We Are Georgetown and You’re Not: Hoyas look to desert Islanders at Verizon

Fresh off their season-opening 83-62 win over St. Francis this past Saturday afternoon, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (1-0, 0-0 Big East) returns to action at Verizon Center Tuesday night to face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (1-0, 0-0 Southland). Tip-off for the first-ever meeting between the two programs is slated for 7 p.m.

After scoring the most points ever in program history for a freshman in his college debut, forward L.J. Peak looks to continue his strong form. In his first-ever college game, Peak scored a game-high 23 points on perfect 9-of-9 shooting for the Hoyas.

Peak, however, was not the only freshmen to contribute. Forwards Isaac Copeland, Paul White, and Trey Mourning, and guard Tre Campbell all saw extensive playing time in Saturday’s game. Led by Peak, the five freshmen accounted for 42 of the Hoyas’ 83 points, while also grabbing a combined six rebounds and dishing out six assists.

“Those guys are going to be asked to do a lot this year and I thought that everyone, for the most part, looked comfortable both offensively and defensively,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said, following the team’s win on Saturday. “I think everyone, for the most part, understood the rotations and understood our systems at both ends of the court. Now we just have to keep making progress.”

While the freshmen, especially Peak, impressed during the season opener, junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and senior center Joshua Smith did not have the most promising of debuts. The Preseason Big East Player of the Year, Smith-Rivera, struggled to find his form, shooting only 2-of-9 from the field. He was able to make up for it in other facets of the game, however, since he pulled down nine rebounds and had six assists.

On the other hand, Smith, who returned to action for the first time since last January due to academic ineligibility, struggled to assert himself against the substantially smaller St. Francis frontcourt. Limited to only 19 minutes of playing time, Smith scored 10 points but pulled down only two rebounds, which both came off of his own offensive misses. Thompson was not too pleased with Smith’s performance and expects better from him in the future.

“I thought it was unacceptable. He has got to play better,” Thompson said. “Josh Smith can’t play and have two rebounds total.”

One area the Hoyas will need to significantly improve upon from last Saturday’s contest is rebounding. A much smaller Terriers squad outrebounded the Hoyas 45-40 and pulled down a whopping 22 offensive rebounds. Senior forward Mikael Hopkins, who led the Hoyas with 10 rebounds last game, acknowledged that it is going to require a team effort if the Hoyas want to rectify the disturbing trend.

“Just got to the whole team involved in rebounding,” Hopkins said. “A lot of the time people are looking to the bigs to rebound the ball, but when a team is shooting a lot of jump shots and crash the boards, we need our guards to help us out.”

As for the visiting Islanders, the Hoyas will have much of their attention focused on two players: senior guard John Jordan and sophomore forward Rashawn Thomas. A Preseason 1st Team All-Southland Conference selection, the undersized Jordan, who stands an unimposing 5-10, does a little bit of everything for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.¬†Last season Jordan averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists for the Islanders. In the team’s season-opening win against Our Lady of the Lakes, Jordan tallied 18 points along with five assists.

While Jordan provides the Islanders with an effective ball handler, Thomas leads the Islanders’ frontcourt, since he averaged 10.7 points and 5.2 rebounds last year. A very efficient player, Thomas was second in the Southland Conference last year in field goal percentage, converting 59 percent of his attempts from the floor. Thomas, however, might not be 100 percent entering Tuesday night’s game and will most likely be a gametime decision due to a hip injury that caused him to miss the Islanders’ first contest.

All in all for Thompson and the Hoyas, this is just the second game of a very long and arduous season.

“We are a totally different team than we were last year,” Thompson said after Saturday’s win. “We are a work in progress and there is a long way to go.”

Photo: Freddy Rosas/Georgetown Voice

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