- Associated Press - Thursday, October 14, 2010

WASHINGTON | Georgetown basketball brings to mind dominant big men patrolling the paint — players like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo and Roy Hibbert.

The tradition temporarily ended last season with Greg Monroe.

This year, the Hoyas are giving the keys to their backcourt.

“The guards are going to have to set the tone this year,” senior swingman Austin Freeman said during Georgetown’s media day Thursday. “We are going to have to let everybody feed off of us, because we have the most experience. It’s more focus on us.”

Freeman and fellow senior Chris Wright will run the show for the Hoyas as Georgetown shifts to a more perimeter-based team while still running the Princeton offense that coach John Thompson III favors.

Freeman and Wright have been playing basketball together since middle school, so they are comfortable with each other. The pair combined to score nearly 32 points last season even with Monroe, the No. 7 pick in this year’s NBA draft, anchoring the middle.

Now they are the focal point of the offense.

“It’s no secret that our backcourt is the heart and soul of what we’re going to do this year,” Thompson said.

Wright said he and his backcourt mates are eager to show what they can do.

“This is the first year we don’t have the dominant big man that we usually have, so it’s something that us guards are really excited about,” he said.

That’s not to say that Georgetown doesn’t have any muscle in the middle.

Julian Vaughn, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, leads a frontcourt that may be raw, but one that has potential. Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson and Jerrelle Benimon join Vaughn as other pieces in the Hoyas’ frontcourt mix.

“We are a lot more versatile than in years past. We have a lot more pieces that can do more than one thing,” said Vaughn, who averaged 7.4 points in 34 starts last season. “We’re not pigeonholed. Everyone knows the offense.”

Georgetown was 23-11 last season, suffering a shocking loss to Ohio in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With Monroe gone and the Hoyas shifting their focus to the backcourt, Thompson said his team will have to learn on the fly.

“Every year is a clean slate. Every year is figuring out how this unit is going to skin the cat,” he said. “We have a lot of strengths with this team, and now we have to figure out how this group is going to win and how we’re going to function on both ends of the court.”

 

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