Happy Halloween everybody! It was a down year as far as I'm concerned for costumes. Aside from the usual "slutty (anything)", I didn't really notice anything truly clever out there, but that's probably because I spent the weekend in my mother's basement testing the new triple double oreos. Our player profile parade marches on today with a look at perhaps the most important player on the team, sophomore point guard Markel Starks.
If Jabril Trawick is the new heart of the Hoyas, Markel Starks is the face of the team. He's got a world class smile and he's the vocal leader of the Hoyas, always up and cheering on the bench. He seems to check all the boxes for a team leader, but his mettle will seriously be tested this year. After flashes of brilliance in Kenner League last year, I was ready for adorn him the "Stark Plug" for his ability to create instant offense off the bench – but he more often looked very much a timid, freshman point guard learning a complicated system. He had a few nice moments, 4-5 from three against Syracuse including a huge 6 points in the JT3s first Carrier Dome victory. When Chris Wright went down (and Austin Freeman's production staggered), Markel was steady, but he wasn't able to jump start a lifeless offense. However, the wizards at Hoya Prospectus were able to pull this positive (for Markel and Hollis Thompson) out of the numbers in their season recap: "the bench collapsed at the end of the season, with Henry Sims, Jerrelle Benimon and Vee Sanford all unable to provide any help; only Thompson and an improving Markel Starks could be counted upon."
Expectations and Projections After The Jump:
Markel will need to provide steady veteran leadership measured in W's that harkens back the Jonathan Wallace days. Without Austin or Chris, the Hoyas are left with a few solid pieces who care score (Jason Clark, Hollis Thompson) but they can't be asked to create the way a true #1 option. Markel has to facilitate the rest of the offense -- and occasionally that'll mean using his own offense to push the team out of an offensive rut.
Markel will need to exploit his quickness (he doesn't necessarily have blow by speed) to angle into the lane and find teammates or draw fouls. There's no question Markel does have a scorer's mentality -- one thing about Markel that I've always admired is that he always takes the right shot without hesitation. His threes in the corner on secondary transition didn't go in as often as they have to, but it's the right shot and he's never shied away or shown any lack of confidence. That said needs to improve dramatically on his 26% shooting percentage or he simply won't be able to stay on the floor.
Projection (Cynical): Markel improves and runs the offense more crisply -- but he just cannot find his own shot or push the Georgetown offense to the level of efficiency it needs to be. A shift toward the point-forward finds the ball running more frequently through Nate Lubick and Otto Porter and Clark and Jabril Trawick start chip steadily away at his minutes.
Projection (Delusional): His play will be highlighted by two revelations: Markel is a cold blooded Cuse-killer and the primary author of the Henry Sims Renaissance movement. His biggest games last year were against Syracuse with a dissection of the hideous fruit -- and he'll prove that's not a fluke. And it's no surprise that most of Markel's highlights were smooth assists setting up dunks for Henry. Henry is Henry – his weaknesses haven't disappeared over a summer – but in Markel he'll have a point guard that will finally bring out his best and put him in a position to look good. He then goes on to fulfill his dream of becoming a congressman.