Top 50 Tiered

Championship Contenders/Conference Champs: *I won’t be surprised if any of the following leave Houston in early April as the National Champs.

  • North Carolina: Four starters back, and hard to single out anything as a weakness. Marcus Paige should be fully healthy and the interior combo of Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks is as good as it gets. Key: Can Justin Jackson make shots in March? Projected Offensive rating/Defensive rating: 117/95
  • Kentucky: It’s a bet on talent and a pretty safe one given the last decade of Calipari coached teams. The three headed guard attack of Ulis/Briscoe/Murray should be dynamite. Key: Poythress does the dirty work. Projected O/D: 116/93
  • Virginia: They gained experience last year playing without Justin Anderson and now have a utility group in Darius Thompson, Marial Shayok and Isaiah Wilkins to try to replace that production. One of the best starting back courts around with Perrantes and Brogdon. Not many better than Anthony Gill. Key: Small Forward production. Projected O/D: 113/91
  • Kansas: Don’t bet against Bill Self in the regular season, and Self + Phog Allen’s home court advantage is enough to keep Kansas toward the top seed line again. KU has been a 1 or 2 seed 8 of the past 9 years. Deonte Graham should make a jump surrounded by high quality veterans. Key: Can Bragg and Ellis be big enough if Diallo isn’t cleared? Projected O/D: 112/92
  • Oklahoma: Guard play, guard play, guard play. Woodard, Cousins and Hield are as good as any trio in the country. Hield is a NPOY candidate. Ryan Spangler is a solid interior presence. Key: Can Khadeem Lattin be a reliable full-time front court player? Projected O/D: 113/92
  • Villanova: Experienced, well coached and should have one of the better true 5 men in the country in Daniel Ochefu. I’m not sure Kris Jenkins can guard other 4’s in space, so you could see Villanova revert back to small-ball centered around Ochefu with Brunson/Arc/Booth/Hart. Key: Can Brunson replace Hilliard’s production? Projected O/D: 114/96
  • Wichita St: The back court is well known, VanVleet and Baker is an elite pairing. What may be going overlooked is the addition of 5th year senior Anton Grady from Cleveland State. Grady was a 14 and 8 player in 30 minutes last season and should be immediately productive for the Shockers. Key: Can anyone else step up on the frontline, Shaq Morris? Rashard Kelly? Projected O/D: 115/94
  • Maryland: I don’t think they are quite the team people have made them out to be pre-season. There are question marks when you have a team full of different pieces from different places. Two high-profile transfers, a decorated FR looking to be one and done, a PG who turned down the NBA. Chemistry can’t be assumed. But there’s a lot of talent here, and at every spot. Trimble/Suliamon/Layman/Carter/Stone is as balanced in theory as you can have. And also possesses monster size. Key: Everyone falling into place. Projected O/D: 113/95

Regional Final/Final 4 Darkhorses: For one reason or another, I can’t view any of the following actually winning it all. But a strong season or a late March push is certainly in play.

  • Duke: I’m likely in the minority here but I have major questions about point guard and on the interior. Coach K has obviously earned the trust that things will work out – and they likely will but I would be surprised if they repeated this year. I don’t think they planned for Tyus Jones to be one and done and now have an early enrolle at PG in Thornton, and if not him – someone less than fully comfortable in playing that spot. Interior questions are here, too. Brandon Ingram almost certainly will play a lot at the 4 spot to get the most talent on the floor. That only leaves small-framed Amile Jefferson or Plumlee 3.0 at the 5 spot. Key: Plumlee’s growth, Jefferson physically holding up. Projected O/D: 115/97
  • Arizona: Arizona is a tricky bunch this year, if things go right – the talent is there to roll through the Pac 12 again. But a freshman who will take a lot of shots (Trier) coupled with two transfers (Anderson, Tollefsen) makes for an interesting dynamic. Kaleb Tarczewski is a main stay on the interior and Sean Miller should feel comfortable handing over the keys to Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Key: Tollefsen and Anderson successfully stretching the floor. Projected O/D: 112/92
  • Louisville: I’ve seen a few folks down on Louisville this year and while the ongoing scandal doesn’t help – there’s a lot to like on the floor this year. Damion Lee is a big time player and Trey Lewis should prove to be one the better transfers in college basketball as well. Onuaku and Mathiang is an interior combo that is bursting with potential. And remember this: Rick Pitino has had a Top 5 defense in 7 of the last 9 years. Key: Quentin Snider’s development as a lead guard. Projected O/D: 108/89
  • Notre Dame: There’s enough coming back year to partially offset the losses of Grant and Connnaughton. VJ Beachem and Bonzie Colson are both ready to make a leap and Demetrius Jackson looks like a bonafide All American candidate. Zach Auguste should continue to develop and be one of the better big men in the league. Key: VJ Beachem maximizing his potential. 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan and a sweet looking shot. Projected O/D: 116/98
  • Georgetown: There is bias here but hear me out. It’s been a while since JTIII can trot out 5 actual offensive threats with his hybrid Princeton offense. This is a versatile group with a plethora of 6-5 to 6’9 players who can switch in and out positions.The strong freshman class of last year should make significant improvements and DSR is around to lead the way again. Key: Jessie Govan’s conditioning. He has to able to play 25 good minutes. Projected O/D: 113/95
  • Utah: The Utes lost do-it-all guard Delon Wright but return everyone else. While I don’t anticipate the jump most others are expecting from Poeltl, this figures to be a balanced group led by an exceptional coach. The defense will be stingy and there are enough shot makers to keep the offense afloat. Key: Finding someone who can make a play for a teammate. Projected O/D: 110/92
  • Indiana: If you’re looking for a spaced floor and tons of points to follow, this is it. Indiana will play 4 out to go along with FR big man Thomas Bryant. The outside 4 of Yogi, Robert Johnson, Blackmon and Troy Williams is a dynamic group. All 4 can handle the ball and at least the first three (with Troy pending) can shoot it extremely well. Perhaps the best offense in the country. Key: Troy Williams’ decision making. Projected O/D: 117/92
  • Gonzaga: Not as high as others on the Zags due to guard play. The security blanket of Pangos is gone as well as the steady hand of Gary Bell. The bigs are awesome but can you play more than two at a time? Key: Young guards getting up to speed. Projected O/D: 111/94
  • Iowa St: Likely in the top tier had Fred Hoiberg not departed for the Bulls. Steve Prohm inherits a loaded roster with strong leaders in Niang and Morris. Jameel McKay likely figures to continue to grow as an interior force that ISU has not had lately. Key: Can defense improve? Projected O/D: 114/97
  • Michigan St: The best shooting team that Tom Izzo has had in quite some time – even if his point guard can’t shoot a lick. Forbes, Harris and Valentine figure to start 2-4 and all are major threats from 3 point range. The trio of Costello, Schilling and FR Deyonta Davis have to replace what Branden Dawson left with (elite rebounding and defense), if they do..Izzo will be alive late in March again. Key: The bigs. Projected O/D: 111/95
  • Michigan: If Indiana isn’t the best offense in the country, it could be a fellow B10 school. Walton/Levert/Dawkins/Irvin should be a devastating quartet on the offensive end given they stay healthy. This is the type of roster make up that Beilein will excel with. Key: Staying healthy, Ricky Doyle’s improvement. Projected O/D: 113/98
  • Vanderbilt: Speaking of offense, Kevin Stallings should have his humming again in Nashville. Nearly everyone returns and elite shooting surrounds All SEC big man Damian Jones. The list of shooters from 3: LaChance (38%), Baldwin (44%), Fisher-Davis (41%) and Kornet (41%) – quite the group. The team posted an offensive rating of 113 last seasons and an already excellent mark will be improved on. Key: Perimeter defense and somebody helping Jones on the boards. Projected O/D: 115/99

Sweet 16 Caliber: This group should be solid throughout the year. Should set up shop in the 4-7 seed range.

  • Baylor: Baylor will miss Kenny Cherry and the ability to play two point guards but the returning frontline should make up for any shortcomings. Prince, Gathers and Motley is a versatile trio with high-end athleticism. Gathers is perhaps the best rebounder inch-for-inch in the country and Prince garnered a lot of NBA buzz this summer. Key: Can Allerik Freeman be the secondary ballhandler the Bears need? Projected O/D: 110/94
  • Miami: Four starters back and the addition of transfer Kamari Murphy sets up the ‘Canes for a solid season. Not many are better than Coach L and this team is to his liking. Multiple ball screens with a good host of shooters surrounding it. Jekiri provides one of the more reliable big men in the ACC, McClellan is one of the best two way guards nobody talks about. Key: Angel Rodriguez not being a hero. Projected O/D: 110/96
  • Butler: The ‘Butler way’ should be spiced up a bit this year. Tyler Lewis, a senior Kellen Dunham and an improved Kelan Martin should provide Butler with more offensive punch than it has had in years past. Roosevelt Jones is still around to do Butler dirty-work. One concern is replacing the defense that Kameron Woods provided. Key: Martin turning from gunner to an efficient offensive weapon. Projected O/D: 107/93
  • Syracuse: It feels as if everyone has fallen asleep on Syracuse after a down year and self-imposed post-season ban. Yet four starters return and there should be excitement around a freshman class headlined by Tyler Lydon and Franklin Howard. The defense should feature the traditional Syracuse length we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Key: Who is the point guard? DaJuan Coleman’s health. Projected O/D: 108/94
  • Purdue: Matt Painter found his program’s identity again last year. Tough, physical with the ability to grind out games in the B10. There is a wealth of talent inside with Hammons, Swanigan and Haas – yet also the ability to play small with Vince Edwards at the 4. Key: Someone besides Kendall Stephens making shot. Projected O/D: 109/94
  • SMU*: Not eligible for the post-season, SMU has on paper the quality of a Sweet 16 ball-club. You have to worry if next-town Brown isn’t overly motivated with the sanctions but he owes it to the returning group. Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy provides one of the better inside-out combos in the country. Key: Keith Frazier’s development. Projected O/D: 111/96

Low Ceiling, High Floor: Identities are in place. Players know their roles.

  • Wisconsin: There’s a lot to replace here but Bo Ryan always finds a way. They’re going to be efficient, win nearly every home game and maximize whatever they have. Wash, rinse, repeat. Key: Ryan is still motivated. Projected O/D: 112/97
  • Texas: With one exception hereI’m siding more with the talent remaining on the roster more than Shaka Smart being the force around a turnaround. He has a system and I’m not sure this roster fits it all that well. But, Smart is well…smart enough to at least adjust bits and pieces. Taylor, Ridley, Holland is a good trio to start with. Even with Myles Turner gone, they should defend the rim at a high level. Key: Taylor’s health. Projected O/D: 109/94
  • Xavier: Chris Mack’s teams are always lurking in March. Even with losing their starting PG and hub of their offense in big man, Matt Stainbrook –  it’s hard to bet against the Musketeers. A solid group of wings with improving big man Jalen Reynolds should produce a top four team in the Big East. Key: Someone grabbing hold of the PG spot. Projected O/D: 111/96
  • San Diego State: They’ll suffocate you defensively and suffocate themselves on the other end. Can’t score and most nights don’t need to. The defense is elite and will remain that way. SDSU’s defense forced 18.6% of attempts to go beyond 30 seconds – the new shot clock should be a benefit to their team defense more than anyone. Key: Can Malik Pope make the jump? Projected O/D: 103/89
  • Oregon: Oregon may not be able to replace what Joe Young gave them – but getting Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis was a pretty good start. Those two will pair with a front-court of Brooks, Benjamin, Cook and Bell to give the Ducks a top six that is rock solid. Key: Dorsey carrying over his play from the summer. Projected O/D: 112/100
  • Cincinnati: See SDSU. But one exception, there should be more offensive punch here with the duo of Gary Clark and Octavius Ellis inside. All 5 starters return, along with Mick Cronin. Projected O/D: 105/91
  • Iowa: Iowa appears to be the forgotten member of the B10 this year. While Aaron White is a big loss, the return of Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury and Jared Uthoff is a strong trio of upperclassmen. Iowa will likely deploy two quality ball-handlers at all times with Anthony Clemmons next to Gesell and Peter Jok may be in line for a breakout season. Key: Uthoff becoming an All B10 caliber player. Projected O/D: 110/96
  • Providence: Kris Dunn slots the Friars here. With a player that good (the best, in my opinion), there’s only so many games that you won’t be in. He’ll keep them afloat on off nights and steal a game here or there they have no business winning. Ed Cooley can also coach ’em up, a common theme in this tier. Key: Rodney Bullock helping Ben Bentil inside. Projected O/D: 109/98
  • West Virginia: Bob Huggins has a system in place now. After a few middling years, Huggins is going out on his own terms. Pressure and bodies in waves. I’ve seen few things in college basketball like last year’s Mountaineers. By far the leaders in forcing turnovers but a wretched defense if that wasn’t the case. They couldn’t shoot on the other end but hammered the boards. It feels like regardless of the names on the back, the name on the front has an identity now. Key: Replacing the playmaking of Staten. Projected O/D: 107/95

High Ceiling, Low Floor: You can’t give up on them until it’s over.

  • LSU: There’s a very good chance Ben Simmons is one of the three best players in college basketball, if not the best. Antonio Blakeney is a high-level scoring guard and Tim Quarterman is a do-it-all 6’6 PG who is generating NBA talk. But, it’s hard to look at a team who just last season had two NBA forwards and stumbled to an 11-7 SEC record as being a sure thing. Johnny Jones leaves a lot of tactical work to be desired, but if Simmons has his supporting cast fall into place, watch out. Key: Can Elbert Robinson be a serviceable body for 15-20 minutes? Projected O/D: 110/96
  • Cal: I’m not buying this, not yet. Cal has quite a bit of talent between Wallace, Bird, Rabb and Brown but it’s talent that Cuonzo Martin has never had – and I’m not sure his ability to coach offense will mesh well with a such a group. Wallace turned down the NBA and now has two McDonald AA’s that will want the ball, and numbers. Key: Putting Jaylen Brown in the right spots. He should be a stretch 4 for this team. Projected O/D: 109/97
  • NC State: There’s likely a team in this group that struggles throughout the year but then things come together for a weekend in March and the year turns into a success. It feels like that team has been NC State for the last 4 seasons. Again boasting a talented roster, especially up front with Abdul Malik-Abu, Lennard Freeman and BJ Anya the Wolfpack should be improved defensively and protect the rim as well as anyone in the ACC. Key: Cat Barber’s keeps improving. It’s totally on his shoulders now with Trevor Lacey gone. Projected O/D: 111/98
  • Uconn: 5th year grad transfers have been a blessing for a lot of college teams, and I would expect the same to be the case here for Uconn and Sterling Gibbs. It’s his back-court partner that I’ve never been high on. Rodney Purvis is likely to be pushed for playing time by Jalen Adams – and in an ideal scenario Adams moves Gibbs off the ball where he’s most comfortable. Daniel Hamilton has to refine his game but he Amida Brimah are NBA talents. Key: Another guard or wing who can make shots outside of Gibbs. Projected O/D: 108/96
  • Florida St: A lot of bodies on the perimeter but a lot of talent, too. There’s a bit too much of a one-track mind with the Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon pairing for my liking – it may take a Montay Brandon or Terrance Mann upping their game to provide a necessary balance among the scorers. But there is plenty of talent and if Leonard Hamilton gets the ‘Noles defending near the level of some of his past teams, it’s a dangerous bunch. Key: Chemistry in the back court. Projected O/D: 110/97
  • Texas A&M: I do not believe Anthony Collins is anyone’s answer to a point guard problem. But a strong freshman class coupled with the return of Danuel House could turn Texas A&M into a tough out late in the season. Key: Is House’s shooting from 3 sustainable? Projected O/D: 107/96

Likely a Year Away:

  • Ohio State: Young but talented. No seniors and only one junior (Marc Loving). The Buckeyes will take their lumps this year but Thad Matta should keep the group competitive. JaQuan Lyle inherits D’Angelo Russell’s spot and JaSean Tate is an ultimate winner. Key: Grow up quickly. Projected O/D: 108/95
  • Marquette: The trouble here is that ‘one year away’ may mean that there best player is gone. Henry Ellenson is a FR who should be in line to be selected in the lottery next June. He’s a 6’10 versatile forward who can play inside and out. He should put together an impressive FR campaign. The good news for Marquette is that there are no scholarship seniors on the roster. Wojo is laying the groundwork and a solid 2015-2016 season will provide a springboard into next year. For now, the bubble is probably where they end up. Key: Young guard play. Projected O/D: 106/96
  • South Carolina: Slowly but surely, Frank Martin keeps chipping away. The Gamecocks have gone from 4 SEC wins to 5 to 6 in his first three seasons. There should be a greater jump this year as South Carolina emerged defensively last year, posting a defensive rating that was good enough for 26th nationally (94.3). With the addition of PJ Dozier and Sindarius Thornwell breaking out of his sophomore slump, the offense should experience an uptick as well. Almost there. Key: Thornwell shooting the ball to his ability. Projected O/D: 106/94
  • Pitt: Pitt should be in the hunt for an NCAA bid this season again. Four starters return including SR point guard James Robinson and JR’s Jamel Artis and Mike Young. This is a bet on the latter two. Young and Artis should be one of the better tandems perhaps as early as this year, but if not – certainly in their SR seasons. Key: Fixing (even marginally) a dreadful defense. Adjusted O/D: 112/101

Mid Major Wreckers: The best bets to make it through the first weekend from the lower ranks.

  • Boise St: Gone is perhaps the most under-appreciated player in college basketball, Derrick Marks. Returning are 3 other starters along with All-MWC performer Anthony Drmic from injury. As for Marks, there is a new point guard in Boise by the name of Paris Austin, and he won’t be a sleeper for long. James Webb is an NBA pick next June. Key: Austin’s transition to the college game. Projected O/D: 109/97
  • Valpo: There’s a good chance Bryce Drew is linked to many of the top openings in college basketball next spring. Drew has made the NCAA Tournament twice in four years to go with a 49-17 Horizon league record. With a team full of starters returning from a narrow loss to Maryland in last year’s tournament, the Crusaders would be my best bet to advance a round or two this season from the mid major ranks. Key: Only poor health or bad luck in the conference tournament would disrupt a team on this pace. Projected O/D: 107/95
  • Rhode Island: Dan Hurley has things rolling and this year should provide a breakthrough for the Rams. E.C Maththews is a top lead guard in all of college basketball. The Rams elite defense is centered around Hassan Martin – who despite his 6’7 height is one of the best shot blockers in the country. Key: In need of shooting, desperately. Projected O/D: 102/90
  • Davidson: A team not in need of any additional shooting is Bob McKillop’s bunch. Four starters return to form a deadly offensive group. Jack Gibbs is no Steph Curry, but he may turn into the best thing Davidson has had since 2009. Key: Defending the interior. 298th in opponent 2PT % last year. Projected O/D: 114/102
  • Utah St: Time will tell how the Utah State program maintains after the retirement of legend Stew Morrill, but the transition year should be a good one. Long time assistant Tim Duryea inherits a loaded Aggies squad with all 5 starters returning. Do everything forward Jalen Moore leads the way on a team sure to improve on last year’s 11-7 MWC record. Key: Defensive rebounding. A defense that was 52nd in opponent efG% finished 166th overall largely in part to second chances. Projected O/D: 108/100

DSR: Year In Review

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is an elite college guard on the offensive end. Sure, there are limitations physically but DSR checks out as above average to elite in too many offensive categories to brush him off as a product of Georgetown’s system. DSR ranked 1st in the Big East in: Win Shares, Offensive Win Shares and Offensive Rating. DSR also checked in at 7th in Player Efficiency Rating during the 2014-2015 season. In the JTIII era, only Jonathan Wallace in 2008 (121.8, playing off of Roy Hibbert) had a higher offensive rating than DSR the past two seasons (120.6 in ’14, 120.8 in ’15).


DSR’s shot making ability is well known – and the above chart displays that he has virtually no weaknesses playing out of the hybrid Princeton offense that Georgetown employs. His shots come mostly from 3pt range – 49.9% of DSR’s total field goal attempts came from 3 point range. DSR is rock solid with his mechanics on his jumper. Every release (given an opening) is the same:

His release is not the quickest but certainly isn’t a hindrance:

It sure felt like DSR was pressing a bit early on last year on when to shoot, when to pass and overall how to fit into being a full-time point guard. (thoughts of NBA?) He did eventually settle in to his role and shot the ball better late:

Pre-Christmas DSR: 

12-44 from 3 (27.2%)

Post- Christmas DSR:

60-142 from 3 (42.2%)

If DSR didn’t shoot as poorly early on, the Kansas game is almost certainly a win and possibly the game against Butler in the Bahamas. If there’s a concern with DSR, it’s this. He tries to press while trying to prove something. There is little doubt that the NBA (or Europe) is on his mind, DSR has to recognize that he can’t force the issue and can’t be someone who he is not – and he did this exceptionally well throughout the meat of the Big East season last year. We all know what DSR is at this point. Fairly high volume, highly efficient shooter that limits mistakes. He’s not getting taller or more explosive, and a breakthrough improvement to another level shouldn’t be expected. But small, incremental improvements are the hope – and getting a totally flushed out finished product – which I believe DSR became during January and February last season is the goal.

Where DSR walked a fine line last year was finding a good shot – and the value of a good or great shooter taking a bad shot. To his credit, DSR is already a selective shooter and offensive player in general, but with more talent around him this year there are a few shots he should turn down:

But make no mistake, that is a difficult line in the sand to draw with a player who can and has made difficult shots. And let’s be honest about it, the Georgetown offense is known to stagnate from time to time. Having a player like DSR who can bail you out is a luxury at times:

It’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t have a fairly green light from JTIII this season. With that trust, he has to make the right decisions. Sometimes it will be being a bit selfish, and at other times – run the offense. It’s a make or miss game and with a player whose game is centered around shooting the ball well – it’s more prevalent with DSR than most. You hope that DSR isn’t cold often but with the 2015-2016 Hoyas there should be enough offensive punch to offset a cold night, which has plagued the program in his first three years:

In 64 wins: 44% from the floor, 42% from 3.

In 33 losses: 40% from the floor, 31% from 3.

The big question surrounding DSR last year was if he could handle the responsibilities of being a full time lead guard. While DSR still didn’t create for teammates at a high rate (not many PG’s will in this offense) he did take care of the ball extremely well. DSR only had a turnover rate of 12.6%, second best on the team and led the Big East among starting point guards:

  • Barlow – 22.5%
  • Dunn – 24.8%
  • Jordan – 21%
  • Davis – 22.%
  • Gibbs – 14.8%
  • Garrett – 19.5%
  • Chatman – 17.5%
  • Carlino – 17.8%
  • Arcidiacono – 14.6%

DSR isn’t asked to put as much pressure on defenses off the bounce or operate in as many pick and rolls as other point guards but his ability to limit turnovers should not be taken for granted. If there was a next step that he’s looking to make offensively, it can be by putting more pressure on defenses with his dribble. DSR possesses a nice hesitation game, it’s difficult for a defender to speed him up – he goes at his own pace:

I want to see DSR get his foot in the paint and take that one extra step to help draw a defender or look to score. Again, it’s hard to criticize anyone for limiting turnovers and mistakes but sometimes DSR lets some openings pass by. With the reduced shot clock, it may be worth it to turn up the aggressiveness:

One more step here with a 7FT’er on you and you might free up a wide open look for Paul White:

Nearly the identical situation:

Your shot may not be the one that gets created or even the 2nd option (the roll man here) but by probing it opens up other things:

Also in the full court, opportunity to push into a 3 on 2 isn’t taken:

Creates his own numbers here by pushing:

If the early season schedule wasn’t such a challenge, I’d almost hope for a DSR experiment early on to see how aggressive he can be as a playmaker and the results that are produced. That likely won’t happen and I’ll gladly sign up for the January-March version of DSR we had in 2015. We should be looking for a player who has near mastery of the offense and minor adjustments – turning down a shot here, taking the ball a step further here- can make for a better offense.

On the other side, DSR has held up better than most had thought coming out of high school. There were fractions of the Georgtown fan-base who would have passed on DSR due to size and ability defensively, and that seems awfully silly now. He doesn’t take the toughest perimeter assignment (Peak or Trawick last year, almost certainly Peak this year), he offers little length to disrupt offensive teams or individual players – but there is something to be said for being in the right spot and DSR often is. Not to mention his ability to help out on the defensive glass, which he’s done better than any Hoya guard since Jessie Sapp. All you want from a senior is simple – do your job. Help when help is needed and follow the scouting report. The only tweak I’d make is that I’d like to see DSR go under more screens this year. It won’t be an option against a team like Maryland and Melo Trimble but against most of the schedule I think it’s the way to go.

This just feels more comfortable:

Than this:

Without great recovery speed or length, DSR simply has to be on his P’s and Q’s at all times defensively. Once again, as a senior you hope that to be the case.

All totaled, you’re looking at one of only 10 players in Division 1 that are returning who averaged at least 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. With a 500 point season (almost a lock), DSR will turn into Georgetown’s 5th All-Time leading scorer and will finish either 1st or 2nd in All-Time three pointers made. DSR has had a game that you can often take for granted, there’s nothing sexy about it, it offers few highlights and it is not pulling you out of your seat. But the meat and potatoes of his game produce results and will continue to do so. This isn’t Iverson. Or Sleepy Floyd. Maybe not even Charles Smith. But don’t take it for granted this year. This isn’t a product of the system, this a guy who is damn good.

All Things Big East


Projected Order of Finish:

  1. Villanova (14-4)
  2. Georgetown (13-5)
  3. Butler (11-6)
  4. Xavier (11-7)
  5. Marquette (10-8)
  6. Providence (9-9)
  7. Creighton (7-11)
  8. Seton Hall (6-12)
  9. DePaul (6-12)
  10. St. John’s (3-13)

Player of the Year:

Kris Dunn

Coach of the Year:

Steve Wojciechowski

Rookie of the Year:

Henry Ellenson

Defensive Player of the Year:

Daniel Ochefu

Most Improved:

Ben Bentil & Kelan Martin

6th Man of the Year:

J.P. Macura

First Team Big East:

G- Kris Dunn

G- D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera

G – Kellen Dunham

F –  Henry Ellenson

C – Daniel Ochefu

Second Team Big East:

G- Jalen Brunson

G- Mo Watson

F – Roosevelt Jones

F – Jalen Reynolds

C – Angel Delgado

Third Team Big East:

G – Duane Wilson

G – Ryan Arcidiacono

F – Josh Hart

F – Isaac Copeland

F – Myke Henry

All Rookie Team: 

G – Traci Carter

G – Jalen Brunson

G – Federico Mussini

F – Justin Patton

C – Jessie Govan

All Defensive Team:

G- Kris Dunn

G – L.J. Peak

F – Josh Hart

F – Roosevelt Jones

C – Daniel Ochefu

Hot Seat Rankings: 

  1. Kevin Willard 5 seasons – 0 winning Big East seasons and 1 NIT berth. After last season’s implosion and the loss of a pair of starting guards to transfer, Willard is relying on his 2014 recruiting class (Whitehead, Delgado, Carrington, Rodriguez) to save his job. Willard is the run away winner here. Any more dysfunction and Seton Hall will have to go in another direction.

That’s it. You could argue Greg McDermott has something to prove without his son or that DePaul may reverse course quickly on the Dave Leitao hire but the other 9 coaches vary from a cool seat to a freezing one. Jay Wright, JTIII and Chris Mack aren’t going anywhere and if they did, it’d be by being hired away (And that only applies to Wright and Mack.) Ed Cooley, Chris Mullin, Wojo and Holtmann have full and total support and would take a handful of years of failing to end up losing their current position.

This is what made the league a success last year and what has it on solid footing moving forward. While they may not be the most charismatic group and there are deep tournament runs missing from most – they are without question solid coaches running solid programs. They also have shown the ability to sell the conference to recruits, which has to be the lifeblood of the conference moving forward. Top end talent (Brunson, Ellenson) needs to be had and groomed into NBA talent.

Black Hat Rankings:

  1. Ryan Arcidiacono – The reigning Co-POY (the biggest voting travesty ever). Likely only Villanova’s 4th best player this year but will made out to only be second fiddle to Dunn in the conference.
  2. J.P. Macura – You would like him if he’s on your team, I guess. Found in multiple squabbles but it’s never his fault.
  3. Roosevelt Jones – Seems like a nice kid. Top competiror in the league. But wow, he is the most awkwardly effective basketball player I’ve seen in sometime. It is excruciating to watch him beat your team off the dribble (he can only go one way) and throw up garbage that goes in.
  4. Luke Fischer – It became apparent of why he chose Indiana. Tom Crean must have sold him on being the second Cody Zeller – turning his 6’10 frame into 6’4 as he flings himself into defenders.
  5. Amar Alibegobic – I’ve yet to encounter anyone with that hair style that I’ve enjoyed being around.
  6. Jalen Reynolds – Mr. Tough Guy. I won’t say more, because he scares me too.
  7. Ben Bentil – A sleeper pick. Anyone who has the shot mechanics of a 40% free throw shooter yet shoots 70% will never not be annoying.
  8. Isiah Whitehead – It was even infuriating as an outside observer to watch him blow up the Seton Hall team last year. I kinda think he figures things out this year, though. If not, the Hall and his attitude could go south in a hurry.
  9. Andrew Chrabascz – Looks like a walk-on. After 40 minutes, he has 13 points and hit two crucial threes.
  10. Myke Henry – A herky jerky game. Too big for your 3 man, too quick for your 4 man. When you give a game away to DePaul or they push into a close one in which your fan-base panics – he’s likely the guy (sneakily) behind it.

Random Stats:

The 30 second shot clock doesn’t appear that it will affect the conference. However, Butler was the slowest offense at 18.8 seconds per possession. Georgetown slowed teams down the best defensively – 12.1% of possessions went 30 seconds or longer. Under their old staff, St. John’s had the quickest offense in the league at 16.8 seconds.

Xavier finished at the rim the best – in non transition attempts at the rim Xavier posted a 60.9 FG%. We’ll see if that maintains with Matt Stainbrook gone.

Who had really good offense that nobody would have guessed? DePaul. Blue Demons had an eFG% of 50.8 in the half court. Good for 3rd in the conference.

The worst in both finishing at the rim and eFG% in the half court? Not surprisingly, Seton Hall. Filled with guards who may have had internal jealousy, the Hall posted an eFG% mark of 45.7%. At the rim? A paltry 51.9%.

Not a surprise that the Top 3 teams at forcing jump shots were two pack-line teams (Xavier and Creighton) and a primary zone team (Marquette). Despite their defensive struggles, only 27.3% of shots against Creighton were attempted at the rim. 30.4 for Marquette and 32.5 for Xavier.

Who protected the rim the best? Two of the top three overall defenses – Georgetown and Villanova. Georgetown only allowed 48.6% at the rim and ‘Nova finished at 51.6%. Villanova with Ochefu likely is at the top this year as Georgetown has to replace Mikael Hopkins and Josh Smith.

Less surprising was DePaul surrendering a 64.3% mark at the rim. A whole 5 percentage points worse than the next team (Xavier).

Random Predictions:

The Big East has two of the Top 8 picks in the 2016 NBA Draft: Kris Dunn and Henry Ellenson.

Kevin Willard is fired after the Big East Tournament. If the administration knows what they’re doing, they hand a blank check to alum Dan Hurley.

The Big East sends 6 teams to the NCAA Tournament again: Villanova, Georgetown, Butler, Xavier, Providence and Marquette. The latter two sweat it out on Selection Sunday.

Georgetown and Villanova both make it out of the first weekend. For Georgetown, the first time since 2007. For ‘Nova, first time since 2009. As the torch-bearers of the league, they need to as well.

College Basketball media will find some reason to give POY awards to people not named Kris Dunn. Even if he carries a terrible team to a post-season berth…and actually plays elite defense.

Wojo proves to really know what he’s doing. Emerges as the front-runner as eventual Coach K replacement.

Fox Sports still can’t get it right digitally. Chromecast capability and archived games – please make it happen. On television, it’s still a good product and the hire of Steve Lavin is an excellent one.

The niceties are over. New rivalries that have had seeds planted continue to grow, notably – Xavier vs well..maybe everyone vs Xavier? Does anyone like them? Wojo is bound to find the hatred of multiple fan-bases, maybe a coach or two as well. In a 10 team league and a round robin – things are bound to get testy sooner than later.

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera leads the conference in scoring, Angel Delgado in rebounding and Kris Dunn in assists.

The over/under on Kris Dunn triple doubles for the season is 4.5

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.