- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WASHINGTON | John Thompson III is well aware that Georgetown will need to do things differently this season.

After so many big-name — and big-game — big men, the Hoyas will be playing small ball in 2010-11, mainly looking for scoring and leadership from a pair of senior guards: Big East Conference preseason player of the year Austin Freeman and Chris Wright.

Georgetown, ranked 20th in the preseason Top 25 men’s basketball poll, no longer can plan on pounding the ball inside to Greg Monroe, the latest in a long line of star centers who played for Thompson or his father.

“Going into last year, we knew — and everyone on the opposing bench knew — (we had) this guy, No. 10 (Monroe), down there, and that’s where we’re going,” the current coach said. “Now we know we’ve got No. 15 (Freeman) and No. 4 (Wright) out there, and that’s where we’re going. It’s not rocket science. Every year is a coming-together. Every year is a clean slate.”

The 6-foot-11 Monroe left for the NBA, taken in the draft’s first round by the Detroit Pistons after being a third-team AP All-American as a sophomore.

His predecessor as Georgetown’s center, Roy Hibbert, went to the pros, too, as did the more-heralded Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and Othella Harrington.

“A lot of times, we started on the inside and worked our way out,” said sophomore forward Hollis Thompson, who is not related to the coach, “and this year we might do the reverse.”

The only players 6-foot-9 or taller on the roster now are 6-9 Julian Vaughn, a forward, and 6-10 Henry Sims, a center who averaged 1.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and only 6.8 minutes a season ago.

“This is the first year we really don’t have the dominant big man that we usually have,” Wright said, “so, you know, it’s going to be something that us guards are really excited about and really want to take advantage of.”

Last season, Freeman averaged a team-high 16.5 points, along with 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists, and shot 52.5 percent on field-goal attempts, including 44.4 percent on 3-pointers.

Wright averaged 15.2 points and a team-high 4.1 assists.

“If you want to say we’re going to do a lot of the scoring,” Wright said, “that would probably be a likely thing to say.”

And John Thompson III is OK with that.

With the minutes Freeman and Wright have logged, and the key shots they have taken in college, he figures he can rely on them to carry the team.

“Both of those guys have been under the microscope for a lot of years now, so I don’t think they’re going to be under any more pressure or have any more attention than they’ve had in the past. If they are, they’re more than ready to deal with that,” the coach said. “But I’m not worried about them handling the attention they are going to get. They are ready for it.”

Two other starters also return from a team that went 23-11, reached the final of the Big East tournament and was the only school that beat both NCAA tournament finalists, champion Duke and runner-up Butler: senior Vaughn (7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds) and junior guard Jason Clark (10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds).

“The guards are going to have to set the tone this year,” Freeman said. “We are going to have to let everybody feed off of us, because we have the most experience.”

They’ll be hoping to improve on last season’s disappointing finish, a loss to 14th-seeded Ohio in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

They also will want to avoid the sort of early upset they failed to fend off a year ago.

Georgetown begins its season Nov. 12 at Old Dominion; the Hoyas’ home loss to ODU in 2010 was their only glitch during an 11-1 start.

“Even if we had Greg back, we’d have to make adjustments, because obviously we came up short,” Wright said. “What we learned last year is that we can play with anybody, like Coach has emphasized. We can play with anybody; we can lose to anybody.”

___

AP freelancer Elliott Smith contributed to this report.

 

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