Where does GW Stand?
By Julian Gompertz
After an 8-2 start, with an unblemished record on the road, the inevitable question is: where does this team stand? Using the East Carolina game, as our most recent barometer, there are two schools of thought.
On the one-hand, jubilation might have been the reaction a Colonial fan had at the four-point overtime victory against a Conference-USA school on the road after a 10-day layoff (including inclement weather and the final exam period). Then their are the irate GW Basketball followers who would most likely be in disarray over the Pirates forcing overtime against this squad when three of ECU’s five wins this season came against Division II opponents. The pragamatic answer, to where we stand, is a boring one, yet it is also the correct one. This team is somewhere in-between the 23-win team of 2006-07, and the two subsequent teams that disappointed fans across the DMV.
With that understood, there has been much to rejoice while cheering for the Buff & Blue this year. Senior Damian Hollis, has demonstrated an ability to score in multiple ways, and when he stays out of foul trouble, becomes a consistent offensive threat each time he touches the ball. He also has become the team’s closer, and that was never more evident than his ability to hit big-time free throws to ice our victory in North Carolina. Aside from his latest performance, Lasan Kromah might be the most promising freshman to don the buff and blue in years. With both his outside shooting ability as well as his uncanny knack for getting into the passing lanes, Kromah has developed exponentially quicker than any of us expected, and with improvement in both his man-to-man defense & free-throw shooting, he could be one of the GW great’s four-years from now.
Tony Taylor & Aaron Ware have made marked progress in their sophomore campaigns, as Taylor finally seems to have a better grasp of Karl Hobbs’ offense. Tony has also become the team’s late game scorer, and seems to want to make the big play for his team with time running out. Ware has been the Colonials’ most consistent slasher, seemingly going towards the basket every time the ball is in his hands. The three-headed monster that has become the 5-Spot for Hobbs’ offense, has done enough offensively to merit their expanded role, as Hermann Opoku & Joseph Katuka have shown flashes of their potential, all the while Jabari Edwards has become the team’s best defensive forward. Guard Bryan Bynes is already earning a reputation for being the team’s best on the ball defender, while David Pellom, Tim Johnson & most recently Dwayne Smith have added depth and a renewed sense of excitement to this team’s strong start. Funny, in writing this last paragrpah that Travis King, considered by many to be the team’s 2nd best player before the season, has been relegated to bench duty with the younger and more athletic guards receiving extended minutes.
Can this last? Well, with only three-games remaining before conference play begins, it will be tough to envision this team at 11-2 with two road games including (@ Harvard) still to play. Yet even if the team drops one of its final three OOC matches, the team would have matched its win total from last season, just two days into 2010.
While GW has not faced a ranked opponent yet this season, the team will be tested in almost every A-10 game it is in, and this year’s conference might be the strongest, top-to-bottom, it has been in recent memory. Perennial favorite Xavier, has struggled early this season, yet has no bad losses, and victories over a ranked Cincinnati squad & Creighton. Dayton, a team that began the year in the top 25 also defeated Creighton, and knocked off Georgia Tech & fast-rising Old Dominion earlier this season. Temple might be the conference’s biggest surprised to date with a monumental victory over 3rd-ranked Villanova, to go with victories over previously unbeaten Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, Penn State & a 1 point loss to Georgetown at Verizon Center. Charlotte handed Rick Pitino his worst loss at Louisville earlier this season and sits at 9-2, while Richmond has a strong resume with wins over nationally ranked Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State & Old Dominion.
This does not include a one-loss Rhode Island team who beat both Providence & Boston College, as well as LaSalle & Duquense who both were picked to finish amongst the conference’s top 5 in the pre-season polls. Will the Colonials struggle during the conference slate? Most certainly. In fact, they begin the conference season with what might be their most daunting task traveling to Olean, NY to face the Bonnies before hosting Xavier & Richmond while traveling to Dayton & LaSalle. This five-game stretch might not produce more then one, maybe two wins, yet if we’ve learned anything about this team to date, its that they have proven to be both resillient & competitive every time they have taken the floor this year.
So sit back, relax, fasten your seat-belts and enjoy the ride because what comes next is anybody’s guess. Just know that regardless of how this season finishes, the future is bright again in Foggy Bottom, and that is something no one can argue with.