Top 50 Team Previews: #9 Louisville

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By Andrew Finley
andrewcfinley@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Georgetown Hoyas
Last Season: 25-4 (15-3)
Key Losses: Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace, Vernon Macklin, Jeremiah Rivers
Head Coach: John Thompson III

Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Chris Wright 6-1 So.
SG: Jessie Sapp 6-3 Sr.
SF: Austin Freeman 6-4 So.
PF: DaJuan Summers 6-8 Jr.
C: Greg Monroe 6-10 Fr.
Key Reserves: Jason Clark 6-2 Fr. PG, Henry Sims 6-10 Fr. C, Julian Vaughn 6-9 So. PF

Georgetown saw its outstanding 2007-08 season quickly come to an end in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats. Now, the Hoyas are out to prove they are still contenders in the stacked Big East conference.

Head coach John Thompson III led his team to an overall record of 25-4 and 15-3 in the conference standings, the best in the Big East. After marching through Villanova and West Virginia in the conference tournament, the Hoyas fell to Pittsburgh in the conference finals and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

There were high expectations, but the Hoyas made an unexpected early exit, losing in the second round to the Cinderella story of the tournament – Davidson.

They have a tough road ahead of them in a conference of 16 teams, all of which will be able to compete in the conference tournament in 2009, a change made by the university presidents in the offseason. The Big East sent eight teams to the Big Dance last season, the most of any conference in the country and it definitely has a chance to do that again this season.

Georgetown lost two key players from last year; Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace. Hibbert has been their most consistent player and a powerful big man in the Big East, averaging 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Hibbert was selected No. 17 in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors, and traded to the Indiana Pacers. He was an All-Big East First Team selection as well and a Second Team AP All-American. With Hibbert gone, there will be a huge hole to fill down low.

Jonathan Wallace averaged 10.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game and became the school's all time leader in 3-pointers. Georgetown also lost last season's Big East Sixth Man of the Year, Patrick Ewing Jr., who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the second round of the NBA Draft and traded to the New York Knicks.

The Hoyas also lost two sophomores: Vernon Macklin, who transferred to Florida, and Jeremiah Rivers, who transferred to Indiana. With the various graduations and transfers, Georgetown will lose most of the depth it had last season.

Fortunately for the Hoyas, they have some very talented incoming freshmen joining the roster this season. Freshman power forward Greg Monroe averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds per game at Helen Cox High School in Gretna, La. Considered one of the most talented big men in the 2008 recruiting class, the 6-foot-10 lefty can run the floor and score almost anywhere on the court. His athleticism will pose problems for opposing big men in the Big East.

Freshman center Henry Sims is another recruit with enormous potential. Averaging 16.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.1 blocks as a senior at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore, Md, his long body and developing mid-range jumper will force defenses to pay close attention to him.

Freshman shooting guard Jason Clark is a player who makes everyone around him better. He averaged 20.2 points as a senior at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Va., and was named the Washington Post's Player of the Year after last season.

Julian Vaughn is a 6-foot-9 sophomore big man new to the Georgetown roster. He played at Florida State as a freshman last season but obtained a waiver from the NCAA enabling him to be eligible this season. As a freshman at FSU, Vaughn averaged just three points per game but he definitely has potential to be an impact player for Georgetown this year.

The Hoyas have three of their starters from the end of last season returning with DaJuan Summers, Austin Freeman and Jessie Sapp. Sapp, a senior guard who averaged 9.7 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, will take a leadership role as the only starting senior on the roster. He is a strong defensive player who isn't afraid to take the big shots on the offensive end. Freeman started in 23 games as a freshman last season, shooting 51.3 percent from the floor. The former McDonald's All-American had high expectations last season, but didn't stand out as much as Georgetown fans may have hoped. Freeman is a very good 3-point shooter and also can use his wide frame (239 pounds) to overpower smaller guards. This season, Freeman will have an increased role and more of an opportunity to stand out. Summers, a junior, was one of the most consistent players on the team last season, reaching double figures 20 times last season and hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Louisville to clinch the conference title in the season finale. Summers is a big man who can post up defenders inside but can also play like a guard on the perimeter.

Freeman wasn't the only Hoya with high expectations as a freshman last season. Point guard Chris Wright, who was injured for a large portion of his freshman campaign, came off the bench as a backup to Wallace. Wright never really had a breakout game, but he did reach double figures in scoring three times and had at least four assists three times. This year, Wright will have much more responsibility as he steps in as the starting point guard. Much of Georgetown's success will depend on how ready Wright is to lead this team.

Coach John Thompson III is entering his fifth season at Georgetown University with an overall record of 100-36. In 2007, he was named the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Coach of the Year. The Hoyas have appeared in postseason play every year under Coach Thompson, playing in the NCAA tournament three times and once in the NIT.

Losing two starters and a significant portion of their bench from last season will definitely be the biggest obstacle for the Hoyas this year. The recruiting class will have to play a major role in order for Georgetown to remain at the top of the Big East. Coach Thompson and the Hoyas will look to fill the holes left by Hibbert and Wallace, and reach the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year. Between Georgetown, UConn, Notre Dame, Pitt, Louisville, Villanova and Marquette, there are seven Big East teams that have enough talent to be in the top 15 or 20 in the nation. Whether or not the Hoyas are near the top of those seven teams or near the bottom will depend much on the freshmen (Monroe, Sims and Clark) and the sophomores (Wright, Freeman and Vaughn).


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