Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #6 GeorgetownPosted by mlemaire on November 5th, 2012
Georgetown’s three leading scorers from last season – Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson Jr., and Henry Sims – are all gone. But while the trio were excellent college players, none of them were true NBA talents. You know who is a true NBA talent? Hoyas’ sophomore forward Otto Porter (9.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 52.5% FG), who is back on campus and ready to become the star of a young and inexperienced team. Porter is a projected lottery pick expected to make quite a leap this season, and without the precocious forward, John Thompson III would be staring down a very long season. But with Porter in tow and solid complementary pieces like Markel Starks and Nate Lubick, plus freshmen like D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Stephen Domingo, the Hoyas should have enough talent to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth and maybe even a top-six seed.
2011-12 Record: 24-8, 12-6
2011-12 Postseason: 1-1, Lost 66-63 to North Carolina State in Round of 32.
Georgetown opens with a stiff test against No. 10 Florida on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Jacksonville and just 10 days later they head to the Legends Classic where they will start with No. 13 UCLA and potentially end with a match-up against No. 1 Indiana if they get past the Bruins. They have two more tough tests, one at home against Tennessee in the SEC/Big East Challenge, and the other in Madison Square Garden less than a week later against Texas. It should be noted that after the season opener against Florida the Hoyas don’t play a true road game until starting conference play after the new year, although it is hard to find fault in that considering how much other traveling the Hoyas will be doing this winter. Their conference schedule doesn’t hold any surprises as they will play Marquette, Syracuse, Rutgers, and St. John’s twice while only facing the rest of the conference once.
The Hoyas brought in a four-man recruiting class that doesn’t have any standouts but has some players who should contribute this season. The best of the bunch is shooting guard and Oak Hill Academy product, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Smith-Rivera is a physically mature guard with the strength to bully opposing defenders and the skills to knock down open shots or find the open man. The other expected rookie contributor is fluid, lanky small forward Stephen Domingo. Domingo isn’t nearly as physically well-prepared for college basketball as Smith-Rivera, but he has a feathery shot and good basketball IQ. He may come along slowly but will likely see minutes throughout the season. The other two recruits are big men Brandon Bolden and Bradley Hayes. Bolden is an energetic and athletic player who needs to add polish on both ends of the floor. He will likely see minutes given how thin Georgetown’s frontcourt looks but don’t expect him to be more than an energetic rebounder and occasional defensive presence. Hayes is even further from being ready to compete in the Big East and will probably only see the floor if their thin frontcourt gets in early foul trouble.
It doesn’t matter what program you are (except for maybe Kentucky), but when you lose your three leading scorers from last season, it isn’t a good thing. Clark was a reliable shooter and smart decision-maker. Thompson was an athletic wing with range, and Sims was a passing big man with a developing offensive game. They will not be easy to replace and, in fact, probably aren’t replaceable if you are glancing at the Hoyas’ roster, but the good news is that the trio are the only three departures. A number of youngsters such as Greg Whittington, Jabril Trawick, and Mikael Hopkins should be better and will give the Hoyas solid depth, and while the starting lineup lacks all-conference talent aside from Porter and maybe Smith-Rivera, it does have a number of smart players well-versed in the Georgetown system, meaning they will compete in most if not all of their contests this season.
Whom to Watch
At 6-foot-9 and 210 pounds, Otto Porter is a special athlete who can run, defend, rebound, and score in a multitude of ways. His sketchy perimeter shooting and ball-handling difficulties will make it difficult for him to create his own shot, but he is so smart, strong, and energetic, he will find other ways to score and impact the game. Expect him to be the team’s star and a likely candidate for all-conference honors when the season is done. The other player to watch has half the athleticism of Porter but will be just as or more important to the team’s success. Forward Nate Lubick is easy to overlook because he is somewhat plodding and unathletic, but he has also been a steady hand for the Hoyas over the past two seasons, starting all 33 games last season. He will likely start all the team’s games again, but he will have to look for his shot more and may often be charged with stopping the opponent’s best interior player. Lubick is by all accounts a smart and hard-working player, so now he will need to turn all of that hard work into improvement if the Hoyas expect to make it back to the NCAA Tournament.
Without Porter on board, this Georgetown team would struggle to make the Big East Tournament let alone the NCAA Tournament, but as long as the sophomore stays healthy and plays as well as expected, the Hoyas look like a team that can finish in the top half of the conference. They may not have the names that some other programs have, but they do have a lot of players with Big East experience and who understand their roles in the team’s system. The Hoyas probably won’t be the most fun team in the conference to watch, and they might struggle to score points from time to time, but they should have enough talent and experience to make it back to the Big Dance and perhaps even the second weekend against the right match-ups.