After jumping out of the gates sizzling, the Hoyas faltered and faltered, eventually teetering on the edge of seesaw season explosion. Needless to say, the high note the season started out on soon evolved into an afterthought during a down year.
Georgetown rolled out to a 10-1 start, one they capped off with a marquee 74-63 over previously untouchable UCONN. It was a performance that saw freshman wunderkind Greg Monroe stamp his imprint to the Big East world. Monroe dropped 16 points, including two timely treys, in a yardstick game that turned out to be an on-the-road thumping.
The Hoyas put the clamps on UCONN’s 7-foot-3 Center Hasheem Thabeet, a newly-minted Memphis Grizzlie (after being selected second overall in the draft) who couldn’t free himself from the straightjacket. After handling Thabeet’s height, the Hoyas couldn’t handle the hype.
D.C. was buzzing about JTIII’s team, which climbed to the top of the Big East food chain and cracked the top 10.
Fast forward to late February, early March…
How the mighty have fallen. The Hoyas coiled into the abyss, following a 2-9 freefall that saw their NCAA tournament aspirations melt into an NIT berth. Not what they had in mind, especially with DaJuan Summers manhandling early and often and morphing into a stud.
To make matters worse, the Hoyas lost Summers in the off-season.
The bouncy 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 13.6 points and 4.1 boards gunjumped the decision to obtain an agent. He ended being selected by the Detroit Pistons in the second round.
While the loss of Summers takes a slice of the wow-factor and swagger out of the squad, they return a significant nucleus with Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, and Monroe—who flirted with the idea of testing the NBA waters before opting to return.
Monroe, a southern-bred big, has the opportunity to emerge as one of the conference’s top players at his position. He’ll have help patrolling the paint with returning regulars Julian Vaughn, Nikita Mescheriakov and Henry Simms…
Front-and-center team problems included too much ego, too little chemistry, and the unwillingness to surrender individual totals for the betterment of the team.
A severe lack of toughness on the boards and a trifling assist-to-turnover rate also plagued the Hoyas.
DaJuan Summers, 6-8 F: Versatile forward could shoot from the outside, finish strong in transition and play above the rim. He triggered the offense and spurred scoring surges. Relative balance in the scorebook should fill the scoring void Summers leaves.
Jessie Sapp, 6-3 G: He hit a rough patch his senior year, losing his focus while watching his numbers dip and his supporting role dwindle. He lost his starting spot in mid-season and even that didn’t seem to light a fire underneath his ass. Overall, disappointing senior year aside, the Harlem-bred guard was a dependable outside shooter, a statement underscored by his 62 trey bombs in 2007-08.
Greg Monroe, 6-11 C: 12.7 points, 6.5 points, back-to-back double-doubles against Pittsburgh and Notre Dame in early January. Not too shabby for a freshman, huh? Hoya fans were certainly sporting permasmiles upon hearing that Monroe opted to return after testing the NBA waters. It makes sense, considering the New Orleans product still hasn’t hit his ceiling and has a solid backcourt to work with. Look for the reigning Big East rookie of the year to manhandle conference centers this season.
Austin Freeman, 6-4 G: Lighter and quicker after an off-season that saw him shed more than 15 pounds, expect Freeman to assume major contributions in the backcourt. After averaging 11.4 points, 4.2 boards and two dimes his sophomore season, Freeman bettered his game in the James “Jabbo” Kenner League. The Kenner league is the elite and lone NCAA sanctioned summer league in the Washington, D.C. landscape.
Chris Wright, 6-1 G: In his first full Big East season, Wright operated the offense to the tune of 12.3 points and 3.8 dimes per game. His quickness and ability to permeate the teeth of defenses with slashes and runners was notable after an injury-plagued freshman season. Wright showed promise in conference battles against Marquette (19 points on 7-of-14 FG, 8 assists) and Syracuse (25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 6 dimes), albeit in losing fashion. If Wright can become more consistent, the lead guard (he snatched Sapp’s starting spot) could surface as one of the conference’s elite.
Jason Clark, 6-2 G: If his spindly 175-pound frame and passing/quickness is tweaked, his spare part numbers (5.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG) will spike in 2009-10.
Nikita Mescheriakov, 6-8 G/F: If he can manage to stay off the bench and develop a more dependable perimeter game, the Belarus native could evolve into a unique threat.
Julian Vaughn, 6-9 F: The immense size of this wide-bodied junior could pay dividends in the paint and supplement Monroe…
Hollis Thompson, 6-8 F: spindly swingman is long, athletic, contains a feathery mid-range jay that he can extend to beyond the arc. Finishes well in the lane as well as on the break. Thompson is a brain surgeon off the court, boasting a 4.2 GPA indicates. Expect those smarts to translate to the court, where he can assume immediate contributions next season.
Vee Sanford, 6-3 G: Long, versatile athlete who can score the rock in a number of ways. Sanford has a smooth stroke, one that will be utilized mainly from beyond the arc.
Jerrelle Benimon, 6-7 F: Under recruited he was, Benimon can get into the driving lanes. The wiry forward finishes well in transition. This cat, who few could have envisioned in a Big East jersey considering the level of other looks he was getting, has major upside... That potential is still is yet to crack the surface. Don't sleep.