Georgetown Hoyas search for answers as unfamiliar lineups contribute to losses


John Thompson III’s Hoyas are trying to cope with the absence of Jabril Trawick and Joshua Smith. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

With a season fast unraveling a third of the way through the Big East schedule, the Georgetown men’s basketball team has had precious little time to address several glaring deficiencies before it gets back onto the court Monday night against visiting Marquette.

On Saturday, the Hoyas were trying to decode the reasons behind a second straight performance in which they failed to protect a double-digit lead in the second half and struggled on offense when it counted most in a 67-57 loss to Seton Hall at Verizon Center.

Georgetown did not make a shot from the field for the final 9 minutes 44 seconds and allowed a 38-28 lead with 19 minutes 13 seconds left to disappear for their third loss in four games and first home loss this season.

One game earlier, Georgetown built a 17-point lead over Xavier only to have it evaporate as it went scoreless for the last 6:14 of an 80-67 loss at Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

That fade completed its longest road swing of the season, in which the Hoyas went 1-2. Georgetown’s only win during that stretch was against Butler, which is in second-to-last place in the conference.

“We’re not the same group that we thought we were going to be at this point,” Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said. “That’s not an excuse. That’s real, and now we’ve got to figure out the best way for this group to win.”

The Hoyas are minus two starters who have missed games for different reasons. Junior center Joshua Smith is in the midst of sorting out academic issues, according to school officials, and junior guard Jabril Trawick is nursing a jaw broken in a 70-52 loss to Providence on Jan. 8.

Smith is the Hoyas’ third-leading scorer and first on the team in field goal percentage. Trawick, meanwhile, started the first 14 games and is Georgetown’s fourth-leading scorer.

“Jabril is not going to be back anytime soon,” Thompson III said. “What that means I don’t know, but it’s going to be weeks before he’s back, and we don’t know about Josh. We can and we will figure it out, but we have to adjust everything that we do.”

That includes leaning more heavily on reserves not accustomed to playing extended minutes and asking starters such as senior guard Markel Starks and sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who leads Georgetown (11-6, 3-3 Big East) in scoring, to play 40 minutes in some instances. Starks and Smith-Rivera played 75 minutes combined against Seton Hall after not coming out of the game against Xavier.

The duo shot 7 for 24 against the Pirates and went 1 for 10 from the three-point line. Starks had two points in the second half, and Smith-Rivera missed all five of his attempts from beyond the arc after entering with a shooting percentage of .475 from long range, ranking third in the conference.

“I know in crucial situations there are times when we’ll be called on, where me and Markel have to score the ball,” Smith-Rivera said. “But we have guys on our team who can score as well. We’ve just got to get them in rhythm and get them good looks at the basket and shots that they’re comfortable with.”

Aaron Bowen has been among the reserves receiving more playing time. The senior forward is averaging 17.5 minutes this season but has played at least 25 in three of the last four games, including a career-high 29 against Butler.

Bowen started the second half against Seton Hall in a move Thompson said “just made sense” and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Thompson did not indicate whether Bowen would start against Marquette (10-8, 2-3).

“Obviously the lineups have been a little strange,” said senior forward Nate Lubick, a starter. “Some guys playing more minutes than usual. Some guys just playing in the first place, but yeah, we are getting a little bit of a feel for that. Hopefully these guys and everybody can be able to contribute going forward.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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