"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, October 09, 2023

Georgetown Preview, 2023-24

Georgetown Hoyas

December 22, 2023 at Fiserv Forum and February 3, 2024 at Capital One Arena

Head Coach: Ed Cooley (334-221 overall, 0-0 at Georgetown)

Three-Year NET Average: 169.7

Three-Year kenpom Average: 152.3

Projected 2023-24 T-Rank: 156

Projected Starters: PG Jayden Epps (6'2" So), SG Jay Heath (6'3" 5th), SF Wayne Bristol, Jr (6'6" Sr), PF Ismael Massoud (6'9" 5th), C Supreme Cook (6'9" Sr)

The story of the summer was Ed Cooley flipping from Providence to Georgetown

Photo from guhoyas.com

Georgetown finally pulled the plug on the disastrous Patrick Ewing era after six years that resulted in one winning season (2018-19) and one NCAA bid (2021) despite never finishing above .500 in Big East play. Whether by metrics (#219 per kenpom) or record (7-25 / 2-18 Big East) the Hoyas were the worst team in the league last year. Out from that team goes not just Ewing, but seven of the top eight scorers. Of course, the big news was Ed Cooley leaving league rival Providence to take over Georgetown, and bringing in prominent transfers and freshmen alike.

Cooley's team will be led by Illinois transfer Jayden Epps. He's a former top-50 recruit that was expected to be integral to the Illini before his departure. The leading returning scorer is Jay Heath, a strong guard that has averaged double-digit scoring in all four years as a collegian, has a clean stroke from three, and is a competent secondary ball-handler, though he's never played on a team with a winning record at Boston College, Arizona State, or Georgetown. Wayne Bristol is the other significant returning option. The wing saw his role and efficiency increase in conference play, highlighted by a 16-point performance at Fiserv Forum. Perhaps the most memorable transfer addition is Ismael Massoud, who was last seen torching Michigan State in the Sweet 16 as part of Kansas State's Elite Eight team. Massoud was a reserve for the Wildcats but has a sweet stroke, a Big East body, and plenty of high-major experience at KSU and Wake Forest. Supreme Cook will man the middle. The big man comes by way of Fairfield, the same program Cooley coached before he joined Providence. Cook is an excellent rebounder and plays at his best against high-level competition. Cooley's bench will likely go at least three deep, with transfers Rowan Brumbaugh (Texas) and Dontrez Styles (North Carolina) providing guard and wing depth while 7'2" Ryan Mutombo rotates with Cook.

Cooley likes to run a flex offense where he puts multiple shooters on the perimeter to space the floor and open up room to feed his bigs inside. He tends to put a lot of trust in his point guard, which in the past has turned guys like Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, Kris Dunn, Kyron Cartwright, and Jared Bynum into stars. Expect Epps to have the ball in his hands a lot, feeding it to shooters on the wings and pounding it in to the bigs when their shooters can draw defenders out of the paint. Defensively, Cooley has changed how he did things. He hasn't had the ballhawks in recent years that his old teams did, so they focused on challenging shots and limiting second chances while prioritizing defending without fouling. This team is closer to his recent Providence teams, so expect them to focus more on protecting the rim and cleaning the glass rather than the high pressure system he previously employed.

In terms of what to expect for this upcoming season, it's impossible not to imagine Georgetown will be better under Cooley than they were under Ewing. The players he brought in generally came from winning programs and this looks far more like a Big East roster. That said, this likely isn't emblematic of the talent level Cooley hopes to attract to the Hilltop. It should be a capable team that works hard and scraps for better results than the individual players might indicate, which is a Cooley hallmark, but it will take time for his team to develop and this is still a team closer to the bottom of the league than even the middle. There's certainly a light on the horizon for the Hoyas, but it will likely take a couple years before those results match fan expectations.

One Man's Opinion: I firmly believe that Cooley is a better coach than Thad Matta or Tony Stubblefield, so even though the roster isn't inspiring, I'm picking Georgetown 9th in the Big East. Epps was a solid pickup and having players like Massoud, Styles, and Brumbaugh from winning programs will help change the culture at Georgetown. Cook has a Big East body and while it won't be as quick a turnaround as the last new Big East coach to be picked 9th in the league (in consecutive years), I do think the pieces are in place to get Georgetown going in the right direction.

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