In the constantly shifting landscape of college basketball, the months spent away from the bright lights of ESPN often prove to be most crucial for in season success.
Time spent in the gym during the offseason allows teams to not only hone their skills, but develop a sense of chemistry and togetherness, an aspect of basketball often overlooked.
A mixture of established veterans and inexperienced talent, the Georgetown Hoyas will enter the 2010-2011 season with a chance to reign supreme in the Big East. In no specific order, here are seven pertinent offseason points of interest for Coach John Thompson III and company.
The epicenter of the Hoyas' offensive and defensive schemes, Greg Monroe will not be easily replaced.
The 6'11", 250-pound power forward was drafted 7th overall in last week's NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. In only his second year on The Hilltop, Monroe nearly averaged a double double, compiling 16.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg.
With his ability to play effectively with both his face and back to the basket, Monroe provided a consistent and versatile offensive presence game in and game out. His toughness down low allowed him to clean up on the boards, and his 1.5 blocks per game made opposing players approach the paint with caution.
Monroe however, will be most missed for his passing abilities. The New Orleans native was arguably the best passing big man in college basketball, averaging 3.8 apg this past year. He would often catch the ball on the elbow and find a cutting Chris Wright or Austin Freeman swooping in on the block for an easy bucket.
Monroe was truly a triple threat, and had he stayed for his junior season, there is no doubt the Hoyas would have been a sure national championship contender.
Although nobody on the current roster will be able to pick up where Monroe left off, the Hoya big men will collectively need to step it up to somehow try and fill Monroe's rather large shoes. Julian Vaughn, Jerrelle Benimon, Nate Lubick, and Moses Abraham, who will all be discussed later in this piece, will need to elevate their games.
With Monroe gone, the Hoyas will need to rely on their experienced core to carry them to the promised land. Seniors Chris Wright Austin Freeman, two former McDonald's All-Americans, will combine with junior Jason Clark to form a new "Big Three."
Freeman and Clark are both excellent shooters with extremely long range. Wright, who is one of the most underrated point guards in all of college basketball, uses his unprecedented quickness to blow by defenders, and has the strength and athleticism to finish at the rim.
With three years of experience under his belt, Wright, who scored over 20 points 11 times last season, has the ability to torch opposing defenses. Once teams begin to key on Wright, they will collapse to the paint, leaving Freeman and Clark open at the three point line. To maximize his player's talents, Coach JTIII should shift to a penetrate and dish offensive style.
The Batman to Monroe's Robin, the 6'9", 247-pound Julian Vaughn complimented Monroe rather nicely in the frontcourt this past season.
Vaughn was probably the most improved player for the Hoyas last season, whose numbers rose dramatically after a disappointing 2008-2009 campaign. In 22.6 mpg, the rising senior averaged 7.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
Last season, Vaughn was always the second option down low. This year however, he will most likely become the main attraction in the Hoya frontcourt.
His post moves need a little more development, but Vaughn has consistently shown a strong desire to improve, as demonstrated by his tremendous statistical increases over the past year in ppg, rpg, and field goal percentage—5.6, 2.7, and 1.19, respectively.
Look for Vaughn to put in the hours this offseason, allowing him to develop into a primary threat down low. He will by no means be the focus of the offense, but he should prove to be an able threat in the post.
Last season, the Hoyas were far from a deep team. Other than Hollis Thompson (19.5 mpg) and Jerrelle Benimon (12.1 mpg), no other bench player averaged more than seven minutes per game.
With the entire team returning other than Monroe, the bench must improve if Georgetown is to survive the Big East. Last season, it was evident at times that fatigue amongst the starters was a major inhibitor. The Big East championship game loss against West Virginia was a prime example of this deficiency.
With Thompson likely moving into the starting lineup, the bench will need to find another spark (or three) to breathe life into the lineup.
Look for sophomore guard Vee Sanford, who showed flashes of brilliance in limited time last season, to emerge as a solid backup guard. Benimon, a reliable workhorse down low, should continue to excel at doing the Hoyas' dirty work.
Henry Sims came into Georgetown in 2008 as a top 50 recruit with a tremendous upside.
This past year, Sims averaged a paltry 1.4 ppg and 1.4 rpg in just under 7 mpg.
With his close friend Monroe gone, Sims will need to come into his own. The major knock on the 6'11", 220-pound center has been his lack of physicality. Although athletically gifted, Sims needs to bulk up if he's going to make his presence felt if he is going to battle with the beasts of the Big East.
If Sims can reach his expected potential, he will become a dangerous threat for the Hoyas off the bench.
Georgetown has three new recruits this season—guard Markel Starks, forward Nate Lubick, and forward Moses Abraham.
Starks, a local talent from Georgetown Prep, is known for his flashy dribbling skills and savvy court awareness. Over time, he could replace a graduating Wright and become Georgetown's next great point guard.
Lubick, a 6'8" forward, will provide size and considerable skills down low. He could be ready to contribute immediately.
Abraham, a 6'9" forward, surprised the basketball world by committing to college this season, as he was originally believed to be part of the class of 2011. The Nigerian native has a tremendous upside, and was sought after by high profile schools such as Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, and Maryland.
This recruiting class can leave a lasting legacy on Georgetown basketball for years to come. If their impact could be immediately felt, the Hoyas will be force to be reckoned come tournament time.
This doesn't sound like too demanding of a task, but team chemistry could make or break a team. In 2009, the Hoya train completely derailed after it was rumored that Chris Wright and former Hoya Jesse Sapp got into a physical altercation during a game. At the time of the alleged dispute, the Hoyas were ranked in the top 10.
Georgetown ended up failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament that year.
This past season seemed to a be different story. The team appeared to be a extremely tight knit group, and seemed to express their camaraderie through their passionate, expressive gameplay.
Georgetown must be a team first. If the Hoyas could remain a cohesive unit off the court this summer, there's no telling how that bonding could help navigate this team through the highs and lows of the season.