When 24-year-old graduate-student transfer Rodney Pryor joined Georgetown, not everyone appreciated him acting like the big man on campus.
“From Day One he came in, he was very vocal,” junior forward Isaac Copeland said. “At first it kind of rubbed me the wrong way like, ‘What is this new dude talking about all this stuff for?’ But after Week One or Week Two I was like, he’s going to be a big part of our team this year.”
The oldest player on the team, Pryor is expected to be a big part of the Hoyas as they look to rebound from their worst season in more than 40 years. Pryor, junior college transfer Jonathan Mulmore and freshman Jagan Mosely are part of Georgetown’s new blood, and those players should make it easier to forget a forgettable 15-18 campaign — the worst winning percentage since 1971-72.
After averaging 18 points a game at Robert Morris, Pryor got a sixth year of eligibility and picked Georgetown over Kansas, Gonzaga and Florida.
“Obviously Kansas is a top-tier school, but I didn’t feel the need for me was as high because they got great players,” the 6-foot-5 guard said at Georgetown’s preseason media day Thursday. “To have a top-tier school like (Georgetown) want me and need me goes a long way, and I want to make sure I prove to them that they picked the right person.”
Pryor wanting to be defensive player of the year fits in with Thompson’s goal of getting back to being consistently strong on defense. The new-look Hoyas will probably push the pace more than ever before under Thompson, but that starts with defense and rebounding.
“You need rebounds to run a fast break,” Copeland said. “We have athletes at all positions this year, so get the rebound and push it.”
Adding Pryor, Mulmore, Mosely and getting former Louisville forward Akoy Agau back after he missed all last season with a torn ACL makes the Hoyas more athletic. It has also provided more depth after managers joined practice at times last year to fill holes.
The one big void was left by the graduation of guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who was Georgetown’s go-to guy. There isn’t one yet, but talent by committee isn’t a bad thing.
“Our team is very different this year than last year,” Thompson said. “It’s just very different in that we don’t have to depend on one person like we did last year.”
The stacked Big East with defending national champion Villanova, Xavier, Creighton and Seton Hall at the top will certainly challenge the Hoyas. That’s what Thompson said they signed up for, and they’re not shying away from the competition.
“It makes us better, but I think we make them better too,” junior guard L.J. Peak said.
Some other things to watch with Georgetown this season:
HAYES, EVENTUALLY: Center Bradley Hayes is back for an unexpected extra season but will have to sit out the first four games. That means missing Maryland and then Oregon at the Maui Invitational, but Georgetown will take it. “It’s hard to replace 7-foot, 280,” Copeland said. “He’s huge.”
PEAK PLAYING TIME: Peak was better off the bench than starting last season, Thompson conceded, though it’s not certain what his role will be now. Peak is one of Georgetown’s best players, so if he can handle starting again he will.
DON’T FORGET IT: Peak believes Georgetown should just drop last year’s disappointment, while Copeland considers it motivation. Their coach is following the latter. “We’re not going to keep picking that scab,” Thompson said. “We have to make some changes on how things were done, and we have. We’re in the process of doing it.”
FOUL PLAY: After being one of the most foul-prone teams in the nation last season, The coaching staff is preaching playing better defense and being more disciplined at the same time. “Last year we fouled too much,” Thompson said. “Last year we didn’t get to the line enough. All of those have been looked at and try to figure out how to address those issues.”