Anyone who follows Georgetown basketball closely knows not to expect too many extended surges of elegance. Even so, the last two games have been particularly raw.
"We still have to learn to handle the ball better," Coach Craig Esherick said after a 73-63 victory over Marist yesterday at MCI Center. "We are turning the ball over, really, without any pressure."
During a victory that was more dramatic than necessary over Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday, the Hoyas had 32 turnovers. They had 13 in the first half yesterday, 19 in all and just six assists. Still, the point guard play of Georgetown's Kevin Braswell (24 points on 14 shots with six steals) and Marist's Sean Kennedy (12 assists, 3 of 5 three-point attempts) was exceptional.
"That's the best, the smartest game Kevin has played since he has been at Georgetown," Esherick said of the versatile sophomore. "It's the first time he's been able to mix passing, scoring and running the team the entire game. . . . That is extremely important, because we're not going to have a good team unless Kevin is able to play the position well."
This was a different take on Braswell than Esherick had following the Bethune-Cookman game, when he sat Braswell down for a blunt one-on-one.
"He basically criticized everything I did," Braswell said. "Constructive criticism. It was the first time me and him watched film together. He told me to be smart, how to control tempo, be patient and get a good shot. You saw what happened when [Marist] made that run. We slowed it down, got the ball inside. And good things happened."
Those good things included the Hoyas (5-3) making the foul shots necessary to pull away after Marist got to within 67-63 on a foul shot by center Tom Kenney with 78 seconds left. Freshmen Demetrius Hunter and Victor Samnick, Anthony Perry (17 points) and Braswell then combined for six foul shots and the defense, helped by two Marist misses on fairly decent chances, pitched a shutout.
The most important field goal down the stretch was a three-pointer by Perry from the left baseline with 4 minutes 3 seconds left that pushed the Hoyas' lead to 61-56 after Kennedy hit a three from out front.
"I'm really disappointed with the way we finished," Marist Coach Dave Magarity said. "[Kennedy] had 12 assists. He should have had 20."
Magarity was referring to the times Kennedy burst by Hunter and fed Kenney or some other Red Fox player for a good shot--and then watched as the ball slid off the rim and into a Georgetown player's hands.
The Hoyas got away with playing small forward Nat Burton for just 16 minutes. He still has not recovered from a foot injury suffered during the Maui Invitational about five weeks ago. Hunter started and Samnick and another freshman, Courtland Freeman, were on the court during most of the final several minutes.
Ruben Boumtje Boumtje was in the starting lineup for the first time since injuring his left foot in late August and began slowly. But he made 7 of 10 foul shots, had 15 points and blocked three shots while playing more (31 minutes) than in any other game this season.
Georgetown led nearly the entire game, but rarely by more than a few points. The Red Foxes (5-4) pulled ahead 49-48 on a three-pointer by Kennedy, but Boumtje Boumtje and Braswell led a 10-4 Hoya run.
"This is the time of year that scares me to death, because it's our exam period," Esherick said. "You don't know how much guys have been staying up. You don't know if they're worried about a test they're going to have [today] or Tuesday, or a paper that might be due."