After suffering a shocking loss in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament, Georgetown hopes this season doesn’t end as soon.
It would also like to open with a victory, something the Hoyas failed to get in a matchup with Old Dominion last season.
The 20th-ranked Hoyas, featuring a new-look offense centered around guards Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, take the court for the first time Friday night looking to avenge that recent loss to the Monarchs.
Georgetown (23-11) reached the final of the Big East tournament and was the only school to beat both NCAA tournament finalists, champion Duke and runner-up Butler. It entered the tournament poised to make a deep run as a No. 3 seed, but was completely outplayed by Ohio in its opener and fell 97-83.
“What we learned last year is that we can play with anybody, like coach (John Thompson III) has emphasized,” Wright said. “We can play with anybody; we can lose to anybody.”
The Hoyas’ first defeat last season came at the hands of Old Dominion, 61-57 on Dec. 19 following eight straight wins. It was the second time in three years the Monarchs upset Georgetown at McDonough Arena.
This meeting will be at the Constant Convocation Center, where Old Dominion went 13-0 last season.
The Monarchs (27-9) won the Colonial Athletic Association and defeated Notre Dame in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before losing to then-No. 19 Baylor in the second round.
The Hoyas have turned to their backcourt to drive the offense following the departure of Greg Monroe, the No. 7 pick in the draft and the latest in a long line of star centers to play at Georgetown.
“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,” Thompson 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. It’s no secret that our backcourt is the heart and soul of what we’re going to do this year.”
Freeman, the Big East preseason player of the year, averaged a team-high 16.5 points with 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season, while Wright averaged 15.2 points and a team-best 4.1 assists. However, the two players combined for 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting in last season’s loss to Old Dominion.
“The guards are going to have to set the tone this year,” said Freeman, who shot 52.5 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent on 3-pointers. “We are going to have to let everybody feed off of us, because we have the most experience.”
The Hoyas return two other starters in senior Julian Vaughn (7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds) and junior guard Jason Clark (10.5, 3.9).
The Monarchs also have four returning starters and are expected to be led by Ben Finney and Kent Bazemore, both named to the CAA preseason all-conference second team.
Finney averaged 8.8 points and 5.8 rebounds last season and led Old Dominion with 13 points against Georgetown.