If there’s one thing you need to understand about Georgetown, it’s coach John Thompson III’s use of “Little Billy” to illustrate a point.  “Little Billy” doesn’t actually exist–but serves as a euphemism when JT3 talks big picture.  In the decade since he took over the program, “Little Billy” has appeared in more press conferences than any other player--I’m hoping they eventually retire his number. 

 

The Hoyas look to erase a winter of discontent that saw plenty of highs (an upset win over Michigan State) with more than a few lows (losing to last-place DePaul in the first round of the Big East Tournament) before ending in the NIT.  It was a season of attrition, as injuries and academic issues eventually forced coach Thompson use duct tape and rubber bands to hold together a workable rotation.  If Little Billy actually existed he could have played major minutes.

 

Georgetown will miss the ballhandling, presence and pure moxie of Markel Starks– who led both versions of the Big East in swagger for much of his career.  But in his absence Thompson believes there are multiple players who can initiate the offense…from freshman Tre Campbell to senior D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.  Quite a bit will be expected from both this winter as Campbell leads a highly touted freshman class and Smith-Rivera is the Big East Preseason Player of the Year.

 

First–the freshmen:  Tre Campbell is just one piece in a five player ensemble that is already impressing the coaching staff and upperclassmen.  Thompson feels Campbell will provide a presence on both ends of the floor with his speed and creativity…and he’ll be joined by a bigger Trey in the form of 6-foot-9 forward Trey Mourning (son of Alonzo).  Paul White also provides size inside and “an old soul” according to his coach. Isaac Copeland  and L.J. Peak will also battle for minutes…as Thompson feels this group of newcomers are all quick learners.

 

Secondly, the seniors:  Smith-Rivera led the team in scoring (hitting over a third of the team’s threes) and was second in rebounding last season.  He’ll continue to be the focal point of the offense but the coach admits the senior needs to make strides defensively.  Then again, JT3 says that one of the major shortcomings last winter by the entire team was the team’s defensive execution.  Smith-Rivera does have help up front in 6-foot-9 forward Mikael Hopkins-who provided grit inside last year–along with in theory a Josh Smith who stays academically sound as well as active on the boards.  Even before Smith was sidelined by his schoolwork his rebounding left quite a bit to be desired–the 6-foot-10 tree trunk corralled just 3.4 rebounds over 20 minutes a game.   How did Josh spend his summer?  Working in Salon Shoes at a Seattle-area Nordstrom.  Just like defense does not end until you get the rebound, selling a pair of shoes doe s not end until you provide accessory options.

 

The Hoyas were picked to finish second in the Big East behind a Villanova team that begins the year ranked 12th in the nation… and in tuning up for league play they face a pair of top ten teams in the form of #5 Kansas and 7th ranked Florida.  The key stretch appears to be from February 7th to March 3rd…a stretch that involves 4 of 6 away from DC and includes a home and home with St. John’s (picked to finish third) plus road games at Villanova, Seton Hall and Butler.

 

With improved defense and rebounding, Little Billy hopes to cut down the nets at MSG.

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