Men’s Gameday #12: GW vs Wichita State

George Washington Colonials (8-3) vs. #11 Wichita State Shockers (10-1)
2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, Final
8:30 PM, Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
Media Coverage: ESPN2/WatchESPN, 1500 AM, FederalNewsRadio.com

Diamond Head Classic Thus Far – GW has played consistently solid basketball over the first two days, beating Ohio and Colorado and playing well in both games. What should the Colonial faithful expect against the Shockers?

Opponent Preview – Wichita State

2013-2014 Record: 35-1 (18-0), Postseason – NCAA Third Round Loss to Kentucky 78-76

2014-2015 Record: 10-1; Ken Pom – 11, AP – 11, Coaches – 11. Defeated Hawai’i 80-79 (OT) in Diamond Head Classic semifinals.

Players to Watch

Ron Baker – GW will have their hands full with Baker, one of the best shooters in the nation. Baker can do much more than shoot, and has shown this year the ability to effectively create out of pick-and-rolls. Baker is not the most athletic player, but he has a sneaky quick first step and is able to get to the rim well. He makes the best basketball decision most of the time and only commits one turnover per game. He rates well amongst NBA scouts, and draftexpress.com has him as the 29th pick in next year’s draft.

Baker didn’t come to Wichita State with high expectations and actually had to pay his own tuition as a walk-on freshman year. He has consistently improved each year and was an x-factor in the Shockers’ Final Four run two years ago. He scored 16 points to knock off top-seeded Gonzaga and scored 11 points in their loss to Louisville in the Final Four.

Baker has had a much larger role the last two years. This year the Shockers depend on him as their leading scorer and if he struggles, it drastically affects the team. Against Hawai’I, he scored 17 points, but was 5-19 from the field. If Savage and Garino do a solid job defending Baker, they most likely pull off the upset.

Fred VanVleet – VanVleet is Baker’s backcourt mate and dominates the ball much more than Baker. VanVleet is a true point guard and leads the Shockers in assists per game. VanVleet was a Preseason Third Team All-American and has lived up to the hype this year.

VanVleet does not have three-point range but is deadly from mid-range just as Colorado’s Askia Booker was. GW shut down Booker, but VanVleet is a much better overall player and will not force shots like Booker did. VanVleet has not been that efficient this year, but most of the time he does well in picking his spots ( Draftexpress.com had him first last year in Points Per Possesion among point guards).

In Tuesday’s article I mentioned how great of a rebounder Joe McDonald is, but pound-for-pound, VanVleet is every bit as good of a rebounder as McDonald. VanVleet is averaging four rebounds per game this year and last year he averaged 3.9 rebounds.

VanVleet is a great defender and may disrupt GW’s half court sets by applying pressure to McDonald or Savage. VanVleet averages two steals per game, but his defense goes beyond the stats as he moves his feet well and consistently provides the Shockers with terrific closeouts.

Darius Carter – Wichita State’s center is very undersized at 6-7. Carter is a junior college transfer and has been very good in his time with the Shockers. Carter isn’t much of a threat to block shots, but has done a solid job defensively this year against other teams’ top big men. Larsen will have to be careful as Carter does an excellent job drawing contact, and averages 5.0 fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Despite his size, Carter is one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation and if GW cannot hold the Shockers to one shot per possession, they will most likely lose. Boxing out Carter will be a difficult task looming for Kevin Larsen and John Kopriva.

Prediction

GW 66-62 – I think the run continues for the Colonials. GW is playing their best basketball of the year right now and is starting to look like the tournament team they were last year. Wichita State is not playing well right now and almost lost to Hawaii on Tuesday, needing a put back from Rashad Kelly in overtime to win. I think the Colonials match up well with the Shockers on defense and neither VanVleet nor Baker should be able to dominate. Offensively, I think Larsen should have a solid game as he should be too big and strong for Carter. It may come down to coaching in this matchup and Gregg Marshall is one of the best in the nation. Yet, I think Lonergan has enough to provide GW fans with a Christmas miracle.

Posted on December 25, 2014, in Campus, GW Basketball, Men's Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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