After slimming down and shoring up his outside shooting, Austin Freeman is hungry to avenge last season's fade.
This article appears in the November 23, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated
This was a summer of discontent for the Hoyas, who started last season 12-3 and were ranked as high as No. 9 but went into a death spiral, finishing 4-12, missing the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round of the NIT. No one was bothered more than junior guard Austin Freeman. In late March, Freeman conceded to coach John Thompson III that he had been overweight and wanted to do something about it.
"It was no secret," Thompson says, "but for him to identify it as something he needed to work on was important."
So in the off-season Freeman shed 12 pounds to get down to 227. The extra bulk he carried last year sapped some of his explosiveness on offense and limited his effectiveness as a defender. "We just couldn't close out games," says Freeman, who was one of eight underclassmen in an 11-man rotation that included league rookie of the year Greg Monroe. "[Our] youth played a part, but I also think we were beaten down by the end of games."
Youth will still be an issue for Georgetown -- there are no seniors on its roster for the first time since the 1992-93 season -- so the burdens of leadership will fall to Freeman and junior point guard Chris Wright. "I think Chris will be much more settled, much more comfortable with what we are doing," Thompson says of Wright, a former McDonald's All-American who missed 18 games as a freshman with a fractured right ankle. Freeman, meanwhile, must improve his .306 shooting percentage from three-point range. "Austin has put in the reps in the off-season and in practice, and the difference has been noticeable," Thompson adds.
The slimmer Freeman has also been one of the team's best defenders in workouts, and the bitter taste left from last season's dismal finish still drives him. "The team and I didn't live up to expectations," he says, "but this year's team is hungrier. Last year was tough, but going through that will make us tougher to beat this year."
-- George Dohrmann
Issue date: November 23, 2009