Starks: Georgetown still 'dangerous'

NEW YORK CITY -- Markel Starks understood that the circumstances of Wednesday’s Big East Media Day would result in a multitude of questions about the next steps for a Georgetown program that must regroup in 2013-14.

Perhaps “regroup” is the wrong word. But any team that loses a lottery pick (Otto Porter) and pushes ahead without a veteran standout that could have filled that lottery pick’s shoes (Greg Whittington) must provide some answers about its future.

But Starks didn’t have a sob story about Georgetown’s new makeup.

“We play as a unit,” Starks said during the event at Chelsea Piers. “We play as a group. Obviously, we just lost a great player. Even still, with or without him, we play as a unit. … I think we can still be a very dangerous team.”

And it’s true.

Whittington’s absence didn’t stop the Hoyas from winning a share of the Big East crown last year.

Porter, however, was available then.

Without the talented forward, Georgetown could be a more versatile team because they’ll be challenged to spread the ball around.

Inconsistent offense was a challenge for the team last year, too. That won’t be as much of an issue this year, Starks said, because the Hoyas are more mature.

“At times last year, we did have problems scoring the basketball,” he said. “We were young last year. You were asking freshmen and sophomores to contribute as juniors and seniors. ... But I’d rather win ugly than lose a game 80-79. This will be a very exciting year not only for the program but for the league. And yes, we will score the basketball.”

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (8.9 PPG) is a strong candidate to emerge as an offensive catalyst for the program.

John Thompson III praised Smith-Rivera’s offseason development. He said the 6-foot-3 sophomore could be a breakout star for the Hoyas this year.

“I’m expecting a very big year,” Thompson said. “I think he’s worked very hard in the offseason.”

Yes, there are still questions. Questions that the Hoyas can’t answer until next month when games begin.

The Hoyas haven’t had Whittington for nearly a year. So it’s not really a loss. But he’ll definitely help if he ever becomes available this season following a summer knee injury.

Inside the program, however, Georgetown is talking like a team that is ready to compete for the Big East crown, not a team that’s worried about what it has lost since last season.