Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

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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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 12:06 a.m.

Horn earns second A-10 weekly award of season

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Miranda Horn earned her second Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week award of the season on Monday after two clean sheets over the weekend.

Horn tallied nine saves, anchoring the team in blanking both Davidson and Richmond 1-0. She manned the goal for the full length of each of those contests and posted a career-high six saves against the Spiders, including a diving stop of a penalty kick.

She also ran the defense in the waning moments of the game when Richmond took five corners in a row over the final minutes Sunday.

The Colonials’ two wins over the weekend brought them their first 10-win season in 11 years and kept them undefeated and untied (7-0-0) at home. The team is now tied with VCU for second in the A-10 with a 3-1-1 conference record.

Horn has six regular season shutouts and a seventh from an exhibition match this fall, and has allowed just nine goals on 150 shots for a .71 goals against average and a .864 save percentage, both good for second in the A-10. GW leads the A-10 overall with a .70 goals against average.

Horn also earned a Rookie of the Week award from the league on Aug. 25.

The Colonials may be competing for sole possession of second in the league when they return to the pitch Saturday at VCU.

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Freshman defensive specialist Christina Porada dives for a ball in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Freshman defensive specialist Christina Porada dives for a ball in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

After stringing together back-to-back wins against Dayton and Davidson, the volleyball team seemed to have found its stride in conference play.

But against Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, GW dropped the match in straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) in one of its worst statistical performances of the season.

The Colonials posted season lows in hitting percentage (.054), kills (29) and assists (29) and tied its season low in digs (37) on their way to their third straight-sets loss of the season.

GW’s lackluster performance came just a week after the team defeated the A-10 leading Flyers in a thrilling five-set performance. Sunday’s performance against the Rams, who eliminated the Colonials in the conference semifinals last season, left head coach Amanda Ault shaking her head as she watched her team put on an uncharacteristic display.

“We weren’t able to get into a groove and we weren’t able to run stuff on our side,” Ault said. “It really is shocking to me how we can go into a game this point in the season and just not show up.”

GW (14-6, 5-2 A-10) got off to a slow start from the opening set against VCU (12-9, 5-3 A-10). Ault said the Colonials began the match the same way they did last week in a 3-1 road loss to Saint Louis, where the team put itself in a hole and could not escape it.

GW started the match hitting .000, totaling just seven kills against seven attack errors. After improving on the pin in the second set, totaling 13 kills against seven attack errors, the Colonials regressed in the final set and hit .000.

Ault said her team wasn’t in the right place mentally entering the game, which was necessary against a Rams team that entered the match as winners of 10 its last 12 games.

“I felt like our connection, our timing, our tempo was just off today, and there was no communication,” Ault said.

The Colonials failed to find their rhythm and aggression throughout the match. Sophomore middle blocker and reigning A-10 player of the week Chidima Osuchukwu hit just .174 on the afternoon, totaling seven kills. Senior outside hitter Kelsey Newman led the team with eight kills.

The Rams connected on 16 more attack attempts, totaling 45 kills in the winning effort. VCU was led by junior outside hitter Kalah Jones and freshman outside hitter Jessica Young, who both finished in double figures in kills. The two combined for 25 total kills on the night.

Ault said her front line was late in reading the Rams attack and getting in position to defend on the net.

“Our block is the first line of defense,” Ault said. “There were times we would go one-on-one with the attacker, but we were late because it was so fast and our hands weren’t up and over at times – that affected us.”

Beyond the first line of defense, GW’s back line also struggled during the match. Junior Jordan Timmer and Newman tallied eight digs apiece to lead the team, but no GW player finished the match in double figures. Junior libero Maddy Doyle finished the match with just four digs.

“Something else that affected us was the back row,” Ault said. “From there, we weren’t tough on contact, and we were still trying to move and figure out where we could go.”

Minimizing errors and maximizing cohesiveness are focuses for the Colonials this week, as well as maintaining energy and communication on the floor.

“We talk about this a lot, every role is important for us on our team. The energy that not only the floor brings, but also the benches is critical, especially when you are on the road because it’s not your fans,” Ault said. “We just need make sure that we have that energy throughout so it puts us in a place where we feel more at home.”

GW continues on the road with a matchup against La Salle on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

Freshman Koby Osei-Wusu fends off a Saint Joseph’s defender Sunday. The Colonials tied the Hawks 1-1. Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Mark Eisenhauer.

Men’s soccer came within inches of defeating conference foe Saint Joseph’s on Sunday, but had to settle for a 1-1 tie after a hard fought 110 minutes of play.

Led by starting freshmen forwards Christian Lawal and Koby Osei-Wusu, the Colonials (5-6-1, 1-1-1) were able to bounce back offensively after an early Hawks goal.

“They were a tough team and I thought if anyone was going to win it, it would have been us,” head coach Craig Jones said. “We couldn’t find that game-winning goal today, but overall it was a good performance from the group.”

In a dead heat in the first overtime period came perhaps the Colonials’ best chance to get that game-winner. Lawal, all alone in the box, came within inches of heading a ball sent by freshman Oliver Curry into the net that would have given his team its second conference win of the season.

“I saw Curry out wide and I knew he was going to put in a good ball, so I pulled away from the last defender,” Lawal said. “It was a great ball but unfortunately I just couldn’t hit it on target.”

Five Saint Joseph’s (6-3-4, 1-1-1) overtime fouls would also give the Colonials a number of free kicks outside of the box, but neither Curry nor junior Oliver De Thier could get a shot on net.

Despite his missed opportunity, Lawal was the reason GW was still on the field as regulation expired. In the 50th minute of the match, the freshman tucked the tying goal into the right corner of the net after receiving a through ball from Curry. Lawal said the goal was a result of the “high pressure” the Colonials placed on the Hawks early in the second half.

Lawal’s goal came after a first half in which the Colonials outshot the Hawks 9-5. Saint Joseph’s was able to play a cross into the GW box and put a shot past junior goalkeeper Jean-Pierre van der Merwe, who would make three saves on the day.

Osei-Wusu, Curry and sophomore Garrett Heine paced the Colonials’ offense with three shots each, contributing to a team total of 15, a noticeable improvement on the team’s average 11.7 shots per game.

“I think we had a lot more chances than them,” senior co-captain Matthew Scott said. “Four points at home on a weekend is not something you can be too unhappy about. But after the game today, everyone is frustrated because we definitely thought that game was there to win.“

Wrapping up their two-game home stand, the Colonials will try to carry their momentum through their upcoming three-game road trip.

“We’ve been on the road for a lot of non-conference games, so we are hoping those have prepared us,” Jones said. “For us, it’s just one game at a time, and we have won away from home this year, so hopefully we can do it again.”

The Colonials will be back in action Friday night, when they’ll take on St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m.

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Women's volleyball celebrates against Rhode Island earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Women’s volleyball celebrates against Rhode Island earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet contributing sports editor Mark Eisenhauer.

Volleyball gave Atlantic 10 newcomer Davidson a harsh welcome to the conference, defeating the Wildcats in straight sets (25-18, 25-23, 25-13) in the first meeting between the teams as league foes.

Although Davidson was able to keep the match close early on, the Colonials’ relentless offensive firepower overwhelmed the Wildcats down the stretch. The win is the team’s 10th straight-set victory of the season.

“We started off by putting ourselves in another hole, the mental focus,” head coach Amanda Ault said. “But then we started to get into our rhythm and really took over from there.”

Ault was forced to use a timeout early in the first set after Davidson (3-13, 1-5) went up 10-4. Following the stoppage, the Wildcats committed eight errors, while GW (14-5, 5-1) found its stride and took the set with relative ease.

The Colonials offense was a dominant presence throughout the match which, led by senior outside hitter Kelsey Newman and sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu, combined for a total of 55 kills and a .363 hitting percentage – compared to Davidson’s 31 kills and .167 percentage. Junior setter Jordan Timmer fed her teammates all nights on the pin, amassing 40 assists in the three-set match.

Davidson’s offense responded in the second set, and almost stole the set from GW. The Wildcats out-hit the Colonials .433 to .400, but GW held strong. Newman put away the set with one of her match-high 19 kills on the night, which boosted her .429 hitting percentage, another match high.

“In set two, we really let their outside center do whatever they wanted,” Ault said. “In the third set, we went back out and really focused on trying to stop them and to slow them down.”

Davidson mustered just five kills while committing five errors in the third set, totaling a .000 hitting percentage. Newman hit the match-winning kill that propelled her team to its fifth conference victory of the season.

Osuchukwu, who was named A-10 Player of the Week last Monday, totaled 16 kills and a .387 hitting percentage on the match, while junior libero Maddy Doyle, who received Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier this week, totaled 13 digs

Both Osuchukwu and Doyle also tallied a service ace in the match, contributing to the team’s total of four aces on the night – compared to GW’s combined total of one in its last two matches prior to Friday. Ault said the improvements of the serving game reflect the team’s “aggressive” plan that attacks the opposition’s backline.

Despite the straight-set win, the Colonials are still trying to hone in their focus to make it through the rest of their five-game road swing, which features key matchups with the likes of Duquesne and Virginia Commonwealth.

“On the road, we have to be on top of our game,” Ault said. “It’s going to be tough because everyone feels more comfortable playing at home, but we just have to make sure that we are on top of the things we can control.”

The Colonials travel to Richmond, Va. on Sunday to take on VCU.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

Men’s water polo freshman Pierce Deamer was named CWPA Southern Division Rookie of the Week for the second time this season, the league announced Friday.

Deamer is now the first Colonial to earn multiple Rookie of the Week honors since teammate Bogdan Petkovic’s freshman campaign in 2012.

Deamer scored his fifth hat trick of the season last Saturday in a 15-13 loss to Johns Hopkins. The South Pasadena, Calif. native also had two steals and drew a team-high three ejections.

Deamer is fourth on the team with 39 points, 15 steals and eight field blocks. His 29 goals on the season rank fourth on the team, and his 34 ejections drawn are a team high.

The Colonials return to the pool Wednesday in a rematch against Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

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Freshman forward Brittany Cooper tries to dribble away from a Davidson defender. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Freshman forward Brittany Cooper tries to dribble away from a Davidson defender. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Scott Nover.

The first game between a GW team and Atlantic 10 newcomer Davidson on Friday also marked a personal first for one player in a match that did not see much action otherwise.

The Colonials were awarded a penalty kick in the first half after a Davidson defender was called for a handball in the box. Junior defender Emily Brown immediately volunteered to take the shot, squared up to the ball and sent the opposing goalkeeper the wrong way for her first collegiate goal, the difference in a 1-0 GW victory.

“I think I’m one of the weird people who actually likes taking penalty kicks,” Brown said. “So as soon as I saw it happen, I was ready. Then I start running down the field like ‘Pick me, pick me.’ It just came down to that confidence, knowing where I wanted to play the ball.”

Sophomore Kate Elson fights for possession with a Davidson player. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kate Elson fights for possession with a Davidson player. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

The penalty was the first awarded to GW this season. It not only marked Brown’s first collegiate goal, but also her first collegiate shot. The defender, who did not see playing time as a freshman and got only 22 minutes as a sophomore, has become a regular contributor in her junior season, starting eight games and seeing action in all 13.

Coming off a 2-1 win against Massachusetts last week, GW entered Friday’s game looking to add to its four conference points earned with a loss, a win and a tie through three A-10 games. Continuing the pattern of mixed results, the team’s play was shaky throughout. But the Colonials’ set of potent attackers had staggered moments of brilliance on the field.

Junior midfielder Kristi Abbate commanded much of the action, with impressive runs through the Davidson defense. 

But even with her ball control and impressive work from sophomore forward Mackenzie Cowley, GW could not find a goal in live action and forced the Davidson goalie to make only two saves.

“It’s sort of been similar to the last couple home games we’ve had, where I thought we had a better first half than second half, although we started a little shaky,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “And for us, I think the bottom line is we’ve just got to do a better job of putting full games together, 90 minutes together.”

GW outshot the Wildcats 7-1 in the first half but just 10-6 in the game, and had four corner kicks to Davidson’s zero in the first half only to have four apiece in the second.

Able defending spearheaded by senior co-captain Alex Brothers kept GW ahead, particularly in the second half, and helped redshirt freshman goalkeeper Miranda Horn earn her seventh clean sheet of the year. Horn ended the game with three saves.

With the team unable to capitalize on any of eight corners, Barnes noted that timing of headers in the box will be a focus point in upcoming practices.

“You’ve just got to legitimately wait for probably a second and a half to two seconds and let the ball drop another six inches,” Barnes said. “Those six inches are the difference.”

Even with those areas in need of improvement, the Colonials picked up an additional three conference points to go along with their winning conference record of 2-1-1.

GW rounds out the weekend on Sunday afternoon against Richmond when the team welcomes the Spiders for a Senior Day home game at 3:30 p.m.

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What was conceived last year slammed into the Smith Center with a bang Friday night.

It was men’s basketball junior Patricio Garino’s winning bucket in the Colonials Invasion dunk competition, the finale of the event that introduced the men’s and women’s basketball teams to GW fans and built excitement for the upcoming season.

Garino got the idea for his dunk – which he caught off a lob from teammate Kevin Larsen up in the Smith Center balcony – last year, but he was sidelined from the competition with an injury. Now, Garino said the team is not focusing on the past.

“Last year means nothing. This year, we’re going for more,” Garino said to fans before executing his dunk, which earned a perfect score.

After two successful seasons for the men and women last year, the stands packed with students and parents surged with anticipation, and higher expectations, for what’s next.

Both men’s head coach Mike Lonergan and women’s head coach Jonathan Tsipis called on the crowd to come out to games and give GW a strong home-court advantage at the Smith Center. Tsipis told the crowd to make it not just the toughest place to play in the A-10, but in the nation.

“The crowds were really good, especially at the end of the season, and we’re hoping it carries over,” Lonergan said. “Tonight’s kind of a good start. I know it got me fired up because it really means the season’s quickly approaching.”

The evening was an opportunity for the fans to meet some of the characters of the new season: the 12 new additions to men’s and women’s basketball.

Freshmen Darian Bryant and Yuta Watanabe were featured in the dunk contest, and all new roster members made their debuts in front of the crowds after introductions from their families and friends were projected on the Smith Center’s jumbotron.

Still, fans should hope that Bryant and Watanabe got their growing pains out at Colonials Invasion and before the season begins. There were more misses than makes in their portions of the dunk contest, and though Bryant’s alleyoop after twizzling his body around under the basket earned creativity points from the judges, he and Watanabe could not escape some playful ribbing from their coach.

“Yuta was working on them earlier but he kept missing,” Lonergan said. “I’m glad that Pato saved the day because the dunk contest was a little shaky early.”

The event also featured artistic performances throughout the night. Student athletes from men’s and women’s soccer, men’s water polo and swimming and diving made appearances as announcers for groups like Bhangra, the Voice Gospel Choir and Capital Funk. Gymnastics started off the evening, flipping and twisting along a springboard on the arena floor.

But after the dancers had left the stage, after the lights came back on and the hazy puffs of the fog machine had settled, both basketball teams stayed on the court as the crowd trailed out, letting it sink in that their show has yet to begin.

“We got a lot of good publicity. It gave us some momentum and got our program back on the map,” Lonergan said. “But what that means is we’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to give everybody their best shot, we can’t surprise anybody anymore.”

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