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October 13, 2006

Georgetown back among college hoops elite

Smith key to Vols plan
Midnight Madness Preview
The College Basketball Wire

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WASHINGTON -It's been quite some time since Georgetown was a year-in, year-out factor in men's basketball.

Coming off last season's breakthrough trip to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 under coach John Thompson III, the Hoyas could be back to national prominence on a regular basis.

Heck, players were throwing around terms such as "national championship" and "best in the nation" on Thursday during the team's media day at McDonough Arena on the university's campus.

"I want our team to be the best team in the Big East. We have a lot of goals: trying to be the best team in the nation, trying to get to the championship. We're trying to be a championship-caliber team," forward Jeff Green said. "So we just have to continue to work and try to get to that point."

He's part of a trio of juniors who arrived at Georgetown along with Thompson - and they're all still there. It's a rarity in college basketball these days, and something Green and classmates Roy Hibbert and Jonathan Wallace think gives them an edge.

"The junior class is special. We came in together," Thompson said. "For a couple of years, they've been the core of our team."

Said Green: "That's a big factor - the good team chemistry we have here."

He and the 7-foot-2 Hibbert were the Hoyas' top two scorers and rebounders last season. But Georgetown lost the next three players on its scoring list: Brandon Bowman, Ashanti Cook and Darrel Owens averaged a combined 29.4 points; Cook and Owens led the team in 3-pointers.

That, of course, is the area on which Thompson focuses.

"We lost a lot. We need a lot of different people to step up. It's obvious that a lot of the excitement and a lot of the expectations for this team are based on Jeff and Roy and our frontcourt," said Thompson, whose father led Georgetown to the 1984 NCAA championship and two runner-up finishes. "So we're going to need some of our perimeter guys ... to come in and fill those holes."

One player who'll be looked upon to help out is Patrick Ewing, a 6-foot-8 forward who transferred from Indiana and is known as "Junior" to teammates.

His father, of course, was the center on those Hoyas teams that had so much success in the 1980s and earned the banners that hang in McDonough Arena.

"We want to get a national championship on that wall, so the most important thing is putting away selfish thoughts and doing stuff for the team," Hibbert said. "For the team, I expect nothing less from us than to get a national championship. ... We work extremely hard together and the pieces of the puzzle are coming together."



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