|Sophomore forward Otto Porter has gotten plenty of preseason hype, but can he translate the talk into on-court success? (US Presswire)|
Preview: Georgetown Hoyas
Last year: 24-9 overall, 12-6 Big East (fourth), lost in round of 32
Coach: John Thompson III (9th year, 184-82; 13th overall, 252-124)
Projected starters: PG Markel Starks, Jr. (7.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.6 apg); G Jabril Trawick, Soph. (3.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.5 apg); F Nate Lubick, Jr. (3.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.0 apg); F Otto Porter, Soph. (9.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.5 apg); F Greg Whittington, Soph. (4.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.9 apg)
Top newcomers: G D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. A much-sought recruit out of basketball mill Oak Hill, Smith-Rivera is expected to be a major scorer out of hand this season for the Hoyas. It's unreasonable to expect Smith-Rivera to replace both Jason Clark's and Hollis Thompson's backcourt scoring, but he may be relied on for instant offense off the bench. The one knock on DSR is his defensive ability, which will have to improve if he expects to get playing time. Center Brandon Bolden and sharp-shooting G Stephen Domingo should also be in line to get some minutes as freshmen.
Key losses: Three starters and 38.4 points a game. Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson, and Henry Sims have all moved on, as has more than 50 percent of the Hoyas scoring output from a season ago. There is no quick fix, of course, especially since this trio was so integral to Georgetown's success last year. Not only does this leave a hole on the perimeter, but it will be difficult to replace Sims' production in the post.
What you need to know: The Hoyas are young. Like, really young. Their best player, Porter, is a sophomore. Starks, another sophomore, is expected to run the show. Trawick, another sophomore, is the defensive stopper on the perimeter. Smith-Rivera, a freshman, is expected to be a slashing, prolific scorer. And Bolden, another freshman, has a chance to find himself in the starting lineup come conference play.
Mark the calender:
- Nov. 9 vs. No. 10 Florida (Navy-Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville, Fla.): Georgetown will get tested right away, facing the Gators fresh off their Elite 8 run in last year's NCAA tournament.
- Nov. 19/20 (Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.): The Hoyas will open with UCLA, and, with a win, will likely face top-ranked Indiana. If not, they'll end up facing a solid Georgia team. A challenging early weekend, regardless.
- Nov. 30 vs. Tennessee: The Vols have had recent success against Big East teams, so Georgetown will be at the ready when Cuonzo Martin's team visits the Verizon Center.
Biggest question: Can Porter take the next step? Porter has the potential to be a lottery pick and All-American. His size (6-8, 205) and skill make him very difficult to defend. Still, there will be a lot on his shoulders, and his ability to produce will likely determine how far the Hoyas go.
Best-case scenario: Porter is as advertised, DSR scores in bunches and Georgetown retains the defensive identity that has been JTIII's trademark. The Hoyas get some quality early season wins -- perhaps an upset of IU -- and have a solid Big East run earning them a top four NCAA tournament seed.
Worst-case scenario: Smith-Rivera can't defend anyone and has trouble finding a rhythm offensively due to lack of playing time. Porter is just OK, and Georgetown has a lot of trouble replacing the departed starters and can't find points. End the season in the NIT.
Reality: Georgetown may take some lumps early, but will come around and win enough games to get an NCAA tournament berth.
Season opens: vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Big East, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.