Being young in the Big East was pretty much a death sentence last season. The Big East was the most brutal conference last season filled with bodies on the floor and games resembling UFC fights.
A senior dominated conference with monsters like Dejuan Blair and Jeff Adrein bulldozing towards the basket and tearing down rebounds and ripping off arms in the process.
And then there was Georgetown. A team who has been given the fineness tag. Their starting lineup consisted of two sophomores and a fish. They were one of only three Big East teams with only one starting senior. They were getting wrecked on and pushed around night after night.
But now with many top Big East teams like Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Syracuse losing their top players the conference has become up for grabs.
Early last season Georgetown looked like they would be a threat for the Big East crown.
They started off 9-1 handling Maryland and beat Memphis in a hard fought OT battle. And then in their first conference game and their first road game they traveled to the XL center for a match with the number two ranked Uconn Huskies.
They showed no fear repeatedly attacking Hasheem Thabeet and out fought Uconn for a 74-63 win. The Hoyas had the lead for the entire game and Hasheem had four points on only four shots. Life was good for John Thompson III.
After that nothing seemed to go right as they finished the season 16-15 with a 7-11 conference record and losing in the first round of the NIT. They lacked needed experience, depth, and were last in Big East in rebounds. Then to top it off their leading scorer Dajuan Summers bolted for the NBA skipping his senior season only to be a second round pick.
But this is a new season. Their backcourt consists of great scoring juniors Chris Wright and Austin Freeman, backup Jason Clark looks like he could take over the hustling duties of departing starter Jessie Sapp, and sophomore gym rat Henry Sims and a nice recruiting class add depth.
Top 100 player Hollis Thompson leads the recruiting class. He is a high energy guy and great rebounder at the small forward position.
He is a slasher who fits in well with Georgetown’s Princeton style offense utilizing the back door cut. He has a lot of upside and will be a complete monster if he can develop a consistent jump shot but will compete for a starting spot immediately nonetheless.
Vee Sanford is an outstanding three point shooter who can also handle the ball and is a good passer. If he can bulk up he could become a starter down the road. Add some more rebounding and a great athlete with Jerrelle Benimon and you have depth and a bright future.
They already have great guards with Austin Freeman and Chris Wright. They fearlessly attack the basket and both have a nice jumper. If center Henry Sims continues to develop Greg Monroe and him could become an unstoppable frontcourt.
But none of that will matter if there is no Greg Monroe. He is what will make or break next season.
Here is a 6-10 250 man with a 7-2 wingspan who is big enough to back you down and drop in a nice little hook shot, fast enough and a good enough dribbler to blow by you and finish at the rim, or he can just pull up and drain a jumper in your face.
He is the second coming of Chris Webber.
An outstanding basketball mind, Monroe had few freshman mistakes last season. He is the best passing big man in the nation and one of the best passers for any position.
All of this makes him the perfect player to run the Princeton offense and after a year of learning he has a chance to lead the team in assists.
He needs to become a tougher rebounder if he wants to make his team a true contender. He seemed to shy away from contact down low opting to instead immediately turn to offense after an opposing team put up a shot.
They are one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country with an offense always attacking the basket. They already have two top hundred players for the 2010 recruiting class but this season is key.
If Georgetown struggles again this year questions will begin to come up.
“Is the dynasty over?”
“Should JT3 be out as coach?”
Only time will tell. But until, let the debates begin.