Georgetown Basketball Preview: #33
Overall Rank: #33
Conference Rank: #8 Big East
2007-08: 28-6, 15-3, 1st
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Last year was the season Georgetown could have made a run in the NCAA Tournament. But that ended in the second round at the hands of Davidson. This year the team could struggle to just make the tournament. With only two significant upperclassmen on the roster, and a ton of talented youngsters, the future is very bright for Coach John Thompson III, but the 2008-2009 campaign will be a big step back from the 2007-2008 campaign.
Roy Hibbert simply dominated the paint. The 7-2 center averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks during his senior campaign. Hibbert did so much for the team that the numbers do not tell. The outside shooting was generally inconsistent, but three guys shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc last year and that high percentage can be partially attributed to the opposition keying in on Hibbert and making the guards beat them with their streaky shooting. The departure of Patrick Ewing Jr. and Vernon Macklin makes the issues in the frontcourt even more prevalent. Macklin would have likely stepped into a starting role this year after spending a couple seasons on the bench, but he opted to transfer instead. The backcourt did not avoid the graduation and transfer bug. The biggest loss is Jonathan Wallace who averaged 10.7 points per game and was the team’s most prolific long range shooter. Tyler Crawford never emerged as a major contributor during his time with the Hoyas and Jeremiah Rivers has opted to transfer.
That makes Georgetown sound like an NIT team at best, but this group will take them back into NCAA territory. The class is highlighted by Greg Monroe. The 6-11 center is ranked by some as the best recruit this year. While missing out on the Greg Oden type of hype, Monroe will still make a huge impact at Georgetown as a freshman. He has the size and the strength to battle in the paint right now. His long arms make him a solid rebounder and shot blocker and his presence on that end of the floor will help lessen the sting of the departure of Hibbert. But on the other side of the floor, Monroe does not just hang out around the basket. He can hit the mid-range jumper better than most big guys. Sooner or later, Monroe will be starting beside fellow freshman Henry Sims. The 6-10 center is a more traditional back to the basket player than Monroe, but he has been working successfully on the rest of his game. He will still spend most of his time in the paint, but if he can consistently knock down the 15-foot jumper, he will be tough to defend. The frontcourt gets a slightly more experienced player in Julian Vaughn. The transfer from Florida State will be immediately eligible to play this season after averaging 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds with the Seminoles last season. Jason Clark is the lone newcomer on the perimeter.
Who to Watch:
The Hoyas will not have to entirely depend on the newcomers. Senior Jessie Sapp will once again run the show after dishing out 3.2 assists per game. Sapp is a decent scoring point guard and can consistently knock down the three-pointer as well as find his open teammates. Austin Freeman will be one of Sapp’s targets on the wing. Freeman came on strong at the end of his freshman campaign and ended the year averaging 9.1 points per game. Unlike Freeman, Chris Wright did not get much of an opportunity to show his stuff. The 6-1 guard spent most of the season on the sidelines due a few injuries, but now that he is healthy Wright should be playing a big role.
At least the backcourt has some experienced options. DaJuan Summers is the only returning frontcourt player with any significant experience. The 6-8 junior averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds last season and should increase that production now that Hibbert and Ewing Jr. are gone. If the frontcourt can sustain the recent success of the unit under Summers and Monroe, Georgetown will be back in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jessie Sapp, Senior, Guard, 9.7 points per game
Jason Clark, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Austin Freeman, Sophomore, Guard, 9.1 points per game
DaJuan Summers, Junior, Forward, 11.1 points per game
Greg Monroe, Freshman, Center, DNP last season