Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

Tag

GW


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos by Cameron Lancaster

At home and coming off a loss, a win for GW was supposed to be a formality. The team was 13-0 at home and had yet to lose back-to-back games.

But this was Massachusetts – the once No. 13 ranked team in the country.

So despite a furious comeback while down by as many as 11 points in the second half, the Colonials couldn’t pull out the victory, falling to the Minutemen 67-61.

Though it wasn’t a must win situation for the Colonials, as Lonergan said, it was a “golden opportunity” given away.

“Our inside guys were not scoring and I think we were settling for some jumpers and fadeaways and just not playing tough enough,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We shot a low percentage and they did a good job taking away our inside game.”

Eight lead changes, five tied scores and a seven-minute stretch in the second half that saw each team within at least three points. In the house: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and GW Hall of Famer John Flaherty.

But a magical 20th win seems to be elusive, as an ice-cold shooting night and mental mistakes in the closing minutes ultimately did in the Colonials.

GW, the best field goal percentage team in the Atlantic 10 entering the game, would shoot 36.7 percent for the night, going 4-13 from behind the arc. UMass on the other hand, would shoot 49 percent, led by 20 points on 4-5 three-point shooting from redshirt senior Carter Sampson.

Sampson, along with 250-pound center Cady Lalanne, would make it a rough night for forwards Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen. The duo would score a combined 23 points on 8-25 shooting, while turning the ball over five times.

“Lalanne is a big body in there,” Armwood said. “Usually we aren’t used to playing a guy that size, we were rushing a little bit. They just bothered us, took us out of our comfort zone.

With 11:31 to play, though, it looked like things were turning in the Colonials’ favor. Down 49-40, UMass star Chaz Williams was called for his fourth foul while guarding sophomore Patricio Garino on a fast break. He fell to the ground and raised his arms in protest as the Colonial Army raised their arms in exuberance.

Over the next six-minute stretch, with Williams on the bench, GW got hot. Five consecutive points from graduate transfer Maurice Creek and it was a five-point game. A left-handed reverse layup from Garino less than a minute later and it was a one-point game.

Graduate transfer Maurice Creek puts in a layup against UMass Saturday. The Colonials surrendered their first home loss of the season, 67-61. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Graduate transfer Maurice Creek puts in a layup against UMass Saturday. The Colonials surrendered their first home loss of the season, 67-61. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

That was enough for UMass head coach Derek Kellogg and back in went Williams with four fouls.

“I think that was the stretch that we started running, we had made a couple transition buckets that gave us the lead,” Garino said. “We just needed that energy through the whole game

In that moment, GW looked poised to handle the pressure, as another reverse layup from Garino off an assist from sophomore Joe McDonald gave them their first lead since the 9:56 mark in the first.

Garino would finish with a team-high 20 points and three steals – the only player, Lonergan said, that was able to attack the basket as his team struggled to shoot.

But from then on, the Minutemen would successfully walk the tight rope that was foul trouble. Only redshirt junior Maxie Esho would foul out, but in addition to Williams, Carter and forward Raphiael Putney were also forced to deal with four fouls down the stretch.

For the majority of the game, it was the Minutemen letting the Colonials hang around, going 12-26 at the free-throw line. But missed jumpers and mental mistakes, like a foul by Creek on a three-point shooting Trey Davis, would hand the game back to UMass.

“That was a big win for us in a hostile environment against a team which I think is definitely an NCAA caliber team,” Kellogg said. “We never gave in, they never quit, in my college estimation it was a very good basketball game.”

Lonergan once again received no help from his bench – the only reserve production coming on a three from senior Nemanja Mikic with 15:30 to play in the second half. But Lonergan was not at all surprised, emphasizing the limited six-man rotation that he realistically has to play with.

GW will look to avoid making it three-straight losses when it heads to Richmond Tuesday at 7 p.m.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 3:07 p.m.

Ben Krimmel: GW’s snow day came a day late

Ben Krimmel, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

On a night when the premier rivalry in college basketball — Duke vs. North Carolina — was called off due to snow, the Colonials must have wished they got the same fate. Taking on Atlantic 10 rival VCU would be nothing but tough sledding, even though they had soundly beaten the rival before.

Forward Isaiah Armwood goes up for an aggressive layup against a formidable VCU defense last season in GW's big loss. Hatchet File Photo

Forward Isaiah Armwood goes up for an aggressive layup against a formidable VCU defense last season in GW’s big loss. Hatchet File Photo

Wednesday night’s snow forecast for Foggy Bottom was for 5-10 inches. The basketball forecast for the Colonials in Richmond was for an avalanche of turnovers: 14 in the first half and 22 for the game.

The game billed as an A-10 showdown never materialized. The best way to describe GW’s performance would be in terms found in horse racing’s Daily Racing Form: slow to start, brief fight back, no factor.

The Colonials showed moments of second-half heart, cutting the lead to five at one point, but it was quickly extended back to a comfortable lead for the Rams.

GW was treated to the type of beat-down that is normally dished out to Smith Center visitors. It was not pretty.

The Colonials offense at times was sputtering and clunking up and down the floor like a car in need of a new transmission. Intermittent points of functionality were punctuated with countless stretches of terrible frustration that was punctuated with head coach Mike Lonergan’s ejection.

Lonergan’s frustration at the officials was apparent from the word go. With the “Havoc” defense tormenting the Colonials in the backcourt, Lonergan was there haranguing the officials for foul calls from the bench. In the game’s closing moments, the GW head coach had seen enough and the referees had heard enough.

Hopes were dashed for an exclamation mark win in one of the tough environments in the A-10 against one of the A-10’s best squads. Fortunately for Lonergan, there’s another game right around the corner. Hopes for postseason play remain with six regular season games remaining.

When the Minutemen of UMass visit the District Saturday, the Colonials desire collective and selective amnesia. Forget the poor outside shooting during the VCU game’s opening interval and much of the rest of the second half.

While the Colonials have vastly exceeded their modest preseason expectations of relevancy, a late-season stumble could still spoil the most memorable season since 2006.

Thanks to strong leadership and a base of eager youngsters, GW is without back-to-back losses this season. Rebounding is something GW has done well and collapse seems highly unlikely.

GW won’t need any extra reminding from their head coach to take the pain from a 17-point gut-punch and use it as motivation headed into the season’s home stretch.

  • Permalink
  • Comments


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Photos by:
Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
Caitlin Harrington | Hatchet Photographer
Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Maybe this will make this afternoon’s 75-65 loss to the Dayton Flyers a little more bearable?

The men’s basketball team has always struggled to pull out a win when traveling to the University of Dayton Arena. The last time the Colonials walked away from Ohio victorious was on Feb. 26, 2005 under head coach Karl Hobbs.

With the game tied at 59 and under a minute to play, a crucial turnover by the Flyers with just seconds left on the clock gave then-GW sophomore Carl Elliot one last opportunity to win the game in regulation with a prayer from close to half court.

The rest is history, and the finish was nothing short of spectacular.

Elliot would go on to be named to the Atlantic 10 all-defensive team at the end of the season and the team as a whole would finish the year 22-8 with a conference title and a first round loss to Georgia Tech in the NCAA tournament.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

A sellout crowd of 4,874 screaming GW fans. Expected.

Twenty-one turnovers against the fast and aggressive “Havoc” defense. Expected.

A 76-66 win over VCU – the preseason pick to win the Atlantic 10 conference. Incredible.

Thanks to career performances from sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino, the Colonials grabbed the upset win, solidifying their position as a true contender in the A-10, while improving to 9-0 at home on the season.

“It’s a special win for us because one of our goals was to go undefeated at home, and I told the guys we can reach all our goals if we go undefeated at home and this is a big game for us,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

Tonight, a sold out Smith Center crowd got to witness the Kevin Larsen that Lonergan has been waiting to see since he brought him here two years ago.

After scoring 17 points in the first half Tuesday, going 7-8 from the field and tying his career high, Larsen would continue to break down the VCU (13-4) frontcourt. He set the tone for the game, Lonergan said, hustling up and down the floor to help break the VCU press – something Lonergan said would be crucial heading into the game. The 6-foot-10 sophomore visibly outmuscled VCU defenders, leading to easy looks at the basket.

“I wanted to get revenge from last year,” Larsen said. “Juvante Reddic had 23 [points] and 10 [rebounds] on me last year so I was kind of looking forward to this matchup and just trying to give him my best and it worked out well for me.”

Larsen led an inside attack that, besides three GW free throws, scored the first 17 points of the game for the Colonials. The highly-touted VCU defense looked almost invisible after their press was broken, and GW made them pay, as they went on to outscore the Rams 40-28 in the paint.

The Colonials first field goal outside the paint wouldn’t come until 8:55 left to play in the half – a three-point field goal by Garino.

“You know he broke his finger and he’s had a lot of setbacks, so it was really special to see him hit some threes when we needed to hit threes,” Lonergan said. “Other guys have been struggling for a while, so I’ve always felt that if he can get that jumper going, he’s going to be a pro.”

After a three from VCU’s Rob Brandenburg to answer with 7:35 to play in the first, GW would embark on a 16-4 run to go into the half with a seven-point lead, something Lonergan said he was both surprised and happy about.

Garino would keep things rolling for GW in the second half, scoring 14 points of his career-high 25 points over the last 20 minutes. After the game VCU head coach Shaka Smart called Garino the “sparkplug” off the bench for the Colonials.

One of the big questions entering Tuesday’s game was how Lonergan would handle the VCU defense, which leads the nation in steals per game and has the highest turnover margin in the A-10. Despite turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, the Colonials found ways to consistently break the VCU press, mostly with long cross-court passes and multiple options at half court.

The ability to get the ball up court quickly led to lots of good scoring opportunities for the Colonials – a big factor in the team’s 56 percent shooting from the field, compared to just 36.8 percent for VCU.

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in GW's upset win on Tuesday night at the Smith Center. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in GW’s upset win on Tuesday night at the Smith Center. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

“We knew we were going to have turnovers during the game, its nothing new, we just kept playing, we don’t think about the past play, we just keep going and keep fighting,” Garino said.

Instead of bringing up the ball with sophomore point guard Joe McDonald, who was guarded by the nation’s leader in steals, Briante Weber, Lonergan handed the ball to sophomore Kethan Savage who would only turn the ball over twice in the first half. Weber would record just a single steal in the entire half.

GW may have been able to open the game up more in the first half had the Rams not shot so well from behind the arc. The VCU shooters started extremely hot, going 6-8 from three in the first half, sometimes crushing the spirits of the GW defense that fought hard all night. The Colonials would have to wait until the second half to expand their lead, as VCU missed seven-straight threes to open up the second.

Eventually going 3-16 in the second half from beyond the arc, the Rams moved to attacking the inside, and did so successfully, after senior Isaiah Armwood had to sit with four fouls. The Rams showed plenty of fight down the stretch, forcing 11 second-half turnovers and cutting GW’s lead to four, but unlike Colonials teams of the past, GW was able to hold onto their lead and make clutch play after clutch play to close it out.

GW would outrebound the Rams 45-29 on the night, led by a 11-point, 14-rebound night by senior forward Isaiah Armwood.

GW will head to New York on Saturday where they will play St. Bonaventure.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Nick Ong contributed to this report.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

On Tuesday, the men’s basketball team will look to stay perfect at home this season with a win against the VCU Rams. Here are some more interesting things to look out for at the Smith Center tomorrow.

The uniform that the Colonials will wear Tuesday. Photo courtesy of GW athletics.

The uniform that the Colonials will wear Tuesday. Photo courtesy of GW athletics.

Although the game is a presumed sellout, about 600 tickets were sold to Rams fans. With that may come a certain free-throw distraction for the Colonials. Against George Mason last week, the VCU pep band unveiled a giant “space kitten” banner, the same kitten seen in Miley Cyrus’s American Music Awards performance last November.

After playing a cover of Cyrus’s wrecking ball, and revealing the kitten near song’s end, the band continued to use the image to VCU’s advantage to distract GMU free-throw shooters.

George Mason would go 9-16 at the free throw line, and the Rams remained unbeaten at home defeating the Patriots 71-57.

The VCU pep band's space kitten. Photo courtesy of VCURamsNation.com

The VCU pep band’s space kitten. Photo courtesy of VCURamsNation.com

GW, though, will have something else up their sleeve, or rather on their jersey. The Colonials will be wearing brand new gray uniforms with images of the White House, Capitol and Washington Monument on the back – the same images that are now etched on the Smith Center floor.

The Colonials are 8-0 on their homecourt this season and will definitely need the support of the home crowd to take down the Rams and their “Havoc” defense.

So what’s the key for GW come Tuesday night? Keep the VCU band in the middle sections of the Smith Center or prepare for the cuteness that is the space kitten.

Nick Ong contributed to this report.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 7:49 p.m.

Liveblog: GW at La Salle

 

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Its time for bench players like senior Nemanja Mikic to step up. Hatchet File Photo

Its time for bench players like senior Nemanja Mikic to step up. Hatchet File Photo

Ben Krimmel, a Hatchet columnist, is a senior majoring in international affairs.

The men’s basketball team has racked up its most non-conference in nearly four decades and is sitting pretty going into Atlantic 10 play. But as the temperature plunges in Foggy Bottom, the Colonials still find themselves standing on some thinning ice.

Don’t let their most recent Smith Center 17-point romp over Georgia deceive you. GW basketball is not on as solid footing as head coach Mike Lonergan would like.

Why? Production from the GW bench has been virtually nonexistent.

Aside from GW’s in-form sixth man, Patricio Garino, the other players on the Colonials’ bench have provided just 16 total points in the last three games.

Lonergan doesn’t need all of his team to be hot all at the same time, but he can’t afford to have the bench remain cold as conference play begins against La Salle on Wednesday. Maurice Creek, Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage have carried the offense for the last month.

The three-point shots are no longer falling for forward Nemanja Mikic and neither are the lay-ups for forward John Kopriva. Those second and third players off the GW bench are averaging 17.2 and 13.1 minutes per game, respectively.

Mikic has not scored more than six points since GW’s win over Rutgers on Dec. 4 and failed to score in each of the last two GW contests. During that six-game stretch, the 6-foot-8 forward has shot 3-10 from behind the arc.

For Kopriva the numbers are even worse — he hasn’t made a field goal in a month. On the bright side, Kopriva has only missed four shots during that span.

The cameo appearances from guard Miguel Cartagena, forward Paris Maragkos, guard Nick Griffin and forward Skyler White haven’t been of significant or regular minutes to make too many judgments on their play.

However, Griffin has a very good-looking jump shot and good range. I would like to see the freshman get a five-minute run along side Creek to see if Griffin’s outside shooting can help stretch opponents’ defenses the way Creek’s does. Griffin could provide a change of pace as a shoot first guard as opposed to the slashing of Savage and McDonald.

Is this time for panic at the Smith Center? Of course not. But it is time to be concerned. (Think orange rather than red for any of my fellow Elliott School of International Affairs students who need a national security point of reference.)

The teams that have successful end of season runs have a couple solid contributors off the bench. For the Colonials, it is just a matter of finding the right reinforcements.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

This post was written by Nick Suss. He is the men’s basketball beat reporter for The Red and Black, the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper.

The University of Georgia is not a basketball school.

Don’t let the 6-5 record or the 73.3 points per game fool you into thinking that the Bulldogs’ basketball team is formidable. Those numbers will skew your thinking. The true story of the season lies in story of the team’s last home game.

Facing a then-6-7 Western Carolina team and riding a four-game winning streak, the Bulldogs should have squashed the lesser and physically smaller Catamounts. But Georgia needed an 11-1 run spanning the game’s final seven minutes just to squeak out a two-point victory.

Stealing an unwarranted victory from an inferior team, UGA wheezed out of its last non-conference home game on a five-game winning streak. Head coach Mark Fox summed the game up best.randb_logo

“I thought their team deserved to win that game more than ours did,” Fox said. “We did not play well, we did not shoot free throws well and at the end, when we tried to miss a free throw [to run out the clock], we make the son of a gun.”

Therein lies the main theme of the 2013-14 Georgia men’s basketball season: The team is winning games, but given the quality of opponents, it should be winning better.

There definitely is talent on this team. Sophomore guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines both average double-digit scoring per game and junior forward Nemanja Djursic adds more than 11 points per game primarily off the bench.

Additionally, the team averages about 37 rebounds per game, led by the team’s lone senior Donte’ Williams at 5.5 per game, and still remains unbeaten when having won the rebounding battle. With plenty of tall players, six Bulldogs check in between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-10, a number at least comparable to GW’s number of big men.

So don’t read this to say that this game is a lock for your 11-2 Colonials. Georgia is after all 6-1 against mid-major schools this season, the only loss being to perennial bracket-buster Davidson in an early season tournament. In fact, one should remember that the comatose 2012-13 Bulldogs actually defeated GW last season in Athens while only scoring 52 points.

Of course, SEC Player of the Year and current Detroit Piston Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is no longer playing his unique brand of 1-verus-5 basketball on the floor of Stegeman Coliseum for the squad as he did when the Bulldogs defeated the Colonials, but by all accounts this team is a better team than last season’s incarnation.

Regardless of how poorly the Bulldogs have played against quality opponents (0-5 against “BCS’ conferences and Davidson) or how much worse the team has played in the second halves of games, having multiple times blown double-digit second half advantages to nearly lose the lead, this is still a talented basketball team filled with, in some, cases, the best talent the state of Georgia has to offer.

So, the University of Georgia is not a basketball school. Yes, UGA is practically incapable of selling out multiple home games per season. Aside from a select few students, very few non-athletes on campus are aware that our opponent is in D.C. and an even smaller number care about the outcome. Most students probably are still busy lamented Wednesday’s Gator Bowl loss at the hands of Nebraska rather than moving on to the impending SEC schedule for the basketball team.

But to count this team out of any game because of this would be fallacious. If Mann, Gaines, Djurisic, Williams, freshman guard Juwan Parker and junior forward Marcus Thornton can all play at their highest potential as they had been over the recent home stand, there are very few teams the Dawgs couldn’t at least compete with.

Will this game be a cakewalk for either Georgia or GW? Probably not. But if the game follows a typical Georgia basketball pace, the home crowd is going to be in for one exciting finish as a prelude to conference play.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

Ben Krimmel is a senior majoring in international affairs.

Bill Murray, starring in “Meatballs,” leads one of the greatest motivational speeches in the history of film: “It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!”

Head coach Mike Lonergan and the Colonial faithful should shake off Tuesday's loss. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Mike Lonergan and the Colonial faithful should shake off Tuesday’s loss. Hatchet File Photo

It didn’t matter whether the team won or lost, he told a group of young campers in the movie.

Echoing Murray, the men’s basketball team’s loss on Tuesday just doesn’t matter. The Colonials second loss of the year came against a tough Big 12 opponent and will not doom GW’s season.

If anything, the loss only dimmed the unrealistic zeal of the Colonials, who dreamed about finally reaching the AP’s Top 25 list. It was a reality check in the form of a 17-point loss. I hope this ends the weekly press releases and the school-wide obsession over the new AP poll on Mondays.

From sports to academics, GW needs to get this enormous fixation over rankings under control.

They’ve been a great story this year, but the Colonials aren’t quite where they should be, and it showed against the Wildcats. Kansas State bullied GW in the paint at both ends of the floor. The team cruised to a 20 to zip first half run that all but ended the game. The ease at which coach Bruce Weber’s squad converted on offense and frustrated GW point guard Joe McDonald into numerous turnovers represented the gulf in talent between the two teams.

But when the new year began, the sky did not fall on head coach Mike Lonergan’s squad. The clock’s stroke of midnight is not a Cindarella deadline for the team, as there are 17 games – plus the Atlantic 10 tournament – still to play.

The best thing the Colonials can do is to forget about most of what happened in Kansas. The members of the team should remember the experience of playing in a big gym and the intensity of the game, but ignore the loss.

Forget that sophomore forward Kevin Larsen threw a pass into the first row of the stands and that senior forward Isaiah Armwood air-balled a free throw. These were two exceptionally embarrassing moments. They should forget the numerous missed free throws, too – even though Lonergan no doubt reminded the team of them during their return flight to the District.

The biggest takeaway from Tuesday was positive: A healthy Patricio Garino showed flashes of his former self on defense.

But this advice also applies to the fans, who should also forget about the loss. When the AP voters hop off the GW bandwagon next Monday, it would be a shame for Colonials fans to abandon the Smith Center, too. This is especially important now that games that do matter are just around the corner as A-10 conference play comes to Foggy Bottom on Jan. 11.

This loss is not cause for concern. GW still boasts its best record in years, and losing morale now can only bode poorly for a team well on its way to success.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (1)