Markel Starks Leaves Senior Night Fighting, As AlwaysPosted by Alex Moscoso on March 5th, 2014
On Tuesday night in Washington DC, Markel Starks sat in the press conference room inside the Verizon Center for the final time. In one of the final questions from reporters, Starks was asked if he had mixed feelings about his final home game, specifically coping with the fact that Georgetown has had a disappointing season under his stewardship as the senior leader. His (and John Thompson III’s) response: “there’s still time”. After Georgetown’s surprising 75-63 upset of Creighton, where Starks himself had 17 points and 11 assists, they indeed bought themselves more time. More time to reconcile this season as they now have a puncher’s chance at an NCAA Tournament bid; which would be the appropriate send off for the fiesty senior point guard.
While Starks, and JTIII, tried to put a positive spin things, the essence of the reporter’s question was true; this is probably not how Starks played out his senior season in his mind. Outside events occurred, that were well out of his control, and took a toll on the Hoyas’ season. First, Greg Whittington, probably the most talented player on the roster, tore his ACL last summer and was dismissed from the team at the end of November. In January, the Hoyas lost their lone scoring option down low, Joshua Smith, for the remainder of the season due to academic issues. Finally, as if they weren’t thin enough already, they also lost the services of Jabril Trawick for a couple of weeks from a broken jaw. So their season suffered, and it was up to the backcourt, Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, to make lemonade and carry the team on their backs.
Throughout conference play, Georgetown was extremely inconsistent, losing five games in a row and then winning four games straight after that. They lost some games they shouldn’t have (Seton Hall at home) and won some games they shouldn’t have (Michigan State). But through it all Starks was there to push the team forward and was called upon to will them over the hump almost every minute played – he only averaged only three minutes of rest per game. At 6’2”, he’s one of the smaller players on the court, but no one on the roster had a bigger presence. Starks, on a consistent basis, could be seen yelling at 6’9” Mikael Hopkins and Moses Ayegba (and any teammate really) to get in the correct defensive position or get on their case for not finishing play. He’s not the most talented scorer on the team, but ended up leading the team in points (17.0 PPG) and assists (4.1 APG) with an assist-to-turnover of nearly 2-to-1. Throughout it all, Starks was the engine that drove the team forward. Starks fought all season and Tuesday night was just another example of his and the Hoyas’ continued fight back to relevancy. Once the upset was complete, the Hoyas faithful knew who to thank. As he was subbed out in the waning seconds, and Starks left the court at Verizon Center for the final time, they chanted his name. Starks failed to hold back his emotions and embraced his coaches. In his final home game, he went out a winner.