants a shot with the New York Knicks.
The last time Georgetown had a win this important in February, they closed a field house.
Twenty one years later, in a game that could have sealed the fate of the 2000-01 season, an inspired team effort propelled the Hoyas to a 72-61 win over Syracuse at MCI Center Saturday, the first win at home over Syracuse in four years and reconfirming the Hoyas' 2001 NCAA tournament hopes.
Many of the Hoyas' most frustrating losses this season have come as a result of poor starts early in the game, but the G-men opened the game by scoring the game's first seven points. SU closed the gap to 10-9 before Demetrius Hunter's three pointer renewed the Georgetown offense, one of a number of key plays by Hunter that afternoon, despite a nagging injury to his Achilles tendon. Syracuse took a lead at 15-14 that was answered by a three pointer by Lee Scruggs, part of a consistent pattern where the Hoyas would match a Syracuse run throughout the game. The Hoyas took a 36-33 lead at intermission, which could have been more pronounced if not for some poor free throw shooting that dogged the team all afternoon.
The teams were even through much of the early second half. Georgetown's defense was holding Syracuse down, but while the orange were hitting 90 percent of their free throws, Georgetown's shots were woefully off. The Hoyas shot 3 for 9 in one stretch and 12 of 28 for the game, a season low 42 percent. But Hunter (21 points) set the Hoyas to the lead with back to back three pointers with 11:10 to play, and with foul trouble inside, Syracuse had to play from behind.
The lead bounced around six to eight points for the next five minutes, and with 5:04 to play Damone Brown's field goal cut the lead to 63-57. It was the last field goal of the afternoon for Syracuse. With expert use of the clock, tough defense, and three consecutive offensive rebounds, the Hoyas built its six point lead to 12 with 2:39 to play. A steal and dunk by Hunter capped the win with 0:38 to play, and Kevin Braswell dribbled out the last 32 seconds of the clock before students overwhelmed the MCI Center security to flood the court--the first such demonstration at a Big East home game ever for the Hoyas.
With the notable exception of the free throws, every other key indicator was a positive. The starting five shot 56 percent, Georgetown outrebounded its opponent 47-27, and the Hoyas connected on 18 assists of their 27 field goals. Defensively, Georgetown held Preston Schumpert and Allen Griffin to 1 of 14 shooting and the Orange managed only 11 defensive rebounds.
Maybe the most memorable moment of the game was at game's end, with 18,000 fans on their feet and hundreds of students running inside, outside, over and under MCI Center guards to be a part of the half court excitement. Even as fans were filing out onto 7th Street, the sounds of "Hoya!...Saxa!" could be heard throughout the concourse. For a generation of students who have no memory of Patrick Ewing in a GU uniform, and whose only memories of Alonzo, Dikembe, or Allen are from on TV, this was their moment to be a part the Big East's greatest rivalry.
I'm so happy right now," said Kevin Braswell to the Washington Post. "Fans rushing the floor...we needed to give [students] a win because we hadn't beaten a good team in front of our fans."
Syracuse's Jim Boeheim didn't think much of the post-game revelry. "It used to mean something. "It don't mean (bleep) anymore," he told the Syracuse Post Standard. "I don't know what that's all about. I really don't."
Ask the students.
Here are links to post-game coverage. And although it's not on its web site, be sure to check the print edition for a photo of the Hoyas' post game celebration, complete with HoyaTalk's "Buffalo Hoya" whooping it up with Nat Burton and Lee Scruggs.
There's not much to say about Wednesday's 73-70 loss to St. John's at Madison Square Garden that hasn't been said before--an offense that arrives two to three minutes every game after their opponent does, a consistently weak perimeter defense, an inability to adjust in the zone, noticeable second half droughts, and a pattern of unforced turnovers that regularly give their opponents new life and confidence. All were in evidence Wednesday night against a St. John's team that was, by local accounts, ready to play out the season and settle for an NIT bid.
The final score obscures a game where the Hoyas actually shot over 50 percent heading into the final three minutes and almost 50 percent from three point range, scoring regularly from inside. Yet, on five consecutive possessions from 6:00 to 2:59, and down only three, the Hoyas turned the ball over away from the basket--any of those possessions could have broken St. John's will, but it left the Redmen/Red Storm revived that they had survived the run, allowing them to increase the lead to six late in the game. Down one in the final minute, a pair of St. John's free throws extended the lead to three, where a Kevin Braswell three pointer sailed wide that would have tied the game.
Twenty one turnovers were the lasting mark of the game, including the five when the team needed to take the lead.The number of turnovers is posted under the category "TO" in the stats below --note that five players had as many turnovers as field goals. Traveling while bringing the ball up court, lazy bounce passes, a dropped ball in a fast break, even a inbound violation are a sign of a team that simply is not paying attention--not paying attention to its coaches, to its teammates, or to the situation at hand. These wounds are self-inflicted.
The turnover stat does not obscure the fact, however, that this team cannot finish a close game, falling to 1-5 in games decided by seven points or less, with Saturday's win at Rutgers the only such win all year.
Where is the senior leadership on this team? The seniors who have endured countless last minute collapses over the last three years and have the NIT banners to prove it--where is their determination to close the door on opponents? These are the seniors which must beat Syracuse to hold on to its remaining post season credibility--a Syracuse team that has defeated Georgetown in seven straight games in the regular season and 16 games in the last 22 dating back to Georgetown's last Big East title in 1989.
Finally, some post game links follow below:
Some great free throw shooting and a late defensive stand powered Georgetown to a much needed 76-73 win at Rutgers Saturday.
Much of the first half was frustrating for Hoya fans, which saw Rutgers close the half on a 11-4 run to take the lead 32-31. Early fouls gave Rutgers ample opportunity to add points from the free throw line, though the Scarlet Knights shot only 64 percent from the game.
Each team led by as many as six but lead changes were common. Georgetown led by four at 64-60 before Rutgers' duo of Todd Billet and Jeff Greer pinned back to back three pointers with 3:56 left and took the lead, 66-64. Down the stretch, the game turned into a two on two match--Greer and Billet (combining for 38 points) against Kevin Braswell and Mike Sweetney (37 points). After a pair of defensive stands with under two minutes to play, Victor Samnick tossed the ball back to Sweetney for a long range jumper with 1:36 to play. As Coach Esherick later remarked, "I wouldn't have designed [the] jump shot for Mike, but he made it."
At 72-70, Rutgers needed a good shot but failed. Sean Axani tossed up a three point an air ball, and RU had to foul Kevin Braswell thereafter. The Hoyas' success at the line was the unsung hero of the game--Braswell and Sweetney were a combined 15 for 15 from the line, and the team missed only three of 24 foul shots.
A pair of Braswell free throws increased the lead to 74-70, but Todd Billet connected on a long three pointer with 8.2 seconds to play to chill the hearts of the Hoya faithful. Braswell was quickly fouled and hit both free throws to return the lead to 76-73. Billet raced down the court for the game-tying shot, but Anthony Perry's steal attempt deflected to Braswell, who raced down the court as time expired. Braswell led all scorers with 20 points.
Aside from Mike Sweetney (17 points) the Hoyas continued to sputter in the half court offense. An injury to Demetrius Hunter in the first minute and foul trouble in the backcourt led Coach Esherick to use a variety of uncommon lineups, including a combined 19 points for guards Trenton Hillier and RaMell Ross. Anthony Perry's shooting kept the Hoyas close early in the second half, and his 15 points was one short of a season high and his third 10+ point game in the last five. GU's 46 percent shooting was their best since defeating Morgan State January 10, when they were sitting at 14-0.
Georgetown's big men are still struggling. The Hoyas had a season low of 32 rebounds and the trio of Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Wesley Wilson, and Lee Scruggs combined for only ten points and four rebounds. A telling statistic on the big men is that none of the three have scored in double figures in the last six games.
Still, it's a vital win at this time of the season--a loss would have seriously damaged the Hoyas' NCAA hopes and dropped them to a fourth place tie with West Virginia. Instead, the win combined with West Virginia's upset of Syracuse has Georgetown in a dead heat for second place and the last bye in the Big East tournament.
The win marks the first 20-win season for the G-men since 1996-97, the same year as Georgetown's last NCAA appearance. Twenty wins won't guarantee a bid this year, but if this game can revive the confidence from earlier this season, maybe this could be the start of something big.
Post-game links follow below:
What has gone wrong in the last three weeks? Various media links have attempted to pinpoint the problem.
The HOYA notes a number of clues, but points to an inability to maintain tempo and to adjust to a zone defense. "The defensive breakdown for the Hoyas often comes in transition when opponents break the press or in half-court sets when a player slips free as the shot clock winds down", writes the paper. "When pressing, Georgetown will attempt a backcourt trap, which when broken with some finesse dribbling or sharp passing, results in an open layup or jumper, something Notre Dame’s Martin Ingelsby had great success doing."
Barker Davis of the Washington Times offers a candid assessment of why the Hoyas are in need of a late season rally. Davis noted that "To that end, the most telling shooting stat of late isn't the team's modest proficiency from outside, but its increased emphasis on perimeter shooting. Over its last eight games, Georgetown has taken nearly six more 3-pointers per game (21.1) than during its 16-game winning streak (15.5)."
Coach Esherick discussed his frustration with ill-advised three pointers that doomed the Hoyas down the stretch in this link to Wednesday's Washington Post. "With the lead, it's important that you make the shot if you take it early," he said. "And if you're not making that early shot, use some clock. When Villanova collapsed [its zone] we were too impatient. We can't be that impatient again -- or we'll have the same problem."
To CBS Sportsline, the Hoyas haven't been the same since the Pitt game. From the article, this quote: "Braswell is taking too many shots, while freshman swingman Gerald Riley and senior guard Anthony Perry are both struggling through prolonged slumps. Also, senior center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje's become a non-factor in halfcourt sets...Boumtje Boumtje needs to become a full-time presence again instead of getting abused by other Big East big men."
If any ESPN2 viewers held out hopes that Georgetown was still a Top 20 team, a cacophony of poor shooting, poor defense, and poor decisions will be enough to send the Hoyas straight to the NCAA bubble after Monday night's 59-56 loss to Villanova. The Hoyas have lost three of its last four to Villanova, none by more than four points, and all in the final minute of play.
A ragged Villanova team finished the game with more turnovers (23) than field goals (21) and only 30 percent shooting from three point range. Yet it was Villanova that scored 23 points in the final ten minutes of the game, while the Hoyas managed just eight, thanks a volley of wild three point attempts.
Coming off the loss to Providence, all eyes were on the Hoyas to roar out of the gate and dominate the 14-8 Wildcats, with three of their key players injured and a 4-6 road record. Instead, the Hoyas scored two field goals in the first ten minutes, shoot 3-16, and trailed by as many as 14. A Villanova drought and a late first half run narrowed the count to 34-29, and thanks to some poor decisions by the Wildcats, the Hoyas built a 45-36 lead with 10:49 to play.
Villanova went on a 15-6 run to tie the score with 3:44 to play. Here's the rundown of events from that point:
02:54, game tied, three pointer missed by Anthony Perry
A late three pointer by Hunter closed the lead to two, but after a historic free throw miss by Gary Buchanan (his first miss in 74 attempts), GU had one last chance...a three pointer that was short. Hunter's three ended ten consecutive misses from three point range...for a team that was down only two points in the final fifteen seconds.
Here's the GU half of the box score. Aside from Mike Sweetney's 14 points, the rest is alarmingly poor. The backcourt trio of Hunter, Braswell, and Perry missed 23 of 30 attempts, and the fans who campaigned for Lee Scruggs' return to the active lineup saw him miss 13 of 15 shots.
"I'll tell you one thing: We've got to work on our shooting," said Kevin Braswell in the Washington Times .
Post game links are available below:
Allen Iverson's 25 points led the East All_Stars to a comeback win at the NBA All-Star Game at MCI Center, earning him the MVP Award. Iverson scored 15 points in the final nine minutes rallying the East from a 21 point fourth quarter deficit, while Dikembe Mutombo dominated the boards with 22 rebounds in 28 minutes. More coverage can be found at NBA.com.
Sidelined NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning (C '92) was the featured speaker Friday morning at a scheduled student forum at Gaston Hall titled "Excellence Without Excuses", co-sponsored by HBO and the Hoya Hoop Club. This link to the Washington Post (scroll down to middle of article) provides some highlights.
Another alumnus was active at All-Star Weekend. Detroit Pistons forward Jerome Williams took viewers of NBC's "NBA Inside Stuff" on a visual tour of washington, DC, complete with brief discussions on the importance of the Supreme Court, the White House, the Smithsonian, and each of the major monuments. (For a little comic effect, Williams wore different hats at many stops, including a stovepipe hat at the Lincoln Memorial.) At the end of the tour, Williams asked the show's viewers "So where did I learn all this stuff? With Healy Tower now prominent in the background, Williams told the audience: "Right here at Georgetown University, my alma mater!"
Good thing it wasn't on TV.
Scoring on their first five shots, 9 of its first 12, and 14 of 19 from three, Providence College rolled past Georgetown 103-79 Saturday night.
The Friars (17-6) opened the game 12-4 and thanks to a historic 74% from three point range were never threatened. Junior guard John Linehan scored 11 first half points, seven assists, four steals and only one turnover in the first twenty minutes. PC shot 64% in the half and was 9-12 from three...this from a team averaging 8-22 from three for a game. The Hoyas shot an admirable 48 percent from the field in the half but gave up a season high 19 turnovers and trailed by 26 at the half, 61-35. The 61 points were the most points scored in the first half of any Big East game.
The two teams played even in the second half, punctuated only by a basket with 3:03 to play that allowed Providence to top the century mark, the first Big east opponent to do so against Georgetown and the first 100+ game in ther regular season since Seton Hall did it in a pre-Big east game in 1976. Much was made in the national press that the 24 point margin of defeat was the worst ever for the Hoyas; however, losses to Notre Dame in 2000 (77-54) and Providence in 1992 (86-63) were each by 23 points and were no less painful. But maybe this was more unexpected, and thus more puzzling.
The final was the sixth loss for the Hoyas in the last eight at the Providence Civic Center.
Enough said. Some post-game links follow below:
In addition to the local interest in the Georgetown-Providence game this weekend, this was also NBA All-Star Weekend at the MCI Center. The Washington Post has a number of articles on the subject, including a feature on Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. An additional feature on Mourning may be found at this link to the Boston Globe.
"Through this all, God has been my crutch," Mourning said. "The one thing I did tell Him, I knew there was going to be a lot of good to come out of this. It didn't just happen to me and Sean [Elliott] for no reason. I told Him, 'Look, guide me and put me in the right directions because, evidently, You don't want me to play basketball right now, so I'm assuming You want me to do other things.'"
Coach Esherick participated in an online chat Tuesday at this link to FinalFour.net. Among the items of interest: a discussion of future series with Duke and UCLA, and the possibility of an 80's style "retro" uniform to debut next year.
From the opening tip-off, Georgetown thoroughly outplayed the Panthers in a 81-67 win, a measure of payback following the Panthers' 70-66 win at MCI Center on January 20.
Georgetown quickly opened the scoring 3-0 and never looked back. The Hoyas scored on 10 of its first 15 field goals in building leads of 6-2, 19-6, and 25-11, finishing with 63 percent shooting at the half and a 20 point lead, 42-22.
In the second half, Pittsburgh (12-8) played better, but the Hoyas held off every run. The Panthers could not close to fewer than 19 until the last three minutes of the game, picking up some late baskets to close the score. The win was so dominant that the Pitt student section, considered one of the loudest in the conference, were quiet much of the game and the section began to empty midway in the second half.
"They had a great game plan," Pitt coach Ben Howland told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "They scored at will in the first half."
The Panthers had no answer whatsoever for freshman Mike Sweetney, who finished with a career high 24 points on 10 for 16 shooting. Center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje continued to rebound from a late January slump with 8 points and 10 rebounds on 4-4 shooting. The starting five shot an amazing 27 for 40 in the game (68 percent), a figure unseen in recent memory.
Georgetown's five offensive rebounds were a season low, but when you make your shots, you don't get as many second chances.
Post-game links follow below:
Entering February, Georgetown started off the way it had to--a home court win. The Hoyas' 94-77 win over West Virginia Saturday at MCI Center was a balanced effort from contributors that will all be counted on as the Hoyas face four of its next five on the road.
Georgetown built an early lead, thanks to a 19 point first half by sophomore Demetrius Hunter, who was 4 for 4 from three point range. The scoring helped obscure some weak perimeter defense in the first half that allowed WVU to hang around, and the Mountaineers cut a 13 point lead to six at the half, 49-43.
Hunter was sidelined much of the second half with an aggravated Achilles heel, and forward Lee Scruggs, wearing a brace on his wrist, saw little second half time. Both could have been helpful in stopping a Mountaineer run early in the half that closed the score to 56-54, but the tandem of Michael Sweetney (20 points) and Kevin Braswell (14 points, 9 assists) led the Hoyas on a 14-2 run to put them out of danger. A second run increased the count to 77-59.
While play looked ragged, many contributors played important roles. Sweetney led all scorers with 20, but Victor Samnick scored a season high 14 points, Anthony Perry 10 points also contributed to the win, while a second half resurgence from center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje allowed the senior center to finish with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
Here are post-game links:
Following the Syracuse game, there was some talk whether coach Esherick would start sophomore Wesley Wilson for the West Virginia game in place of the slumping Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. After thinking about it, Esherick told the Washington Post that Boumtje-Boumtje will be in the starting lineup.
"We all have to work -- coaches and players -- to get him back to being the player he was", Esherick told the Post. "This is just uncharacteristic of Ruben. But I'm not at the point of giving up on him."
While the real NIT 2000 banner sits above McDonough gym, a replica does remind the players of their goal for 2001, according to this link from ESPN.com. The message is still important to players to focus on the NCAA's into February.
"It's going to be up to us to get out there and want it on the court", Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje told columnist Andy Katz. "We just have to play the way we're supposed to play."
-The three game slump hasn't deterred fan interest in Georgetown for the Big East tournament. At the end of this Washington Post story is a report that Georgetown has called other Big East schools offering to buy any unsold tickets from these schools for interested Hoyas.
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