After a phenomenal freshman season, Otto Porter moves from reserve to starter on a Georgetown team that could surprise a lot of critics this year. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)
Following a look at Stan Heath and last year's Cinderella USF, the Big East preview scene shifts to a traditional power ready to reprise itself among the class of the conference.
Last year's incarnation of Georgetown basketball provided the expected regular season success we have come to know from the Hoyas: 24 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance. However, as the calendar turned to March, Georgetown's season came to yet another disappointing end when the Hoyas were ousted by NC State in the Round of 32, Georgetown's fourth consecutive opening weekend exit from the "Big Dance" since their run to the Final Four in 2007, not to mention the Hoyas' NIT appearance in 2009.
This season, while head coach John Thompson III loses each of his three leading scorers in guard Jason Clark and forwards Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims, the one-time Princeton student and coach has one of his deeper and more deceptively talented teams in recent years, led by several long and athletic players that strive to create mismatches on the court. Thompson will also, barring any transfers, welcome everyone back next season, as Georgetown does not have a senior on its roster.
Sophomore forward Otto Porter is the first of these underrated Hoyas. Last season, the Missouri native averaged just under ten points and seven rebounds per contest coming off the bench. Now, the preseason first team all-Big East selection becomes the face of a young team that intends to be dominant in the conference for years to come. Point guard Markel Starks returns to anchor the backcourt in his junior season, with sophomore Jabril Trawick and highly touted freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera playing alongside. Up front, Thompson's latest group of versatile wings will be led by sophomore Greg Whittington. Last season, the Maryland native only averaged 4.3 points per game, but was an X-factor on both ends of the ball on multiple occasions. Fellow sophomore Mikael Hopkins will also be in the mix for a starting spot alongside bruising power forward Nate Lubick, who enters his junior campaign.
Georgetown opens its season with a challenging nonconference game against Billy Donovan and Florida on board the USS Bataan in Jacksonville on November 9th. From there, the Hoyas take on Duquesne and Liberty at the Verizon Center before helping christen the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with matchups against UCLA and either Indiana or Georgia on November 19th and 20th. The Hoyas return home for matchups with Mount St. Mary's and an SEC/Big East Challenge collision with Tennessee before opening December with Texas in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Four straight home games against (in order) Towson, Longwood, Western Carolina and American will close out the calendar year and nonconference ledger for the Hoyas before they open Big East play at Marquette on January 5th. A home matchup with Pittsburgh three days later will sandwich an 11am tipoff with St. John's on January 12th at the Garden, with a home game against Providence coming on the 16th. Two straight on the road against USF (Janaury 19th) and Notre Dame (January 21st) are next for Georgetown before three straight at home with Louisville, (January 26th) Seton Hall (January 30th) and the back end of a home-and-home series with Steve Lavin and the Red Storm. (February 2nd)
After a week off, Georgetown alternates road and home dates for the next four contests, starting on February 9th at the RAC against Mike Rice and Rutgers. After that, the Hoyas are home for Marquette two days later before hitting the road again for Cincinnati (February 15th) prior to a homecoming that finds Thompson's team hosting DePaul on February 20th. A road trip to the Carrier Dome for the final time in Big East play is next on February 23rd, with Kevin Ollie and UConn prepared to welcome the Hoyas to Gampel Pavilion four days later. Georgetown opens March on the 2nd of the month at home against Rutgers, with a road trip to the Wells Fargo Center for a matchup with Villanova on March 6th preceding the regular season finale at home against Syracuse three days later.