The 2015-16 season hasn’t started out as planned for both the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks and the Georgetown Hoyas as they enter the month of December.
Georgetown has started the season with a 2-3 record, while the Hawks have started at 1-4. Both teams entered the season with some hype surrounding the program, as the Hoyas had their star guard back for another season and the Hawks were coming off one of the best seasons in program history. While the month of November wasn’t the best start for either program, there is still plenty of time in 2015-16 to turn things around.
To open the month of December, the Hawks will pay a visit to Washington, D.C and take on the Hoyas inside the Verizon Center. The contest will provide both teams with a great opportunity to get things back on track this season as they quickly approach the daily grind of conference play.
Time: 7:00pm EST
Location: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Spread: Georgetown (-25.5)
Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (1-4)
Coming off an 18-win season a year ago, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks were flying high coming into 2015-16. Bobby Collins in his second year as head coach with the program, and despite losing some of they key contributors from last year, the Hawks had the look of a contender in the MEAC.
Through the first five games of this season, the Hawks have been grounded. A four-game losing streak kicked off the season, and was concluded by a 113-74 loss in their home opener to Fairfield. Three of their first four games were on the road, making things a bit tougher for the Hawks to notch a win.
Against Saint Francis (PA) in their last time out, the Hawks notched their first win of the season, and showed some signs of promise. Their star players have started to produce at a clip that many thought they would, and that is a good sign moving forwards.
After a slow start to the season, big man Dominique Elliott has started to play like the Preseason All-MEAC First Team selection he is, averaging 16.3 points per game over his last three contests. Having Elliott playing at a high level is crucial for the Hawks, as he is a premier talent in the country, and his play opens things up for the guards on the back end. Plus, he is an impact player on both ends of the floor, and can help the team be successful in many ways.
For the Hawks to get back on the right track, reigning MEAC Freshman of the Year Ryan Andino needs to find the groove he had last season. Predominately coming off the bench this season, he’s been held to a mere 4.4 point per game average, down from his 7.1 ppg average as a freshman. Andino is shooting just 28% from the floor to open up 2015-16, and the Hawks need him to be better if they want to put together a string of wins. He is a key contributor for the team, and if he can elevate his production, and seize the opportunities given to him, the team could turn things around quickly.
Georgetown Hoyas (2-3)
Like their counter-part on Tuesday evening, the 2015-16 season didn’t start out as planned for the Georgetown Hoyas. They were given a gift when star guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera opted to return to school, as opposed to entering the NBA Draft. Following the 2014-15 season, Smith-Rivera declared for the NBA Draft, but then removed his name before the Early Entry Deadline, returning to Georgetown in the process.
With Smith-Rivera back in the fold alongside the likes of L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland, the Hoyas had the look of a team who could contend in the Big East with the likes of Xavier and Villanova. While they still have that same look, a bit of bite has been taken out of their bark, so to speak, in the early going of the season.
In their season-opener, the Hoyas lost an overtime thriller to the Radford Highlander inside the Verizon Center, 82-80. To make matters worse, the Hoyas had to then take on Maryland, Wisconsin, and Duke over their next three fays. The loss to Radford had to be put in the back of their minds quickly, and it looked as though they did just that.
Georgetown and Maryland rekindled an old-school rivalry in College Park, MD, and despite the Terrapins squeaking out a 75-71 win, the Hoyas showed some promise. They then split the two games in the 2K Classic, knocking off Wisconsin before getting upended by Duke in the championship, 86-84.
Their three losses have come by a combined 8 points this season, and Georgetown has shown that they can hang with the big boys on any given night. The loss to Radford looks more and more like a ‘fluke’ with each passing day, and the Hoyas look to be picking up some serious momentum as the calendar flips to December.
The back court duo of Peak and Smith-Rivera have combined for an average of 25 points and 7 rebounds per game, and are the heartbeat of the offense for Georgetown. Add in the play of Copeland in the front court, and the Hoyas have weapons all over the floor and can hurt you in many ways. Copeland has the ability to stretch the floor and shot the long ball, which causes match-up problems for opponents on any given night. Look for Georgetown to try and stretch the floor against the Hawks, as they try to take Elliott out of the paint and open up the lane for drives to the basket.
Players to Watch
Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks
Bakari Copeland (F) – 11.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 apg
Devin Martin (G) – 14.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 apg
Dominique Elliott (C) – 11.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 0.6 bpg
Isaac Copeland (F) – 14.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.8 apg
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (G) – 12.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.2 apg
Jesse Govan (C) – 6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Both teams are talented in their own right, and have a ton of hype surrounding them as they move towards conference play in the new year. Maryland-Eastern Shore has a massive opportunity to score a program-defining victory on the road, while Georgetown is looking to get back to the .500 mark with a win on their home floor.
Keep an eye on the battle inside, as the play of Elliott and Copeland for the Hawks and Govan and Copeland for the Hoyas will likely determine the outcome of the game in the early portion of the contest. Whichever forward group can establish themselves in the paint first will give their team the upper hand.
While the spread isn’t favourable for the Hawks, don’t be so sure that the Hoyas can cover. The Hawks have the talent and pieces to keep things close throughout the duration of the game.