Calmly weathering the losses
May 12, 2008
By Barker Davis
Turnover doesn't always equal turbulence.
Over the past two months, a Georgetown basketball program that
has made three straight NCAA tournament appearances and won back-to-back Big
East regular-season titles has absorbed some painful losses.
First, one of the most successful seasons in school history
ended with two losses in the team's final three games. The sting of the squad's
loss to Pittsburgh in the Big East tournament final was at least tripled by the
season-ending defeat Davidson handed the Hoyas in the second round of the NCAA
That upset loss forced the program to bid a premature farewell
to the senior class that arrived on the Hilltop with coach John Thompson III
before the 2004-05 season and proceeded to compile a 100-36 record to complete a
Replacing a class that included an All-American center (Roy
Hibbert) and the most seasoned player in the college game (Jon Wallace with 136
straight starts) qualified as a major task before the surprising developments of
the last three weeks. First came transfer announcements from key sophomore
reserves Vernon Macklin and Jeremiah Rivers. Then came confirmation that recruit
Chris Braswell, a much-needed frontcourt player, would not be joining the Hoyas
next season because of ongoing academic issues.
Down to just nine available scholarship players and only one
returning frontcourt player with any experience, the Hoyas aren't likely to earn
any three-peat votes in what perhaps will be the deepest conference in America.
"Obviously, we will not have the sheer number of bodies up
front that we have had the past couple of years. But I have confidence in the
people returning and in those arriving," Thompson told The Washington Times last
week. "We'll be OK. We'll figure it out. ... That's what we do."
Outwardly, Thompson shows no signs of being frazzled by the
events of the last couple of months. He still finds it somewhat difficult to
discuss the Davidson game, proof of the emotion lurking beneath his mellow
demeanor. But he has no trouble discussing the senior class he describes as the
"most special group of young men [he has] ever had the privilege to coach."
Nor does he have any problem discussing the issue of
transfers; seven players have left the team during his four-year tenure: Ray
Reed (2005), Cornelio Guibunda (2005), Josh Thornton (2005), Marc Egerson
(2007), Tay Spann (2007), Macklin and Rivers. None of the seven were starters.
"Attrition is inevitable," Thompson said. "Part of it is
natural when you have a lot of extremely talented kids in an extremely
competitive environment. Everybody wants to play. Everybody expects to play. In
many respects, you want them to have that attitude. But there are only so many
minutes available. I'm not going to make promises about playing time. That's a
fluid situation for every player on the roster, from seniors who have started
before to freshmen who are just walking in the door. Those minutes are earned,
"Transfers are just part of the equation at this level. I'm
not going to say they're an unfortunate reality, because look at Patrick
[Ewing]'s situation and how well that worked out. The bottom line is that
Georgetown isn't for everybody. We expect a lot on and off the
Given the team's heavy personnel losses, Georgetown's incoming
recruiting class will have to adapt quickly to those demands, particularly
coveted forwards Greg Monroe (6-foot-10, 226 pounds) and Henry Sims (6-11, 215).
With the team gutted up front by the graduation of Hibbert and Ewing and the
defection of Macklin, both Monroe and Sims will be expected to make an immediate
impact on the boards as the two tallest members of the team.
"The freshman class does not have the luxury of time,"
Thompson said of a recruiting crop ranked No. 3 in the nation by Rivals.com.
That ranking will drop a few slots with Braswell's loss, though he was the least
decorated of the team's four signees (also Bishop O'Connell guard Jason Clark).
"There are some similarities to my first year here," Thompson
continued. "The newcomers are going to be thrown into the fire and expected to
Actually, the young Hoyas won't make it through November
without a severe test. Georgetown committed to the Old Spice Classic, an
eight-team, three-game tournament that will take place in Orlando, Fla., over
the Thanksgiving weekend. Aside from Georgetown, the field will feature four
other NCAA tournament teams from last season (Tennessee, Michigan State, Gonzaga
and Siena) and a pair of NIT squads (Maryland and Oklahoma State).
"Obviously, it's an extremely challenging field, and we have a
young team, so I may regret it. But I really want to find out where we stand,
get a true sense of who and where we are quickly in the year," said Thompson,
who knew about the transfers before Georgetown agreed to participate in such a
Thompson also seems genuinely enthused about the possibility
of Georgetown meeting Maryland for just the third time since 1980: "I'm not sure
if that matchup draws much attention nationally. But locally, I know it would be
a very big deal."
In fact, cautious optimism seems to define Thompson's demeanor
as the Hoyas move toward what most assume will be a daunting transition season.
"It's a little like my first year here when we had a group
that was very young and hungry," Thompson said. "I'm really excited about this
year. It should be fun."
CHANGING OF THE GU-ARD
With the departure of six players through graduation or
transfer, Georgetown will feature a vastly different roster this season. Though
three starters return, coach John Thompson III loses six players off the 10-man
postseason rotation and returns only one frontcourt contributor (current
sophomore DaJuan Summers). Here's a closer look at the players who are gone, the
players who are returning and the new arrivals for the Hoyas:
Player/position G/GS '07-08 Pts Reb Min
Roy Hibbert C 136/121 13.4 6.4 26.3
Jonathan Wallace G 136/136 10.7 2.1 28.7
Patrick Ewing Jr. F 50/12 6.1 4.2 21.7
Vernon Macklin F/C 65/0 3.4 2.1 12.8
Jeremiah Rivers G 68/0 2.5 2.4 18.6
Tyler Crawford G/F 102/1 1.0 1.1 6.1
Player/position G/GS '07-08 Pts Reb Min
DaJuan Summers F 70/67 11.1 5.4 27.2
Jessie Sapp G 104/70 9.7 4.1 26.8
Austin Freeman G/F 34/23 9.1 3.0 25.6
Chris Wright G 16/0 5.7 2.4 17.3
Omar Wattad G/F 11/0 1.0 0.4 3.3
N. Mescheriakov G/F 0/0 NA NA NA
Player/position Hometown Recruiting ranking*
Greg Monroe F/C Harvey, La. 7.0
Henry Sims, F Baltimore 40.3
Jason Clark, G Arlington 66.7
Julian Vaughn F Vienna Florida State transfer**
* Average ranking from Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN
** Must sit out the coming season as a practice-only player
per NCAA rules
Thursday, May 15, 2008
My Man Barker On The Hoyas' Transfers
For those of you who haven't seen it yet, my man Barker Davis, had a piece in The Washington Times on Monday about all of the players that have transferred from Georgetown since JTIII took the helm. It is based primarily on an interview with JTIII himself. It's pretty good stuff.