NEW YORK – First the numbers. Georgetown defeated DePaul 70-53 in the Big East Tournament opener at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas ended a six-game losing streak that coincided with Bradley Hayes being out of the lineup. The seven-foot senior scored 12 points, adding seven boards in his very well-anticipated return. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led all scorers, pacing the Hoyas with 20 points. Georgetown placed three in double figures.
DePaul’s lone double-digit scorer was Freshman guard Eli Cain with 14. Billy Garrett, a prominent scorer for DePaul, was held to four points on 2 of 10 shooting from the floor.
“All season this team has worked hard and responded,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “During that six-game losing streak it was tough. You tend to doubt yourself during a time like that. Our kids never doubted and kept working.”
Georgetown improved to 15-17 with a noon date set with top seed Villanova in the Big East quarterfinals. DePaul finished at 9-22. Afterward Blue Demon coach Dave Leitao discussed improving the program, going beyond the diagrams on the grease board.
“When you are trying to create a culture you are doing some things that are abstract – a belief in something you may not see,” Leitao said. “That will allow you to forge ahead. Day by day and little by little, hopefully it all comes to fruition.”
Leitao felt his program was doing just that early on. They couldn’t sustain. “We lost a piece of that (progress) and couldn’t get it back.” he said. “Then our defense began to falter.” Mentioning defense and noting how offense suffers as well when you struggle, Leitao reverted to the whole concept of culture.
“I have to evaluate and see where we are at and build. The two parts are there are guys that are here have to get better at those things (related to culture). And the other part is the guys coming in have to do that too.”
It is definitely evident, as Leitao and staff return to Chicago to do their end-of-season evaluations, discussions will go deeper than winds, losses, points scored and points allowed.