In college basketball, even the most successful seasons are followed by six months or more of off-season. That half of the year gets comparatively little attention, and justifiably so, as there are no structured practices and, save for a few weeks of Kenner League action or the occasional overseas
brawl diplomacy tour, no games.
But for young, developing players, the stretches between seasons are as important as they are long. The most senior and talented members of the previous season's team depart, forcing returning and newly arriving teammates to step up. For rotation players, the down time can be used to add another dimension or two to their games: refine a spotty jump shot; shore up a loose handle; pack on pounds of muscle in the weight room; or develop a helpful post move or two. For the bench-warmers, the summer is essential to earning minutes in the season ahead, a critical time to develop one's game generally, or at least mastering one valuable, specific skill.
Georgetown's returnees for the coming season are in a somewhat unique position. In one sense, the Hoyas have little to replace: Georgetown loses just one rotation player from last season, and regains a budding star at the same position. On the other hand, that one rotation player is Otto Porter, Big East Player of the Year, All-American, one of the most unique and complete talents in recent memory, a Hoya who rose from impeccable role player to seemingly limitless star in less than a year. The returning, budding star is of course is Greg Whittington, who holds nearly equal promise, and very solid production, as his departing teammate. Even so, the departure of such a core player as Porter will lead to new roles for everyone.
So what can Georgetown's returning players do to prepare for the season ahead? Over the coming weeks, we'll take a look at each Hoya's contributions to last year's team, role on next year's team, and areas for improvement in the meantime. Hopefully, we'll see some of these players showing off new-found skills beginning July 6, when Kenner League play begins. Today, we'll begin with four Hoyas who saw little to no action last season. While these four do not figure to be stars in the season ahead, anyone who saw Aaron Bowen's occasional brilliance and Moses Ayegba's development as an interior force can attest to the importance, both to the team and the individual, of incremental development.
- What he did last season. Entering Georgetown, Domingo was known primarily for two things: his silky jump shot and his age, just seventeen, the latter the result of an early high school graduation. Unfortunately, Hoya fans saw the youth but not the shooting during Domingo's freshman year. Domingo struggled with his jumper, making just 2 of 18 three-pointers, and failed to find other ways to contribute on the court. As his shooting woes continued, he became visibly frustrated. Eventually, he lost minutes to Bowen, and saw no meaningful action during conference play, even after Whittington's suspension freed up minutes.
- How he'll fit in next season. Domingo will have to earn minutes next year, but the team will have use for his skills. Substitute Whittington for Porter, and the wing rotation next year may be essentially unchanged from the end of last season. That's before allocating any wing minutes to incoming freshman Reggie Cameron, a sniper in his own right. Still, Domingo's shot likely will return. When it does, he should be able to contribute to a team that frequently faced spacing issues on offense and lost its most accurate three-point shooter. It's particularly easy to imagine a somewhat small-ball lineup with Whittington and Domingo at the two forward spots, and Domingo enjoying plenty of open perimeter looks as defenses hone in on Whittington and Markel Starks.
- What he needs to do in the off-season. (1) Get his confidence back. Even on his most errant shots, it was easy to see that Domingo has good mechanics, and his high school highlight reels certainly bear out that he can make long-distance shots in volume. But confidence can be fickle, particularly among young players. 500 or 1,000 jumpers a day should get Domingo his stroke, and his mind-set, back. (2) Develop his handle. Georgetown enters next season with essentially three scholarship guards, plus Whittington, a natural small forward who has played as a de facto shooting guard. Domingo showed the occasional flash of passing ability, but it remains unclear whether his handle is tight enough to lend extra depth to the Hoya back-court.
- What he did last season. Domingo's 112 minutes were positively generous compared to the 14 freshman big man Bradley Hayes was granted last season. That time was so limited that even the Wizards at Hoya Prospectus couldn't conjure up any meaning from them. In those scant minutes, Hayes managed to grab a few boards, but not much else.
- How he'll fit in next season. Like Domingo, Hayes is going to have to earn his court time. As Mikael Hopkins struggled during conference play, JTIII turned increasingly to Ayegba at center and, in some cases, Nate Lubick, who manned the middle for small-ball lineups. All three of those players return, and Josh Smith may be added to the mix as well, though questions remain about how much eligibility he still has, and whether he will use any of that eligibility next season. Still, development from Hayes would allow greater flexibility in the rotation, particularly to play Hopkins at his natural power forward position.
- What he needs to do in the off-season. Hit the weight room, stay late on the court, and study the Roy Hibbert playbook. Hayes is seven feet tall, and has a frame that looks like it can support added mass. Big men tend to develop gradually on offense, and Hayes will need to work hard on his post moves to provide any scoring punch next year. Regardless, he should be able to develop enough strength to contribute as a rebounding and defensive specialist in year two. Even that modest progress requires hard work for a person of Hayes' size, perhaps best exemplified by Hibbert.
- What he did last season. Caprio alert! After playing just 23 minutes over his first two seasons, Caprio more than doubled his career totals in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals in year three. He actually saw some meaningful playing time, too, turning in solid production in a blowout of Seton Hall when the game was still in doubt.
- How he'll fit in next season. Some of Caprio's playing time was of the break-in-case-of-emergency sort, with JT3 looking at a wing rotation depleted by Whittington's suspension, Domingo's shooting woes, and Bowen's occasional lapses. In his final go-round, Caprio may get more burn in a few blowouts, but don't count on him becoming a full-fledged role player.
- What he needs to do in the off-season. Handle the ball. The most likely scenario in which Caprio sees the floor next year involves an injury to one of Georgetown's guards. Like Domingo and Whittington, Caprio often comes into the game as something of a guard. Unfortunately, he's proven extremely turnover-prone in limited action.
- What he did last season. Allen had a reasonably productive season, by the modest standards of freshman walk-ons. He canned a three-pointer against Seton Hall, but otherwise barely played.
- How he'll fit in next season. Speaking of breaking in case of emergency, Allen likely will have little to no role next year, unless there's an injury among Georgetown's thin guard rotation. In that case, he could see spot duty as a back-up ball handler.
- What he needs to do in the off-season. Keep shooting. We all want to see Allen take, and make, shots during garbage time of early season blowouts.