NEW YORK – Even though Georgetown does not have a senior on the roster, league coaches are taking note of the Hoyas’ experience.

Georgetown was picked to finish fifth in the 16-team Big East in the conference’s preseason coaches poll, and sophomore center [Greg Monroe]( was named to the preseason all-Big East first team. Monroe, the returning Big East rookie of the year, is the only non-senior on the six-player team.

Villanova was tabbed as the top team in the league, followed by West Virginia, Connecticut and Louisville. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody earned preseason player of the year honors.

The Hoyas finished 12th in the Big East last year and lost their leading scorer – DaJuan Summers – to the NBA draft. One of the main factors for the coaches placing Georgetown in the top five was the team’s experience as compared to last year. The Hoyas cracked the AP top 10 to start last season and upset No. 2 Connecticut to open Big East play before they finished a dismal 4-12 in their final 16 games, including first-round exits from both the Big East tournament and the NIT.

“I was more surprised that they were so good early than I was shocked that they struggled. They were so young,” Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said. “The game that they won at UConn last year was ridiculous. . When everyone asks me who is going to be good, I think [Georgetown] is going to be really good. Those guys paid their dues, they took their lumps, and now they’re hungry. They’re talented and they are a year older.”

onroe, Georgetown’s top returning scorer and rebounder, is another reason for the high expectations. The versatile center elected to return for his sophomore year despite draft projections that predicted him as an NBA lottery pick.

“I just think [Monroe] is going to have a break-out season. There is so much talent there,” Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey said. “He has a great feel for the game.”

For Monroe, the preseason accolades do not mean much compared to when the real competition begins.

“No matter what rankings or preseason awards, the only thing that matters is winning games on the court. That’s our main focus, that’s my main focus,” he said.

Villanova garnered 10 first-place votes and 218 points, while West Virginia was right behind with 215 points and five first-place votes. Georgetown had 161 points, just ahead of rival Syracuse (152).

Notre Dame’s Harangody, who has led the league in points and rebounds for two straight seasons, was named preseason player of the year for the second straight year. The big man won the regular season award as a sophomore, and as a senior has a chance to rewrite the Big East record books. Harangody will be the Big East’s all-time leader in both scoring and rebounding if he averages 20.6 points and 9.0 boards per game in conference play. He scored 25.2 points and grabbed 12.8 rebounds per game last year in Big East games.

Four other seniors – Cincinnati’s Deonta Vaughn, Marquette’s Lazar Hayward, Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds and West Virginia’s De’Sean Butler – round out the preseason first team. Cincinnati guard Lance Stephenson was named preseason rookie of the year.

The annual conference media day held in Madison Square Garden began with an address from Big East Commissioner John Marinatto. He announced that the league and arena have reached an agreement that will keep the Big East tournament at the Garden through 2016. The famous New York arena has been the host of the conference’s postseason tournament since 1983.

The Big East had a record nine teams ranked at one point last year and sent four teams to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. The Hoyas opened their conference slate against No. 2 Connecticut, No. 3 Pittsburgh and No. 7 Notre Dame. While many of the top players graduated or left for the NBA, the coaches generally agreed that the Big East will still present a number of stiff challenges.

“The league will always be tough,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said last week. “I think … the difference is that at this point last year we had probably four teams where you could sit there and say they’re going to go to the Final Four, they’re going to go to the National Championship. The big difference is that the teams that have traditionally been at the bottom of the league are the experienced teams – the veteran teams – and they’re going to be significantly better.”

Georgetown opens its season at Tulane on Nov. 13 and begins Big East play Dec. 31 against St. John’s.

Check out the rest of our coverage at [The Hoya Paranoia](”

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