Novmeber 12, 2012 - Up 11 points with 5:59 to play, Georgetown was comfortably leading Duquesne in the Hoyas' actual first game, home opener and Progressive Legends Classic matchup, seemingly cruising to an easy win. About five and a half minutes later, they had only a three point advantage, causing angst among the Hoya faithful, before pulling it out for a 61-56 win, in front of 8,213 in attendance.
Though both teams' coaches decried the game's overall execution - Georgetown finished shooting 41.2%, 37% in the first half, Duquesne 35%/30% - each played in a fairly spirited manner.
"We definitely were sloppy. On both end of the court" opined head Hoya John Thompson III of his team's play, in post game interviews. "It's early…we have a long way to go". Later he added, "I thought the execution of our game plan, on both ends of the court, was not good".
Jim Ferry, head coach at Duquesne termed the contest "A pretty hard fought basketball game, against two pretty inexperienced teams", leading to the game getting "sloppy at times". In sum: "I thought it was early, ugly basketball, by two inexperienced teams…(the Hoyas) are still trying to figure out what they are going to do, and obviously we are trying to figure out what we are trying to do".
The Dukes displayed heart most glaringly during their last flourish, where during their 14-3 run, the game's leading scorer Sean Johnson hit five foul shots and a layup, work generated by strong, crafty drives. Afterward Thompson, in respect simply noted "He knows how to play", when asked about the 6'1" senior guard. Johnson finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal.
The Hoyas scrapped in stunting that final Duquesne run: With 29 ticks in regulation, Johnson fouled sophomore guard Jabril Trawick (five points, four rebounds). The tactical foul was Duquesne's seventh, sending Trawick to the line for a one and one opportunity. He missed the first, but fellow second year Hoya Greg Whittington slipped his man's box out, rebounding the ball in traffic and contact. He was immediately fouled, and promptly sank both charity stripe attempts.
"Well, I just went up to go get that rebound. It's nothing to it; just went and got it" said Whittington, who finished with eight points and a game high 15 rebounds, of the play, which ended the Duke's chances.
"That free throw rebound, when we were down three" recalled Ferry of Whittington's carom, "that was a crushing blow right there". His team would not score again.
Thompson praised Whittington, a forward, for not only that play, but overall, noting "I thought Greg was very, very good today. He got 15 rebounds I believe. And most of them were what I call 'man rebounds'; they are not the ones that just fell to him. He went and got them up over the rim… (he) has a lot of responsibility this year".
Thompson refused to blame turnaround for his team's execution; the Hoyas played Florida in Jacksonville Friday, a game ruled no contest due to condensation on the floor. "I can't say that. They played with one day prep" said the coach of both he and Ferry's scheduling. "That is what it is".
He did take his team to task, saying "With one day prep, you have to listen to the scouting report, and execute and do what we've laid out to do".
He also wouldn't identify losing his best player, sophomore Otto Porter, to a head injury, as the cause of his team's relative ineffectiveness. Porter, who played just six minutes left for good with slightly under 12 minutes to play in the first half, tallying only an assist in the process.
Whittington did note of Porter's absence "I just had to step up even more, knowing that one of my other teammates went down".
Junior forward Nate Lubick (seven points, seven rebounds) thought Porter being out "might have been part of why we looked a little sloppy; we were thinking about Otto not being in the game too much, and people started looking for their own offense a little too much".
Of his star forward's status, Thompson informed "He's being monitored. He got hit in the head, and as a precaution we decided not to put him back in", before joking "It was close" in terms of returning him to action.
Duquesne's Jerry Jones, a junior guard, followed Johnson on his team in scoring and boards, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Derrick Colter supplied seven points, as did senior big man Andre Marhold.
Freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led G'Town in scoring with 19 points, sinking a prodigious six of seven from the field - all four of his three pointers - and three of four foul shots. Sophomore Markel Hopkins joined him in double figures with 13 points, also adding four rebounds. Junior point guard Markel Starks chipped in nine points.
Next up for Georgetown (1-0), another Progressive Legends Classic matchup, is Liberty, Wednesday night. Tip- off is 7.
James Madison is the Duke's next opponent. The contest is scheduled for November 19th, a home affair for Duquesne (0-2), and is part of the Progressive Legends Classic lineup.