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An examination of the local men's college basketball teams

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Georgetown, Maryland making the honor roll

It's college exam time, so it's a good opportunity to grade the local Division I basketball teams on their work over the first five weeks of the season:

Georgetown (8-1)
With a starting lineup of 6-foot-9, 6-8, 6-8, 6-8 and 6-2, the Hoyas have the long, athletic look of Syracuse. Georgetown didn't even rank among the top 10 of "others receiving votes" in the preseason Associated Press poll but has moved up to No. 15 with quality wins over UCLA, Texas and Tennessee and an overtime loss to No. 1 Indiana. All-American candidate Otto Porter is a unique talent but will have to get more help on offense when the Big East schedule kicks in. Grade » A

Maryland (9-1)
It's amazing how quickly second-year coach Mark Turgeon has elevated the talent level and expectations of the Terrapins. Maryland's 23 turnovers on a sloppy night when it delivered Turgeon the most decisive win of his tenure -- 71-38 over Monmouth -- on Wednesday illustrated how much ability the Terps have to overwhelm opponents and at the same time how much growth potential remains. Because of Maryland's mixture of talent and youth, no ACC team enters January as a bigger wild card with potential to boom or bust. Grade » A-

Navy (6-6)
The Midshipmen closed last year with 22 straight losses, but freshman point guard Tilman Dunbar (Paul VI) has been a game-changer. In games in which Dunbar has registered seven or more assists, Navy is 5-0. Second-year coach Ed DeChellis also has added a dangerous 3-point threat in freshman Kendall Knorr, who is shooting 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. Going .500 in the Patriot League would be a huge step for Navy and appears within reach. Grade » B+

George Washington (4-6)
The Colonials have lost their last three by a combined 10 points to quality teams Bradley, Kansas State and Rutgers, but Mike Lonergan's team has shown promise. GW has flaws: depth, ball-handling and outside shooting. But 6-6 freshman Patricio Garino is a budding, multiskilled star; 6-10 freshman Kevin Larsen has excellent hands and skills; and 6-1 point guard Joe McDonald only needs time. Grade » B

George Mason (6-4)
After an opening win over Virginia, the Patriots have blown chances to build their resume, losing to No. 17 New Mexico (by one), Maryland (seven) and Bucknell and Northern Iowa (five each). With an RPI of 80 and no team left on the schedule with one better than 105, George Mason will have to win the CAA to make the NCAA tournament, a goal within its grasp but one that will require more inspired play from a talented but so-far unproductive frontcourt. Grade » C+

American (4-6)
Jeff Jones always wrings as much as he can from his team, but this group is a big challenge as it lacks quickness and has forced Jones to play more zone defense than ever. The Eagles have experienced big men in 6-8 Stephen Lumpkins and 6-10 Tony Wroblicky, and sophomore John Schoof is developing into a perimeter threat. But with a lack of athleticism, AU will be hard-pressed to contend with Bucknell and Lehigh in the top-heavy Patriot League. Grade » C

Howard (2-8)
The Bison have had a tough schedule, but there is reason to believe they can contend in the MEAC. They have size in 6-11 junior Alphonso Leary and 6-7 senior Mike Phillips and plenty of experience. One veteran who must remain healthy is injury-prone fifth-year senior Calvin Thompson (16.2 ppg, 5.2 apg). The Bison have lost the last nine games Thompson has missed but are 8-8 in the last 16 he has played. Grade » C-

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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