Midseason Report – GW Men’s Basketball
By: Daniel Stettin
Record: 11-9 (3-4 A10)
Best Win: 66-63 @ Temple (#73 RPI)
Worst Loss: 48-67 vs FSU in the Verizon Center (Currently the #6 team in the AP Poll)
At this point last year: 15-4 (6-2 A10)
At this point in the year, GW is really starting to see the growth and development that one would expect from such a young team. Coach Maurice Joseph really struggled early on determining what the best lineup for this team would be, with 9 players averaging 10+ MPG (as well, Kevin Marfo is at 9.7 MPG) showing that MoJo has been giving nearly everyone an opportunity to make their mark on this season. It was not difficult to determine that Matt Hart is best suited for a Kyle Korver like role off the bench, that Jaren Sina should not be playing PG for 30+ MPG, etc. Many cried for MoJo to start making major adjustments as little was working early in the season. And 20 games in, we are starting to see some of these adjustments.
The lineup we have seen the past few games (Bolden, Sina, Watanabe, Cavanaugh, Toro) is the lineup that has worked best for GW this season. While we saw Collin Smith starting at the 5 earlier in the year, it is clear he just isn’t strong enough currently to man down that position this season. I’m not saying he hasn’t played well this year, its just that he is best suited to be a big man off the bench for this team. Toro is very strong on the offensive boards, which allows Cavanaugh to play more outside taking more mid-range and 3 pointers where he really thrives without having to worry about who would get the rebound.
As well, the move to have Bolden start at the 1 and share the ball-handling with Sina has allowed both to be in roles that are setting them up to thrive. When using his right hand, Bolden is devastating with the basketball. He looks like such a good playmaker when he is able to go to his right to create offense but when the defense forces him left, he looks lost. Having Sina on the court as the 2 allows Bolden to play to his strengths knowing there is another player on the court who is capable of handling the basketball. Playing the 1 full time prevented Sina from really utilizing his ability to shoot the basketball (39% from 3, just 34% overall though) so the move to the 2 allows him to set himself up where can catch and shoot when open.
When it comes to scoring the basketball, the three best scorers for this GW squad have been Cavanaugh, Watanabe, and Jordan Roland (who has really had a breakout season). Early on when this team was still trying to find its identity, Cavanaugh really struggled shooting the basketball (which is why his percentages are so low right now). He was being double teamed nearly every possession and he forced a lot of shots. This was especially notable in the USF, FSU, Howard, Saint Joes, and VCU games where he shot just 24.2% in those games. Watanabe and Roland have been able to ease the pressure from Cavanaugh recently with some big performances, such as Roland’s 27 points vs UCF and Watanabe’s 15 vs Duquesne. Roland has been so deadly from behind the arc this year that it is questionable why he isn’t playing more than the 21 MPG he is getting. Shooting 44% from 3 isn’t easy folks and Roland is making it look like nothing.
Despite all the praise I have given thus far, it hasn’t been all positives for the Colonials this season. This team is 11-9 and has looked abysmal in some of those losses (and even some wins). The FSU and VCU game brought basically nothing from GW, looking horrible in both contests. The offense has looked stagnant fairly often (also explaining the 69 PPG) with Sina running the point where way too many possessions took until there was under 10 seconds remaining in the shot clock before anything occurred. Many of the defensive deficiencies can be blamed on this teams youth. Not covering your assignment, stupid turnovers, and easy baskets have been staples of nearly every game this season but there has been improvement with the growth of this team recently.
With 11 regular season games and the A10 tournament remaining, there are plenty of opportunities remaining for this team to make a splash and allow Cavanaugh and Hart to go out on a positive note. I honestly think if this team plays the way they did early vs Duquesne and all game vs George Mason, then this team is capable of going 8-3 down the stretch (with the three losses most likely being @ Rhode Island, vs VCU, and vs Dayton). However given the inconsistencies we have seen all year, I think that a 5-6 finish is the worst case scenario. Given the growth of this team, I’m going to predict GW finishes the final 11 games 7-4 to finish the regular season 18-13 (10-8) which would leave the Colonials in the top half of the A10 standings.
1/28 vs Saint Louis: Win
1/31 @ URI: Loss
2/4 @ Richmond: Win
2/8 vs VCU: Loss
2/11 vs St. Bonnie: Win
2/15 @ Davidson: Loss
2/19 @ Duquesne: Win
2/23 vs UMass: Win
2/26 vs GMU: Win
3/1 @ Fordham: Win
3/4 vs Dayton: Loss