Big East Conference Preview: Georgetown, Butler, Seton Hall

Posted by Mike Knapp on November 9th, 2016

The Big East microsite will be rolling out previews on all 10 teams this week, sorted into three tiers. Today we review the projected middle tier of teams — Georgetown, Butler, and Seton Hall. RTC’s previous bottom tier preview can be found here.

#6: Georgetown

John Thompson III Needs a Good Season at Georgetown (USA Today Images)

John Thompson III Needs a Good Season at Georgetown. (USA TODAY Images)

The Hoyas lost leading scorer D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera to graduation but bring back all of their other key pieces from a disappointing 15-18 season. Georgetown has great depth at forward with juniors LJ Peak and Isaac Copeland  both of whom finished strong last season — and Robert Morris transfer Rodney Pryor will see significant minutes on the wing. The team also features a formidable two-pronged attack at center with the return of reliable graduate-senior Bradley Hayes and sophomore Jessie Govan. While Govan had an inconsistent freshman year, he showed flashes of his well-rounded offensive skill set and looks to be a perfect fit in John Thompson III’s Princeton offense.

Georgetown still lacks consistent three-point shooting, but their main question mark coming into this season is at point guard. Junior Tre Campbell underwhelmed for most of last season as the floor general, only scoring in double figures twice. Their only other reasonable option is junior college transfer Rodney Mulmore. While the Allegany College import put up impressive numbers last season, the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference is a far cry from the rigors of the Big East. The Hoyas will need either Campbell or Mulmore to step up at point guard to have a shot at returning to the NCAA Tournament this season.

#5: Butler

Despite struggling defensively for most of last season, Butler used a revamped offense to make its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament — taking more threes and pushing the ball in transition more than even before. Second year coach Chris Holtmann relied heavily on senior sharp-shooter Kellen Dunham and pass-happy point-forward Roosevelt Jones, but both players have since graduated. The challenge facing Holtmann this year will be replicating the success he has enjoyed at Butler without any of the holdovers from the Brad Stevens era remaining.

Kelan Martin leads another strong Butler team into this season. (USA TODAY Sports)

Kelan Martin leads another strong Butler team into this season. (USA TODAY Sports)

Transfer guards Kethan Savage and Avery Woodson should help fill the void in Butler’s backcourt. The Bulldogs also bring back senior forward Andrew Chrabascz as well as Big East Player of the Year candidate Kelan Martin. They might not have the personnel to average 80 points like they did last season, but they should be better defensively with the addition of 6’10” four-star freshman center Joey Brunk. Holtmann’s rotation featured only one player taller than 6’7” last season and his interior defense really suffered as a result. Butler appears to be the biggest unknown in the Big East. The Bulldogs look to have enough talent to compete with the likes of Xavier and Villanova, but it is still unclear how all their new players will fit together. Holtmann could have three new faces in his starting lineup on opening night.

#4 Seton Hall

The Pirates lost All-Big East First Team point guard Isaiah Whitehead to the NBA but return their next three leading scorers from a team that won the Big East Tournament. Angel Delgado is coming off an all-conference Honorable Mention selection after nearly averaging a double-double, but junior guard Khadeen Carrington is likely to lead the Seton Hall attack this year. The Pirates will also need major contributions from four-star freshman Myles Powell, one of the best prep marksmen in the country last season. Whitehead took almost half of Seton Hall’s three-point attempts so Powell should be able to help fill the outside shooting void. Aside from Whitehead’s playmaking, Seton Hall’s biggest strength last season was its defense and that should once again be its calling card this year. Kevin Willard elevated his team from 112th in defensive efficiency nationally two years ago to 10th last season, according to KenPom. With the return of four upperclassmen starters, there is no reason why the Pirates can’t be as good or better on that end of the floor this year.

Mike Knapp (8 Posts)

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