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

Georgetown Has What It Takes to Return to Big Dance

Last week, we looked at the Big East conference. This week, we will spend an entire column previewing Georgetown’s 2009-2010 season, as the Hoyas try to rebound from last year’s disappointing finish.

1) **The three-guard lineup could be terrific.**

For the last two years, Georgetown has primarily used three guards in its starting lineup. This year’s trio of guards (junior Chris Wright, sophomore Jason Clark and junior Austin Freeman) could potentially be better than both the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 versions.

All three are 6-foot-4 or shorter, but other teams will have a hard time taking advantage of their lack of height. Clark, while only 6-foot-2, has an astounding 6-foot-8 wingspan, allowing him to guard players several inches taller than him. Freeman, listed at 227 pounds, is one of the stronger guards in the Big East, meaning opposing teams’ small forwards will struggle to post him up.

On the offensive end, each of the three shot over 48 percent from the field last year, which is a very impressive number for guards. Last year was essentially Wright’s first in the Big East as he missed the entire conference regular season due to injury as a freshman. Both he and Clark can be expected to improve as they face the conference with a year of experience. Furthermore, expect Freeman to put up a percentage from three-point range closer to the 40 percent he shot as a freshman rather than the 31 percent he posted as a sophomore. The three local products should average a combined 35 points per game and take some of the scoring burden off of star sophomore center Greg Monroe.

2) **Jerrelle Benimon could turn some heads.**

One of Georgetown’s biggest weaknesses last year was its rebounding, or lack thereof. The Hoyas ranked 13th in the Big East in rebound margin, and were one of only four teams in the conference to be outrebounded by its opponents during the season.

In fact, Georgetown’s second leading rebounder last season was Freeman, who averaged 4.2 boards per game. Monroe is going to need some help on the glass down low, and freshman forward Jerrelle Benimon could be the answer.

At 6-foot-7 and 242 pounds, Benimon has a very strong frame and was a ferocious rebounder in high school, averaging 17 boards per game as a senior. While 6-foot-7 is slightly undersized for the power forward position, rebounding is more about heart, desire and strength than anything else, as players such as Charles Barkley and DeJuan Blair have showed us over the years.

Out of the three freshmen not named Hollis Thompson (Benimon, guard Vee Sanford and guard Stephen Stepka), Benimon may very well have the biggest impact this season simply because he could provide an immediate rebounding presence off the bench.

3) **Good things are in store for the Hoyas in 2009-2010.**

Georgetown fans can expect a huge jump in the Big East standings this year, largely due to the amount of talent that departed the league after last season.

Connecticut, Marquette, Pittsburgh and Syracuse all lost their top three players from last year, and Louisville lost its top two in NBA first round picks Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. In fact, the Hoyas are one of only two teams in the Big East to return three players who averaged at least 10 points per game last season (Monroe, Wright and Freeman). The other was Seton Hall.

Georgetown has serious questions regarding rebounding and depth, but a talented backcourt and one of the nation’s best post players in Monroe will take this team a long way in a down year for the conference. Villanova, West Virginia and Connecticut are probably the best bets to finish at the top of the league, but Georgetown is firmly in the next tier with teams like Louisville, Cincinnati and Syracuse.

When all is said and done, look for Georgetown to finish fourth or fifth in the Big East and return to the NCAA tournament.

This completes our four-part preview of the teams and players to keep an eye on this year. Next time, in our last installment before the season begins, we’ll look at the three characteristics a national champion must have, and which championship contenders best fit the mold for 2009-10.

Parimal Garg is a junior in the College. Three-Point Play appears in every other Tuesday issue of Hoya Sports.”

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