We Are Georgetown: Hoyas face Villanova following four straight losses

With the schedule coming to perhaps the toughest stretch of the season, the Hoyas, now 7th in the Big East, (11-8, 3-5 Big East) will have to beat the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats (17-2, 6-1 Big East) to avoid the first five-game losing streak since the 2010-11 season.

With junior center Joshua Smith gone for the year for academic ineligibility and junior guard Jabril Trawick still recovering from a broken jaw, Head Coach John Thompson III will have to rely even more on guards senior Markel Starks and sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera for production and leadership. Both players, however, are averaging career highs in minutes with Starks averaging 36.8 minutes per game and Smith-Rivera averaging 34.9 minutes per game.

The Hoya bench, unfortunately, has not compensated for the loss of production. In the games against Marquette and Creighton, both losses, the Georgetown reserves combined for only ten points. Injuries and academic issues among players have even forced Thompson to play seldom used reserves guards Stephen Domingo and John Caprio. During the Marquette game, Caprio played a career high of 22 minutes, and came two point shot away of matching his career high of four points. As Caprio’s minutes rise, the Hoya’s losses and number of sad Georgetown fans will likely increase as well.

Compounding Georgetown’s internal problems, the Wildcats will be ready with forward JayVaughn Pinkston, their leading scorer with 15.2 points per game and guard James Bell, their second leading scorer with 15.1 points per game. Four out of five of Villanova’s starting lineup average double digits in points, while four out of five of Georgetown’s starters average five or more points.

Smith-Rivera, who is shooting a torrid 45.4 percent from the three point line, could keep the Hoyas in the game, but the Wildcats may quickly catch on to the offensive strategy of “giving Smith Rivera the ball and praying he won’t miss.”

Despite the threat of Villanova’s high-powered offense, the Hoyas remain determined to overcome their hardships. Thompson and Starks realize the dire situation Georgetown basketball is in, but they remain optimistic for the future. The Hoyas, and other Georgetown fans, will need that optimism because the team will need Smith-Rivera’s three-point shooting and Starks’ playmaking ability to elevate to another level for a chance at victory against Villanova.

Photo: Joshua Raftis/Georgetown Voice

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