Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

Couldn’t watch the basketball teams’ media day? Both men’s head coach Mike Lonergan and women’s head coach Jonathan Tsipis spoke to the press about their upcoming seasons.

Tsipis spoke about building his program back up to the historical strength of GW women’s basketball and the strength of his freshmen class. Tsipis’ team was picked to finish second by other Atlantic 10 coaches.

Lonergan talked about how his team will perform with higher expectations – they were also picked to finish second in the A-10 – and how the return of projected top-100 scorer Kethan Savage will impact the team.

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Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 5:04 p.m.

Osuchukwu earns fifth A-10 weekly award

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

Junior middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu’s performance on the road this weekend earned her a Co-Player of the Week award, her fifth A-10 weekly award this season.

Osuchukwu demonstrated her offensive power during both matches this weekend, as she racked up a total of 31 kills and swung at a .371 clip, making only eight errors on 62 total attempts. She also added 18 blocks (three solo, 15 assists) to help the Colonials sweep La Salle 3-0 on Friday and stay neck-and-neck with Duquesne in a game on Sunday, which ended in a close 3-2 loss.

The junior finished Sunday’s match with a .311 hitting percentage and 21 kills. She was also a powerhouse on the defensive end, contributing to the team’s 15 blocks with 2 blocks solo and 10 block assists.

She leads the conference in blocks, totaling 120.0 (25 solo, 95 assists) and averaging 1.54 blocks per set this season.

Osuchukwu also received A-10 Player of the Week on Oct. 13, Sept. 29 and Sept. 22. She was named the Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 2.

GW heads back to the District for a non-conference matchup against American on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo.

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by contributing sports editor Mark Eisenhauer. 

1. John Kopriva looks more offensive-minded

Senior forward John Kopriva was a big offensive presence during Saturday’s scrimmage, often taking open mid-range jump shots and settling for the occasional 3-point shot. Kopriva was also good for an occasional slam, including one “dunk” that could have been labeled the play of the game. The 6-foot-8 senior will need to contribute in his final season, and from the looks of it, he is ready to take on a bigger offensive role after averaging just 1.8 points per game last season.

2. Kethan Savage has not missed a step

Junior Kethan Savage looks better than ever. A fractured left foot sidelined him for most of the second half of last season, but Sports Illustrated has already projected he will be one of the nation’s top scorers this year. And the foot surgery doesn’t appear to have undercut the explosiveness and agility Savage showcased last season. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard seems to have worked on improving his jump shot, and he confidently knocked down multiple jumpers Saturday.

3. Darian Bryant managed on the perimeter

Head coach Mike Lonergan has repeatedly called freshman Darian Bryant the most game-ready newcomer of his class. Lonergan played the Bowie, Md. native primarily on the perimeter during the scrimmage, allowing him to use space when driving to the basket. Bryant, who was the most aggressive freshman of the group Saturday, could be a solid option from the bench for Lonergan to rest junior Patricio Garino.

4. Swan could be the surprise of the freshman class

The hype keeps building for this year’s freshmen class, with high expectations for players like Yuta Watanabe and Matt Cimino. But freshman Anthony Swan’s stars shined brightest on Saturday as he hit a number of 3-pointers that got the small crowd in attendance buzzing. The freshman also showcased his ability to drive to the rim, rebound and sink multiple mid-range jumpers.

5. Nick Griffin did not participate in Saturday’s action

The Class of 2017 went unrepresented at the scrimmage, with guard Nick Griffin, the team’s sole sophomore, sticking to the sidelines. Griffin, who will likely be called on to fill the statistical void in point production left by alumnus Maurice Creek, is suspected to have sat out the scrimmage because of a minor injury.

Griffin averaged 4.8 minutes per game last season and hit 14 threes in 29 attempts.

Junior Ryan McCoy was also not suited up for Saturday’s scrimmage.

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Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore forward MacKenzie Cowley fends off a George Mason defender in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by contributing sports editor Mark Eisenhauer.

Women’s soccer came up empty Saturday night in a 1-0 shutout to Virginia Commonwealth in a battle for sole possession of second place in the Atlantic 10 standings.

The loss snaps the Colonials’ three-game winning streak.

“In the first 10 or 15 minutes, we hit the post and had another good chance-in behind the keeper, and I think that woke [VCU] up,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “They really started pressing hard and running at us and throwing numbers forward, and we were really just on our heels after that.”

VCU senior Jackie Ernest had the lone goal of the match, when after a slew of passes, she was able to put a shot past redshirt freshman Miranda Horn in the 24th minute.

Despite early pressure from GW, the Rams had the edge in the first half, outshooting the Colonials 15-5. After three early shots in the half by the Colonials, the goal by the Rams seemed to smother any momentum GW had. The Colonials never recovered as the game progressed.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job of keeping the ball, and when we did win it we gave it right back to them and they’d come right back at us,” Barnes said. “They were just really pumped up and very aggressive.”

VCU continued to press and keep GW’s opportunities to a minimum in the second half. The Rams ended the game outshooting the Colonials 18-6. VCU also took 10 more corner kicks than GW in the game.

The usual offensive weapons for the Colonials were shut down by a stifling Rams defense. Sophomore forward MacKenzie Cowley, the team’s leading scorer, played 52 minutes and never mustered a single shot, while junior midfielder Kristi Abbate managed just one attempt.

“We got those chances early, but when they started to press us we just didn’t have enough composure to just keep possession of the ball,” Barnes said. “That has been an ongoing problem for us in previous games, but the difference was in previous games, when we had a really good look, we finished it. In this game we didn’t do that.”

Horn, who earned her second A-10 Rookie of the Week award of the season on Monday, made three saves in the match.

Heading into their final two games of the regular season, Barnes and the team said they know exactly what to work on to get back on the right track before the next game.

“We’ve got to be better at keeping the ball, we’ve got to be better tactically and when we are under pressure, finding the open player. When we do that we create chances and score goals,” Barnes said.

The Colonials will play their final home game Friday against Dayton at 3 p.m.

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Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior Bogdan Petkovic looks to score past Navy defenders Saturday. Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

Men’s water polo fell to Navy 19-15 Saturday night on senior day at the Smith Center.

Senior Ridvan Pehlivan paced the GW offense with five goals, and added two assists and one steal in the losing effort. Junior Bogdan Petkovic also tallied five goals, while adding two assists and five steals.

“We scored 15 goals, which is a lot for water polo,” said Pehlivan, who is part of a GW offense that has averaged 12 goals per game this season. “We’ve got to get better defensively. We can’t keep going back and forth and getting scored on.”

GW entered the game coming off a 13-11 win Wednesday over Johns Hopkins. Despite a sense of momentum from that win, head coach Scott Reed noticed a drop in defensive play Saturday against the Midshipmen.

“We made a lot of mistakes that lead to direct goals for Navy,” Reed said. “We didn’t do that on Wednesday, so that was a bit of a surprise.”

GW led Navy two minutes into the second quarter, but the Midshipmen scored the next six goals to build a lead they never relinquished.

The Colonials will take on Navy next Saturday on the road to try to finish the season at .500.

“It’s bad to lose, but we get another chance next week to get our revenge,” Pehlivan said. “It’s not going to end like this, we’re going to fight more and out-hustle them.”

GW has one regular season game remaining before the Collegiate Water Polo Association playoffs begin Nov. 7.

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Junior Maddie Doyle celebrates with her team after scoring in a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo.

Junior Maddy Doyle celebrates with her team after scoring in a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

The volleyball team showed its resilience by blowing away La Salle in straight sets on Friday (25-16, 25-22, 25-10) after a tough road loss to Virginia Commonwealth.

In need of a rebound after recording one of the team’s worst performances of the season against the Rams, head coach Amanda Ault decided that instead of heavily scouting the Explorers, she wanted to focus on ensuring her team regained its own rhythm on the floor.

“We talked a lot about ‘us’ this week,” Ault said. “As much as we were learning about La Salle and what they were going to do, we knew that the focus needed to be on us and what we are able to do, going aggressive at the line and playing our game to get them out of rhythm.”

As a part of a change in the team’s weekly preparation, Ault dedicated a practice earlier in the week to showing her players the aspects of their game that needed work. She reviewed film from the team’s loss to VCU, which she said helped the Colonials regain their competitive edge.

“The film gave them a clear picture of the things we really let get away from us, the things that we could have taken better care of, and the things we won’t let happen again,” Ault said.

Ault said that during the team film session, sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu noticed multiple areas for improvement that she worked on the rest of the week.

Against La Salle on Friday, Osuchukwu finished the night with a game-high 10 kills and game-high .529 hitting percentage after swinging just .174 against the Rams last week.

Osuchukwu was part of a Colonials offense that hit .311 on the night and outhit the Explorers in kills 39-21. Four different Colonials tallied at least eight kills in the win.

Against a weaker La Salle team, Ault was able to extend playing time to freshmen Aaliyah Davidson and Emily Newell, along with Christina Porada, who has played consistently for the Colonials this season. Newell tallied two kills on nine attempts, along with three assists and two digs. Davidson recorded nine kills, hit .318 and totaled five digs, while Porada finished with eight digs and a service ace.

“The freshmen are definitely making an impact,” Ault said. “They are playing some big roles and they will continue to play some big roles for us. The upperclassmen know that they need to keep making sure that they are pushing them and guiding them in the right direction because this is going to be a team effort.”

The Colonials also trumped the Explorers defensively, totaling 12 blocks on the night and winning the digs battle 50-38. Junior libero Maddy Doyle led all players with 14 digs, while Osuchukwu and junior outside hitter Maggie Skjelbred each tallied five block assists.

The Colonials will face a tougher matchup in a game against Duquesne on Sunday. Ault said Friday’s game was more than another tally in the win column as GW was able to get back to its productive form that has led to a 15-win season with seven regular season games remaining.

“Tonight is starting that for us, making sure we are playing GW volleyball everytime we step on the court,” Ault said.

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msoccer_Harvard2_CL

Freshman Oliver Curry attempts to evade a Harvard defender in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Ellee Watson.

Men’s soccer edged a struggling Saint Bonaventure team 1-0 in a critical A-10 match Friday, with another strong showing by the team’s freshman class.

GW, Saint Joseph’s and Davidson were tied for seventh in the conference with four points in the A-10 entering the week. The Colonials’ win against the Bonnies improves their total to seven points with four conference games remaining.

Freshman Christian Lawal scored in the 55th minute of play off an assist from fellow freshman Oliver Curry to put the Colonials up 1-0.

The assist marks Curry’s third assist in the last week, after contributing one against La Salle and another against Saint Joseph’s. Curry, who entered Friday’s game ranked eighth in the conference in assists, now has a team-high four assists on the season.

Head coach Craig Jones decided to change his team’s formation against the Bonnies, starting Lawal at the top of the 4-2-3-1 formation, with freshmen Koby Osei-Wusu, Curry and sophomore Garrett Heine in the attacking midfield behind him.

The Colonials started slow in the first half against a weaker Saint Bonaventure (1-11, 0-4) team and only forced Bonnies goalkeeper Jeremy Figler to make three saves. In the second half, the Colonials put Figler to the test. He responded impressively, and with the exception of the lone goal to Lawal, made six more saves in the half to equal nine saves on the nine.

“The first half, both teams stayed back defensively,” Jones said, “In the second half, we started pulling the trigger more, causing some chaos for the defenders.”

It was easy to see early in the game that Lawal would be GW’s best opportunity to score a goal. He took a game-high five shots on the night, four of which were on goal.

“All night it looked like [Lawal] was going to score,” Jones said. “Taking that confidence from his goal last week, he caused a lot of problems the first half, but we did better in the second half getting him some service.”

Although Lawal led GW in shots, five other Colonials recorded shots on goal, a stat Jones said he was happy with after the game. Overall, GW outshot Saint Bonaventure 10-5 in shots on goal.

“Scoring by committee has been the whole group mentality we’ve been working to develop the whole season,” Jones said. “The guys who come in have been taking the opportunities whether they’re in five or 10 minutes.”

Against an ailing Saint Bonaventure team that entered the match on a five-game losing streak and three-game scoreless streak, junior goalkeeper Jean-Pierre van der Merwe made five saves to earn his second shutout of the season and the sixth shutout of his career.

Despite Saint Bonaventure’s recent skid, Jones said the Bonnies performed better than than their record showed, adding that they “had their chances” during the game.

The Colonials will travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday to face Duquesne at 1 p.m.

Game note: Junior Oliver De Thier earned a red card in the 85th minute after collecting a yellow card in the 82nd minute.

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Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW's win in the A-10 quarterfinals | Hatchet File Photo

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate during GW’s win in the A-10 quarterfinals last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by contributing editor Mark Eisenhauer.

It’s prediction time for men’s basketball.

Sports Illustrated was the latest to release its annual preseason predictions, projecting the men’s basketball team to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10 conference behind Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton and Massachusetts.

The Colonials will finish the season with a conference record of 11-7, according to the predictions, which were released Wednesday.

Using a statistical projection system, Sports Illustrated also predicted that juniors Kethan Savage, Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald would lead the team in scoring, in that order. Savage’s projected 14.2 points per game places him at No. 72 in the nation.

Garino, who averaged 12.1 points per game last year, is projected to improve his average to 12.3. Larsen is projected to score 11.5, just 0.1 points better than his average last season. Following an offseason hip surgery, McDonald is expected to average 8.7 points and four assists per game.

The Colonials’ top scorers would be rounded out by sophomore Nick Griffin, projected to score 6.9 points per game, followed by freshmen Yuta Watanabe and Matt Cimino with 5.5 and 5.3 points, respectively.

Sports Illustrated’s projections follow a slew of other preseason lists released in recent months, and many favorably rank the Colonials for the upcoming season.

Matt Norlander of CBS Sports sees GW finishing third in the conference. In his conference preview, Norlander also projected Savage to be a top A-10 guard, placing him on the preseason All-Atlantic 10 Team.

Five other CBS Sports college hoops experts also weighed in with their projected A-10 conference rankings. Chip Patterson, Jerry Palm and Jon Rothstein each have the Colonials finishing second over Dayton and behind VCU, while Gary Parrish has GW finishing third and Doug Gottlieb slates GW to finish fifth.

Beyond the A-10 rankings and regular season standings, USA Today Sports’ Scott Gleeson placed the Colonials in the NCAA tournament field of 68, projecting them to repeat last season with an at-large bid as a No. 9 seed. Gleeson ranked GW as the No. 35 team, and also predicted Savage will be the Colonials player to watch.

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After ending last season with an 11-5 record at home, women's basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis will look to take his team far into the NCAA tournament this year. Hatchet File Photo

After ending last season with an 11-5 record at home, women’s basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis will look to take his team far into the NCAA tournament. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

The women’s basketball team was selected to finish second in the Atlantic 10 conference for the first time in six years, the league announced Tuesday.

After they were ranked fifth last season, the Colonials were placed in the No. 2 spot of the conference’s preseason coaches poll, released during A-10 women’s basketball media day.

The second-place selection comes one year removed from GW’s first postseason appearance since 2009 and first postseason win since 2008.

The Colonials finished last season 23-11 overall, while posting a conference record of 11-5. After defeating East Carolina and Villanova in the women’s NIT, GW’s season ended with a third-round loss to South Florida.

In addition to the team’s ranking, junior Jonquel Jones was also named to the Preseason All-Conference First Team. She is the first Colonial to be named to the first team since center Jessica Adair was chosen in 2008.

Jones is coming off a year in which she was the only A-10 player to average a double-double last year, with 14.7 PPG and 10.9 RPG.

Jones, along with senior Chakecia Miller and sophomore Ciara Washington, were also named to the A-10’s Preseason All-Defensive Team.

The selection marks Miller’s second consecutive year on the preseason All-Defensive team. She ranked 14th in the conference in steals and 11th in assists.

Washington, who was named A-10 Rookie of the Year last season, averaged 11.2 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Dayton was unanimously picked to finish first in the conference. After the Colonials, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Bonaventure and defending A-10 champion Fordham rounded out the top five.

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Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo.

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo.

Sports Illustrated has projected that men’s basketball guard Kethan Savage will be a top-100 scorer this upcoming season.

The prediction, which was released last week, has Savage ranked No. 72 with an anticipated scoring average of 14.2 points per game. He is predicted to account for 25 percent of GW possessions and have an overall offensive rating of 107.

Sports Illustrated used a statistical model to forecast points, rebounds and assists per game for all players in the top 11 conferences in NCAA Division I basketball by simulating the season 10,000 times.

Savage will return this season after rehabbing a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, which took him out for eight weeks of last season and made him a non-factor in the Atlantic 10 Championship and NCAA Tournament. Savage was averaging 13.4 points per game on 52 percent shooting when he was injured last January.

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