In his fourth full season as Georgetown's coach, Craig Esherick has his most experienced and potentially best team. Four starters return, and juniors Mike Sweetney, who made the Big East Conference's first team last season at power forward, and small forward Gerald Riley have started every game of their careers with the Hoyas.
The other starters off a team that went 19-11 overall and 9-7 in the Big East Conference and turned down a bid to the NIT after failing to be invited to the NCAA tournament are sophomore shooting guard Tony Bethel and senior center Wesley Wilson. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Sweetney led the conference in shooting percentage (56.7) last season and leads all active league players in career double-doubles, with 22.
"It's a complete change from last year," Esherick said, referring to since-departed guard Kevin Braswell often being the only player on the court with more than one year in the Hoyas system. "Right now, I feel much better about our progress, in relation to guys picking up things, in relation to the intensity of practice."
The only position not decided is point guard, and Esherick calls that "a pleasant problem." Sophomore Drew Hall averaged 20 minutes coming off the bench last season, and Esherick said of freshman Ashanti Cook's performance in the only preseason game: "He gave us an immediate boost on offense and defense."
Of the newcomers, Cook's teammate at Westchester High in Santa Monica, Calif., 6-foot-8 Brandon Bowman, also will play extensively.
Georgetown was hampered by injuries last season, with the 6-8 Victor Samnick limited to 17 games. Riley had been bothered by an injury to his right foot that Esherick said could have worsened to a stress fracture had his practice time not been limited. Esherick expects Riley to be completely healed for the season opener Nov. 22 against Grambling.
-- Ken Denlinger