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GW players and fans celebrate as GW is given a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament's East region. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

GW players and fans celebrate as GW is given a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s East region. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated March 16, 2014 at 10 p.m.

For the first time in seven years, the men’s basketball team is going dancing.

After waiting through three regions of announcements, the Colonials were announced as the No. 9 seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament. GW will play No. 8 Memphis on Friday in Raleigh, N.C at 6:55 p.m.

“It worked out well, we have a good seed,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “Our conference gets a lot of respect. I think it’s a good first round matchup, a very good, talented Memphis team.”

The bid marks GW’s 11th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its first since 2007 when the Colonials earned an automatic bid after winning the Atlantic 10 Championship.

The Colonials, along with athletic director Patrick Nero, University President Steven Knapp and a contingent of GW fans waited and watched as fellow A-10 teams, such as Saint Louis VCU, Dayton, and UMass were announced before the Colonials. In total, it was six bids for the A-10 – tied for second most by any conference – as Saint Joseph’s later had its name called in the same region as GW.

Sophomore Joe McDonald said after the announcement that it was tough waiting to hear his team’s name called. He added that he is excited for the opening round game against the Tigers and a rematch with a former teammate: former GW forward David Pellom, who transferred after last season with one year of eligibility remaining.

“We’re excited, man,” McDonald said. “You know, it’s a close trip and we get to play one of our old teammates in David Pellom at Memphis, so we’re just really excited.”

When asked about immediate preparations or gameplan for the Tigers, Lonergan admitted that he hasn’t watched too many Memphis games over the course of the season, but will scout the team heavily in the coming days.

“I know every year they’ve got a really, really athletic team. They usually win twenty plus games every year. We’ll know a lot more about them in the next 36 to 48 hours,” Lonergan said.

The Tigers enter the tournament with an overall record of 23-9. Memphis is no stranger to the tournament, making its eighth appearance in the last nine seasons.

GW is 4-10 in its 10 prior NCAA Tournament appearances, with first-round victories in 1994 and 2006 and a pair of wins en route to the Sweet 16 in 1993.

Fans interested in making the trip to Raleigh can fill out  fill out the request form posted by the athletics department. The game will be broadcast on TBS.

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Then-freshmen Maurice Creek went up for a layout against North Carolina Central in 2009. Injuries have slowed down the guard’s career, but he is looking to revive it at GW. Photo courtesy of the Indiana Daily Student

Updated at 1:26 p.m. on June 7, 2013.

The Colonials got a big boost to their roster Friday when Indiana guard Maurice Creek announced he would transfer to GW.

Creek, who is trying to rebound from his latest injury-prone years, posted a photo Friday morning of himself decked out in GW gear, announcing that he would be playing as a Colonial next season.

In a phone interview Friday, Creek said he was excited to become a veteran presence on the Colonials’ roster, adding that he had already gelled with some GW players during the offseason.

“I’ve been playing with the guys for a while, and basically they started treating me like family before I was even going to GW,” Creek said. “I’m just glad they found me.”

Maurice Creek announced Friday that he would head to GW. Photo via Twitter

Because of a ruptured achilles in 2011, Creek missed the entire 2011-12 campaign for the Hoosiers and chose to redshirt his junior year. He now has one season of eligibility left to play at GW and will be apart of the Class of 2014.

Despite his history of injuries, Creek brings a high level of experience to the still young Colonials’ backcourt that will include sophomore starters Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage, as well as recruits Miguel Cartagena and Nick Griffin.

“They got bigs that can play and they got guards that can play and they just needed a little bit of help,” Creek said. “They can help me just as I can help them.”

The announcement comes as great news to head coach Mike Lonergan and his staff, after their somewhat low-key recruiting class was overshadowed by the transfers of seniors Lasan Kromah, David Pellom and sophomore Jonathan Davis. This, in addition to the de-commitment of the team’s top offseason recruit Nigel Johnson, and the move on Wednesday of assistant head coach Kevin Sutton to Georgetown.

“[Lonergan's] been watching me since my freshman year and he was recruiting me throughout my years in high school, and I decided on Indiana, but he knew what I could do,” Creek said. “And he just said this is what we need on our team to be successful, and they only needed one more piece, and having me could be that piece.”

Creek, a 6-foot-5 guard was once a top-50 recruit coming out of high school and a Prep-School All-American after his senior year at the Hargrave Military Academy. He put up large numbers in limited time for the Hoosiers during his freshman campaign,  averaging 16.4 points per game and shooting 44.8 percent from three-point range before his season was cut short after 12 games due to a season-ending fractured knee cap.

Returning as a sophomore, Creek put up a respectable 8.3 points per game, but again saw injuries limit his playing time to only 18 games. After the achilles injury in 2011, Creek served as breakout-star Victor Oladipo’s backup, averaging only 1.8 points and 7.8 minutes per game.

Fans will likely have to wait until the beginning of the season to see if Lonergan chooses to continue the youth movement in Foggy Bottom and use Creek as a sixth man off the bench, or if he will trust Creek’s leadership to start over one of his sophomore guards.

He said he would be “just doing what’s required of you. And basically when you get recommended as a high level player you have to play at the highest level at all times, and that’s what I learned at Indiana which is gonna be good when I go to George Washington,” Creek said.

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Kevin Sutton, right, will leave head coach Mike Lonergan's coaching staff to head to Georgetown. Hatchet File Photo

Kevin Sutton, right, will leave head coach Mike Lonergan’s coaching staff to head to Georgetown. Hatchet File Photo

Assistant men’s basketball coach Kevin Sutton will leave the program to take a position at Georgetown – more bad news as the Colonials endure a rough offseason full of departures.

Sutton leaves GW after just two seasons under head coach Mike Lonergan, upgrading to the perennially top 25 Hoya squad led by head coach John Thompson III. Sutton brings with him his 27 years of coaching experience and reputation as a very strong recruiter.

It is unknown at this time what role Sutton will have on Georgetown’s coaching staff, and who will replace him on GW’s bench.

The news was tweeted by former Colonials star Aaron Ware and reported by several Georgetown fan sites. The athletics department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Talk of Sutton leaving the Colonials emerged earlier this year, when he personally submitted his name for the open head coaching position at Florida Gulf Coast University.

His departure leaves Lonergan and his coaching staff in continued recruiting disarray as it has watched three players – David Pellom, Lasan Kromah and Jonathan Davis – transfer from the program, as well as Nigel Johnson decommit from GW in favor of Kansas State.

In his two seasons with coach Lonergan, the Colonials amassed a 23-38 record and ended both seasons with first round losses in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Comparatively, Thompson and the Hoyas finished last season with a 25-7 record and earned a No.2 seed for the NCAA Tournament before being upset in the first round by Florida Gulf Coast.

Previously, Sutton served as an assistant coach at James Madison University and Old Dominion University. Notably at GW, Sutton helped recruit two of the team’s current starters – forwards Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen – both of whom played at two of Sutton’s former schools, Montrose Christian (1999) and Montverde Academy (2004-11).

Immediately prior to coaching at GW, Sutton served as the athletic director and head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Montverde Academy for eight years. He helped lead the Eagles to a 2007 National Title and a 2010 National High School Invitational Runners-Up nod.

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Updated: May 17, 2013, 9:45 a.m.

Head coach Mike Lonergan has reportedly snagged his newest recruit of the offseason, as Virginia Episcopal School’s Anthony Swan has committed to GW, a source told CBS Sports.

Those reports were confirmed by ABC-13 WSET-TV on Thursday, stating that Swan, who is the cousin of head associate coach Hajj Turner, has committed to GW. Swan had narrowed down his choices to GW, Miami and Cincinnati, but ultimately decided that becoming a Colonial would be the best fit for him.

Mike Longergan

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan has now had his first recruit join for 2014-15, CBS Sports reported. | Hatchet File Photo

Swan, a 6-foot-7 small forward, is a high school junior, so he will not arrive to play on campus until 2014-15, making him the first recruit to declare for that season.

He joins the list of 2013 offseason recruits that includes Skyler White and Miguel Cartegena.

“He’s just a very reserved person, always very positive even through negative times – bad losses and things like that,” Curtis Staples, Swan’s head coach at Virginia Episcopal, said. “He’s always the guy that tells everybody it’s gonna get better, so he’s definitely one of those guys that you want to have in your locker room.”

Last season, Swan averaged 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks for his varsity VES team that went 21-4,5-1 in the extremely competitive Virginia Independent Conference.

Swan’s wing shooting skills will help fill the hole left by recent transfer Lasan Kromah, and could form to a strong combination with White, known for his three-point shot.

“Anthony’s biggest strength is his shooting. He’s a great shooter, so he’s able to stretch defenses and create a lot of problems for a lot of opposing teams because he’s so athletic,” Staples said.

This has been an up-and-down off season for Lonergan, with Kromah, Jonathan Davis and David Pellom leaving the program, and former recruit Nigel Johnson de-commiting from GW.

It is not known at the time whether Swan will receive one of the available scholarship slots upon his graduation next year.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 8:18 p.m.

David Pellom to transfer to Memphis

Almost a month after David Pellom was granted a release from the men’s basketball team, the senior forward will officially leave the Colonials to head to the University of Memphis.

Then-junior forward David Pellom drives to the basket during the 2011-2012 season. He’ll head to Memphis and be able to play immediately. Hatchet File Photo

The news was first reported by The Commercial Appeal, a Tennessee newspaper, Tuesday night.

His official transfer marks an offseason in which head coach Mike Lonergan has seen two other players – sophomore Jonathan Davis and senior Lasan Kromah – leave the program. Former recruit Nigel Johnson also decommitted to head to Kansas State, another sour note in the Colonials’ offseason.

Following his release on March 26, Pellom still had the opportunity to return to GW for his final season of eligibility, though that was always an unlikely scenario. With Memphis, Pellom will be able to play right away as a graduate student transfer.

Pellom’s departure leaves junior forward Nemaja Mikic as the final player on the roster who was recruited by former Colonials’ head coach Karl Hobbs.

The news officially opens up another roster and scholarship slot for next year’s team, even after the offseason additions of Nick Griffin, Skyler White and Miguel Cartagena.

Pellom did not play a single game for the Colonials this past season, sidelined by a series of surgeries in the offseason, as well as a lingering left wrist issue.  During his junior season, Pellom led GW in rebounds, averaging 6.1 a game over 27 games. On the offensive side, he set a single-season shooting record on 68.5 percent shooting.

 

 

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Then- junior forward David Pellom drives to the basket last season. Hatchet File Photo

Men’s basketball senior forward David Pellom has been granted a release from the team and sophomore forward Jonathan Davis intends to transfer from the Colonials, head coach Mike Lonergan said Tuesday.

Pellom’s release does not mean he will leave GW, Lonergan said, but that the forward is exploring his options. Pellom, a senior who has one year of eligibility left, could play right away as a graduate student transfer.

“We’re going to do whatever is best for him. Right after the season, we gave him his release and said, ‘hey, if you want to go look at other schools,’” Lonergan said. “We’d like to see him come back here and help us make the postseason and reach our goals, but he hasn’t played basketball in over a year and I’m not really sure what Dave’s thinking.”

Pellom did not take the court with the Colonials this season. Following a series of surgeries over the offseason, the athletics department announced that lingering issues in his left wrist would keep the forward sidelined for the remainder of 2012-13 competition.  In his junior campaign, Pellom was GW’s leading rebounder, averaging 6.1 a game over 27 games played and set a single-season shooting record on 68.5 percent shooting.

“We’ve always done what’s best for him,” Lonergan said. “That’s something that will be decided in the next few weeks. I just wish he played this year. That was our goal, to get the freshmen some experience and by January have him join the team.”

Davis, a sophomore, has played 44 minutes over 23 games as a Colonial, averaging .4 points a game on 44.4 percent shooting and .3 rebounds per game. His decision to transfer, Lonergan said, is born of a desire to head to a program where he can have more of an impact – much like Isaiah Armwood’s thought process when transferring from Villanova to GW.

“Jonathan Davis, we met with a week ago. He’s a great guy,” Lonergan said. “With Jonathan, going into your third year, if you were ever going to go somewhere and play for them, you really had to make that move. We’re going to be sad to lose him as a friend and a teammate for our players.”

The news opens up at least one, and maybe two, roster slots for next year’s team. Nigel Johnson, who has verbally committed, and Nick Griffin, who signed a letter of intent, claimed two Colonial scholarships as 2013-14 recruits, while Skyler White has committed to the team as a walk-on forward.

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Senior guard Bryan Bynes holds onto the ball before passing to junior forward Nemanja Mikic at Boston earlier this season. Hatchet file photo by Elizabeth Traynor

Updated 1:38 p.m.

Senior guard Bryan Bynes will miss the rest of the season after fracturing his right tibial plateau against Fordham Wednesday night.

Bynes sat for the entire second half of the game, after scoring five points in 10 minutes in the first half of play. An MRI on Thursday revealed the extent of the injury.

Bynes’ injury further depletes the Colonials’ offensive rotation, which already lost senior forward David Pellom this season. It also forces freshman guard Joe McDonald to shoulder much of the load at the point guard position, with only senior guard Lasan Kromah and freshman guard Kethan Savage as backups. It’s a significant loss for a team that has struggled with ball control and against heavy pressure this season, impacting its ability to establish a solid offensive presence.

“This is really an unfortunate situation for Bryan, and is not the way our coaches and teammates wanted his senior season to end,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a release. ”Bryan had really stepped up his contributions in Atlantic 10 play, and now we’re going to need other players to step up in his place to help us reach our goal of playing for the A-10 championship in Brooklyn next month.”

Over A-10 action, Bynes averaged 5.6 points per game and a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. This likely marks the end of Bynes’ career as a Colonial, as the senior does not have extra eligibility. As a junior, he was briefly sidelined with a left shoulder injury, but returned after missing two games to compete throughout the rest of the season.

The loss of Bynes also means that another veteran player will be relegated to GW’s bench for the rest of the season. As he suits up a relatively young team, Lonergan has often called for his upperclassmen to step up as leaders on and off the court. Bynes’ injury subtracts another veteran, along with Pellom, from the Colonial roster.

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Then- junior forward David Pellom heads to the basket last season. Hatchet File Photo

Updated 9:29 a.m.

Injured men’s basketball forward David Pellom will miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season, battling lingering injuries in his left wrist.

Pellom has one year of eligibility remaining. Athletics communications said there was no information available yet, beyond their initial release, about Pellom’s intentions regarding redshirting and remaining with the Colonials next season.

Pellom underwent surgery on that wrist in July. The specific reason of the injury was not released, but initial projections put Pellom out for “four to five months,” aiming for a possible return to the court in December. But a second surgery in November set that timetable back an additional four to six weeks.

The senior forward has not suited up with the Colonials this season.The official athletics department release said that Pellom “has not been cleared to participate in basketball activities.”

The wrist surgery was Pellom’s second operation of the 2012 offseason, after he had successful meniscus surgery on his left knee in March.

Over the 2011-12 season, Pellom was a key aspect of GW’s offensive attack, setting a new single-season shooting record by recording a .685 field goal percentage on the season. He was also an energetic force for the Colonials on the floor, working to provide a spark for the rest of the players on the court.

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Senior guard Lasan Kromah releases a shot earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

First, it was Dwayne Smith. Then, it was Bryan Bynes.

After Smith’s dominant off-the-bench performance against VMI Dec. 22, it was Bynes who stepped up against Sacred Heart, ending the game with nine points, three rebounds and an assist.

If there’s ever a time for players to begin to discover their game, it’s as their team closes in on conference play. It’s an important boost of confidence, one that can spread across a team. And the impact of the improved shooting was easy to see Sunday as GW (6-6) walked away with a 77-38 victory over Sacred Heart, the team’s biggest margin of victory since 2007.

“[Bynes] has really struggled to make baskets and today, in the first half, he had eight or nine points, made some shots, and it was so much easier for our team to get some scoring out of him,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “Hopefully he can build on that and keep working hard. Especially for the seniors, you want them to have no regrets and go out and have the best year of their careers.”

The opening minutes of play didn’t provide a hint of the Colonial dominance to come. The two teams played through three lead changes and a tie over roughly the first nine minutes of play.

But GW soon found its rhythm. A Bynes three before a media timeout jumpstarted the Colonial offense, peaking in a 31-10 scoring run over the final 15 minutes of the first half. GW shot 59.3 percent on the half, the team’s best first-half shooting of the season.

“We’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve been working on our shooting more than any team I’ve ever seen,” Lonergan said. “Hopefully the guys will start understanding the reason we’re bringing them in for extra shooting is so it will pay off.”

The offensive pressure didn’t relax after the break. The Colonials came out of the half strong, never letting Sacred Heart get close. And though the Pioneers attempted to stall GW’s shooting with a zone that collapsed inside, the Colonials shook off earlier shooting slumps to stay hot from the floor.

GW shot 50.9 percent overall, controlling the offensive pace of the game. Despite Sacred Heart attempting to apply pressure inside, the Colonials picked up a 38-16 points in the paint advantage, supplementing its production with a 13-8 edge in second-chance points. The team’s play was aided by its 43-37 advantage on the boards.

“I thought [senior guard] Lasan [Kromah] did a good job, he had a good floor game. We’re playing him a little at the point now because he’s a good passer,” Lonergan said. “Our competition is going to get a lot stronger than it was today but it was good to see a strong team effort.”

The scoring was spread across the team’s roster, GW picking up 39 points from its bench. All 12 of the Colonials who checked into the game scored, paced by senior guard Lasan Kromah and Smith, who added 10 points and eight and five rebounds, respectively. Senior forward Isaiah Armwood had eight points, three assists and three blocks, while freshman guard Joe McDonald had eight points, seven boards, four assists and four steals.

Also strong off the bench for GW was freshman forward Paris Maragkos, who pulled down five boards and eight points, including his first collegiate three-pointer.

“Paris, I wanted to get him some time today. His mom came over from Greece and she was with him for four or five days and she was able to see this game,” Lonergan said.

The Colonials’ wide-ranging production was made even more potent by Sacred Heart’s limited lineup. Losing a number of players to injury, the Pioneers struggled to establish a balanced game, earning just five points from their bench.

That lent itself well to GW establishing a strong transition game, tightly controlling most of the Pioneers’ trips down the court. Sacred Heart shot just 23.7 percent on the game, surrendering 19 turnovers that GW turned into 23 points and able to tally only 16 points in the paint.

“We’ve had to rely on our defense. Our field goal percentage defensively has been pretty good. We struggle to score a lot and our shooting hasn’t been very strong, so defense can be a constant for us,” Lonergan said.

The win, though not a challenging victory, was an important one for the Colonials. After multiple games that ended in a three-point defeat, it could serve as an important injection of confidence as the team looks to wrap non-conference play against Georgia Jan. 4.

After that, GW will host St. Bonaventure Jan. 9 to officially begin play in a tough A-10 field. The team is still waiting on news about injured senior forward David Pellom, Lonergan said, who is slated to see a doctor in a few days and could rejoin GW in time for A-10 play.

“It could really help us,” Lonergan said. “But we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get more out of the guys we’ve got. I’m happy with where we’re at, we’ve had some setbacks we didn’t expect the first semester, but we’ve got to keep getting better.”

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Senior guard Lasan Kromah leaps to the net while freshman forward Kevin Larsen tries to right himself in the face of a Mount defender. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

The stat sheet told the story of the game, head coach Mike Lonergan said in his press conference. The rows of numbers, black and white on the page, were the ultimate summary of a 65-56 loss to Mount Saint Mary’s that left fans shaking their heads and the Colonials (2-3) frustrated.

The game’s numbers didn’t lie, Lonergan pointed out. And they came from GW’s inability to shake off the intense pressure it found itself under.

“Their pressure won the game for them. That’s the long story short. Their pressure won the game for them,” senior forward Isaiah Armwood said. “They made us turn the ball over, so they were successful at what they did.”

The difference-maker was the Mount’s defense, a facsimile of the “havoc” approached used by VCU, born of head coach Jamion Christian’s time under Shaka Smart as a Rams assistant.

GW faltered under the pressure, failing to establish a solid transition game. It was a letdown that spread into all areas of the Colonials’ shooting, shaking the team’s confidence. And it was a pressure that stripped GW of the ball 25 times, an amount of turnovers that sapped the Colonials of any chance they had at establishing momentum or rhythm.

“There were so many things that broke our back,” Lonergan said. “And a turnover here and there, and then we got tired and they started taking us to the rim. And we don’t really have a shot blocker back there, except for maybe Isaiah.”

While the Mountaineers’ defense rattled GW, it served only to exacerbate the team’s already-present ball-handling challenges. Many of the night’s turnovers were avoidable, born of a Colonial player trying to be too flashy, to do too much.

“Some of it was created by their defense, but sometimes I felt like we were just handing them the ball,” Lonergan said. “I really don’t understand that.”

Without an effective transition game, and with its confidence taking blow after blow, GW couldn’t put together a cohesive attack.

The Colonials outsized Mount Saint Mary’s by a significant amount, and when the team was able to get it into the paint, the advantage showed. GW won the rebounding battle 32-24, and bested the Mount 42-20 on points in the paint. The team’s post play included more signs of improvement from freshman forward Kevin Larsen, who had 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists over 26 minutes of play.

“Hopefully Kevin will keep getting better,” Lonergan said. “He was 5-for-5 tonight and almost had a double-double.”

But though GW outmuscled its opponent in the paint, and had a 51.1 shooting percentage as compared to Mount Saint Mary’s 49.0 percent, the Mountaineers staked their victory on their ability to convert long shots.

The Mount nailed eight treys to GW’s three, putting a comfortable distance between the two teams at crucial points that could have turned the tide in the Colonials’ favor. And when GW got opportunities to overcome the deficit at the line, it failed to sink the free throws, ending just 8-of-17 from the charity stripe.

“The free throw shooting was a joke. In the second half, we’re 4-for-10, and at least one, we missed 1-and-1’s,” Lonergan said.

“They foul a lot,” he added. “But you’ve got to go to the line and make them pay, and we didn’t do that.”

Senior guard Lasan Kromah paced GW in points, adding 18, while Armwood put up a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists. But overall, it was a disappointing night for GW’s offense, though, Lonergan cautioned, the fault didn’t lie with freshman point guard Joe McDonald.

“I think we have a very good point guard. He didn’t have his best game tonight, that’s for sure, but he’s in a situation where he’s doubleteamed, and the guy’s man leaves, his teammate isn’t in the right spot, or coming back to the pass, it can really make you look bad as a point guard,” Lonergan said. “I feel bad for Joe. I don’t think guys went in the right spot for him tonight.”

Head coach Mike Lonergan reacts from GW’s bench Monday night. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

Instead, Lonergan said, he’s left needing more from upperclassmen and GW’s bench. The veteran members of the Colonials, for the most part, were absent Monday night. Senior guard Bryan Bynes had six turnovers and zero assists, senior forward Dwayne Smith went 0-for-1 in four minutes of play, and junior forward Nemanja Mikic, too, was held scoreless.

It’s time to shake up his approach, Lonergan acknowledged, in hopes of lighting a fire under some of his veteran players.

“We’ve got to get Bryan and Nemanja in, and Dwayne, we’ve got to get them playing,” Lonergan said. “Maybe I’ve got to start them, that worked with Lasan, offensively at least. He’s played really well lately, I put him back in the starting lineup. Maybe I’ve got to give Dwayne a chance, because we didn’t get a lot out of him tonight.”

Perhaps the most important returning player, though, the one responsible for a large chunk of GW’s scoring, rebounding and energy last season, is senior forward David Pellom. And after being sidelined over the summer with wrist surgery, Pellom underwent a second surgery Monday afternoon that will put him out for an additional 4-6 weeks.

Lonergan, who didn’t say if the possibility of a medical redshirt for the rest of the year had been discussed, shook off the impact of Pellom’s absence. One player shouldn’t make or break the team, he said.

“It is what it is. He’s our best returning player,” Lonergan said. “Hopefully he’ll be back for the A-10 games. But we’ve got to go on like he’s not here.”

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