By: Daniel Stettin
The George Washington Colonials (0-2) head up to Towson, Maryland Thursday night to take on the Towson Tigers (0-1). GW is coming off a heartbreaking OT loss to South Dakota State in a game where GW led in the final 30 seconds of regulation and had an opportunity to win it at the buzzer. Towson lost their opener to UMass on Sunday by a score of 72-49. Tonight’s game will be the home opener for the Tigers as well.
Towson is led by former Colonials assistant coach Diane Richardson. She spent four seasons in Foggy Bottom from 2012-2016 and left to become an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the West Virginia Mountaineers after former GW Coach Jonathan Tsipis left for Wisconsin. This is Richardson’s first season at Towson and she is looking for her first win as well. She also brought along another former GW assistant and alumni with her in assistant coach Zach Kancher. It will interesting to see how her familiarity with some of this GW roster will affect the gameplan.
Case for the Colonials
Despite the fact that GW is 0-2 on the season, they are flat out a better and more talented basketball team. GW is bigger, stronger, faster than this Towson team. The addition of Freshman Neila Luma to the starting lineup added a physical element this team has desperately missed after Lexi Martins exhausted her eligibility. As well, Mei-Lyn Bautista had her first career double-double last game and if she can continue passing the way she has, Towson will be in trouble. Don’t forget the steadying presence of Kelli Prange and Brianna Cummings, the two upperclassmen has really held down the fort for GW thus far.
Case for the Tigers
Having a former GW assistant will definitely play a factor into Towson’s chances in this game. Coach Richardson and Kancher know the strengths and weaknesses of all the veteran Colonials. I don’t expect Towson to continue struggling from downtown like they did in the opener where they shot 1-16 so hitting their three’s key. Sophomore wing Nukiya Mayo is a real mismatch for Towson, at 6-3 she is able to play inside and out and will be tough to defend.
Despite the concerns of Towson having the inside scouting report on the Colonials, GW is flat out just a better team. The freshman Neila Luma has really added a physical element that Towson cannot match. As well, Brianna Cummings should be able to use her athleticism to attack the basket. This game is just a total mismatch for Towson, especially after they struggled against a UMass team that is expected to finish near the bottom of the A10.
By: Ben Greenberger
Shohei Otani might be the best baseball player in the world. The Japanese phenom has the potential to be this generation’s Babe Ruth. And one lucky team will pay next to nothing to acquire his services if he decides to come stateside this offseason (or next offseason).
Otani, 23, is a rare once-in-a-century talent. He has thrived in Japan’s highest professional league as both a pitcher and a DH. In 2016, he hit .322 with 22 homers and 67 RBI in 104 games. Not only is he a dynamic bat capable of upgrading the middle of a team’s lineup, but he is also an ace on the mound. The righty posted a 10-4 record with a 1.86 ERA that same season. Many fans often object to the assumption of continuation of these gaudy numbers, but even if there’s a small regression, Otani is still 23 and if his production regresses, he would still be worthy of MVP consideration.
It’s easy to see why every team would be interested in Otani’s services. However, Japanese pros are generally expensive, so that should limit the amount of teams able to spend big on Otani. But, there’s a huge exception to consider. Otani is only eligible for a maximum salary of any team’s international signing pool money (the Texas Rangers have the most available, at $3.5M). An MLB team will likely pay a posting fee of $20M to Otani’s NPB League team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, and then they can negotiate what will likely amount to a ~$3M deal with Otani. Since he is still considered an amateur (under 25), the deal will be restricted to a minor league contract, similar to the deals typically signed by Latin American prospects. It will likely be a short-term deal, leaving him with the ability to re-enter free agency by his mid to late 20s. If Otani waits two more years, he will be able to get as big of a contract as he wants (at least from the team that pays the posting fee).
As for the frontrunners for Otani’s services, it seems like the favorites are the Mariners, Yankees, and Rangers–AL teams who can offer money, comfort, and two-way versatiity for Otani. Every team figures to make an effort, though, as it would be foolish to not chase a player with perennial All-Star potential at the plate to compliment his 102-mph fastball off the mound.
By: Cam Ventola
This offseason saw a radical shake up of the team’s roster, with Danny Ainge shipping off 3 starters and letting another walk. The most significant transaction saw Ainge send Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizi, the 2018 Nets pick and the 2020 Miami 2nd rounder to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. All this came after highly controversial moves such as trading defensive stud Avery Bradley to the Piston and swapping 2017 draft picks with Philly to take Jayson Tatum. Criticism was fierce, and many thought this might be Danny Ainge’s biggest failure as GM of the 17-time NBA champions.
Well, 14 games into the season the Boston Celtics are sitting at 12-2. A quick peak at the standings would show that’s the best record in the NBA, and it’s the result of a 12 game winning streak, including a 95-94 W over Toronto without Kyrie Irving. Losing Gordon Hayward 5 minutes into the season opener hurt, but that hasn’t stopped this team from cooking up something special. The 2016-17 Celtics were a solid roster that finished 53-29 with the #1 seed in the East. One of the team’s more pronounced issues last year was uneven offense–Isaiah Thomas had a career year averaging 28.9 ppg and 5.9 apg, but the Celtics had only 5 players averaging double digit scoring. The 2017-18 Celtics have upped that to 6 players in double digit scoring, and 7 if you include Marcus Smart, who’s just shy at 9.9 ppg. That being said, the Celtics did have a higher overall offensive rating last year (111.2 points per 100 possessions as opposed to 106 points per 100 possessions so far this year). The 2017-18 Celtics, though, arguably have the better offense for one major reason: young talent. 4 of the 5 players on the 2016-17 roster who averaged above 10 ppg were also above the age of 25. This year, 2 of the 6 players averaging above 10 ppg are also over the age of 25, and if we include Marcus Smart then it’s 2 of 7.
The biggest positive change for the Celtics, though, has been on defense. Last year, the Celtics gave up 108.4 points per 100 possessions, whereas this year it’s 97.5 points per 100 possessions. While the Isaiah Thomas trade stung, there’s no denying he was the worst defensive starting point guard in the NBA last year–simply put, when you’re 5’9” it’s pretty hard to guard other players. Kyrie Irving is far from the best defensive PG in the league, but he’s a massive step up from the worst. Not only that, but the Celtics are rebounding better–averaging 47.5 rpg as opposed to 42 rpg last season. This is no small feat, and length and athleticism from young forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been instrumental in this turnaround–Brown in particular has greatly improved his defensive efficiency from last year: the Celtics allowed 110 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor last year, as opposed to 98 now. Tatum, too, sports a defensive rating of 98, and .9 defensive win shares (an estimate of wins a player adds based on their defense). In fact, Tatum leads all rookie in both offensive and defensive win shares, suggesting Danny Ainge may have been onto something when he swapped picks with Philly and passed over Markelle Fultz (who is currently out indefinitely with shoulder issues).
Maybe Danny Ainge was onto something when he reshaped this entire roster. Maybe we should stop doubting him. Maybe the Celtics are the best team in basketball right now–oh wait, they are.
And just imagine how great they’d be if Hayward could play.
By: Ben Krauss
George Washington men’s basketball faces its biggest regular season test tonight, squaring off against the Florida State Seminoles at 7:00 PM. The Colonials are looking to build momentum from their home opening win against Howard, where a slew of monster slams and high intensity defense led to a 84-75 win. Senior Forward Yuda Watanabe headlined the high scoring affair with 19 points and 11 rebounds and sophomore Jair Bolden complemented with a career-high 17 points. GW will need repeat performances from these key players if they want to turn around their all time 0-3 record vs FSU.
For the Seminoles, tonight marks the kickoff to their 2017/2018 season. There are a lot questions surrounding the team as over half their scoring from the previous year has graduated or left for professional basketball. With just three scholarship players on roster, FSU will be relying on five freshman and the scoring of junior guard Terrance Mann. George Washington will look to capitalize on this young squad by utilizing the veteran talents of graduate forward Patrick Steeves, who played his undergraduate years at Harvard University. However, Watanabe and Bolden will constitute the bulk of tonight’s scoring as they mark the only two returning players from last year’s starting squad.
Each team lacks significant size, so executing a spread out positionless offense is essential in tonight’s contest. FSU will be primarily relying on ball movement and a reliable three point shot, while the Colonials will look to utilize Yuda’s athletic slash and kick abilities to jump-start the offense. Ultimately, GW has more offensive talent than the Seminoles and a much more active and experienced defense. In this inter conference matchup, George Washington will stop the three ball and run a fast paced offense. The score, while high scoring, will be in George Washington’s favor: 85-80.