Isaac Copeland: Year in Review

Georgetown v Xavier

This is the guy. If Georgetown is to climb from the solid Top 25 caliber group of 2014-2015 and into a threat nationally that hovers around Top 10 territory and into 2-3 seed territory for March – it’s with a major, yet reasonable jump from Isaac Copeland. Hailed as the jewel of a strong 2014 recruiting class, Copeland struggled out of the gate in three home openers against bottom-tier competition resulting in seeing him on the floor for a combined 7 minutes in the Bahamas vs Florida and Wisconsin. Then came a break out game against Butler (16 point and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes) with the Hoyas in need of a spark the following day. Copeland did not become immune to struggles (or trust – Ike Minute’s) but he progressed enough to find his way into the starting lineup and eventually became an indispensable player, starting the final 10 games and logging 37 minutes in the season ending loss to Utah.

Copeland has all the physical tools (except a short wingspan, 6’9…the same as his height) to blossom into an All-Big East performer as soon as this year. Copeland’s athleticism shows most around the rim when the ball is up for grabs. An athlete whose standing jump and subsequent second jump are elite at the college level offers the Hoyas something they haven’t possessed out of the forward spot since Jeff Green and Patrick Ewing JR. While not the most physically imposing player as a freshman with his strength, his athleticism led him to post the 6th highest defensive rebound rate in the Big East during conference player (20.6) higher than Josh Smith or Mikael Hopkins.


This ability to high point the ball is unique:

Early on it appeared Copeland may be a bit passive on the floor. As the year wore on, it was hardly the case. Copeland goes gets it and has a knack for finding the ball:

Three red shirts and Ike is the one who gets it:

The examples I’ve found show Copeland hitting the offensive boards. That’s not something that will ever be that prevalent in the Georgetown offense. However, any time it can be it’s an added bonus. Georgetown focuses on getting back on defense and often has 4 out on offense to begin with, but if Copeland has the green light to crash the boards it could provide major dividends.

Lastly, this is the fast-twitch athlete at the rim that Copeland can be:

While Copeland was well regarded as an athletic combo forward out of high school and the above was of little surprise, Copeland displayed a much better shooting stroke than most could have anticipated.


While Copeland’s volume of shots offered a small sample size, there’s a lot to like there. For totals, Copeland ended up at 39% from 3 (21-54), 48% from 2 point range (62-130) and 80% from the free throw line (38-47). Copeland offers a quick release and unlike some of his fellow freshman (LJ Peak notably) from last season his stroke and mechanics appeared to be stay consistent throughout the year. It does come off as a bit of a line drive but his release is compact and he elevates on every attempt:

Copeland’s positioning this year will likely swing between the 3 and the 4 spot, where Copeland can open more space for the offense is at the 4. Here you see Copeland at the 4 and as Trawick draws a defender, it’s a wide open 3. If Copeland knocks that down consistently, it’s either three points or that help can’t come off of Copeland and it’s an open lane:

In a rare glimpse of Paul White at the 5 and Copeland at the 4 (Seton Hall and Indiana the only two occurrences), you can see that Indiana’s defender is jut not willing to abandon Copeland and it leads to open lanes:

Here, #32 on Creighton can’t leave Copeland and an added foot of space is all LJ Peak needs:

This is another aspect that I found enjoyable (and very valuable), Copeland’s movements and cuts offensively are with purpose. He sets up his defender with a hard initial step to free himself up, if he goes half speed it doesn’t work:

I found Copeland to perhaps be one of the best cutters on the team, a skill that the Georgetown offense leans on. Perhaps only seniors Trawick & Bowen cut as consistently hard or effectively as Copeland:

A real change of pace and style that Copeland exhibited was an eagerness (and perhaps a green light) to let it fly early. Sometimes his shot selection was a bit rushed, but when it went well (and in) it was a nice reprieve from the half court offense. JTIII has often said they want the best shot, regardless of time left on the clock and while Copeland didn’t always take the best one available, he sure wasn’t shy to pass on what he thought was it:

12 seconds into the shot clock, sees an opening and takes it:

For a program that has struggled with turning the ball over in their half court sets, this is a nice little way to make sure you’re getting a shot on the rim. At times, it will be frustrating as there will be misses and it’s so out of the norm of what we’ve seen for the better part of a decade and sometimes it’s just a plain bad shot:

All in all, I’ll take the good with the bad. It negates any turnovers, a good shooter is taking a shot and speeds up the game in which Georgetown should often have the more talented team. Perhaps it was just freshman jitters that led to it at times and JTIII reigns him in, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.

Like fellow freshman, Copeland in limited opportunities showed the ability to be a zone buster either by operating in the middle or along the baseline:

Unlike White, Copeland is first and probably secondly looking to shoot against zone. The next step for Copeland against zone or any defense is to look for teammates more often as his shooting ability should draw the defense. I don’t view Copeland as a selfish player at all, but his passing ability has not been as evident as his scoring ability so far, but he is capable:

The two most glaring areas of improvement on the offensive end for Copeland are his ball-handling and possibly playing with his back to the basket. Not many teams, college or pro are looking for a 6’9 forward to be able to post defenders on the block, it would simply be a luxury. It would offer a nice option against a small team when Copeland is playing on the wing but generally Georgetown isn’t running offense through the block outside of their 5 man. Georgetown’s offense also protects against Copeland’s to date non-existent ball-handling. Copeland’s strengths as a freshman – athleticism, moving hard off the ball and shooting – play perfectly into the hybrid Princeton offense. If he can improve his ball-handling it will make a world of difference as he tries to transition into an NBA player, as well as helping Georgetown break pressure in the half court or full court. What we did see are bits of concise one, two dribble moves, which is a good starting point with working off the bounce:

You can see here Copeland just isn’t comfortable as he makes his move. There’s no third dribble to get to or a jump stop or a step-through to finish his movement:

You hope he can find more comfort using his dribble as his athleticism can be put to good use and he finds more ways to utilize his athleticism at the rim:

Copeland had a very productive offensive season for a freshman. Where he was more of a mixed bag was on the defensive end, but with a year of seasoning and understanding he should be primed for a significant improvement. One of the more encouraging signs was that Georgetown’s ability to defend around the rim did not suffer at all once Copeland became a starter. Copeland ended the Big East conference season as the 9th best shot blocker in the league (a 4.5 block rate in-conference). Again, not blessed with even an above average wingspan, Copeland has enough size and can make up for a lot with his ability to explode off the floor:

Where Copeland can struggle is guarding the ball in the post. As of last year, he simply lacked the strength and know-how to do an adequate job. Where Georgetown and Copeland should benefit is a continued lack of teams that play two true big men at the same time. Just in conference, it’s difficult to see a team outside of Marquette (Ellenson and Fischer) that will do so. Here is Copeland against some PF’s:

Here, Copeland struggles enough with his own match-up that he abandons his help responsibility:

Some of Copeland’s difficulties on defense can just be crossed out by being a freshman. Stuff happens. Like not knowing what defense you’re in:

Or feeling the need to try to guard everyone and end up guarding nobody at the same time:

And not picking up in transition:

That stuff is correctable and the encouraging thing is that Copeland is willing. Activity can be half the battle.

This is a lot to to be involved in but Copeland holds up:

Where Copeland intrigues me most defensively is his potential versatility and his ability to guard ball screens. Copeland moves his feet is well and is always a good candidate to show on a ball screen or perhaps in time, aggressively trap. With his athletic ability a simple hedge and recover is a fairly easy task:

He pretty much disrupts this up on his own:

Starts on a 4 and seamlessly switches onto a 3:

And onto a 1:

This is where you hope the Copeland/White forward pairing can make it’s hay on defense, the ability to switch easily:

This may be most impressive, Copeland shows and his ready to recover but Tre Campbell is slow to re-enter, making Copeland re-adjust and stay with the ball for one more step. And yet Copeland is still almost out to the 3 point line in time for a contest:

The defensive end wasn’t always clean for Copeland but there’s enough to work with here to believe he can become a plus defender as soon as this November. He’s active, athletic and willing to do the work. With added weight (GUHoyas lists him at 220 now, up nearly 20lbs from last year) and a better understanding things should go more smoothly. It will be interesting to see if JTIII employs him differently than others guarding ball screens when Copeland is playing the 4. I believe his quickness should be utilized and at worst see a hard show, if not an all out blitz of the ball screen against weaker offenses and point guards. Copeland also should be a benefit if the program gets back to playing more zone defense. He offers length and size on the back-line and the ability to rebound in space when it often times is difficult to find a man and put a body on an offensive rebounder. All that leads to an intriguing main thought with Copeland: he offers some unique traits that Georgetown has not had out of many players in the III era. His athleticism, a penchant for quick offense, a floor spacing 4 man (Otto Porter was this, but a much less talented offensive team surrounded him) or a gigantic 3 man with the speed and skill to make it work, along with a quickness on the defensive end that’s ready to get loose.

Copeland could very well need to shake off more cobwebs and be a year away. Perhaps the understanding on defense doesn’t come as quickly and his shot suffers a bit of a dip in his sophomore year. That said, I have no doubt he eventually does get there, and if it is this year….the delusion train might face max capacity.

Paul White: Year in Review


Can he play in the back court? Should Marcus Derrickson start over him? Is he the jack of all trades 6th man?

What is known about Paul White is that he offers a skilled game in a 6’8 frame. Known as a cerebral play-making forward , White also displayed better outside shooting touch than advertised coming out of high school playing for Whitney Young HS and the Chicago bred AAU Meanstreets program. The knocks on White’s game – lack of physicality and assertiveness also showed as the season entered the doldrums of January and February.

Consider that 5 of White’s 7 games in which he played more than 20 minutes and posted an offensive rating greater than 110 occurred in November and the first two weeks of December. And not against bottom feeding low-majors. The five were comprised of Florida, Wisconsin, Butler, Kansas and Radford. It was difficult to put a finger on what caused White to struggle during Big East conference play but the slippage was clear:


White was not the most physically imposing freshman and general freshman fatigue and the grind of a physical conference certainly can explain a drop-off in production. In contrast, the Hoya freshman who appeared the most physically ready for a 30+ game season, Isaac Copeland, proved so over time. An off-season of conditioning and lifting should help White as much as anyone on the roster.

Where White can look to improve is simply moving on the floor with more force. Be it boxing out, pushing the ball with purpose, cutting hard or becoming a more active defender with his length. White has an old-school game but needs to add some more grit to maximize his skill level.

When guarding a lottery pick, you need to stay attached and not worry about taking on a screen:

One area White will have to improve upon with the loss of Mikael Hopkins and Josh Smith is a willingness to hit the boards and put his body on the opposing team:

White is not a quick enough athlete to move half speed, either. While helping here is his responsibility, once down he needs to be on a streamlined take back to his man. Half speed for a split second and it’s an open three:

Same idea here:

An athlete like Aaron Bowen probably could have made the mistake of asking for a switch and recovering in time, it’s a mistake White can’t afford:

Cut harder, seal harder:

Cut hard gets you these kind of opportunites:

Another smaller gripe I ran across this year was White either gathering a rebound or loose ball and dribbling up the floor without much purpose. It was nice to see him exhibit that he can handle the ball, the next step has to be pushing the ball for actual offense. Bringing the ball into the front court can create cross-matches, lanes to drive and open shooters. Otto Porter often created the best offense on a team with few skilled players doing such. Perhaps White had the green-light to do so but was just not very comfortable in taking command. The rare times it did happen, good offense was the result:

As White develops physically and as a thinking man’s basketball player a lot of mistakes can be minimized. At times, White just could not hold up physically in some match ups:

A freshman mistake here, you can’t take your eye off ball/man baseline out of bounds against one of the better shooters in the country:

I believe JayVaughn Pinkston made 0 three pointers this past year. Simply a scouting report and personnel recognition loss:

Where White showed real promise is where you would have expected. A diverse offensive game, the potential to be a zone buster and the ability to be an interchangeable defender due to his length.

If you were to display everything Paul White can be offensively, this clip might be it:

Pushes the ball..spaces the floor properly…enough of a threat from 3 to draw a defender…puts the ball on the floor again..draws a defender and makes a great pass…all at 6’8.

The next two clips illustrate the skill level White has:

I’m not recommending he attempts ‘The Dirk’ often, or ever again. But for a freshman to have the confidence and reasonably pull it off in a high-major game gave an inkling of White’s ability in the mid-range.

There’s just not a large list of 6’8 freshman going into a Euro-Step to a reverse finish against Kansas.

Where White should really make his mark over the next 3 years for Georgetown is in the middle of opposing 2-3 zones. (Which may become more frequent with a 30 second shot clock). White showed poised, a delicate touch and high awareness operating out of the foul line area.

This makes it looks like White can pick apart a zone in his sleep. Take away the middle? Just easily floats to the baseline, one dribble pull-up:

White’s mid-range game is a serious asset. Zoning highly skilled teams often is asking for trouble. While Georgetown hasn’t struggled against zone as much as some would believe, there have been issues along the way in the JTIII era. If you can have a player who is near automatic from the free throw line while also being an above average passer surrounded by skilled players, it becomes awfully difficult to zone that group.


The numbers aren’t staggering but certainly above average for a freshman in the mid-range. White’s shooting ability from the above the break 3 and top of the key also lend itself well to JTIII’s version of the Princeton offense. He’ll have a lot of looks from that sweet-spot on the left wing over his career.

What I love about White’s jumper is the release point he has at, again..6’8. It’s not the prettiest or most mechanically sound jump shot but his high release point makes it nearly unblockable even though he barely gets off the ground.

Here White is on the other end vs the 6’9 lottery pick, Sam Dekker. And Dekker can’t get to it:

Where I would like to see White improve and become more assertive is making plays for others. I would only ask for an uptick in that department from a player who is capable, and I fully think White is. In my opinion, White is too talented of a passer and potential playmaker to go through a 33 game season with only 41 assists.

High level find:

As he develops, my hope is to see more of this assertiveness:

And even if the ending isn’t a pass:

Where White took be my surprise at times was his ability to defend. And more notably to switch and be an interchangeable part on the defense end. White is very comfortable guarding small forwards (his natural position) and showed the ability to guard some 4’s and 2’s as well. While I wouldn’t want him on smaller, shifty two’s or bigger and physical 4’s..he certainly showed the ability to guard your bigger 2’s and smaller 4’s. It’s hard to believe White had a slightly higher block percentage than Isaac Copeand but that was the case, White has sneaky length that bothers offensive players:

Again, White is not the quickest on his feet but when engaged on disciplined his length makes up for his speed deficiency:

This is the type of attentiveness you hope turns to habit:

Here White is stuck in a mismatch against Kasey Hill, a shifty point guard but holds his own:

Again here, against Sterling Gibbs. How good is this?

That said, I still can’t totally be a buyer on White playing a guard position this year. Not that it’s much of an issue offensively but because where you play on the basketball floor often comes down to what position you can guard. What I can see is a super-big lineup with White at 2G while playing zone on the defensive end – think of Georgetown in 2011-2012 in similarity. But White’s versatility offers many options, he can conceivably play three spots depending on match up. Pair he and Derrickson, or he and Copeland at the forward spots. Can play the 3 next to DSR/Peak. The 4 next to Govan. Etc. Also worth noting that White played the 5 in a pinch of all pinches at Seton Hall this past year. That’s taking it too far, but you get the point. White offers the most lineup versatility on the roster. With an improved motor and assertiveness on both ends, White figures to be a mainstay on the floor.

Tre Campbell: Year in Review

As the Georgetown Hoyas continue their search for guards in the recruiting class of 2016, it’s up to a returning contributor to take a step forward and make a jump from spark-plug to steady contributor. Tre Campbell’s freshman campaign was largely a positive as he entered with questions about his size and strength hindering his ability to make an instant impact. Campbell acclimated himself well – averaging 14 minutes a game and proving to be a threat from long range with a steady handle and the fastest straight line speed on the roster.

Georgetown returned to more of the princeton offense that Hoyas fans have been accustom to throughout the JTIII era in the 2014-2015 campaign. With the continued strength of the team being in versatile forwards and hopefully a low scoring post (Jessie Govan) it will perhaps even enhance Campbell’s game. To date, not the most creative ball-handler or distributor, Campbell fits well in the Georgetown system that doesn’t rely on much play-making from the lead guard spot. Where it appears Campbell can shine is pushing the ball north to south in transition and shooting the three ball in the framework of Princeton offense sets.



As you can see, Campbell made his mark from behind the 3pt line above the break. This is where the Princeton offense suits his skill set. While 21-58 from 3 is not a great sample size, that production coupled with solid mechanics lends itself to the belief Campbell will eventually be a 38-40% 3PT shooter before his career is over. Where Campbell enhances things is his quick release – in point screen away and point over the top action (see here for better understanding or against zone – all Campbell will need is a split second. Campbell also exhibited unexpected range on his jumper, taking shots a step or two beyond the 3pt line, the more space that can be generated, all the better.

Take a look at this one, easily NBA range:

If Georgetown’s backcourt was a football backfield, Campbell is the change of pace to D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s 20 carry a game in-between-the-tackles steadiness. Campbell is always moving with purpose and with a more prominent role, you might see a Georgetown point guard getting north to south.


Campbell also displayed a good burst coming off of screens and an ever important pull up jumper:

Even here where the shot is blocked, Campbell is showing ability to turn the corner and put pressure on the defense. I’ll live with the rejection. But these next clips show the development to be hoped for. Attack and put pressure on.

Campbell’s decisiveness was rare for a freshman point guard, and in my opinion helped his ball security. He didn’t think. He played. Campbell’s turnover rate of 10.6% was the lowest on the team. While that isn’t sustainable it does provide optimism that Campbell is going to be in control during his Hoya career. It perhaps is a benefit that Campbell is not all that quick laterally as he is moving north-south, at least on the offensive end – there’s no wasted motion. It’s difficult to find many weaknesses that Campbell displayed offensively during his freshman season. Natural progression with strength and athleticism needs to be made, but outside of that? He shot the ball well, protected the ball and added a jolt of offense in key spots. Not much else could have been asked. As his career unfolds we will see if Campbell is simply a scorer and shooter out of the guard spot or if he can truly create for others. Not much is ever asked in terms of creation out of Georgetown guards but it’s an added element that can add wrinkles to the offensive system.

Where I found trouble in Campbell’s game was on the defensive end. I assume the coaching staff had similar concerns as his offense warranted more playing time than he received. Campbell struggled to stay in front of opposing guards, got lost in ball screens and could be overwhelmed physically when running into one. In an interesting tactic – JTIII generally had Campbell pick up full court and often was a pest doing so. Campbell’s effort shouldn’t be put into question but defending in the half court must improve. It is unlikely that if Campbell shares the floor with Smith-Rivera (who will play a ton) that Georgetown plays zone, therefore he has to be able to guard on-ball.

Georgetown’s pick and roll coverage is often fairly vanilla (not a bad thing). A soft hedge and recover – it became a bit more conservative with Josh Smith but it’s likely to remain the same as it has historically with Jessie Govan- unless Akoy Agau and Trey Mourning give it some juice and JTIII elects to trap or string things out. But, where Campbell can’t fail is getting burned by a screen, either by running into it or taking an elongated route. This compromises the entire defense as the post player is looking to recover and expects his guard to fight through the screen quickly. Campbell has a bad habit of becoming detached and taking longer routes than necessary to recover. Increased strength will improve Campbell ability to fight through screens. And it also raises the question if the Georgetown staff looks to hedge harder with their bigs and have Campbell go under screens instead of trying to fight over the top.

What you especially don’t want to see is giving up on a play – Campbell should be active at all times and has quick enough hands to disrupt plays that he gets back in on but you have to give yourself a chance:

While I do buy into the ‘no freshman is ready to defend’ narrative a bit, Campbell was pretty bad. LJ Peak was darn good, Paul White was above average and Isaac Copeland was adequate once his feet were wet. There are no real metrics to judge individual defense but Campbell’s defensive rating being 2 points worse (106.7) than any teammate’s during Big East play is at least a bit telling. I was miffed by why he hadn’t received more minutes this past season but it became more apparent after taking a closer look.

Campbell should at least push for a starting job and the possibility of a three guard look with DSR and LJ Peak. Based on history, I would expect JTIII to go bigger (Paul White) and preserve his other ball-handling guard as a 6th man. Which is a role where Campbell should thrive. His offensive punch is apparent and if he can make strides defensively, he’s going to be a real asset this year and beyond. As we all panic over Curt Jones, Bruce Brown and Seventh Woods – it is worth noting that every full-time PG under JTIII has developed into an All-League caliber performer. Wallace, Wright, Starks, DSR. That’s not a bad quartet over 11 years. There’s plenty of optimism to believe the next in-line is already in the program and not in his senior year of high-school.

The Chicken or the Egg. Georgetown and Fouling.


In May of 2013, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee came together to push for a change in a game that had become too physical, and at times, too ugly to watch.

From :

With these facts in mind, much of the committee’s discussion in May focused on ways to open up the game. To that end, it will be stressed to officials that they must address the current rules throughout the game. The following types of personal fouls should be called consistently:
• When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent
• When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent
• When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent
• When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent

Most Georgetown fans (including this one) found the news to be positive and finally a benefit for a free flowing offensive system predicated on space and timing. No more of the Pitt’s and West Virginia’s of the world clutching and grabbing for 40 minutes.

While the offensive efficiency in 2013-2014 (111.8) and 2014-2015 (111.1) were upticks from the 2013, 2012 and 2011 seasons – it begged the question if the emphasis on freedom of movement had impacted a physical Georgetown defense more than anticipated. While John Thompson III’s teams will not be mistaken for his father’s and does not employ full court pressure – if anything we see token zone press from time to time – the Hoyas do play a very physical brand of half court man to man defense.

Along with a change in officiating (one I don’t fully buy, more on that later) came new players into the program or players stepping into bigger roles who proved to be serial foulers (Josh Smith, Mikael Hopkins, Moses Ayegba…and even as perimeter players, Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen).

JTIII has coached roughly 87 rotation players over the course of 11 seasons.

Here’s the list with the year and foul rate: 

As you can see, there was a whole lot of fouling going on in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Georgetown’s defensive free throw rate (a measure of both how often a team gets to the line and how often they make them) had never been higher than 36 in JTIII’s tenure (2011). In 2013-2014 it skyrocketed to 52.4 and in 2014-2015 netted a mark of 44.1 via 

The 2014 version of the Hoyas defense was a mess. Personnel had weakened, injuries occurred and it was going to be bad no matter how you sliced it. The 2015 group was good, and could have been much better without fouling so much. The Hoyas ranked 24th nationally in defending shots from within the 3pt line and 7th nationally in defending shots at the rim. The 3pt defense did not hold up well – but as many have studied, there is a lot of luck involved in 3pt defense. Had you substituted the amount of fouling Georgetown did in 2015 with a standard pre-2013-2014 season under JTIII, the Hoyas defense jumps into Top 10-20 territory nationally.

…Back to the list of players:

Josh Smith in his two seasons had the 3rd and 4th highest foul rates of any player in the III era.

Mikael Hopkins had the 6th, 7th and 9th highest marks during his tenure.

Even Jabril and Aaron had higher foul rates in both 2014 and 2015 than Henry Sims did in anchoring the stout 2012 defense.

The good news heading into this season is that D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, LJ Peak, Isaac Copeland Tre Campbell posted good marks for their respective positions. A lot will come down to how Jessie Govan, Bradley Hayes and Akoy Agau adjust to the defensive system, speed of the game and if they are able to protect the rim without fouling. I suspect that just the change in personnel will result in a decline in fouls. While Mikael and Josh served as good rim protectors there is no denying their penchant for fouling. It also could be beneficial to see the use of zone again – which benefited past teams and players from picking up fouls.

In looking for other examples around the Big East – the hacking Cats of Villanova actually just posted their lowest defensive foul rate in 14 years under Jay Wright. (1. Maybe because they didn’t have to spend the 2nd half of games trailing and fouling. 2. 14 years already?). Butler and the ‘Butler Way’ of grabbing and holding posted their 6th and 7th lowest marks in 8 years since the beginning of the Brad Stevens era. Even our old pals at Cincinnati just had their lowest foul rate in the Mick Cronin era (26.1%..8th nationally)

It’s hard to find any other examples in the Big East that display a significant change in pattern – and Georgetown is the most glaring. That lends itself to the notion that has been more personnel, and perhaps an inability to trust the zone defense than an officiating change. This year is the true test, with the biggest fouling offenders departing the program (which by the way, is not meant as anything negative. They all could defend, especially Mikael and Jabril and that will be missed…but the senior group just fouled…. a lot.) The difference of saving 3 to 4 fouls a game is a pretty large number and if Govan/Hayes/Agau are at a general replacement level compared to Smith and Hopkins you could see that type of reduction. My math skills are lacking but I can at least manage this scenario:

Instead of 8 free throws, the opponent has 4 possessions…1 is a turnover, 2 is a stop, 3 is a made 2 and even give them a made 3 on the last possession. They’re netting 5 points instead of the 6 or 7 from the line (and with recent luck, maybe all 8).

With a team and program that generally finds itself in tight games played in the half court, every possession and every point matters. With new personnel in place, I believe some of the free ones come off the board this season.

A closer look at L.J. Peak

While L.J. Peak competes in the USA Under-19 trials in Colorado Springs this week, it provides a good chance to look back at his freshman season. After a stirring debut vs St. Francis (NY) and a strong showing against Kansas, Peak never fully displayed the scoring ability many had hoped for until the last games of the season against Utah. An injured ankle, the freshman wall and an increase in competition and scouting reports all contributed to a slow offensive start to his collegiate career. However, starting every game but one – it was evident JTIII’s trust in Peak did not waver.

The most apparent reason as to why Peak was a 25 minute per game starter was his defensive ability. I would argue (and I’m not sure it can be argued against) that Peak was the 2nd best perimeter defender on the Hoyas roster, only behind a senior year Jabril Trawick.

Peak offers a near total package defensively at the off-guard position.

a) Peak can fight through screens with his strength and possesses good enough lateral athleticism to not get caught on a ball screen. The ability to do so, limits the amount of switching the defense has to do. And the pick and roll coverage Georgetown has to employ with Peak on the ball is simple – a soft show and quick recovery. Along with a strong physical frame, Peak has an ability to slither around screens.

Even here, DePaul is able to get a slightly open look – but Peak’s ability to stay close makes it a shot that you’re more than willing to concede in the college game:

Off-ball, Peak stays connected as well:

There are times where switching is a necessity and the on ball defender has to take on a bigger defender, while it didn’t happen often – Peak’s strength holds up well:

b) Peak’s ability to laterally move his feet defensively was perhaps best on the team, even better than Trawick who sometimes struggled to keep his body in front of the ball.

Even on possessions where Peak is beat slightly, he keeps his body in position where the shot has to be finished over him – and Mikael Hopkins (who will be sorely missed defensively) helps out:

c) Peak also offers a physical profile that has length to go along with his strength and athleticism as a defender. The times that Peak does get beat off the dribble or on a screen he has the ability to trail an offensive player and make a play. You even see Peak size up an opponent while trailing – almost as if he’s a defensive back in football lulling a quarterback into a false sense of security.

Here, Peak gets around two screens and still is able to recover to strip the ball – one of the better examples of his overall defense:

d) Peak has, what I assume is an instinctive trait of making sure his hands are shown on defense. It’s a very minor thing, but it is a real thing. Peak shows his hands while on the ball, trying to disrupt the vision and passing openings of his man with the ball.

e) Off-ball, Peak does a good job of staying connected to his man but not deserting responsibility as a help-defender.

This isn’t to say it’s all positive on that side of the floor- Peak was prone from time to time to make rookie mistakes. Either with personnel:

You can’t lose James Blackmon out of a 2-3 zone

Losing his man:

Or sometimes you just get caught:

All totaled, Peak’s freshman season on the defensive end was an overwhelming success. In what is generally the most difficult transition for freshman – Peak displayed the physical attributes along with the discipline and understanding to be a plus defender out of the gate. With another year in a college program – working on his strength, quickness and overall athleticism – Peak should have a goal in mind to be on the of the handful of best defenders in the Big East.

Where Peak needs to make the most strides in his sophomore year is at the offensive end. I personally felt that Peak’s body and explosiveness was not the same in the dog days of the Big East season as it appeared to be in November. Perhaps it was the ankle injury or just running out of a steam as a freshman. A summer in the gym hopefully results in a better conditioned player, improved perimeter shooting – and a better understanding of when to attack the rim. Peak has a real ability to finish through contact but at times is a bit too confident to get the ball to the rim. What worked in high school didn’t quite net the same results. As seen in the graph below – there wasn’t much to work with outside of finishing at the rim- and while 51% isn’t a terrible number for a freshman guard – it became Peak’s only way of scoring the ball and it didn’t come at an efficient rate. According to Hoop-Math, 49.8% of Peak’s shot attempts came at the rim, compared to 29% for Isaac Copeland and 21% for Paul White.


This is an attempt over a 7′ defender- one Peak can get to go down occasionally, but the degree of difficult is high:

It would be nice to see a mid-range game show itself as Peak’s career moves forward – this is a tough, tough shot – but he has the right idea in pulling up:

Not in a hurry:

Here Peak did something that was rare for him as a FR, finding a teammate off of his drive:

While the offense that Georgetown employs does not lend itself to guards and wings collecting many assists – Peak only having 32 on the season is a reflection of the tunnel vision he sometimes has.

If he can add the elements of a pull-up game along with more composure on his drives, everything will come a little bit easier for him on the offensive end.

But make no mistake about it, Peak’s ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim is a real asset and something the Georgetown offense has often lacked. It may be just a matter of Peak picking his spots more effectively to become a more efficient finisher at the basket.

What you hope to see more often with an added year in the weight room:

Where Peak can really shine is in the open-floor. Via Hoop-Math, Peak had an eFG% of 56.8%, a mark good enough for 3rd on the team behind seniors Trawick and Aaron Bowen. He has a long stride and wastes little motion in trying to go around defenders, even his euro-step is a powerful take. He also offers an array of release points, scoop shots and angles off the glass:

An important part of the Georgetown offense is the ability or willingness to cut hard. It’s boring and repetitive for some of the guys at times, but it must be done. Peak did a good job for the most part – better than White or DSR, worse than Copeland and Bowen – somewhere in the middle. But with his athletic ability, an uptick in hard cuts would be a welcome sight.

Peak’s 3 point shot is something that will need major improvement. I don’t mind the release and mechanics, the ball does come out as a bit of a knuckle ball – but he keeps his balance for the most part (habit of fading away at times) and shoots the ball with confidence. It is a reasonable for Peak to evolve into a 33-35% shooter from 3, up from the 25% he shot last season. If he can do that, it will be enough for opponents to honor his shooting ability and not play off of him as much as say, an Aaron Bowen or even Jabril Trawick for most of his career. A positive sign is that Peak shot the ball best from the top of the key – and that is where most of Georgetown’s 3pt attempts open up through the offense.

I’m anxious to find out if Peak makes the U-19 Team USA. I believe compared to his counterparts that he should, given a good week of practice. A summer of commitment be it with the national team or back at Georgetown is going to go a long way in turning Peak from a promising freshman to one of the more complete guards in the Big East.

I didn’t understand why Peak played quite as much as he did, especially as the season wore on, but a review of the season gave me a better understanding. He’s proved to be a very valuable defender and I can’t fault JTIII for believing that his offense would find itself again. It never totally clicked and he had his struggles – but there is a lot to work with here. He should be to one of the most complete wing defenders in the Big East and a double digit scorer nightly – two things that I believe are well within reach.

Me and LeBron – A fading adolescence.

I do not know who will win the 2015 NBA Finals. Sure, I’d pick the Warriors in 7. But I don’t know how the Cavs reconfigure their defense, or how healthy Kyrie or Klay are. I don’t know, and it’s not the end all be all. Sure, it matters to legacy, it matters to social media, talk radio, and the people who want to compare and contrast LeBron James to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and anyone in between.

What I do know is I won’t get this again. Late summer of 2001, as a 15 year old sports obsessed teenager I discovered LeBron in a magazine article (SLAM, issue #54). It was the first national magazine article LeBron had made an appearance in, months before the Sports Illustrated cover that put him into the mainstream. Had this occurred 3 or 4 years later, I would have scoffed and sought out a negative that I could find. What has he done yet? He’s only 16. Older player X is better. But in that moment? It was what can he do? I believe your imagination slowly deteriorates – at least it has for me. Those lucky enough to imagine and create late into life are an enviable bunch to me. As a 15 year old, I still dealt with the imagination of what could be. Later in life, the reality of what can’t be has become prevalent.

photo (8)

It didn’t take much to reel me in. I like to think that at an early age I had a good understanding of basketball. And LeBron had it. I felt anyone who couldn’t see it just didn’t understand. Here he was, 6’8 200 and whatever with athleticism that was unparalleled. We’ll see that part again. We are not seeing the mind paired with it. Sure, he needed to refine his game – defense, shooting – later on a post game was needed as well. But as a baseline? There wasn’t anything else you could want. What were you missing? Because Carmelo Anthony had accomplished more in a team setting? No, those accomplishments can’t be taken for granted, but 12 years later I wonder the same thoughts when he’s compared to inferior basketball players of the past.

Perhaps other people are drawn to musicians, or artists or writers. I envy the potential of having a lifelong relationship and a following with a figure. Here, in the sports arena, there is a 15-20 year window, max. I struggle with the inevitable ending of it all. As early as the 2011 Finals and his biggest failing to date, I began to ask myself – if the run is near over, where or how can I find this again? I’m 24 at the time and worrying whether I’ll ever get this experience again in my life. Sure, I had childhood heroes (Jordan, Shaq, Griffey) but that was childhood heroship. LeBron combined what was left with that with a growing intellect and desire for knowledge. I don’t feel as if I can shake the cynicism that exists when viewing athletes to combine those two aspects again. They can’t do this and they can’t do that and they sure aren’t LeBron.

Between now and the 2011 Finals, LeBron piled on two more MVPs, two titles, and a barrel of stats dumped into his career resume. I have enjoyed every stop along the ride. I’ve long stopped telling people through the internet that they need to appreciate what they’re watching. The relationship isn’t the same, and in a way, I assume the people who have criticized him are likely long gone from having a figure to experience such a journey through. They may have had it before with Dr. J, Jordan, Bird, Magic or Kobe. And soon enough I’ll be the one nitpicking after every Andrew Wiggins misstep or Kevin Durant playoff failure. It’s just easier in this day and age to root against someone than for them.

For now? I’m still on a LeBron-high through sports that can’t be replicated in my day to day life fandom and escape from reality, aside from when Georgetown plays. It taps into my fading childhood that I get further from each passing day. Between the summer of 2001 to now, I’ve gotten my drivers license, graduated high school, graduated college, moved 1,400 miles from home (to Miami coincidentally), lost friends, gained friends, gone from Craig Esherick to John Thompson III. With LeBron, I’ve seen it all: from a culmination as the greatest player in the world (pick your date), a Game 7 shootout with the original Big 3, a string of summers that seemingly piled on top of each other until it hit rock bottom (2009, 2010, 2011), to the triumphs of 2012 and 2013. He’s met the expectations, which made this 14 year continuous ride possible in the first place. He has total mastery of his craft, which is a book unto itself on why it has been a joy to watch him play the game.

So I’ll be watching June 4th, as I have with nearly every LeBron playoff game since he started out post-season play in 2006. The result will matter, as it always has. A win is the defining moment of his career over a more powerful Warriors roster. A loss creates a damning 2-4 Finals record. You’ll find me on the internet afterwards dissecting who, what, and why it occurred. Admissions of failure, praising of greatness, condemning of teammates – it’s all in play. But the aspect that matters most for me is the emotion that these events can evoke and the fear that it fades away. For now, I have another Finals series to watch, another shot at glory. And for a couple of days the potential of what could be… the imagination of the unheard-of plays through my mind.


DSR: I think it’s fairly certain he goes undrafted and either attempts the D-League or heads overseas where he can and will have a long and successful career. There just isn’t a market for sub 6’2 guards who play at one speed (and not a quick one). DSR did not leave anything on the table with his ability, there is pleasure to take in from watching a college player max out his talent. Watching him play the first few games this past season I thought he was hunting for his shot and had the NBA on his mind – and it apparently may have stayed there – but he played for the team and transitioned into the PG position better than most could have hoped for.

DSR will be missed as a ball-handler, FT shooter and a crafty scorer who could take over for stretches against lesser talented teams. This isn’t a knock, it’s a positive when you’re struggling through a Tuesday night game in Allstate Arena and he gets 24 points in a 6 point win. (I actually wrote that outcome without looking it up or realizing Georgetown did play at DePaul on a Tuesday, won by 6 and DSR posted 25, not 24.) That’s just the type of player he is. You knew exactly what to expect. The only variable at times was his shooting, but even that had become predictable. His steadiness will be missed.

Perhaps he was in line to be the most productive and consistent guard of the III era – albeit not providing the same type of ceiling Chris Wright and Austin Freeman did. His struggles with length and size were evident later on in the year with certain match-ups (Xavier, Utah). When people asked to see a more selfish DSR, I never saw a way for him to get to that point against better competition. But all in all, a great contributor to the program and representative of the university.

Where Georgetown goes from here: JTIII and staff will have to find a guard one way or another. Be it with a late 2015 signing or more likely, a post-graduate transfer (which is also more appealing). Trey Lewis (maybe?), Damion Lee (long list), Derrick Gordon (?), Adam Smith (?), Anthony Collins (?) and others will be discussed. I can’t deny that’s it fair game to be frustrated with the staff for not having an inkling of this scenario. However, it’s my guess they had the same reaction as the fan base upon hearing of the news.

Next season’s team will be monstrous. LJ Peak is now the 2nd shortest player at 6’5, and you would assume you see a bit of Paul White at 6’8/6’9 playing in the back court. The predicament to me, would be a roster that will struggle shooting the ball – but at its size may not be best situated to run either. It’s size and skill across the board will have to make things work in the half court similar to III’s first batch of teams at Georgetown.

With DSR there was always a ceiling. I can’t imagine a SR year DSR looking much different from a JR year DSR. Physically there isn’t a lot of work left to be done. A 35inch vertical and a growth spurt isn’t a summer of work away. DSR was a constant on the floor, but I’m not sure others played off of him as much as he played off of himself. DSR on a bad team is likely DSR on a good team, as evident from 2014 to 2015.


Not a selfish player by any means, far from it – but I don’t believe others played well because of him or leaned on his facilitating (in fairness, it’s not offense that will play off of the PG often) to significantly hinder the growth of the young players with his departure.

Tre Campbell is now nearly a lock to play 75% of available minutes. LJ Peak, Paul White, Isaac Copeland and Marcus Derrickson will play a ton, featured in big, versatile lineups and we can expect Kaleb Johnson to get his feet wet early on now. Jessie Govan was always going to be plugged in immediately and while this doesn’t impact the forward and center positions in any way, it could provide continuity heading into the 2016-2017 season, one which holds a lot of promise on paper.

DSR was an indispensable 6th man on a Big East Conference championship team that earned a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He was the best and most reliable player on a 2nd place Big East team with a 4 seed and NCAA Tournament win. He’ll be missed, next season has gone from a Top 10-15 potential team to a group that will probably float around the back end of the Top 30-35 and flirt with the bubble (safely, in my opinion). Today is a step back, and another unfortunate loss of a player declining to join a ready-made team (Jeff Green ’08, DaJuan Summers ’10, Greg Monroe ’11, Hollis Thompson ’13, Otto Porter ’14). All of those names have gone on to lead successful careers, in the NBA or elsewhere. DSR will be no different. Georgetown has gone on to replace those names and still find success – even if not at the highest level which we have all hoped for since Jeff’s departure. That doesn’t change here, either. The highest level? The program can hit that again, too. It just hinges on another player in the same situation next year. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Hoya Saxa.

50 Shades of Gray – Predictions, hopes and the 2015 Georgetown Hoyas.

My take on the Georgetown Hoyas 2014-2015. Predictions, observations and random musings:

  1. DSR isn’t the only Hoya on First Team All BE. Joshua Smith joins him.
  2. Isaac Copeland and LJ Peak both start games at some point or another during the year.
  3. Hoyas continue to wear their worst uniforms in recent memory until Nike provides some digs in the 2nd half of the year.
  4. The best closing lineup eventually becomes: DSR/Jabril/Peak/Copeland/Smith
  5. Paul White’s ball-handling becomes a real asset.
  6. The training staff still fails to carry a mirror for contact lens issues (ht/ my old friend RDF)
  7. While his time is limited, Reggie Cameron is a better than 40% three point shooter.
  8. Hoyas grab attention by knocking off Florida in Atlantis in Round 1 and Kansas at home in early December.
  9. After dropping a close one to Wisconsin, the Hoyas knock off Oklahoma for a 3rd place Atlantis finish.
  10. Defense is almost back, and the adjusted D Rating falls in between a respectable 94-95.
  11. The offense checks in at a near III era average of 111.
  12. Bradley Hayes is only used in an emergency role.
  13. Aaron Bowen sees his minutes cut from last year but still contributes in a spark plug role.
  14. With more on his plate, DSR’s efficiency takes a dip but is offset by more talent and skill in other spots.
  15. A 14-2 home record.
  16. A 5-4 true road record.
  17. A 2-1 showing in the Bahamas.
  18. A win in MSG vs Indiana.
  19. A 12-6 conference record.
  20. For a total of 22-7 (12-6)
  21. There are different ways to skin the cat.
  22. There is no such thing as a trap game.
  23. Before April, there is a new member of the 2015 class to go with Marcus Derrickson and Jessie Govan.
  24. Outside of Villanova – Xavier and Butler prove to be the most difficult matches in conference.
  25. After a Monday night win at home vs Villanova – the delusion train is at full steam.
  26. In Hoya fashion it’s followed with a loss that Saturday in Milwaukee.
  27. Due to the need for an added shooter and play-maker – LJ Peak logs the most freshman minutes.
  28. Tre Campbell only finds spot minutes, but enough promise is shown to feel good about the future of the PG position.
  29. John Caprio is not on the floor in critical moments.
  30. Any combination of Caprio, Cameron, Lubick, Bowen and Hayes does not find the floor in a critical moment.
  31. Mikael Hopkins leaves on a high note. Not due to production or an increased role – but by being a guy with a motor who does the dirty work. A long cry from when he first entered the program.
  32. The ‘back in our day’ Hoya fans still find it difficult to be enamored with the toughness of Jabril. Who accounts for at least one costly technical this season.
  33. Josh Smith shoots between 58-60% from the field.
  34. Big East Game of the Year: New Years Eve. 10PM ET @ Xavier. An upstart Xavier team vs a revenge minded Hoyas team following last year’s collapse in Cincinnati.
  35. Nate Lubick’s screening ability is missed. No, really.
  36. DSR leads a balanced scoring attack at 16.5 points per game.
  37. Hoyas get back to playing a strong 2-3 zone. And feature it as frequently as they do man-to-man in conference play.
  38. My hopes for a pressing unit centered around: Trawick/Bowen/Copeland/Hopkins.
  39. Hoyas’ achilles heel becomes the ability to handle and break pressure.
  40. Villanova and Georgetown finish 1 and 2 – and are the rightful flag carriers for the Big East. Which only sends 4 teams to the tournament. (Xavier and one of SJU/Butler/Providence)
  41. A III era record is set in terms of tempo – averaging over 67 possessions a game – besting the 2010 mark of 66.9
  42. The Jabril Trawick vs D’Angelo Harrison rivalry concludes with two Hoya wins.
  43. Bill Raftery uses the phrase “Peak Show” and it is awesome.
  44. Rotation sets in as: DSR, Trawick, Peak, Copeland, Smith, Hopkins, White and Bowen. Cameron and Campbell find small spot minutes.
  45. As it should – and as needed – Georgetown and Villanova face off Saturday night in MSG. The game last 3 hours with classic Jay Wright tactics in a close Villanova victory.
  46. Hoyas solid resume and OOC wins net the team a 4 seed.
  47. Placed in the East Regional – the Hoyas get sent back to Columbus, OH where they win their ‘pod’ and advance to the regional finals in…
  48. ……the Carrier Dome. The ride stops in the Round of 16 but the freshman + DSR return for a promising 2015-2016.
  49. Tavaras Hardy departs the staff for a head coaching job at the mid major level. Othella Harrington is promoted to a lead assistant role.
  50. We have a real season again. Saturday.

65 Random Things I’m excited to see.

Duke’s utilization of Okafor.

Kentucky – specifically Ulis pushing Andrew Harrison.

Terry Rozier and if Wayne Blackshear actually has flipped a switch.

Oubre & Alexander get the headlines. But looking forward to D. Graham.

UC Irvine and Luke Nelson.

Vince Hunter.

Rashad Vaughn, Dwayne Morgan and Goodluck O.

Keifer Sykes.

Deshaun Morman & Kevin Johnson.

Aaron Thomas as an under the radar ACC POY candidate.

Does Arizona have enough playmaking and shooting in their backcourt?

D’Angelo Russell.

Norman Powell.

How many points can Joseph Young average?

Terry Larrier.

Robert Johnson & James Blackmon.

JP Tokoto’s defense.

Hield, Cousins and Woodard.

Winston Shepard and SDSU’s team defense.

Trey Lewis and Cleveland State.

AJ English and David Laury.

Jordan Mickey & Jarrell Martin.

Landry Nnoko.

Notre Dame’s offense.

Frank Martin taking a big step forward with SC.

Caris LeVert.


Tyrone Wallace pushing for first team Pac 12.

Georgetown’s freshman.

Tyler Haws.

A Healthy Kris Dunn.

Nebraska’s frontline and defense.

Melo Trimble.

Austin Nichols.

Monte Morris leading ISU’s offense.

Trevor Lacely, Lennard Freeman, Abudl Malik-Abu and a talented NC State team.

Colorado pushing Arizona.

Kourtney Roberson.

If Butler gets back to their roots. Being annoyingly good.

Daniel Mullings.

Isaiah Whitehead, Angel Delgado & Desi Rodriguez.

Myles Mack’s last go-round.

EC Matthews, Jordan Hare, Biruta & URI.

Temple bouncing back with Cummings, Decosey and Bond.


Ousmane Drame.

Auburn and Bruce Pearl.

Marquis Wright.

Reid Travis.

Marcus Foster & Wesley Iwundu.

Cam Ridley.

Ron Baker & Fred VanVleet.

Can Gonzaga finally break through?

Daniel Hamilton.

Markus Kennedy.

Purdue getting back to basics.

Jordan Woodard.

Penn State’s improvement.

Miami transfers + JaQuan Newton.

Cameron Payne.

Villanova’s Top 6.

Detrick Mostella.

The Good and Bad of Josh Smith

As has been reported by, Josh Smith a UCLA transfer is visiting Georgetown this weekend – while rumors have spread the past few weeks about him possibly becoming a Hoya, this certainly points in that direction with a pre-Christmas visit and Smith looking to enroll next semester. If it happens, it’s a roll of the dice by John Thompson III to get involved with Smith, who most say is a very solid young man – he just struggles with his weight and conditioning. The UCLA program of recent years raises enough eyebrows to make you wonder if his career can be salvaged and maybe not only salvaged but eventually flourish again like so many had thought it would coming out of Kentwood High School in Washington. I have no idea if the UCLA program was too enabling or if Smith, and only Smith – is responsible for his struggles. I do know that if JTIII is interested (a calculated man by all accounts) he seems something that can be worked with, both on and off the court.

Smith is a legit 6’10 and I’m guessing his weight has fluctuated for the past 4 years from anywhere from 300lbs to close to 370lbs. What Georgetown or any program can do with Smith’s demons remains to be seen but there will need to be drastic improvements in that area to get the most out of him on the court, particularly on the defensive end. On offense, even out of shape Smith offers a unique skill set and physicality that is rare in college basketball. His ability to gain low post position and utilize good feet with soft hands and a soft touch is hard to find. On top of that, everything that can be seen as far as how he reads the game seems above average. His struggles are almost always attached to being out of shape. He is fatigued easily, gets out of position on defense and at some point you can argue whether or not it is someone giving full (or even close to it) effort on the floor.

I believe as most others would, that Smith looked his best (weight and game wise) during his freshman season when he posted 10.9 points per and 6.3 rebounds in just 21.7 minutes on 55.5% shooting. During that season he had individual games of: 17 and 13 at Kansas, 15 and 8 vs BYU, 19 and 8 vs St. John’s, 17 and 4 vs Arizona, 12 and 16 at Washington and a combined two game effort of 30 points and 9 rebounds against Michigan State and Florida in the NCAA Tournament. The year was a mixed bag, but the good outweighed the bad. His sophomore year came and Smith appeared to actually have gained weight and it was a struggle all season. The return game vs Kansas saw Smith foul out in 13 minutes and score 1 point. The only stand out performance came in a return trip home to Washington in which he posted 24 points and 9 rebounds. The sophomore numbers dipped to 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds and his time on the floor decreased as the Wear Twins became better options. Yes, the Wear Twins. Junior year came and went quickly, as Smith still somehow trending upwards in weight – left the team after six games.

So, what now? Well, it’s again easy to see why JTIII has interest as Smith possesses skills and strength on the low-block that can be of value.

First, we’ll take a look at the good, in particular his ability to carve out space – which I’d argue that Georgetown has not had a player do all that well since Sweetney. Roy, bless his heart was never clearing people out, nor was Greg. They won with height and skill on the block, Smith wins with strength:

Next, some examples of Smith’s ability to pass out of double teams – these are the good examples, however he also has had a problem turning the ball over in these spots. I’d attribute that again to just being out of shape and fatigued on the floor. His instincts of sensing a double and passing out of it are usually correct, the execution can vary. How his passing relates to the high post is anyone’s guess, but I don’t think you would see a black hole with the ball on the block.

Here’s a look at some plays he finishes, Smith has soft hands and is good finishing around the rim – when in shape. Beating a dead horse, but that is really the key. If he can elevate, he’ll score. If not, you see what happens in the second video – struggles to get a shot up but does stick with it.

The above was the good, on defense it’s another story. Smith isn’t quick and really struggles against defending the pick and roll:

He’s not quick enough to hedge hard, and if has to compensate by giving more room- it’s still bad news:

He also can take a bad angle:

And this is what becomes really frustrating, 2nd half of game and Michigan just picks on him. This is where it looks like he stops playing:

This is poor team defense where I can’t fault Smith entirely, but he still isn’t quick enough to react in time:

Here, Smith has the right idea – he just can’t execute well enough and recover:

And I can’t tell you what happened here:

You could live with this, also to note he did look quicker laterally his freshman season:

His attention to detail, effort, conditioning and weight all play a part. It’s ultimately going to be up to him to become committed to the game again and in turn, to the defensive side of the ball.

I think you can sum things up by this last one, Smith carves out space for an offensive rebound and put back – but head down to the other end and he gives it right back:

In the end, I really do believe there is something to work with here, especially with a year off and I’m sure the staff would make it mandatory for Josh to spend his summer in DC. Talented low-block scorers in college right now are so rare that Georgetown potentially having one would be a major asset. His rebounding is also a big positive, particularly on the offensive end where in the III era Georgetown does not get many second chances in most years. How Smith works into the ‘Georgetown’ offense would be interesting as very rarely in his time at UCLA did he ever even enter the high post. Who adjusts to who? Other questions such as where does a spring scholarship come from (Is Adams already a medical hardship?) or is Smith on track to graduate in ’14 (do we only get 1/2 a year out of him if things go really well, or can we cut this thing short if it goes poorly)? – can all be answered in time. For now, I absolutely think it’s a shot worth taking.


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