Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoya Sports: Men’s Basketball

For a Georgetown team that has won one NCAA or NIT game in the last four years, this might seem to be a bad time for a rebuilding year. Just that, however, seems to be in the cards for the Hoyas in the 2011-2012 season. Last year’s upset loss to VCU in the first round of the NCAA tournament saw six players don the Blue and Gray for the last time, as seniors Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, Julian Vaughn and Ryan Dougherty graduated and sophomores Vee Sanford and Jerrelle Benimontransferred to Dayton and Towson, respectively. Wright, Freeman and Vaughn were all starters.

The Blue and Gray face the daunting task of life without Wright; they went winless last year after the point guard broke his wrist late in the regular season. Freeman was the team’s leading scorer and Vaughn the team’s best frontcourt player. Replacing the transfers will come easier, as Benimon got decent minutes but struggled offensively, while Sanford languished outside the rotation despite impressive scoring numbers.

Head Coach John Thompson III’s strong recruiting class might ease the pain of transition, though. Headlining the class are a trio of frontcourt players in Tyler Adams, Mikael Hopkins and Otto Porter, all of whom will likely have to contribute immediately and often if Georgetown is to break its three-year NCAA winless streak. Joining them on the Hilltop will be shooting guard Jabril Trawick and power forward Greg Whittington, and Trawick especially could earn significant minutes so Thompson doesn’t overtax his thin backcourt. The starting lineup isn’t settled, but sophomore guard Markel Starks, junior forward Hollis Thompson and senior guard Jason Clark figure to be season-long starters. Sophomore forward Nate Lubick will likely reprise last season’s starting role, and Thompson III is counting on senior center Henry Sims to provide veteran leadership to a young frontcourt, regardless of his spot in the rotation.

Markel Starks

The team’s only true point guard will likely see a big bump in playing time spending a year as Wright’s understudy. Starks showed a good handle and court vision in his brief spells on the floor, but will have to develop a more consistent shot for the team to have postseason hopes; he shot a meager 28 percent from the floor and 26 percent from long range last season.

Jason Clark

The lanky Clark came out of the gates shooting the lights out, highlighted by a 26-point outburst against Missouri. He struggled as the season wound down, however, eclipsing 13 points only once in his last nine games and hitting just 11 of his last 44 attempts from distance. A return to his early-season form from a year ago would go a long way towards replacing Freeman and Wright’s scoring output.

Hollis Thompson

After surprising many with his decision to declare for the NBA draft last spring, Thompson decided to return for at least one more year in which he will have to shoulder much of the offensive load. Last year the talented junior shot a team-best 46 percent from behind the arc and was the only Hoya to impress in the season-ending loss to VCU, in which he scored 26 points on 10 shots and grabbed seven rebounds. No other Hoya managed more than 10 points.

Nate Lubick

Lubick replaced Thompson in the starting lineup during the last third of the year and impressed with his hustle, passing skill and physical play. Effort and attitude couldn’t completely mask his offensive deficiencies, though, as he scored only 4 points per game despite averaging nearly 20 minutes of action.

Henry Sims

A highly-touted recruit, Sims struggled mightily in his first two years but showed significant improvement as a junior. Despite the strides he made last year , Sims needs to improve on both ends of the floor, particularly on defense where he blocked only 21 shots despite his 6’10” frame.

The Rest

Aside from the five freshmen, the Hoyas will be counting on contributions from sophomore forward and fan favorite Moses Ayegba, who showed flashes of his potential in very limited action after serving an NCAA-imposed nine-game suspension for impermissible benefits. Fellow sophomore Aaron Bowen could also see some action in the thin backcourt, but it remains to be seen how he recovers from undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January. Sophomore forward John Caprio rounds out the roster but played only six minutes last year and doesn’t figure to play many more this year.

The last time Thompson III was in charge of a similarly youthful roster was in 2008, when the Hoyasfinished 16-15 despite a 12-3 start and an impressive debut season from Greg Monroe. This year’s team has more upperclassmen but, with no player of Monroe’s caliber, will like be an NCAA bubble team at best. Ultimately, though, despite the team’s youth it certainly has the potential to perform in March and render the team’s recent postseason failures nothing more than bad memories.

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