John Thompson is a master of many things. Recruiting. Defense. Preparing for a big game. But there is one thing that the Georgetown coach is truly The Master of: preseason analysis.

"Every year you get the same questions," he said recently. "When we first got Patrick {Ewing}, people wondered if we would be able to handle the pressure of dealing with having great players. They said, 'Before you won without great talent. Now can you win with it?'

"Then, when Patrick graduated, the question was, 'Can you win without Patrick?' We won without him and last year we won more than most people thought we would. Now the question is, 'Can you win without Reggie {Williams}?' I don't know the answer to that question right now. But I suspect next year at this time someone will be asking me if we can win without Perry McDonald and Ronnie Highsmith."

Georgetown will win this season. Whether the Hoyas can win as much as they did last season -- 29-5, Big East champions, trip to the final eight -- is another question. This will be an interesting season for Thompson. He will be the Olympic basketball coach in 1988 and that will be on his mind. So will Alonzo Mourning, assuming the man most people think can be the next Ewing signs with Georgetown as expected.

Thompson also is a master of focusing on this team and this season. He will have to do that because in a league like the Big East, any dropoff is noticeable. Just ask Villanova, the national champion in 1985, now a team picked by most people to finish seventh in the league.

Thompson likes his seniors to lead. McDonald, who had a remarkable season last year, and Highsmith, still full of potential at 6-foot-8, will be asked to do plenty. The key for Georgetown may be the progress of sophomore guards Mark Tillmon and Dwayne Bryant. Both had flashes last season and Bryant's ability to penetrate and run the offense were apparent. But both must mature and Tillmon must be more consistent as a shooter if the Hoyas are to stay near the top of the Big East.

Georgetown will be, as always, deep. One of the more pleasant surprises for Thompson last season was the play of 6-7 freshman Anthony Allen, who came off the bench to play a key role in several victories. So did guards Charles Smith, Jaren Jackson and Bobby Winston, all now juniors. The Hoyas were shaky at center last season and are likely to be shaky there again this season unless someone steps forward.

What Georgetown might lack will be the stopper, the guy who gets the basket when all else fails. That was Williams, who averaged 23.6 points and 8.7 rebounds a game, many at crucial moments. Thompson dubbed his team "Reggie and the Miracles" last season and the name stuck. This team may come to be known as, "John and the Miracles," because without Reggie it will take a miracle for Georgetown to win the Big East this season.

Since the league was created in 1980, Thompson's team has been the conference champion five times. Syracuse and Pittsburgh should be better than the Hoyas, but Georgetown should not be counted out, with or without Williams, with or without Ewing. As long as they have Thompson, they'll be very competitive.

"We play hard, people expect us to do that and I expect we will continue to do that," Thompson said. "As long as our kids get out and get after people, I'm not really that concerned."

Thompson gets concerned every year once the season begins. But opponents had better get the Hoyas now. If Mourning arrives next fall, Thompson will be facing those same old questions: "Can you adapt to having a true center after playing three years without one?" SCHEDULE

November: 17, Canadian National, 8; 27-28, at Hawaii-Loa Tournament, 1 a.m..

December: 5, Virginia Military, 2; 9, at Virginia Tech, 7:30; 12, St. Leo's, 1; 16, UMBC, 8; 19, Long Beach State, 2; 21, Rice, 8; 30, at Florida International, 8.

January: 2, at Miami, 8; 6, Pittsburgh, 7; 9 or 10, at De Paul, 4; 13, at Providence, 8; 16, at Boston College, 8; 20, St. John's, 8; 24, at Syracuse, noon; 27, Boston College, 8; 30, Connecticut, 2.

February: 1, at Villanova, 7:30; 6, at Connecticut, 8; 9, at Seton Hall, 8; 13, Syracuse, 2; 15, Villanova, 7:30; 20, at Pittsburgh, 2; 24, vs. St. John's at Madison Square Garden, 8; 29, Providence, 7:30.

March: 5, Seton Hall, 2; 10-13, at Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, tba.