The Big East is bigger and badder than ever this year, with 10 teams having a likely shot to make the NCAA tournament. That being said how do the reigning league champions, the Georgetown University Hoyas fare in returning to the promise land?
Thus far, the Hoyas have put together some lackluster performances (Mt. St. Mary’s, Tennessee), some “grind it out victories” (Jacksonville State, Wichita State, Drexel, Memphis) along with some spectacular team efforts (Maryland, UConn). So what does this all mean?
The Hoyas are young, very young. This doesn’t mean that they can’t contend, rather, it will be harder to show consistency through tough stretches of conference games. Greg Monroe, the Hoyas star recruit, has been so-so to date. He has yet to grab more than eight rebounds in a contest, but all of this can be overlooked by the performance he displayed against UConn. Only three rebounds and 16 points, but he had four assists, three steals and a block, not to mention playing most of the second half in foul trouble.
DaJuan Summers has been leading the team in scoring thus far, but you may not have noticed, because, for a 6’8" forward with seven-ft wingspan, he spends a lot of time perched behind the three-point line. If he can play bigger, he and Monroe could give the Hoyas a nice balance with their sharp, fast-paced three guard backcourt. I was sure that Jessie Sapp would take over this team in his senior year, but he continues to make careless turnovers and commit fouls, and he is currently is somewhat of a shooting slump.
This is now Chris Wright’s team, he is as explosive of a guard as Georgetown has ever had. He has a great combination of dribble-drive and long range accuracy; I do believe that Wright will be the team's most important player. Don’t forget about Austin Freeman. He, like Wright can shoot the trey and drive as well, and with the frame of a fullback, can grab boards when the Hoyas big men don’t.
The Hoyas bench could be their Achilles heel. They have lost four players who all could come in off the bench and contribute in different aspects of the game: F Patrick Ewing Jr - Graduated, G Tyler Crawford—Graduated, F/C Vernon Macklin—Transfer to Florida, and G Jeramiah Rivers—Transfer to Indiana.
FSU transfer Julian Vaughn, sophomore Omar Wattad and freshman Jason Clark have been the most effective bench players thus far, but Vaughn is really the only size the Hoyas have coming off the bench. Seven-foot freshman Henry Sims looks lost on the court, keeping his arms at his side constantly, and hoisting up ill-advised three point attempts.
Of all the bench players, Jason Clark has looked the most impressive. He will have a tough time logging solid minutes with three guards in front of him, but he has showed more poise at the point than Sapp thus far and has picked up the Georgetown-style offense rather quickly for a freshman.
The way the Hoyas will win games is by controlling the tempo of the game, as they did with UConn. If they can make opponents play the way the Hoyas want to, there are not many teams in the country who will be able out-play them. That being said, this is the Big East, and nearly every game will pit at least one ranked team.
As I said before, the Hoyas are young, but JT3 is one of the best coaches around, and if they listen to him, they can do great things. The UConn game was one of the first times I have seen them really emphasize the back door pass. They killed teams with that pass this year, but until Monday, it hasn’t showed up much.
I like Georgetown finishing in the top five in the conference, probably third behind Pittsburgh and Louisville. This is because Pitt and Louisville have the athleticism to out-rebound the Hoyas and make them get out of their style of play. But, I thought G’Town didn’t stand a chance against UConn, and I was gladly proven wrong.
Syracuse and Notre Dame, teams that like to run up the score, will be forced to play down to the Hoya's tempo, and are forced into taking poor shots. After all, the Hoyas lead the country in opponent field goal percentage.
The Hoyas just may win their third straight Big East regular season title, but they are going to have to fight, scrap, and claw their way to it, more than they have ever had to before.