Category Archives: GW Basketball

All things Colonials basketball.

October 22, 2014: Five Things to Know in the NBA

Blake Wessinger
Sports Contributor

Editor’s Note: This is the first of Blake’s weekly columns on the National Basketball Association. Be sure to look out for Blake’s column every Wednesday for the duration of the 2014-15 season.

#1 – Biweekly NBA Power Rankings

Team [record] (last week’s ranking)

  1. San Antonio Spurs [0-0] (n/a)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers [0-0] (n/a)
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers [0-0] (n/a)
  4. Chicago Bulls [0-0] (n/a)
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder [0-0] (n/a)
  6. Dallas Mavericks [0-0] (n/a)
  7. Golden State Warriors [0-0] (n/a)
  8. Portland Trail Blazers [0-0] (n/a)
  9. Washington Wizards [0-0] (n/a)
  10. Phoenix Suns [0-0] (n/a)
  11. Miami Heat [0-0] (n/a)
  12. Toronto Raptors [0-0] (n/a)
  13. Charlotte Hornets [0-0] (n/a)
  14. Houston Rockets [0-0] (n/a)
  15. New Orleans Pelicans [0-0] (n/a)
  16. Memphis Grizzlies [0-0] (n/a)
  17. Atlanta Hawks [0-0] (n/a)
  18. Denver Nuggets [0-0] (n/a)
  19. New York Knicks [0-0] (n/a)
  20. Brooklyn Nets [0-0] (n/a)
  21. Indiana Pacers [0-0] (n/a)
  22. Minnesota Timberwolves [0-0] (n/a)
  23. Orlando Magic [0-0] (n/a)
  24. Sacramento Kings [0-0] (n/a)
  25. Boston Celtics [0-0] (n/a)
  26. Los Angeles Lakers [0-0] (n/a)
  27. Detroit Pistons [0-0] (n/a)
  28. Utah Jazz [0-0] (n/a)
  29. Milwaukee Bucks [0-0] (n/a)
  30. Philadelphia 76ers [0-0] (n/a)

#2 – Winners of the offseason

San Antonio Spurs

  • The media tends to focus on big free agent signings, big name rookies, and guys who are going to drastically affect the style or pace of play for a team. Think Pau Gasol in Chicago, or Milwaukee drafting a perfect fit like Jabari Parker into their super athletic, scoring-challenged, Jason Kidd-coached lineup. These are the stories we see on mainstream sports media, but the winners of the offseason did not make any big trades or free agent pickups. The Spurs win the offseason on this simple notion: If a team wins a championship, brings everybody back, and boasts a strong bench of improving role players, they are hands down the favorite to win another title. It is not possible to have a better offseason than that.

Dallas Mavericks

  • The Mavs did well for themselves, opening the 2014 offseason with the first big blockbuster trade of the year with the New York Knicks. They lost an efficient starting-caliber point guard, Jose Calderon, but they were able to acquire an elite shot-blocking center (Tyson Chandler), unload the aging Sam Dalembert, and pick up Raymond Felton to back up another new Maverick point guard: Jameer Nelson. Nelson is a solid NBA starter who has not played any meaningful basketball since Dwight Howard left Orlando. This year, he will shine in Rick Carlisle’s fast-paced offense in an underrated backcourt pairing with Monta Ellis. The Mavs also added Chandler Parsons from Houston, a versatile swingman who can run the floor and score. Last, but not least, they re-signed Dirk to a very team-friendly deal. The Mavs could be a top 5 team in the West this year if they stay healthy.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Of course, I have to mention the Cleveland Cavaliers. They added the best player in the game today, and another top ten player. This new big three of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love has the potential to be even more feared offensively than the Heat big three of the last four years. Defensively, though, this team is going to have problems, particularly in the paint. They will put up points in bunches, but until they add some rim protection, I have a hard time seeing how they can shut down teams like the Bulls, Clippers, and Spurs. Needless to say, this team is worth watching.

#3 – Losers of the offseason

Los Angeles Lakers

  • What on earth is this front office doing? Rolling out a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Wes Johnson, Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill will get you two things: injuries and blowouts. This team is going to really struggle on the defensive end. Also, their backcourt will make roughly $45 million dollars in salary (Bryant 23, Nash 9, Lin 8, Young 5). That’s just too much money. Hopefully, Kobe will come back strong, Julius Randle will be able to get some minutes, and Jeremy Lin will have a great impact on the team once Steve Nash gets hurt (it will happen). It’s going to be a rough season in Los Angeles, as the Clippers continue to take the Lakers’ city by storm.

Philadelphia 76ers

  • A rookie (Nerlens Noel) and a second year player (Michael Carter-Williams) are the only two players on this team who generate any kind of excitement. These Sixers, led by their extremely tank-happy GM Sam Hinkie, traded away their only two solid contributors with NBA experience (Evan Turner and Thad Young) and they drafted two players (Dario Saric and Joel Embiid) who will not play a minute in a Sixers jersey this year. No need to go into detail on this one, I’d be surprised if this team wins 15 games.

#4 – The LeBron James Saga Continues

This summer, we saw the continuation of LeBron James’ quest for a legacy that includes:

A.) winning championships

B.) being loved by all NBA fans

C.) having his name mentioned every time someone says the words “Michael Jordan”

Yeah, we get it, King James, you care about Northeast Ohio, you needed to get away for a while, you wanted to win, and you wanted to play with some other All Stars. Those four years gave you the ability to jump ship in Miami and come create a championship caliber team in Cleveland, but now you expect everyone to forgive you? As I was a bona fide LeBron hater ever since “The Decision,” I’ll go ahead and say it: LeBron James, we forgive you. I love the move back to Cleveland, I love the Sports Illustrated letter, I love the loyalty, the story, you playing GM and getting Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, and whoever else you wanted. I can’t help but root for the Cavs to succeed.

The saga of LeBron James, who, let’s not kid ourselves, is one of the five greatest basketball players to ever hold a big orange ball, is a story that has polarized people, driven up ratings, and re-energized the entire NBA. The only thing I have to say about it now is that he had better win a ring for Cleveland before he hangs up his shoes, but I think it is safe to say he will make good on that promise.

#5 – Preseason Highlight of the Century

The San Antonio Spurs were beaten by a German club, ALBA Berlin, in a preseason game where all of their starters played normal minutes, on a ridiculous 18 foot floater buzzer beater off of an inbound steal. I could watch it a thousand times.

Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scKjYBrypvc

Despite Comeback, GW Falls to Memphis in NCAA Tournament (AUDIO)

TIM RIORDAN
Sports Director

In their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2007, the George Washington Colonials were unable to advance past the second round, losing their first game to the Memphis Tigers Friday night 71 to 66 in Raleigh, N.C.

Senior guard Joe Jackson hit a free throw 30 seconds into the game and Memphis never looked back, never trailing for the final 39 and a half minutes of the game.

Graduate transfer Maurice Creek had a 3-point attempt fall short with 3 seconds to go that would have tied the game at 69.  The air-ball ended a disappointing night for Maurice Creek, finishing with 9 points and shooting 2-13 from the field.

“I caught the ball cleanly,” said Creek after the game, “it just didn’t fall.  I thought I got a great look.”

Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen and senior forward Isaiah Armwood combined to score 37 of the Colonials 66 points.  Armwood led all scorers with 21 points and 5 rebounds while Larsen finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds.

In the first half, George Washington fell back early, thanks to outside shooting and offensive rebounds by Memphis.  Tim Riordan and Jeff Pawling worried about offensive rebounding in their pregame report.

Early in the game, GW used a strategy of getting the ball down low to Kevin Larsen, and he took advantage of his size advantage to score easy baskets.  Larsen finished the half 5-5 from the field

The Colonials trailed 31-26 at half time.  In the first half, Memphis was led by 3 first half 3-pointers Chris Crawford, who finished the game with 9 points.  In the intermission, Riordan and Pawling thought that GW would need to get back to pounding the paint to lower the deficit.

George Washington came out of the intermission hot, getting the deficit down to 2 points at one point.  Memphis began to pull away once again because the Colonials began to struggle from the free throw line.

The Colonials were able to close the gap over the final 10 minutes, correcting many of the mistakes they made earlier in the game.  GW rode a 14-3 run down the stretch to have two shots to tie the game with under a minute left to play.  Nemanja Mikic missed his 3-pointer off the front of the rim, and Maurice Creek missed the rim on his.  Memphis was able to hold on in the end, to send the Colonials home early by a score of 71-66.

The Tigers were led offensively by impressive efforts by senior guards Dominic Dixon, Jr. and Joe Jackson, who scored 19 points and 15 points respectively.  David Pellom, who transferred to Memphis after 4 seasons at GW, scored 4 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Creek had to leave the game early in the first half for several minutes before returning to the game with 10 new stitches above his eye.

The game ended a surprising season for the Colonials.  After being picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 pre-season poll, GW used a balanced offense, a stingy defense, and wins over Creighton and VCU to earn the 3rd seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament and an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.

After the loss, Colonials Head Coach Mike Lonergan was already looking forward to the future.  “I told the guys we don’t want to be one-hit wonders. We want to be back next year.”

2014 GW Men’s Basketball Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

Zach Simon
Staff Contributor

At 23-7 and 11-5 in conference play, the George Washington Colonials, picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 coaches and media poll, has emerged as the clear surprise team in the A10 as they enter the conference tournament as the third seed.

This is the ONLY team in Division I basketball with five players averaging in double figures and more than 11 points per game.

Did I get your attention yet?

Head Coach Mike Lonergan and those inside the program at GW had a good feeling going into this season because of what they saw this past summer when the team first practiced together and would tell you this season is no fluke.

“We’re just more mature this year… We’re older and we have a better sense of what’s at stake every time we play,” said Lonergan in an interview with CBS Sports Network’s Jon Rothstein following GW’s win at home against VCU on January 14th.

Transfer grad students Isaiah Armwood (Villanova) and Maurice Creek (Indiana) have contributed greatly to the team’s success and have provided a calming veteran presence to a multi-talented sophomore core.

Creighton’s Doug McDermott who averages 25.8 ppg and is the inevitable Wooden Award winner could not conquer the “great wall of Armwood,” who held the prolific scorer to a mere seven points as GW took down the then 20th-ranked team (now 14th) in the nation at a neutral site.

Armwood, who has tallied 10 double-doubles this season, is not the only Colonial who rises to the occasion when called upon. Creek came up big with 25 points against Maryland on December 8th, including a game-winning jumper with 0.6 seconds remaining in the 77-75 win at the BB&T Classic. Creek leads the team in scoring with 14.6 points-per-game.

“I told coach when I went over there that I wanted the ball. I wanted the ball and he got me the ball,” Creek said.

Lonergan would later add that Creek called for the shot in a “respectful” way.

It’s not just the ‘Zeek’ and ‘Creek’ show in Foggy Bottom. GW’s battered sophomores have another year of experience and continue to gel with one another as they look to capitalize on a great opportunity in Brooklyn this weekend.

The Colonials’ sophomore class includes Kethan Savage, Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen, and Joe McDonald, who average 13.4, 12.3, 11.3 and 8.4 points-per-game respectively. They’ve been able to still be successful while battling injuries the entire season.

Garino and Savage both have missed significant time. Garino dealt with a broken finger on his left hand, which caused him to miss seven games, and Savage’s broken metatarsal has sidelined him since GW’s win against St. Bonaventure on January 18th.

Starting point guard Joe McDonald has also battled right hip injuries all season long, to the point where his practice time is extremely limited.

Now it’s March and GW is at full strength. The last time GW was at full strength was for their aforementioned win at home over VCU on January 14th.

Savage’s return to the lineup should take some pressure off floor general McDonald, who has excelled in his absence. But more importantly, it is big for a team that, in Savage’s absence, semi-stumbled down the stretch with an 8-4 record in conference play.

In Savage’s absence, GW lost road games to VCU, then 10th-ranked Saint Louis and Dayton, as well a home game to UMass. There really is not a whole lot to be ashamed of in those losses, particularly their loss at Dayton on February 1st, where the Colonials were without starters Creek, McDonald and Savage. There is not a team in college basketball that can compete at the same level without three starters, particularly against a 22-win team like Dayton.

“Its so hard to win on the road, especially in the Atlantic 10 conference, which is definitely a top six conference right now,” said Lonergan on ESPN’s Freddie Coleman show.

The one loss that Lonergan and company would like to have back is at home against UMass on February 15th.

“One of our goals is to go undefeated at home,” Said Lonergan.

The UMass loss was a tough one for GW, and the team that took the floor that day minus Kethan Savage could have brought it home, but they fell just short by a score of 67-61. The game was closer than the final would indicate.

Assuming that the sixth seed UMass, ranked as high as 10th nationally during the season, takes care of business against 11-seed Rhode Island in the A10 tournament, GW will have an opportunity to avenge their only home loss.

This is a complete team that plays a very unpredictable offensive style, which is a by-product of their versatility. They have six guys who can be “the guy” on any given night, and at the same time they mesh exceptionally well together. They will find great success in the Atlantic 10 tournament and  at full strength they should be a dangerous and underrated force to be reckoned with in the NCAA tourney.

X Factor:

Joe McDonald – He’s really stepped up his game of late. McDonald is undoubtedly GW’s greatest beneficiary from the Savage injury as he’s received the bulk of the minutes at point guard and is now delivering on the promise he displayed last season, including a 21-point effort in a loss at tenth-ranked Saint Louis. He has also established himself as a premiere threat from beyond the arc, shooting 39.7 percent for the year, something we did not see from him last year.

Behind the Veil:

Nick Griffin – The freshman shooting guard has shown signs of life shooting in his very young and promising career. In limited minutes this season, Nick Griffin has shot 52.5 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc. The odds of him getting many minutes this postseason are low, but the future is bright for this young shooter.

Mike Lonergan’s 1-3-1 Defense has been punishing on teams on the inside and has restricted passing lanes all season long.

Achilles Heel:

Free throw shooting – GW ranks 309th in the nation from the charity stripe shooting only 65.6 percent.

The same 1-3-1 defense has been susceptible to allowing three-point outbursts to opponents.

PREDICTION:

GW beats a UMass team that has snuck away with many wins this season, but at the same time they have played great competition with a strength-of-schedule ranked 45th in the country and a RPI of 16.

GW would presumably play VCU, absolutely the best team in this conference, but to ask “HAVOC” to play back-to-back games, in my opinion, is a very tall order, and is the lone reason that GW could (and will) beat them.

VCU escaped their only back-to-back this season with a win against Long Beach State 73-67. The only other time they played a game within 48 hours this season was in South Philly vs. Saint Joseph’s after a home game against Rhode Island. VCU lost to the Hawks 69-62.

Given the volatility of the Atlantic 10 Conference this season, for me to tell you who GW will play in the championship would be mildly foolish. I’m going to do it anyway.

In my opinion the two best teams in the bracket are on the same side (GW/VCU) so an upset of Saint Louis would not be a surprise. Saint Joe’s has stumbled of late, with losses to GW and La Salle, while Dayton has risen to the occasion through a tough four-game gauntlet, including three wins vs. Saint Louis, UMass and Richmond. Their only loss came against Dayton. Dayton is playing their best basketball of the year and I expect them to beat Fordham and Saint Joes.

That makes it Saint Louis against Dayton in the semis. Last time out Dayton got the Billikens in foul trouble and took care of business. I do think that this pre-tourney break will help Saint Louis rediscover their aggressive style and defense-first identity. Saint Louis will beat Dayton in the semis, handily.

That brings GW and Saint Louis for the championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

I broadcasted the GW-Saint Louis game for WRGW on February 22nd at Saint Louis. I saw a young, up-and-coming team take on the old guard that is Saint Louis and their exceptional senior class. The Colonials faltered in the final minute; the game was much closer than the seven-point loss would indicate. Joe McDonald attempted a couple of game-tying threes within the final 40 seconds. However, the Colonials still lost 66-59.

I believe the return of Kethan Savage to the lineup will be a game-changer. GW will defeat Saint Louis and take home the Atlantic 10 Championship.

There you have it folks! Thanks for reading and enjoy the tournament.

Colonials Fall in Conference Semis to Top-Seeded Dayton

Raynell Cooper
Staff Contributor

The George Washington Colonials women’s basketball team were unable to slow down the high-powered Dayton Flyers offense, falling in the Atlantic 10 conference championship semifinals on Saturday in Richmond, Va., 89-68.

Dayton guard and A-10 Player of the Year Andrea Hoover was the game’s leading scorer, with 22 points on 8-16 shooting. GW was led by Danni Jackson’s 19 points. Starting forwards Jonquel Jones and Caira Washington combined for nine points, being held in check by Ally Malott, Cassie Sant, and others inside.

Both teams played Friday, with GW playing later in the day and playing a longer game. Dayton narrowly escaped defeat Friday, winning against VCU in the final seconds.

The Colonials shot just 18.2 percent in the first half, trailing by 14 going into the intermission. The Flyers led by as much as 26 in the second half, despite an early second-half run that got the Colonials within nine.

GW made it to the free throw line 28 times, making 24 of their shots, including a 10-10 performance by guard Hannah Schaible. The Colonials were out-rebounded by the Flyers 52-44.

Dayton will play in the Atlantic 10 Championship Game Sunday against Fordham, who took down St. Bonaventure in the other semifinal.

GW is almost assured to continue playing, despite the conference season drawing to a close. While the NCAA tournament is probably not in the cards for the Colonials, the buff and blue will likely see themselves in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, which will be announced on March 17 and will begin play March 19-21. Games are played at campus sites, and GW has an opportunity to host a game.

It is hard to tell what adjustments need to be made based off the Dayton game because they will not see Dayton-level talent in the WNIT. There are few rosters in college basketball that carry as many players over 6’3” as Dayton does, especially amongst the teams they will be facing. GW had serious trouble getting the ball inside on Saturday, but they have had success against many other teams doing that, including Saint Joseph’s on Friday.

The Colonials have a talented squad, and they have a real shot at making a deep run in the 64-team WNIT field. Play begins March 19-21 and can be heard on WRGW District Radio.

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