- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Just call Georgetown's low-post personnel "The Beasts of the Big East."
In prototypical John Thompson fashion, the Hoyas are loaded in the paint, a bevy of bruisers that many prognosticators believe is the best frontcourt in college basketball.
All those years coach Craig Esherick sat by Thompson's side, he saw first hand what power down low can accomplish. This season's team is vintage Georgetown: big, deep, and talented underneath.
"I feel great about our post game right now," Esherick said at Georgetown's media day yesterday, five weeks before the season opener Nov.22 against Grambling at MCI Center.
He should. Georgetown's muscle flexing starts with 6-foot-8 junior forward Mike Sweetney. Sweetney, from Oxon Hill, is a genuine star. A 260-pound banger, he was the only Big East player last season to finish in the top five in scoring (19 points) and rebounding (10.0). Sweetney also led the conference in field goal percentage (56.7).
His big body allows Sweetney to move defenders out of his way with post-up moves involving little finesse. Barring injury, he should show up on every All-American list at season's end.
"It's a lot of pressure," Sweetney said of carrying the Hoyas. "This year there is a lot expected of me. So what I have to do is stay focused and keep working hard."
Senior center Wesley Wilson (6-11), who has teased Georgetown fans since arriving from Maine Central Institute, also must live up to his enormous potential. Wilson, who averaged 12.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks last season, needs to increase his production, especially on the glass. A double-double each night out of Wilson would be nice, but Georgetown's true tower needs to be an offensive threat to prevent defenses from double-teaming Sweetney.
"We have a team that will have to be dealt with," Wilson said. "Mike's a junior and I'm a senior; we won't have a problem scoring. It's automatic. I'm ready to show what I've got and show that I'm the best big man in the country."
Courtland Freeman, a 6-9 senior, can play anywhere down low. Victor Samnick, Esherick's designated 6-8 stopper, can defend any position on the floor. Samnick missed the final 13 games with a foot injury and was perhaps the reason Georgetown allowed a very un-Hoya-like average of 70.4 points last season.
Freshmen Brandon Bowman, a 6-8 forward with 3-point range, and 6-7 forward Amadou Silken-Diaw (St. Albans School), will both get plenty of minutes. Junior 6-6 forward Gerald Riley, who started every game for Georgetown, contributed 10.3 points and can handle a go-to role if Sweetney is not in the game.
Replacing departed point guard Kevin Braswell, a four-year starter who averaged 14.4 points last season, is Georgetown's biggest concern, but it may not be the issue it appears to be. Sophomore Drew Hall, a Silver Spring native, played 20 minutes a game and was second on the team with 61 assists last season backing up Braswell and playing some wing.
Last season's freshman sensation, 6-2 guard Tony Bethel, figures to start at shooting guard, but can play point. Bethel averaged 10.1 points, shot 37.6 (41 of 109) from behind the 3-point arc and averaged 30 minutes. He's probably better suited to play shooter but can run the offense if needed.
A sleeper in Georgetown's point guard mix might be 6-3 freshman Ashanti Cook, who led Santa Monica (Calif.) Westchester High School to a No.1 ranking in USA TODAY's prep poll.
If Bethel has to play point, look for 6-5 swing man RaMell Ross (Lake Braddock High School), who missed all of last season with a foot injury, or 6-6 sophomore swingman Darrel Owens, who sat out for academic reasons, to rotate on the wings.
The Hoyas are still miffed about going 19-11, including 9-7 in league play, last season and not getting an at-large NCAA bid. If Georgetown plays inside/outside ball and with the Big East up this season plus a quality non-conference slate that includes games against South Carolina (Dec.5), at Virginia (Dec.28), at Duke (Jan.8) and UCLA (Feb.8) the Hoyas should be dancing in March.
"I feel good about the fact that I have Wesley Wilson and Mike Sweetney and no one else in our league has Wesley Wilson and Mike Sweetney," Esherick said. "They know Mike and Wesley are special and should be given the ball."


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