Ben Krimmel, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.
On a basketball court, freshman Miguel Cartagena doesn’t look very imposing. He’s listed as 6-foot, but that might be stretching it. He often looks a bit unsure of himself when taking the ball up the court, or at least, he looks like a freshman.
But Cartagena could be the man that can help GW fans from losing their minds without sophomore Kethan Savage.
Cartagena can’t replace Savage and shouldn’t attempt to play like him. Rather, starting tonight against La Salle, the freshman should emulate the style of play of the once-struggling junior John Kopriva.
During Saturday’s win at George Mason, Cartagena would advance the ball up the court and immediately peer over his shoulder to get instructions from his head coach. The offense was methodical, slow and a few times a better defender could have knocked the ball away from him when he was distracted and looking for guidance.
Now, in Cartagena’s defense, he was virtually on his own, as Nemanja Mikic, John Kopriva, Paris Maragkos and Nick Griffin provided little off the ball movement. During this reserve only time on the floor, Cartagena shot 1-5 with two turnovers and two personal fouls.
In 17 minutes, Kopriva forward had six boards, two points, and added two steals. Kopriva isn’t going to dazzle with sensational scoring numbers, rather his game Saturday was to fill space on defense and rebound. (Based on my last round of GW predictions, expect Kopriva to pour in at least 15 Wednesday night.)
Cartagena just needs to play smart and play a clean game. No one is expecting him to make any all-rookie teams. But if he can control the ball and keep a steady tempo, the rest of the squad can take it away.
Whenever he gets the chance, the freshman should feed the ball to sophomore forward Kevin Larsen. Larsen has responded to criticism following a poor shooting night (3-10 from the field) against La Salle last time with a run of four excellent performances.
The Colonials will look for their fifth straight victory tonight. If GW hopes to survive a lethargic first half, they’ll need another dominating second half when they shoot 66.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc.
But if the Savage-less Colonials are unable to overcome any offensive sluggishness and fall (again) to La Salle, concern shouldn’t compound with Savage’s gradual march to the locker-room. With a third of the season remaining, GW still have some budding playmakers it can count on.
This post was updated Jan. 29, 2014 at 5:05 p.m. to reflect the following:
The Hatchet misspelled Paris Maragkos’ last name.