One thing is certain after Day 1 of the Round of 64 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament: these are not your father’s Georgetown Hoyas. Once the slow, conservative harbingers of old school on-ball defense, it appears that head coach John Thompson III has revised his approach.
Such was the case when No. 4 Georgetown took on the No. 13 Eastern Washington Eagles in the late-night tilt of the South Region. In a game that seemed destined for the defensive-minded Hoyas’ weaknesses to be shown against the fast-paced nature of their opponent, the boys from D.C. instead surprised everyone, including this flabbergasted Hoyas fan who currently sits at his keyboard typing this up!
After letting Eastern Washington build a lead on the backs of some stunning three-pointers and pick-and-roll dunks, Georgetown suddenly turned on the afterburners and literally ran its way to victory. Instead of its usual isolation game, the team played a combination of run-and-gun and dribble drive before finally winning 84-74. Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way with 25 points, shooting 6 of 12 from the field and sinking four three-pointers, while also pulling down eight rebounds.
Moreover, Georgetown shot 52 percent from the floor and nearly 48 percent from long range, plus out-rebounded Eastern Washington 36-28. Even more incredible, the team managed to win despite committing 14 turnovers.
Simply put, it’s clear that Coach Thompson tinkered his approach after looking back at his squad’s recent tournament history against teams that could run. In 2013, as a No. 2 seed, a fast and feisty No. 15 seed in Florida Gulf Coast University eliminated the Hoyas in the Round of 64, in a year that many thought that Georgetown would be in the Final Four. Just two years prior, they suffered the same fate at the hands of Virginia Commonwealth’s havoc game.
Long story short, Georgetown was a team that could not keep up with squads that played a fast-paced game. Thursday, against an Eastern Washington group that ranked third in the nation in scoring, while also playing a physical interior game, it was as though the Hoyas had been a run-and-gun team for years.
They’ll have to keep up that pace come Saturday night, when they take on the fast and physical No. 5 Utah Utes in the Round of 32. Given how well Georgetown played tonight, however, it appears as though they’ll be just fine, and definitely a team to watch going forward.
*Section Photo credit to Eric Francis, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to USA Today Sports