WASHINGTON (AP) -Forget the debate over whether Georgetown should be ranked in the Top 25 - a five-game losing streak has taken care of that.
The big concern on the Hilltop is the fact that the Hoyas have played themselves dangerously close to the NCAA tournament bubble.
The two-time defending Big East regular season champions, who were No. 9 in the nation less than a month ago, received nary a vote in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday. The Hoyas (12-8, 3-6) sit in a three-way tie for 10th in the conference heading into Tuesday's game against Rutgers.
Rutgers? Surely that's a win. The Scarlet Knights are 1-8 in the conference, just 10-12 overall.
But the same thing was said last week when the Hoyas went to Seton Hall, which was winless in the Big East until a 65-60 victory that prompted Georgetown coach John Thompson III to declare his team in both ``a rut'' and ``a bad situation.''
luate, re-evaluate everything.''
The Hoyas played better in a 94-82 loss Saturday at conference co-leader Marquette, but that was little solace for a program that's grown accustomed to success over the last three years.
``You lose five games in a row, and quite honestly you've got to start evaluating everything to a certain extent,'' Thompson said Monday night. ``But at the same time I believe in what we're doing; the guys believe in what we're doing.''
There is good news for fretful fans worried about a possible return to the NIT after three NCAA seasons. Georgetown's schedule still ranks as the most difficult in the nation, and one of its victories came on the road against Connecticut, the current No. 1 team in the country. According to the computers of the RPI, the Hoyas are still a Top 20 team.
But the NCAA does not have a bottomless well of invitations for Big East schools, even if the conference is having a strong year. Thompson's team needs to put together some wins in a February schedule that is more friendly than January's: six of the final nine regular season opponents are unranked.
Thompson isn't one to start putting such pieces together. Try to start a conversation with him about berths, RPIs and bubbles, and it doesn't go very far.
e end of the year see where we stand. I think if you do it any other way, particularly if you're going through a stretch like we're going through now, you'll drive yourself crazy.''
Dissecting the team's problems isn't easy - even Thompson himself has sounded stumped more than once - but he said there are a ``few little things'' the team will try to do differently from a tactical standpoint. His top two reasons for the losing streak: the tough schedule and too much nerves.
``We're in a difficult league, and it's hard to go through a stretch with a young team where we've had four of our last five games on the road,'' Thompson said. ``That being said, we need to relax and play. With each game, there's a little more angst.''
Georgetown's season box score has a telling statistic: 279 assists, 279 turnovers - an exact one-to-one ratio that spells trouble for a share-the-ball, find-the-backdoor-pass offense. Even Georgetown's NIT team of 2004-05 - Thompson's first season with the Hoyas - came out ahead on the assist side by a count of 462-440. The last three teams, all NCAA-bound, had sizable margins in favor of assists.
But those teams had point guard Jonathan Wallace masterfully running the Princeton offense, and all three of those teams had Jeff Green, whom Thompson considered more or less an alter ego on the court.
o understands the dynamics of Thompson's system and will follow the rules to make it work.
However, Monroe - for all his talents - hasn't yet become the player that demands the ball when the game's on the line.
``He is an extremely unselfish player,'' Thompson said. ``He's still learning and in the process of doing. There is a balance between when it's his turn and when it's not his turn, and my trust in him to make that decision is high, and I think that he's definitely getting that.''
The rest of the team has been hot and cold. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is senior guard Jessie Sapp, who has lost his shooting touch. Sapp is 16-for-68 - a mere 24 percent from the field - over the last dozen games.
He's just another reason Thompson's offense hasn't been its usual self.
``We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball,'' Thompson said. ``We have to do a better job of taking quality shots.''

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