The Mike Lonergan era began with a 64-48 win Friday night, as senior point guard Tony Taylor scored 20 points to lead George Washington to a victory over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks at the Smith Center.
The Atlantic 10 Conference Preseason First Team guard powered the Colonial offense, shooting 50% from the floor and adding six rebounds. Particularly explosive on the fast break, Taylor’s performance was highlighted by a no-look alley-oop to fifth year forward Jabari Edwards.
Senior guard Aaron Ware and Junior forward David Pellom each notched nine points to help Taylor carry the load offensively. Lonergan recognized Ware’s willingness to attack the basket as a key to the game.
“You’ve got to take the ball to the basket, and that’s what Aaron’s been able to do in both our games so far. We’re going to see a lot of zone and we’re going to have to penetrate against it,” Lonergan said.
Despite the victory, the Colonials showed that there is room for improvement. The Colonials were out-rebounded by the Hawks for the game and shot only 3-for-12 from the 3-point arc. Lonergan expressed that the rebounding problems cannot become a trend.
“We’re a very poor rebounding team. We’ve got to become a more physical team and stay in the paint until we get a rebound. Some guys are in there battling but some are out at half court,” said Lonergan.
Even after spending time in practice this week working on the full court press, GW allowed several fast breaks during the first seven minutes of the game, giving up six points for the Hawks. The Hawks senior forward Tyler Hines was an offensive power both on the outside shot and in the paint, leading his team with 15 points.
“The press is new for us. We’re still working on it and it’s going to come with time. We switched up our defense and played a 1-3-1 which was effective in slowing it down,” said Taylor.
The Colonials head to the west coast on Sunday to take on the nationally ranked California Golden Bears at 9:30 pm EST on ESPNU, as part of the Progressive CBE Classic. Our coverage starts with our pregame show at 9:15, and then Nkwa Asonye and Tim Riordan will have the call from the Haas Pavilion.
The attendance at Friday’s home opener at the Charles E. Smith Center was 3,369.
Though the concise and straightforward new men’s basketball coach has said little before his team took the floor, Mike Lonergan emphatically started his George Washington coaching career with a 92-65 win over the Bowie State Bulldogs in the lone exhibition game this season. Junior guard Lasan Kromah led all scorers with 23 points and chipped in six assists, while his senior backcourt mate Tony Taylor finished with 12 points, nine assists and five steals.
The Colonials reaped the benefits of a turbulent offseason, as the preseason hype for basketball finally revealed itself in an electric Smith Center. In turn, the team fed off of the energy and turned the game into a laugher in which they never trailed after sophomore Nemanja Mikic’s mid-range jumpshot 23 seconds into the game.
“I was happy overall with our performance,” Lonergan said, “but at half time I was worried that we let down, with the way we started the second half.”
Although there was a bit of an offensive drop-off, the coach indeed had plenty of reasons to be happy with the way his playbook cut through Bowie State. GW shot 55.9% from the floor and defensively forced an astounding 31 turnovers.
Senior Aaron Ware scored 12 points and junior forward David Pellom scored nine, both coming in off the bench. Freshman forward John Kopriva was in the starting lineup and also scored nine points in 23 minutes of play. Many predicted the new playbook to be a bit cumbersome at first, but Taylor and the Colonials were pretty comfortable and played at a brisk pace.
“The offense felt good,” he said. “We got to run, and that’s going to be our strength this year.”
The Colonials officially open the season on Friday as they take on the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks with tip-off at 7pm. Although the Hawks only won nine games last season, coach Lonergan is not overlooking the season opener.
“I’m looking forward to playing Friday,” he said. “I’m glad we’re at home, and we are going to be practicing to get better. We have to get a win somehow. Every time I look around, the teams we’re playing are either ranked or underrated, so we got some tough opponents coming up.”
WRGW District Radio Sports will have a special pregame show for the season opener. After Box Out! from 4-6pm, the station will be broadcasting live from the tailgate at 6pm. Then News at 6 will go on for their show at 6:20 before we resume the pregame show at 6:45.
Assistant Sports Director
WASHINGTON- At 12:30pm on Wednesday afternoon, the George Washington University athletic department took its first step as a new administration toward productively increasing fan involvement. The program hosted a conference call as the first-ever Colonials Fan Forum, which featured fan questions, special giveaways, and audience polls. Athletic director Patrick Nero, new men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan, and guards Tony Taylor and Lasan Kromah were on the panel.
George Washington students, alumni, faculty, and fans were on the call to discuss the recent changes in the athletic department and the upcoming season for all Colonials athletics. It was this new administration’s
To open, Nero focused mostly on his goals for the program and his accomplishment during his first month on the job. He also went on to mention the three facets that are most important to him: the operation of Hel-Well, club athletics, and varsity athletics – particularly zeroing in on making GW’s student-athletes a priority.
“The most important thing for me has been getting to know our student athletes and trying to find what they need to be successful,” he said.
After Nero’s remarks, the attention turned Coach Lonergan and the men’s basketball team. He stated that GW needs to gain more recognition in the media both regionally and nationally to become successful. Notably, he received questions about his formula for success, his strategy on the court and how he is going to adjust to his roster. With the graduation of Joseph Katuka and the loss of recruit Erik Copes to rival George Mason, the Colonials appear to lack frontcourt depth.
“We are probably going to have to be a little undersized at times and we are going to have to make matchup problems by playing a lot of guards,” Lonergan said. “We might have to double down in the post and do some things to keep a good quality post player from killing us this season.”
Junior Lasan Kromah, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, announced that he is finally back to full health after surgery. He talked about the steps he has taken to get back full strength, hitting the weight room and playing summer league basketball at Georgetown. After weathering his first extended period of time away from the game, Kromah expressed that he was more than ready to play.