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College basketball preview: Georgetown Hoyas

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

GEORGETOWN HOYAS

Coach: John Thompson III. Eighth year, 160-73; 228-115 overall

Key player: G Jason Clark. Leading returning scorer (12 points per game) worked over the summer to improve his ballhandling. Team will lean on his shooting, which dipped from 42.4 percent from beyond the 3-point line as a sophomore to 34.7 percent last season.

Biggest loss: G Chris Wright. The point guard made Georgetown's offense hum. After he broke a bone in his left hand in February, the Hoyas didn't win another game. Wasn't spectacular, but distributed the basketball, scored and provided leadership on and off the court.

Best addition: F Otto Porter. Late addition to Hoyas' recruiting class ranked among the country's top 30 recruits. The small forward is a magnet for the basketball and such an accurate mid-range shooter that Henry Sims believes he's "horrible to play against because he makes everything."

Best case: The talk of a different attitude than last season and return to Georgetown toughness of years past is for real. Team is able to overcome youthful mistakes, sophomore Markel Starks can handle everyday point guard duties and depth emerges in frontcourt.

Worst case: Ups and downs are a given for a roster with 10 freshmen and sophomores. But if they don't adapt quickly to the rigors of Big East play - or injuries expose depth issues with ballhandlers and in the frontcourt - the season could quickly become an ordeal.

Three key games:

Georgetown vs. Kansas, Nov. 21. Early test at the Maui Invitational will provide a window into the Hoyas' development. Most of Washington will be asleep for the 11:50 p.m. ET tip, but those still up will get to see how Georgetown defends talented Kansas big man (and D.C. native) Thomas Robinson.

Georgetown at Louisville, Dec. 28. The Hoyas' Big East opener caps a difficult six-day stretch that also includes a home game against Memphis. Georgetown edged Louisville in the only meeting last season and forced guard Peyton Siva into a career-worst eight turnovers. Siva is back and this won't be an easy way to start conference play.

Georgetown at Syracuse, Feb. 8. Syracuse is off to the ACC. When, exactly, is something lawyers likely will figure out. The departure and uncertainty over the series' continuation adds weight to the already-intense rivalry. Syracuse, N.Y., in February isn't welcoming on the court or on its frigid streets.

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