By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comCollege Basketball Preview - highlighting the headliners and looking at the backcourt options in the DMV...Bring on the Freshmen - Nick Faust (Maryland), Otto Porter (Georgetown), Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech)Big Men on Campus- Ryan Pearson (George Mason), Alex Len (Maryland), Hollis Thompson (Georgetown)Maryland: Sean Mosley (6-4, Sr.), Terrell Stoglin (6-1, So.), Nick Faust (6-6, G)When it comes to the high-scoring Stoglin, Mark Turgeon faces a quandary. As a freshmen,the 6-1 guard averaged 11.4 points and scored 20 or more points four times during a five-game stretchlate in the season, but there were periods of shot selection wildness. Since taking over the program in May and working with the players over the subsequent months, the Maryland coach has stressed a less is more message tohis talented sophomore. Focus on being multi-faceted player instead of being a singular scorer. Stoglins style at times was that of a classic a shoot-first guard, an approach that can derail the collective offensive flow if not kept in check. During Marylands media day and hours before full practices were set to begin, Stoglin talked the talk of a man set to embrace the all-encompassing role.I see that in order for us to win this season, I have to step up with the leadership role, Stoglin said. Whatever I need to do for the team to win this year, Im willing to do. If thats playing off the ball some possessions, playing with the ball, it doesnt matter to me.Turgeon rarely played the part of volume shooter during his backcourt days at the University of Kansas. Of course, he played with Danny Manning on deep squads that were NCAA Tournament threats. That is not the case this season in College Park.Upon his arrival, Turgeon envisioned using his backcourt depth to mask the Terps supposed frontcourt limitations by often using three and four guard lineups. Following the departure of Haukur Palsson and PeShon Howards broken foot, the head Terp now only has four quality guard options at his disposal, not to mention a current seven-man rotation overall. Sean Mosley is the only four-year senior in the bunch.With Howard out until January, Stoglin is the only point guard at Turgeons disposal. Minutes after Saturdays intrasquad scrimmage, the coach made sure to point out Stoglins playmaking ways, how the lead guard was setting up teammates, getting freshman scorer Nick Faust open looks. Of course, after getting another glimpse of the scant point-producing options on the roster, the yin and the yang of the Stoglin scenario was now tilting back the other way.He was really unselfish today, but Im going to need Terrell to be a little but selfish at times because hes going to need to score for us."Georgetown: Jason Clark (6-3, Sr.), Markel Starks (6-2, So.), Jabril Trawick (6-5, Fr.)Austin Freeman and Chris Wright were tight before they ever hit the Georgetown campus and that on-court bond grew over the years. Now that the pair has moved, a new backcourt combination takes over. Jason Clark has been around the Big East block and is now the leader on a roster filled with 10 sophomore and freshmen.Markel Starks struggled in his first season, but the Hoyas lack of point guard options makes his development into a floor leader crucial. The same goes for developing a connection with Clark, something the Hoyas leading returning scorer said is already in motion. Me and Markel havent known each other as long as Chris and Austin knew each other. But the first time I met 'kel, it was like an instinct clicked," said Clark, one of two seniors on the roster and the Hoyas leading returning scorer."Our chemistry is great. Off the court, we're great. On the court, we're great. He's somebody that I can tell him to do stuff and he can also come to me and say, 'Hey, you need to do this.'They will need to do a lot of stuff because the Hoyas only have three true guards on the roster, though swingman Aaron Bowen likely picks up some backcourt minutes. The explosive Trawick attacks the basket and provides a hard-nosed edge on both ends of the court. Considering the Hoyas read-and-react offensive style can lead to stretches of passivity, adding an assertive element could make up for what the current Hoyas lack in experience.Youre going to see a lot of Philly. Youre going to see that toughness, Starks said of Trawick. I think a lot of people think that Georgetown toughness has gone away. Well it's surely back.George Mason: Vertrail Vaughns (6-2, So.), Sherrod Wright (6-4, So.), Byron Allen (6-3, So.)Simply determining which three Patriot guards to highlight in this section was a struggle, perhaps emblematic of both the depth and questions for new coach Paul Hewitt. Top scorer Cam Long graduated. Swingman and assist leader Luke Hancock transferred. Andre Cornelius, a senior with streaky scoring ability and the lone upperclassman of the backcourt options, remains suspended after an off-season legal issue. What remains is a talented bunch of largely inexperienced pieces.Vaughns is a knockdown shooter with deep range and likely enters the season as the starting off-guard with Cornelius out. Wright flashed breakout potential during a quality freshmen season, but sat out last year with a shoulder injury. Allen and New York City freshman Corey Edwards are battling it for the point guard role; The Upper Marlboro native started and scored 13 points in Mondays scrimmage against Lycoming, but the chatty Edwards added nine points and three assists in 23 minutes off the bench.For a young kid he talks a lot in practice. Very quick to instruct his teammates and call defenses, Hewitt said of Edwards during CAA Media Day. You like your point guard to be talkative. His ability to talk to communicate with his team during the action is contagious, which is a good thing.The frontcourt presence provided by seniors Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison is what has some projecting another CAA regular season title for the Patriots. Aside from health, good fortune and the likes of Drexel and VCU mucking up the plans, finding the proper guard combinations stands as Hewitts top lineup concern.George Washington: Tony Taylor (6-1, Sr.), Lasan Kromah (6-5, So.), Aaron Ware (6-5, Sr.)If some college basketball know-it-all tosses out abold claim like the areas best overall backcourt lies in Foggy Bottom and you are not sure how to respond, simply rock your head with an understanding nod. They may be onto something.As the only player to average double figures last season, Taylor (15.0) emerged as the go-to option while also leading the Colonials in assists and steals. The humble preseason 1st-team All-Atlantic 10 performer can sink 3-pointers, but his ability to convert inside and get to the free throw line separates him from the pack.Some of the scoring burden comes off Taylors shoulder with the return of the sharp-shooting Kromah, who sat out last season with a foot injury. As a freshman, the PG County native knocked down 36 percent of his 3-point attempts and averaged 11.8 points per game. The charismatic Ware started 13 games last season and provides elevation from his swingman role. Combo guard Bryan Bynes and defensive pest Dan Guest round out the deep group, one that likely leads the Colonials early in the season with forward Dwayne Smith (post-concussion syndrome) sidelined and coach Mike Lonergan searching for an answer at center.Virginia: Sammy Zeglinski (6-1, Sr.), Joe Harris (6-6, So.), Jontel Evans (5-11, Jr.)When leading scorer and rebounder Mike Scott was lost for the season, coach Tony Bennett relied on his backcourt for, well, just about everything on the offensive end. Scott returns for a redshirt season, so going with another guard-heavy lineup is not required, though the Cavaliers have enough perimeter weapons should the need arise.Fifth-year senior Zeglinksi is the backcourt leader, providing experience, perimeter shooting (38.7 3pt FG) and smart decision-making (5th in ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio). Harris (10.4 ppg) often was forced to play inside for the vertically challenged Cavs last season, but should see more time at his natural wing spot. As a freshman, Harris led Virginia in 3-point shooting (41.7 percent) and banged his way to 4.4 rebounds per contest.Evans provides a persistent defensive presence from the backup point guard role. Additional size and shooting range comes from a pair of 6-6 freshmen, Malcolm Brogdon and Paul Jesperson, players of the year in Georgia and Wisconsin respectively.Virginia Tech: Erick Green (6-3, Jr.), Dorenzo Hudson (6-5, Sr.), Tyrone Garland (6-1, Jr.)You do not simply replace all the scoring and leadership Malcolm Delaney provided during his four-year run, but the Hokies have two experienced options ready to go. Hudson, who redshirted following a foot injury after playing only nine games last season, offers size and smarts. Green, who took over at the point when Hudson went down and is the Hokies leading returning scorer, has the body to take smaller guards inside and a counter-punching mid-range game.With Delaneys deep range no longer an option, Green (24.8 percent on 3's) and Hudson (22.2) will need to improve significantly their stroke from beyond the arc. American: Troy Brewer (6-5, Sr.), Daniel Munoz (6-1, Jr.), Simon McCormack (6-4, Sr.)Now that the Eagles top two scorers from last season - Vlad Moldoveanu and Stephen Lumpkins have moved on - Eagles coach Jeff Jones will look to Brewer (11.5 ppg) for offensive production. The former SEC transfer and Gaithersburg native can slash to the basket, but his scoring truly surged when his 3-point touch was clicking. Brewer drained seven shots from beyond the arc in a win over Howard and sank 5 3-pointers en route to a season-high 28 points at Lafayette.
The downside of losing frontcourt stalwarts like Moldoveanu and Lumpkins is obvious, but no longer having the steady hand of point guard Nick Hendra running the offense also leaves a sizeable hole. Coming off the bench last season, Munoz was sixth in minutes played last season and his 2.4 assists-to-turnover ratio topped Hendras. Howard: Anton Dickerson (6-2, Jr.), Calvin Thompson (6-3, Jr.), Glen Andrews (6-2, Sr.)Coach Kevin Nickleberry has a veteran backcourt to lean on in his quest to move the Bison out of the lower tier and into the top half of the MEAC. Dickerson (11.4 ppg) was Howards second-leading scorer last season, picking up the slack with Thompson (12.0 in 2009-10) missing last seasondue to a knee injury. Andrews (TulsaT.C. Williams H.S.), fellow transfer Trey Lee (Coastal Carolina) and freshman Sim Frazier provide additional options.
By Benjamin Standig