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Your Guide to GW sports

Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 12:26 p.m.

Macpherson tabbed as men’s tennis head coach

David Macpherson will helm the 2016-2017 men’s tennis program, Athletic Director Patrick Nero announced Wednesday afternoon.

Macpherson has made a name for himself as the coach of Bob and Mike Bryan over the past decade. He helped lead the pair to an Olympic gold medal and establish the team as one of the most dominant in the tennis community.

“[Macpherson’s] success at the highest level of the sport, both as a player and as a coach, will give our student-athletes an unparalleled environment for growth,” Nero said in a release. “We look forward to seeing David take the program to new heights.”

In 2014, the Tasmania, Australia native was honored as the World Team Tennis Coach of the Year after leading Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to a Davis Cup title.

As a former ATP pro, Macpherson was nearly as successful on the court as he has been as a coach. He reached as high as a No. 11 ranking for individual doubles and a No. 8 ranking for team doubles.

Macpherson has also had previous experience working with younger players. In 2004, he founded David Macpherson Tennis Academy where he coached high-level junior players for numerous years.

“I think working with student-athletes will be wonderful,” Macpherson said in a release. “I’ll be able to talk to the players and coach them from the perspective of the game played at the highest level, so I think that will be a nice advantage for them to have that wisdom and get the best out of themselves.”

The Colonials are coming off a very strong 2015-2016 season where they went undefeated in conference play and beat VCU to earn their third successive Atlantic 10 championship.

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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 1:50 p.m.

DeFeo named as softball head coach

James DeFeo will be the next head coach of GW softball, Athletic Director Patrick Nero announced Wednesday.

The announcement comes nearly three months after former head coach Stacey Schramm resigned from the post last May after six seasons with the program.

“James has experienced success coaching at the highest level of college softball,” Nero said in a release. “We are excited to bring his knowledge to GW, and we are confident that James will build our program into one of the top competitors in the Atlantic 10.”

Going 23-29 overall and 10-13 in Atlantic 10 play, the Colonials returned to the postseason last spring as the No. 6 seed. Back in the playoffs for the first time in three years, the A-10 tournament hosts were eliminated after losing their first two games to Massachusetts and Saint Louis.

DeFeo, who becomes the program’s sixth head coach since its inception in 2003, comes to GW after six seasons at Mercer University where he led the Bears to consecutive conference championship game appearances in 2014 and 2015. He also owned a winning overall record of 147-134.

Before coaching at Mercer, where he also helped set program bests for regular-season victories, conference wins, hits, runs, home runs, batting average and on-base percentage, the Atlantic City, N.J. native served as associate head coach for LSU softball from 2004-2011.

“The first time that I stepped on the GW campus, I knew I was at a special place,” DeFeo said in a release. “With GW’s standard of excellence in the classroom and their unparalleled commitment to the athletic programs, I see great things happening here. I look forward to being part of this process and bringing GW softball to new levels of success.”

Despite graduating two starters in Carlee Gray and Morgan Matetic this offseason, GW welcomes seven freshmen and returns a handful of key contributors, including sophomore pitcher Sarah Costlow and junior center fielder Monica Macchiarulo, for its 2016-2017 campaign.

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Friday, July 29, 2016 3:10 p.m.

Garino agrees to NBA deal with Spurs

Patricio Garino slams a dunk against VCU last season. The former Colonial and Argentine Olympian has agreed to a deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Patricio Garino slams home a dunk against VCU last season. The former Colonial and Argentine Olympian has agreed to a deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Updated: July 29, 2016 at 3:31 p.m.

Former men’s basketball forward Patricio Garino has reached a deal with the San Antonio Spurs, the team announced Friday. The terms of the contract have yet to be announced.

The 6-foot-6-inch swingman was named to Argentina’s 2016 Olympic roster earlier this month along with NBA veterans Luis Scola and Manu Ginobli, who has spent 14 years with the Spurs.

According to a tweet by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Garino caught the eye of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich last week in Las Vegas when Argentina played an exhibition contest against the U.S. men’s national team.

Last season, Garino helped lead the Colonials to a 2016 National Invitation Tournament championship –GW’s first ever postseason title– averaging 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.37 steals and a 51 percent shooting clip from the field.

Garino also played for the Orlando Magic’s 2016 NBA Summer League team, where he averaged 12.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

The Mar del Plata native will be the first Colonial on an NBA team since 2010-2011, when Pops Mensah-Bonsu appeared in his final season in the pros with the New Orleans Hornets.

Garino and Argentina open play in Rio on Aug. 7 against Nigeria.

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Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Updated: July 23, 2016 at 3:55 p.m.

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan posted on his Facebook page Friday amid “verbal and emotional abuse,” allegations reported by the Washington Post.

“I have always loved my family and that family includes our basketball family. My life is dedicated to them,” the fifth-year head coach wrote. “I have never done anything but love my players and supported them on or off the court-not just for 4 years but for life. That will continue.”

“I want to thank all my players and their parents who publicly and privately supported me today and refuted the false allegations made against me. You are the reason I’ve been able to live such a blessed life. God bless you all! John 8:32.”

The statement comes one day after the Post published an article that cites former and current players, as well as former team staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the “offensive, intolerable environment” created by Lonergan.

Scott Tompsett, Lonergan’s attorney, also provided ESPN with a statement on behalf of the coach on Thursday afternoon.

“The Washington Post article is full of lies and half-truths. For example, GWU administrators did not ‘address concerns’ with Coach Lonergan last year. Rather, they looked into allegations and after a thorough investigation, concluded that Coach Lonergan had not violated University policy and that no further action would be taken.”

“The fact of the matter is that the anonymous accusations are not new and they are not true.”

“Coach Lonergan has a well-earned reputation in the college basketball world as a coach who runs his program with integrity and respect. He has always been a champion of diversity and inclusion. Coach Lonergan celebrates those values. Coach Lonergan is proud of his team and its accomplishments both on and off the court. He will aggressively defend himself and his program against false and defamatory accusations.”

A number of former players, including Patricio Garino, Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Creek have publicly defended their former coach.

A GW spokesman said in a statement to the Hatchet Thursday that the University will be bringing in outside counsel to assist in the investigation of allegations against Lonergan.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that head coach Mike Lonergan’s Facebook post had been deleted. Nothing has been deleted off of Lonergan’s Facebook page. We regret this error.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016 5:19 p.m.

Former players defend Lonergan on Twitter

Updated: June 21, 2016 at 10:51 p.m.

Several former players came out in defense of Mike Lonergan on Twitter Thursday after the Washington Post reported damning allegations against the fifth-year men’s basketball head coach.

Speaking to the Post under the condition of anonymity, multiple former and current players, as well as former team staffers, detailed the toxic environment Lonergan created through “verbal and emotional abuse,” as well as inappropriate comments made about Athletic Director Patrick Nero.

Recent graduate and Argentine Olympian Patricio Garino, part of Lonergan’s 2016 NIT Championship team last season, said he was, “shocked,” upon reading the accusations.

“Coach [Lonergan] is very old school and he’s going to push you to the limits to reach your potential,” Garino said in a statement posted to his Twitter account Wednesday.

“I owe a lot of my success to Coach Lonergan and his coaching staff through four years, I truly wouldn’t be close to playing in the Olympics if it wasn’t for him,” he wrote. “I love all my teammates that I had through four years but I don’t agree with their ‘anonymity’ to say things behind a screen. If you have a problem solve it face to face. I will be loyal to the GW family, Nero and Lonergan for life.”

Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Creek, who helped the Colonials reach the 2014 NCAA Tournament as a senior and graduate student, respectively, also took to Twitter to denounce the report.

This is 100% bullshit. Verbal and emotional abuse. Are you serious? Players are soft…,” Armwood said in a tweet. “I was under Lonergan for 3 years. We bumped heads often, but this story is ridiculous,” read another.

“Man listen Coach Lonergan is a great coach…Haven’t even read the story and I won’t read it..This article is ridiculous #StopTheNonsense,” Creek wrote.

Garino’s tweet was also liked by graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh, entering his second and final season at GW this fall, and former point guard Joe McDonald.

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Current and former men's basketball players and staffers said head coach Mike Lonergan created an uncomfortable team environment. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Current and former men’s basketball players and staffers said head coach Mike Lonergan creates an uncomfortable team environment. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Updated: July 21, 2016 at 10:52 p.m.

Fifth-year men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan has come under fire for “verbal and emotional abuse” of players, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The article cites former and current men’s basketball players as well as team staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The allegations follow three offseason transfers from the program, and a total of 13 transfers in the past five years.

“I don’t think the guy should be in sports,” one former player told the Post. “I don’t think what he said should be tolerated. I would like to stay at GW. I will not play for Mike Lonergan.”

“A lot of kids transfer because they have delusions of grandeur,” a former team staffer added. “Nobody transferred from GW with delusions of grandeur. They just transferred because they hated him. They couldn’t stand another second of him.”

One complaint was filed to Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad as recently as early April, following the team’s 2016 NIT Championship, according to the Post. The player said Lonergan created an offensive, uncomfortable environment and complained the coach had made repeated graphic remarks about Athletic Director Patrick Nero.

Muhammad told the player that Lonergan’s behavior had previously been “handled,” according to the Post.

Among other complaints, five current and former players said Lonergan told them Nero “requested the practice tapes so he could masturbate while viewing them in his office.” Other current and former players said Lonergan told one player in front of the team that “he should transfer to a ‘transgender league.’”

“I will not respond to anonymous, unfounded allegations,” Lonergan told the Post. “These types of accusations have already been investigated by the University and found to be groundless.”

“Those who know me know that I conduct myself and run my program with integrity. I have a long record of graduating student-athletes who go on to be successful in life. I am proud of my student-athletes’ success on the court and in the classroom, and I am focused on preparing for the upcoming season,” he added.

“As reported today by the Washington Post, the George Washington University is undertaking a Title IX review of allegations against men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan,” a university spokesman told the Hatchet in an emailed statement Thursday. “Some of the reported allegations go beyond the scope of Title IX, and the university is bringing in outside counsel to assist in its investigation.  The university expects full cooperation and will not tolerate retaliation during the course of the investigation.  We will also continue to inform the student-athletes on our men’s basketball team of the university’s support and of the resources available to them.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Washington Post article was published Wednesday. It was published Thursday. We regret this error.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016 2:16 p.m.

Browning named women’s tennis head coach

Torrie Browning has been named head coach of the women’s tennis program, athletic director Patrick Nero announced Wednesday.

Browning, who has served as interim head coach for both men’s and women’s teams since February, will look to improve a squad that finished 8-14 overall and 4-5 in A-10 play last season.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as the head coach of GW’s women’s tennis program,” Browning said in a release. “I would really like to thank Patrick Nero and Nicole Early for giving me this amazing opportunity. The team has great potential, and I am extremely excited to continue working with the women’s team.”

The former four-time Missouri Valley All-Conference selection at Wichita State helped lead the men’s program to its third consecutive Atlantic 10 title, and fifth in six years, last spring to earn the conference’s Coach of the Year award.

The women’s side upset No. 2 seed Massachusetts as a No. 7 seed in last year’s A-10 tournament under Browning, before bowing out in the semifinal round.

Eight-student athletes across both teams also earned All-Conference honors in 2016 with Browning at the helm.

“Torrie has proven her ability to lead GW tennis to success,” Nero said. “We are confident that she will continue to shape GW women’s tennis into one of the top programs in the conference as head coach.”

A new head coach for the men’s tennis program has yet to be announced.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016 6:45 p.m.

Pearce to leave GW, join US Sailing

After four years at the helm of the Colonials’ sailing program, head coach John Pearce is leaving his position, athletic director Patrick Nero announced Wednesday.

Pearce will move on to the national ranks after accepting a position with US Sailing as the Youth Development Director. Pearce is returning to the organization after competing with the US Sailing Team in 2005 and 2006 as well as finishing fifth out of 33 racers in the 2007 Olympic trials.

“I’m excited for this opportunity, but leaving GW is very difficult,” Pearce said in a release. “I want to thank the student-athletes, staff, coaches and administrators for making the last four years a great experience for me. I’ll be following the program closely and can’t wait to see what GW Sailing accomplishes in the coming years.”

Pearce was the first-ever head coach of the new GW varsity program that began in 2012 and was quick to lead the Colonials to success.

With a 17th overall finish in the coed nationals and 10th overall finishes in both the Fowle Trophy Standings and the women’s nationals it was clear they were among the top teams in the country during the 2015-2016 season.

According to the release, assistant coach Catherine Shanahan will take over as interim head coach while the athletics department searches for a replacement.

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Women's basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti remembers going up against the late Pat Summitt. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti remembers going up against the late Pat Summitt. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

By 1995, Tennessee had already won three national championships under head coach Pat Summitt, appeared in 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments and solidified itself as a titan in the world of Division I women’s basketball.

On Jan. 16 of that year, the No. 1 ranked Lady Vols travelled north to take on an undefeated No. 2 Connecticut program on the rise. The Huskies roster featured budding stars Rebecca Lobo, Kara Wolters and junior starting point guard Jennifer Rizzotti.

Rizzotti, named head coach of GW women’s basketball this spring, knew her team was an underdog in the first-ever meeting between the two powerhouses.

The Huskies won 77-66.

“There was a tremendous amount of hype around the game and I think we were underestimated,” Rizzotti said in an interview Wednesday. “What Pat Summitt built at Tennessee, and the standard that she set and how badly all of us players at UConn wanted to beat them was just a testament to the respect that she garnered with her program because they were the standard. Everyone in the country was trying to catch them.”

Summitt, who began coaching in 1974 when she was just 22 years old, died Tuesday at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

In her 38 years coaching the Lady Vols, Summitt led Tennessee to a staggering 8 national titles, 31 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 1,098 wins—the most of any DI basketball coach, male or female.

Another career highlight of Summitt’s was leading Tennessee in one of the greatest rivalries in college hoops — one Rizzotti, and the sports world, won’t soon forget.

The epic head-to-head series between Tennessee and UConn spanned 12 years and 22 contests, four of which had national championships on the line, thrust the women’s game into the national conversation for the first time and epitomized Summitt’s legendary influence on the sport.

The teams’ second meeting was just a few months later, at the 1995 NCAA Championship. UConn entered the game at 34-0.

Despite her team’s perfect record, Rizzotti recalls Tennessee still being favored.

“People had said, well UConn wouldn’t have won if they hadn’t played at home,” Rizzotti said. “So they definitely aren’t going to beat [Tennessee] two times in a year and again it was just proof of how much people thought Pat Summitt could pull off anything.”

But the Huskies pulled off a win once again, this time by a score of 70-64. While the victory capped a historic campaign captained by head coach Geno Auriemma, Rizzotti credits Summitt with playing a part in that team’s unprecedented success.

“[Summitt] was such a competitor, she drove her team to be so hard to beat, they played so hard and I would say that we have to give her a lot of credit for the rise of the Connecticut program and where it’s come from that day,” Rizzotti said. “She pushed all of us to be better.”

Tennessee would exact revenge the following year, ousting UConn from the NCAA Tournament in the Final Four during Rizzotti’s senior season, and claim back-to-back-to-back national titles between 1996 and 1998.

The annual regular-season series between the schools was discontinued in 2007, and the sides haven’t met since. UConn currently leads Tennessee 13-9 in the all-time series.

In her 17 years coaching at the University Hartford, where she led the Hawks to four America East Conference championships before coming to Foggy Bottom, Rizzotti never faced off against Summitt, but always was someone she looked up to in her profession.

“One of the things you always hear about her is how hard she was able to drive her kids because of how much she cared about them,” Rizzotti said. “If you want to bring out the best, there has to be a personal relationship that extends beyond the basketball court and when you watch all of these former players and the outpouring of love and respect that they have for her, you know that she did things right.”

Summitt will also be remembered as a trailblazer for women in the college athletics, beginning her tenure just years after Title IX was passed, a law demanding that federally funded educational institutions provide men and women equal opportunity.

“She paved the way for all of us, men and women that are in the game. And women that are in other sports. She’s set the standard for what it means to have equal opportunity for female athletes,” Rizzotti said. “I can’t imagine how hard it used to be to be a coach or a player back in the 60s and 70s so I’m very grateful to her and all the pioneers of our game.”

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Updated: June 23, 2016 at 11:40 a.m.

Although men’s basketball doesn’t tip-off on a new season for a few more months, it’s 2016-17 schedule has already begun taking shape.

Here’s a complete list of matchups that have been announced thus far this offseason. Mark up your calendars while you continue to digest the epic saga that was the 2016 NBA Finals.

Out-of-conference games:

Nov. 11 vs. Maryland Eastern-Shore (Home opener)

Nov. 15 vs. Siena

Nov. 17 vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff

Nov. 21-22 at CBE Classic (Kansas City, Mo.) vs. Georgia/Kansas/UAB

Nov. 26 vs. Penn State

Dec. 4 at BB&T Classic (Verizon Center) vs. Florida State, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

Dec. 22 at Miami (Coral Gables, Fla.)

Atlantic 10 pairings (game dates/times TBD)

Note: Each A-10 team will play an 18-game conference schedule. The league’s 14 members face each team at least once and five teams twice.

Home: Dayton, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond, VCU

Away: Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond, VCU

The 2017 A-10 Championship will be played on March 8-12 at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

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