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Mike Lonergan

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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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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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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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Mark Eisenhauer.

Lawmakers and lobbyists traded the halls of Congress for the Smith Center hardwood Monday for the 16th Annual Congressional Charity Basketball Game.

The team of congressmen took down the lobbyists for the third consecutive year, winning Monday’s game 46-40. GW men’s basketball head coach Mike Longergan coached the lobbyists, while Catholic University men’s basketball head coach Steve Howes skippered the congressmen.

Notable congressional team members included House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

“Any time you can foul a lobbyist, you do it,” Flake joked, then added, “It’s always nice to get on the court with your colleagues and these lobbyists who we deal with in other settings.”

With 14 points, Congress’ top scorer was Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., who captained the 1983-84 Big Ten Champions Purdue men’s basketball team and challenged President Barack Obama to a three-point contest earlier this year.

Men's basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, who served as the guest head coach for the lobbyist team, talks to his team during a timeout. Jordan Leon | Senior Staff Photographer

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, who served as the guest head coach for the lobbyist team, talks to his team during a timeout. Jordan Leon | Senior Staff Photographer

Seventy-eight-year-old Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association, sunk one of the more exciting three pointers for the lobbyists, while Danny Leonard of The Leonard Group scored a team-high eight points.

The game had a cordial intensity and close score throughout, but the congressional team was able to maintain a lead for almost all 40 minutes, winning by six points.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to do something good,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan. “We have a great time, and it most importantly helps kids in a tough situation.”

Paul Miller, chairman of the Hoops For Youth Foundation, said the charity was created 16 years ago “in a bi-partisan way to help raise money and awareness for at-risk kids living in our community.”

Lonergan was mostly light-hearted on the bench with his team, but with the score close near the end of the game, he showed some competitive fire, calling time outs and gesturing enthusiastically in the huddle. This was Lonergan’s third year coaching the lobbyists and his third loss as the team’s coach.

“I like to win, and the congressmen usually win, so I was hoping they would give me them this year,” Lonergan joked. “The congressmen are in better shape than our team – I think they have too much free time on their hands.”

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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

D.C. will host the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball championship for the first time in 2018 at the Verizon Center, the league announced Thursday.

GW Athletic Director Patrick Nero said picking the Verizon Center, a venue just minutes away from campus, is yet another nod to the University’s budding men’s basketball program.

“As we went through this process, that was always in the back of the mind of a little bit of a home-court advantage, but also the progress that we’ve made in our men’s basketball program,” Nero said. “So now for the opportunity to have this tournament in our backyard, we see it as great recognition of this community and how we support college basketball and a reward for our fans.”

The A-10 also announced Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh will host the 2017 basketball championship.

The picks come after nine competitive bids for the two tournament destinations were submmitted, A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said.

“On behalf of the A-10, I and all of our members really look forward to working with and competing in each of these really great venues and outstanding cities for 2017 and ’18,” McGlade said in a teleconference.

The Pittsburgh- and D.C.-based tournaments will be a shift away from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., which has hosted the A-10 tournament since 2013. In late March, the A-10, the Atlantic Coast Conference and Barclays Center agreed to allow the ACC to play its conference tournament at the venue to cap off the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The A-10 Championship will return to Barclays Center in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Also part of the agreement is a scheduling partnership between the ACC and A-10 to play inter-conference doubleheaders at Barclays Center in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The A-10 secured a position for team participation in Barclays Center’s annual Brooklyn Hoops holiday tournament.

If GW makes it to the A-10 championship in 2018, it won’t be the Colonials’ first game on the Verizon Center court. GW plays an annual regular-season game at the venue for the BB&T Classic, and this year will square off against Charlotte on Dec. 7.

For men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, a native of Bowie, Md., Thursday’s announcement hits close to home, and he hopes the one-year move to the Verizon Center will aid his local recruiting efforts.

“Having grown up locally, I have great memories of watching basketball games at the many venues around the city and in the area,” said Lonergan, who is heading into his fourth season as the Colonials’ head coach. “To have this opportunity to compete for a championship at Verizon Center in front of our loyal fan base, family and friends will be very special for me.”

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Then-sophomore guard Joe McDonald drives toward the basket against Radford last season. Hatchet File Photo

Then-sophomore guard Joe McDonald drives toward the basket against Radford last season. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s basketball team will make at least 14 appearances on national television this season, including six at home, the athletics department announced Wednesday.

GW’s record 14 national appearances is a three-game improvement from last season when the Colonials were featured in 11 nationally televised games. Three of GW’s home games will be broadcast on ESPN networks, which will be the first time ESPN has broadcast a Colonials’ home game since the 2006-07 season.

The first broadcast from home will be Jan. 15 on ESPNU, when the Colonials host Richmond’s Spiders.

On Feb. 6, ESPN will broadcast GW’s home game against Dayton and just a week later ESPN2 will give GW its final home-court broadcast on Feb. 14, when GW hosts VCU in a Valentine’s Day matchup.

The remaining ESPN broadcasts include three away games when GW jumps into the Diamond Head Classic from Dec. 22 to 25.

Another eight GW conference games, split evenly, will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network.

In addition to the national attention, the department expects at least 20 of the Colonials’ 31 regular season games will land on regional broadcasts.

“This is phenomenal exposure for our university, men’s basketball program and athletic department,” Athletic Director Patrick Nero said in a release. “Our team and the Colonial Army have worked hard to raise the level of GW basketball, and I am happy to see their accomplishments being recognized.”

After going 24-9 last season (14-1 at home), head coach Mike Lonergan will look to build on last year’s success.

“Our students, fans, campus community, alumni, players and recruits all rally around national TV games, so to have at least 14 of them, including three home games on the ESPN Networks, is going to make this an exciting season in Foggy Bottom and at the Charles E. Smith Center,” Lonergan said.

Overall, the Atlantic 10 set a new conference record with 75 nationally televised games for the season.

GW’s full A-10 schedule:
Saturday, Jan. 3 at Saint Joseph’s – TBD – CBSSN
Tuesday, Jan. 6 vs. Saint Louis – TBD – CBSSN
Saturday, Jan. 10 at La Salle – 12:30 p.m. – NBCSN
Thursday, Jan. 15 vs. Richmond – TBD – ESPNU
Saturday, Jan. 17 vs. George Mason – 4:30 p.m. – NBCSN
Thursday, Jan. 22 at Fordham – 7 p.m. – NBCSN
Saturday, Jan. 24 vs. Duquesne – TBD
Tuesday, Jan. 27 at VCU – TBD – CBSSN
Saturday, January 31 at Rhode Island – TBD
Friday, Feb. 6 vs. Dayton – TBD – ESPN2
Wednesday, Feb. 11 at Duquesne – 7 p.m. – A-10 Network/SNY
Saturday, Feb. 14 vs. VCU – TBD – ESPN2
Wednesday, February 18 vs. Davidson – TBD
Saturday, Feb. 21 at Richmond – TBD – CBSSN
Wednesday, Feb. 25 vs. St. Bonaventure – TBD
Saturday, February 28 at Davidson – TBD
Wednesday, March 4 at George Mason – 7 p.m. – A-10 Network/SNY
Saturday, March 7 vs. Massachusetts – 3:30 p.m. – NBCSN

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Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to the men's basketball team during the A-10 Tournament last season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to the men’s basketball team during the A-10 Tournament last season. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s basketball team released the final five games of its non-conference schedule Tuesday, announcing matchups against Grambling State, Longwood, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Charlotte and the Virginia Military Institute, all to be played at the Smith Center.

The Colonials will play 13 non-conference games between Nov. 8 and Dec. 30, including the first games of five home-and-home series against teams from the ACC, Big Ten and Big East. GW will play 31 games total during the 2014-15 regular season.

The full schedule has yet to be revealed, but the Colonials have now announced the entire list of opponents after the A-10 pairings were released in May.

GW could see as many as 15 postseason teams throughout the regular season, depending on the results of the Diamond Head Classic. As many as seven of those potential opponents could come from outside A-10 play.

One of the toughest tests of the season for the Colonials will likely come Nov. 21 against ACC Champion Virginia. The game is the first of a home-and-home agreement between the two schools, and could prove a boost to the Colonials strength-of-schedule if they can hold their own against the 2014 Sweet 16 team.

The matchup against Virginia is one of 10 games against opponents from Maryland or Virginia, and one of four in the non-conference slate along with Longwood on Nov. 26, UMBC on Dec. 4 and VMI on Dec. 30 in the non-conference closer.

The Colonials will also stay close to home at the Verizon Center in the BB&T Classic on Dec. 7, when they will take on Charlotte as part of the double header also featuring a game between Georgetown and Towson.

Then-sophomore guard Joe McDonald drives toward the basket against Radford last season. Hatchet File Photo by Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

Then-sophomore guard Joe McDonald drives toward the basket against Radford last season. Hatchet File Photo by Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

Outside the D.C. area, the team will head to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic from Dec. 22 to 25.

The eight-team tournament field includes Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio and Wichita State, a team that, along with GW, finished the 2013-14 season ranked in the RPI Top 100 and played in the postseason. Host Hawaii, Loyola Marymount and Big East quarterfinalist DePaul, which the Colonials will host at the Smith Center on Dec. 11, round out the field.

The Colonials will see another Big East team in Seton Hall on the road Nov. 29. The Pirates finished last season an even 17-17 with a 10-8 home record, and will return four of their top seven scorers from 2013-14.

More power conference matchups come with two away games against Big Ten teams in Rutgers on Nov. 16 and Penn State on Dec. 14.

The Scarlet Knights will return three starters from last season’s team, which lost to the Colonials 93-87 at the Smith Center last season. The Nittany Lions ended the 2013-14 season in the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational after sweeping powerhouse Ohio State during the regular season.

GW will unofficially begin the season at home with an exhibition game against Bloomsburg (Division II). The Colonials were unforgiving hosts last season with a 15-1 home record, but Huskies head coach John Sanow will have at least one friendly face in The Smith Center: head coach Mike Lonergan, whom he assisted when Lonergan was head coach at Vermont.

The season will open officially six days later when the Colonials host Grambling State on Nov. 14.

GW’s non-conference schedule is listed below:

11/8/2014 vs. Bloomsburg (Exhibition)

11/14/2014 vs. Grambling State

11/16/2014 at Rutgers

11/21/2014 at Virginia

11/26/2014 vs. Longwood

11/29/2014 at Seton Hall

12/4/2014 vs. UMBC

12/7/2014 vs. Charlotte (BB&T Classic)

12/11/2014 vs. DePaul

12/14/2014 at Penn State

12/22-25/2014 Diamond Head Classic

12/30/2014 – VMI

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Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the A-10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: July 15, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, while head coach at the University of Vermont, made Tyler Cavanaugh his first-ever scholarship offer when Cavanaugh was a sophomore at Jamesville-Dewitt High School in DeWitt, N.Y. more than four years ago.

Cavanaugh wound up at Wake Forest and Lonergan at GW. But after electing to transfer from Wake Forest in mid-June, Lonergan found a rare second opportunity to recruit the 6-foot-9 forward.

Cavanaugh announced Thursday on Twitter that he will join the Colonials next season. In addition to GW, Cavanaugh visited Dayton and Butler before making his choice. He also drew interest from Colorado, Davidson, Providence and Oregon.

He will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer guidelines, but Lonergan will get the remaining two years of eligibility from Cavanaugh, whose transfer availability transformed into a mini mid-major sweepstakes during the first part of the summer.

The forward, a true stretch four with good three-point range, averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during his sophomore season at Wake Forest. He started 22 of 33 games after averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. Cavanaugh scored a career-high 20 points against No. 16 Duke on March 5.

His two best rebounding performances last season came against frequent opponents of the Colonials: Cavanaugh had a nine-rebound effort in a win against Richmond and an eight-rebound effort in a win against St. Bonaventure.

But as the Demon Deacons underwent a leadership change from head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who recruited Cavanaugh, to Danny Manning in the spring, combined with the loss of several key players, Cavanaugh decided to transfer.

Cavanaugh told the Syracuse Post Standard that he no longer felt he could accomplish his goals of making an NCAA tournament and winning a conference championship at Atlantic Coast Conference-member Wake Forest, and he wanted to find a school where those ambitions were a realistic possibility.

Lonergan is not the only GW coach who is familiar with Cavanaugh’s high school roots. Assistant coach Carmen Maciariello, who joined the staff in May, is a former coach of Cavanaugh’s Amateur Athletic Union team, Albany City Rocks, though he was the coach before Cavanaugh’s days with the team.

Cavanaugh is the second transfer to join the Colonials during this offseason, along with former Division III guard Matt Hart, who comes from Hamilton.

Since taking the reigns of the men’s basketball team in 2011, Lonergan also successfully recruited transfers Isaiah Armwood in 2011, Maurice Creek in 2013 and Ryan McCoy, who sat out last year.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that head coach Mike Lonergan had courted Tyler Cavanaugh for four years. He only tried to recruit Cavanaugh four years ago and had a second chance when the now-junior decided to transfer this year. Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW played Wake Forest last year. The Colonials did not play the Demon Deacons, though Wake Forest played frequent GW rivals Richmond and St. Bonaventure. Also due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported the number of transfers that Lonergan has recruited. We regret these errors.

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Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the A-10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the A-10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

The Colonials will meet an old foe again in next year’s non-conference schedule.

Former Atlantic 10 rival and current Big Ten Conference member Penn State has agreed to a home-and-home series with GW over the next two seasons, head coach Mike Lonergan announced Monday. The Colonials will start the head-to-head series on the road at University Park on Dec. 14. GW will then host Penn State in the 2015-16 season.

The Nittany Lions are the latest to join the men’s basketball team’s increasingly high-profile list of non-conference opponents.

GW will face another member of the Big Ten in a home-and-home series, though officials have yet to announce the team. The Colonials are slated to face ACC champion Virginia on the road on Nov. 21 in the first game of a home-and-home and will travel in December to the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, which includes Colorado, Nebraska and Wichita State.

Athletic Director Patrick Nero said via Twitter that the full non-conference schedule will be announced soon.

Penn State went 16-18 last year but showed power at times, such as during both games of a season series sweep of Ohio State. The Nittany Lions saw their season end in the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational against Siena.

The last time GW faced the Nittany Lions was 1991, in a 71-57 neutral-site non-conference game victory. The previous season, the Colonials fell to Penn State in the A-10 Championship game, 81-75. GW is 11-19 all time against the Nittany Lions.

Lonergan and Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers have also met before.

Lonergan repeatedly faced off against the former Boston University head coach during his six seasons at the helm in Vermont. In their final two seasons before moving to their current schools, Lonergan’s Catamounts swept all three games in the 2009-10 season, including the conference championship game.

Chambers’ Terriers came back and swept Vermont in the regular season, including a final game between the two head coaches – a 66-64 overtime thriller in favor of Boston University.

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Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW's win in the A-10 quarterfinals. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

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

The men’s basketball team will host last season’s Atlantic 10 conference heavyweights Virginia Commonwealth, Massachusetts, Saint Louis and Dayton next season as a part of its nine-game conference home schedule, the league announced Thursday.

Neither Saint Louis nor Dayton made appearances at the Smith Center last season.

GW will play nine home and nine away games in an expanded 18-conference game schedule for the 2014-15 season.

“To be the best, you have to play the best, and the Atlantic 10 is one of the premier leagues with some of the best teams in college basketball,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a release

Lonergan, who came to GW three years go, coached the Colonials to a 14-1 home record last season. In addition to the predicted conference favorites, the Colonials will host A-10 newcomer Davidson along with George Mason, Richmond and Saint Bonaventure.

“Next year’s A-10 home schedule features high-profile opponents and rivalry games which will be attractive to our students, alumni and fans, and the entire league schedule will challenge and prepare our team for the A-10 Championship and a goal of another trip to the NCAA Tournament,” Lonergan said.

 GW, which finished last season with an away record of 6-5, will play road matchups at Rhode Island, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond and VCU.

The official schedule, including dates and times, has not yet been released.

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