We kick off CSNwashington's formal college basketball preview with a look at those returning for the 2013-14 season*. Throughout the week we'll also highlight those new faces, key players, top storylines and a fan's guide to the DMV college basketball calendar.
(*) Check out CSNbaltimore for all things Maryland
Georgetown (25-7 in 2012-13; Big East)
Returning starters: Markel Starks, G, Sr. (12.8 ppg, 41.7 3ptFG); Nate Lubick, F, Sr. (7.1 ppg, 5.4 rbg); F, Mikael Hopkins, Jr. (5.9 ppg); Jabril Trawick, G, Jr. (5.8 ppg)
Key reserves: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, G, So. (8.9 ppg); Aaron Bowen, F, Sr.; Moses Ayegba, C, Sr.; Stephen Domingo, F, So.
Notes: The Hoyas shared a piece of the Big East regular season title last season and seven of the top eight scorers from that squad return. The notable exception being top scorer and Wizards rookie Otto Porter, leaving the frontcourt without anything close to a go-to offensive option. John Thompson III believes the trio of Starks, Smith-Rivera and Trawick form one of the top backcourts in the country. The head coach might be on to something especially if Big East first-team preseason selection Starks continues his year-by-year progression, the trimmer DSR adds consistency to his point-producing ways and the defensive-minded Trawick finds his own scoring knack. Finding steady offensive production from Lubick and Hopkins, starters throughout last season, would go a long way toward another title. Domingo, highly touted entering college, has a chance for minutes on the perimeter after a splinter-gathering freshman campaign.
George Mason (22-16; Atlantic 10)
Returning starters: Sherrod Wright, G, Sr. (16.6 ppg); Jonathan Arledge, F, Sr. (9.0 ppg, 4.8 rbg); Bryon Allen, G, Sr. (8.3 ppg, 4.0 apg); Erik Copes, C, Jr. (6.0 rpg); Corey Edwards, G, Jr. (4.9 ppg)
Key reserves: Johnny Williams, F, Sr. (7.0 ppg), Patrick Holloway, G, So. (5.3 ppg); Anali Okaloji, F, Jr.
Notes: Another team returning the previous season's core, including Wright, the Patriots only double figure scorer. Finding enough bodies wasn't an issue last season nor will it be during the upcoming campaign, though coach Paul Hewitt will be without suspended starter Copes for the first six games. Finding a steady rotation - and tangentially, consistency - proved more challenging. Same possible scenario exists this season with 11-12 legitimate options available for minutes. Allen's starting combo guard role is secure and the Largo native is showing up on all kinds of "breakout season" lists. Arledge had his own breakout stretch over the second half of last season. The Patriots will need more of that combined with other bigs stepping up as leading returning rebounder Copes sits following his second suspension in as many seasons.
George Washington (13-17, Atlantic 10)
Returning starters: Isaiah Armwood, F, Sr. (11.9 ppg, 8.8 rbg); Patricio Garino, G, So. (8.8 ppg, 2.3 spg); Kevin Larsen, C, So. (8.2 ppg); Joe McDonald, G, So. (7.5 ppg), Kethan Savage, G, So. (3.1)
Key reserves: Nemanja Mikic, F, Sr.; John Kopriva, Jr.
Notes: Early last season, Colonials coach Mike Lonergan threw four freshman into the starting lineup. Though GW certainly improved as the season progressed, the plan was less about 2012-13 results and more about getting the kids experience for the upcoming campaign. Expect the payoff to come in the form of turning so many of last season's moral victory losses into actual victories. The shot blocking Armwood provides interior toughness not to mention experience. Assuming Larsen's late season progress translates into success as a sophomore, the Colonials will arguably have the top big man combo in the league. Whether all involved can overcome a challenging non-conference schedule and conference with 10 teams legitimately thinking about a top-5 finish is why they play the games.
American: (10-20, Patriot League)
Returning starters: John Schoof, G, Jr. (9.6 ppg, 50.7 3ptFG); Tony Wroblicky, F, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Key reserves: Jesse Reed, G, So.; Austin Carroll, G, Jr.; Kyle Kager, F, Jr.
Notes: First-year head coach and former Georgetown assistant Mike Brennan inherits a knockdown shooter in Schoof, a quality big man in Wroblicky and uncertainty everywhere else. Four of last season's top scorers are gone including leading rebounder Stephen Lumpkins and point guard Daniel Munoz. Brennan hopes to fill in the gaps with several newcomers. Setting up Schoof (70 for 138 on 3's) for open looks out of the newly installed read-and-react offense will as well.
Virginia (23-12, ACC)
Returning starters: Joe Harris, G., Sr. (16.3 ppg, 42.5 3pt FG); Akil Mitchell, F, Sr. (13.1 ppg, 8.9 rbp); Justin Anderson, G, So. (7.6 ppg); Darion Atkins, F, Jr. (4.7 ppg)
Key reserves: Mike Tobey, C, So; Evan Nolte, F, So.; Teven Jones, G, So.
Notes: Tony Bennett's squad returns its top five scorers from last season including Harris, the only player back from last season's all-conference team. With his 3-point shooting proficiency, the swingman enters this campaign as a leading candidate for ACC Player of the Years honors. Expect more perimeter help from Anderson, who averaged 19 points during Virginia's three NIT games ending last season. Mitchell ranked third in rebounding, but needs help on the boards as the Cavs ranked only 10th in the ACC. Factor in the Cavs usual suffocating defense and just based on what's coming back we're talking about a borderline top 25 team with a chance to finish among the ACC's top 3.
Virginia Tech (13-19, ACC)
Returning starters: Jarell Eddie, F, Sr. (12.3 ppg); Cadarian Raines, F, Sr. (6.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg); C.J. Barksdale, F, Jr. (5.6 ppg)
Key reserves: Marshall Wood, F, So.; Marquis Rankin, G, Jr.; Joey van Zegeren, F, So.; Will Johnston, G, Jr.
Notes: Even the nation's elite programs would struggle to replace the nation's leading scorer. That that's the dilemma the Hokies are in following Erick Green's graduation. Actually coach James Johnson must replace his entire starting backcourt, though he does have experience up front. Virginia Tech ranked among the top rebounding teams in conference last season as Raines, Eddie and Barksdale give the Hokies legitimate battlers on the boards. Finding scorers from any position will be Johnson's top challenge.
Virginia Commonwealth (27-9, Atlantic 10)
Returning starters: Treveon Graham, F, Jr. (15.1 ppg); Juvonte Reddic, F, Sr. (14.6 ppg); Rob Brandenberg, G, Sr. (10.4 ppg)
Key reserves: Briante Weber, G, Jr. (2.7 spg); Melvin Johnson, G, So. (6.9 ppg)
Notes: VCU lost key members of its backcourt, but Shaka Smart has plenty of talent remaining for his "Havoc" schemes including all-conference candidates Graham and Reddic. Weber moves into the starting lineup after ranking fifth nationally in steals despite playing only 20 minutes per game. The Rams led the country in steals last season and their all-consuming pursuit of turnovers is one reason why they're the Atlantic 10 preseason favorite. The inside-outside combo of Graham and Reddic is another.