By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Georgetown’s men’s basketball program has been as benevolent as any philanthropist when it comes to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Under John Thompson, Sr. the Hoyas began a tradition of playing Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference program as preseason tune up games to knock off holiday rust as they get set for the Big East conference schedule to tipoff.
As Georgetown great Patrick Ewing continues rebuilding the program as head coach, he continued a tradition of charitable dominance against their MEAC rivals from Howard University. Sixty one times the Hoyas have written a check to foes from the youngest HBCU conference and cashed it for a victory.
The cosmetic outcome that was Georgetown’s 102-67 win doesn’t tell the complete story of what transpired at Capital One Arena. Ultimately, the Hoyas were able to wear down an injured undersized Bison team that was playing without two of its big interior players Andre Toure’ and Chad Lott.
Howard would’ve faced an enormous challenge against Georgetown senior center Jesse Govan with its entire cast. Govan won’t be remembered as one of the great Hoya big men of all time, but he figures to be on an NBA roster for at least a decade. His team leading 23 points and 10 rebounds led their assault on the boards against the depleted Bison who couldn’t make enough shots from the perimeter to keep the game close.
Howard got into foul trouble early and Georgetown capitalized by outrebounding the Bison, 54-37, while scoring 48 points in the paint. Howard’s backcourt combined for 52 points, but the team only made only 25-of-75 shots from the field.
Freshman Josh LeBlanc’s athleticism was a problem for Howard also. His length on the wings made it difficult for the Bison guards to penetrate and when they were able to get shots that didn’t fall, he was able to collect rebounds, lead the fast break, or finish at the rim with several dunks worthy of SportsCenter Top 10 status. LeBlanc joined Govan with another double-double and made all seven of his shots scoring 22 points and 11 rebounds as the Hoyas were able to pull away early in the second half.
“Georgetown was the better team tonight,” said Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry at his postgame press conference. “They’ve gotten a lot better. Govan is a pro and once they got to our bench with foul trouble, they were able to get transition points.”
Howard’s putrid offensive statistics don’t paint the revealing picture of how their guards dominated Georgetown’s backcourt. The Bison’s tandem of R.J. Cole and C.J. Williams were able to get open and created looks for themselves and each other. Cole and Williams outscored the Hoya trio of James Akinjo, Greg Malinowski and Jahvon Blair 52-33 despite making only 19 of 48 shots.
We made shots in the beginning of the game,” said Cole. “But a drought hit us, and our defense wasn’t unable to stop Georgetown as the game went on.”
A compelling argument could be made that if Georgetown played a Big East schedule with Howard’s guards, they would be more of a threat in their conference than they are now.
“We started strong with great victories early, but we’ve struggled without Lott and Toure. It’s hard to replace their scoring and teams put a lot of pressure on Cole and Williams,” Nickelberry said.
Howard now turns its attention to the MEAC schedule which begins at Burr Gymnasium against Florida A&M as they look to end a five game losing streak.
“We have to play defense, rebound, and get back in transition,” Cole added. “Once we figure it out, I think we’ll be unstoppable.”