Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
It didn’t take very long into his post-game remarks for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to take the Orange completely out of the running for former Georgetown point guard James Akinjo, who is now in the transfer portal.
“I thought they played really well,” Boeheim said after Georgetown’s 89-79 win over his Orange.
That’s a super generic quote that you often see from an opposing coach after either a win or a loss.
Now here’s where it goes to a place no one in the media room was really expecting but maybe we should have been since Boeheim is going to Boeheim every so often.
“I think their last three games is the team they are. They got rid of a guy that wouldn’t pass the ball to anybody and just shot it every time. That’s why they’re good now.”
Boeheim is off course referring to Georgetown’s 3-0 mark since both Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc transferred but he doesn’t get into critiquing the forward.
Georgetown was 4-3 with Akinjo as a starter before last year’s Big East Freshman of the Year decided he’d rather play elsewhere. Akinjo averaged 13.4 points through seven games and dished out 31 assists but was shooting just 34 percent from the field and an even worse from 3-point range at 24 percent.
“They have a really good point guard. he’s getting people the ball. McClung has settled into his position where he gets his shot and he makes them. He’s going to make his shots if he gets them. They’ve got a good inside guy. They’ve got good shooters. They’ve got a really good team. I think by far this is the best team we’ve seen from Georgetown in a few years.
Today was coach Patrick Ewing’s first win over Syracuse in three tries after coming oh so close the last two years.
The questions shifted to other parts of the game but Boeheim was later asked about Georgetown and particularly Ewing after the recent loss of four players in just two weeks’ time. Boeheim, in his 44th season at Syracuse, again used this opportunity to give his thoughts on Akinjo as well as others that still remain on the Hoyas roster.
“I think he’s a very good coach and I think they’ve got seven guys that are really good,” Boeheim said about Ewing and Georgetown’s current rotation.
“Two guys weren’t really contributing at all and another guy was throwing the ball up all the time. I know Patrick can’t say that but I can. I watched him play. Three games -well two games – he lost by himself. They have a pass first point guard who can also score. McClung gets the ball. He’s a really good leader. They can get the ball inside. They’re a completely different team. If we played them the way they were playing earlier in the year, we would have won. They’re a much, much better team. They’re a difficult team to play.”
Pretty harsh stuff from Boeheim but he’s not wrong. Look no one has ever said that Akinjo is a bad player. Everyone agrees that he has it all to be great at the college level but he needs to work on his selflessness as a smaller guard that struggles around the rim. That was going to be needed at Georgetown and now it will need to happen elsewhere although it’s unlikely it happens in the ACC with Syracuse after today. Not that it was even a chance, but wow.
The truth of the matter is that since Akinjo bolted, Terrell Allen has been great. The grad transfer scored 14 points with six assists and just two turnovers against in 38 minutes in the win against Syracuse. Since being named a starter he’s scored 31 points, dished out 21 assists and committed just 4 turnovers as Georgetown has gone 3-0.
McClung has also answered the ball over the last two weeks. The sophomore guard is averaging 26 points – which is what he had on Saturday – and made 12 of 25 3-pointers.
As a team Georgetown has become a 3-point threat since Akinjo left which is perhaps further proof of the ball moving better.
In the first seven games, Georgetown’s best output from deep was when they hit eight in wins over Mount St. Mary’s and Central Arkansas.
Since the transfers started, Georgetown has really picked it up from long distance in going 9 for 22 against Oklahoma State, 14 for 27 against SMU, and then 11 for 25 against Syracuse today.
Also, not to be lost in all of this is how well Jagan Mosely has been playing recently. He set a career-high in 3-pointers on Saturday with four (in six attempts) and handed out five assists with zero turnovers in 37 minutes while scoring a season-high 16 points.
Boeheim has seen all of the this and it led him to make his comments.
Here’s Jim Boeheim on Patrick Ewing’s coaching overall and amid the recent chaos. He basically said no loss with the 4 transfers and effectively said he believes James Akinjo’s approach cost the Hoyas around three games… pic.twitter.com/kIUFfEaHO3
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) December 14, 2019
Who would have thought that after a Georgetown – Syracuse game that Boeheim – who most Hoyas fans see as a villain – would give them something to mostly agree on? I didn’t see that coming but Boeheim is clearly caring less and less about what people think as his career winds down. He took the coaches sticking together thing to another level on Saturday and Georgetown was the benefit. Ewing and Boeheim having each other’s back – who knew? This series must continue forever.