Seeking consistency, quirky Hoyas host Syracuse
Georgetown's performance this season has been similar to that of a street-corner watch.
There have been nights when the No. 10 Hoyas have looked as good as a Rolex. On other occasions, Georgetown has performed as poorly as a cheap timepiece, sputtering to a halt without a moment's notice.
``It is frustrating to the coach and I think it is frustrating to the guys also,'' coach John Thompson III said. ``We just have to make sure as we go forward we limit that - have a little more of a steady flow instead of the ups and downs.''
The Hoyas have lost to Old Dominion, South Florida and, most recently, Rutgers on Sunday. They have also defeated highly regarded Duke, Villanova and Pittsburgh.
Which team will show up Thursday night at home in a Big East showdown with fifth-ranked Syracuse?
``Hopefully the latter as opposed to the former,'' Thompson said. ``But then we have to go on the court and do it, go on the court and show it.''
When the defense is sound and the offense active, the Hoyas (18-6, 8-5) can beat any team in the nation. Villanova lost only once before Georgetown cruised to 103-90 victory on Feb. 6. Only three days earlier, the Hoyas lost at home to South Florida.
Three days after blowing past Villanova, Georgetown defeated Providence on the road. But, just when it appeared that the Hoyas had shaken free from their up-and-down existence, they played a clunker against a Rutgers team that entered 3-9 in the Big East.
``It just goes to show that there are a lot of good teams out there. Rankings or what people say may not always show it, but there are good teams and good teams can beat you,'' guard Chris Wright said. ``Rutgers played well. They were the better team that day.''
Wright, however, acknowledged that there has been a common thread in games in which the Hoyas have been upset victims.
``I would say on the defensive end,'' Wright said. ``I'm not taking anything away from Rutgers or any team that we lost to, but in the games that we lost, we have mental lapses where we just don't make the stops we need to make. It's part of the growing process, and it's part of what we are going through as a team.''
Georgetown does not have a senior on the roster, so Thompson can only hope the team will steady itself as it matures. At this point, though, he has no legitimate explanation for the Hoyas' consistent inconsistency.
``I don't think there is a pattern other than that there is a pattern that we need to break,'' he said. ``I don't think there is a specific thing where you can look at and say in all these games we didn't do X. We just have to make sure that in every aspect of the game we are better, every game.''
Doing so against Syracuse would be a good start. The Orange (24-2, 11-2) won 11 straight before falling at home to Louisville on Sunday, but they're still a Top 5 team and beat Georgetown by 17 last month. The Hoyas know they'll have to be at their best to win, and when that happens, they're tough to beat.
Georgetown has yet to lose two in a row. After every one of those surprise defeats, the Hoyas have rebounded with a solid performance.
``We need to find a way to keep our focus,'' sophomore center Greg Monroe said. ``I really wish we could just play some games that don't count, lose them so we can come out before every game with that intensity and that focus. I don't think it's that hard; you just have to do it. It's not something you have to practice. Everybody has to get mentally prepared and understand that the same focus and intensity that they bring against the better teams, they have to bring to every team.''
Getting up for Syracuse won't be an issue. The names have changed over the years (except for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim), but the rivalry remains one of the fiercest in college basketball.
``Yeah, it's big,'' Wright said. ``I've been in this area my whole life. You see on ESPN Classic all the great games, the Pearl Washingtons, the Patrick Ewings, Charles Smith, Sherman Douglas.
``It's fun to be a part of it and it's something I really cherish. It's an honor to play in a game like this, to be a part of history,'' he said. ``I'm sure it's going to be electric.''