Postseason:NIT: Defeated Boston University 64–34, defeated Cal State Fullerton 74–57, lost to South Carolina 69–66 in the quarterfinals
Fort Washington, MD/National Christian
College Park, GA/Bannecker
Camden, DE/Caesar Rodney
Unlike last season when John Thompson III rushed three freshmen into his starting lineup, this year he is hoping to use his four newcomers to add some depth. Egerson is a tough defender who likes to slice into the lane. Sapp averaged 23.9 points per game and was an All-Met selection in the D.C. area. Spann averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds per game. Thornton is a pure point guard.
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John Thompson III wanted to nurture. He wanted to teach and guide and coax. But he couldn't. He couldn't afford the luxury of slowly bringing along a talented bunch of freshmen.
In his first year at his father's old school, Thompson went 'New School,' leaning heavily on freshmen Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert and Jonathon Wallace. Together, the first-year coach and the trio of first-year players restored some respect to the suddenly mediocre Hoyas last season.
Thompson thrust all three freshmen into the starting lineup and won 19 games, fashioned a .500 record in the rugged Big East and nearly earned the school's first NCAA bid since 2001.
All against Thompson's better judgment.
"What we asked them to do wasn't fair," Thompson says. "It wasn't fair, but it is what it is. They had to produce. They had to come through for us."
Green was named to the Big East All-Rookie team after averaging 13.1 points per game. Wallace provided an outside shooting threat; his 37.3 3-point shooting percentage would have ranked fifth in the league if he had enough attempts to qualify. And Hibbert, a 7-2, 272-pound center, showed signs of being a force in the middle.
Now, they're all back for more in Year II of JT III.
Georgetown's frontcourt received a big boost in June when Brandon Bowman pulled his name out of the NBA Draft. Bowman, a smooth and athletic 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior.
Thompson hopes Bowman's experience of finding out where he stood in the eyes of NBA executives will motivate him as he enters his senior year.
"I think he's got a lot of God-given abilities," Thompson says. "He made strides this year, but there's a lot of room for improvement. He can have success. We need him to."
Green, an unheralded recruit from Hyattsville, Md., topped all Big East freshmen in both points and rebounds. He made 69.9 percent of his free throws, 50.2 percent of his shots and 40.0 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Hibbert came along a little bit more slowly. He started 17 games, averaged just 15.8 minutes per game but still rejected 40 shots.
An experienced three-man rotation will create depth in the backcourt and will also give Thompson some lineup flexibility.
Ashanti Cook, a 6-2 senior, has started every game over the last two seasons. He improved his outside shooting last season, going from 31.9 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore to 37.7 percent as a junior. But he still needs to cut down on his turnovers -- he had 62 miscues and just 80 assists.
Wallace was the year's real surprise. Originally slated to go to Princeton, Wallace opted to follow Thompson to Georgetown. He started every game as a freshman and proved to be a dangerous threat from beyond the 3-point arc.
Darrel Owens returns to the Hoyas as a fifth-year senior. He started 15 games last season when Thompson decided to go with a smaller lineup, inserting the 6-6 Owens in as a small forward. Owens can also play the big guard spot. He knocked down 38.7 percent of his 3-point attempts last year.
"He's one of these guys who puts it up and you think it's going in," Thompson says. "But when he starts to define himself as a shooter, he limits himself."
Last year, the Hoyas avoided all the pitfalls that normally plague a young team until a five-game losing streak at the end of the regular season cost Georgetown a berth in the NCAA tournament. But the 2004-05 season was still a remarkable success given the Hoyas' 13-15 record in former coach Craig Esherick's final season. Now, the stage is set for an even better encore.
Thompson is preaching a brand of cautious optimism.
"Year One went well," he says. "But as I tell the kids, let's approach it one step at a time, and not think about the big picture. Obviously, going to the NCAA Tournament is a goal. That's why we all do this. We'll see. We have a lot back."
Yes, Georgetown has a lot back, including a Thompson on the sideline.