Fans, boosters and media got their first glimpse at GW's 2007-08 men's basketball team Tuesday, when Smith Center opened its doors for a one-hour open practice.
About 100 onlookers lined the gym's bleachers to see head coach Karl Hobbs lead his squad through full and half-court situational drills before speaking to the crowd for nearly 20 minutes. The practice was followed by a dinner with athletic department officials and the team, which fans could attend for $25.
Most senior officials in the Department of Athletics were on hand to watch the annual event. Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said he thought the open practice was a useful tool in keeping fans in the loop and putting the Colonials' preseason efforts on display.
"It's important in the sense that the guys are playing and we want as much as support as we can," he said. "It's important just to show people that we're practicing and we're working hard."
Among the topics Hobbs discussed in his dialogue with the fans was the Colonials' injury status. Sophomore guard Travis King, junior forward Rob Diggs, and freshman forwards Jabari Edwards and Joseph Katuka have already had injury problems this year, Hobbs said, but King is the only player to miss game time (see story below). Diggs wore a sleeve on his shin, and both King and Edwards had ice packs on their knees after practice.
"We've got a bunch of guys hurt, so we've got to make adjustments. I tell my players the rest of the league is happy that we're hurt. They're hoping that Maureece Rice goes down. But we'll make the adjustment and we'll keep working hard and hopefully guys can come back quick and healthy," Hobbs said.
Now in his seventh year as head coach at GW, Hobbs interjected more than a few times throughout the course of the practice to right wrongs committed by his players. In addition to going over basics like how to set a proper screen, Hobbs emphasized team chemistry during play, telling GW players, "If a teammate say it, you must obey it."
He also instructed the team to be sure to keep passes to forwards in the paint above waist level.
"I've got a feeling the big guy is going to want to have kids some day," Hobbs joked.
Hobbs answered a few questions from fans relating to GW's schedule this season. Hobbs explained that GW's excellent record at home and comparatively small facility were significant obstacles to bringing quality opponents to the Smith Center. Still, Hobbs said that instead of getting upset with the situation, he tries to build a quality programin innovative ways.
"You will never, ever hear me complain. You will never, ever hear me whine. All you will ever see me do is just be creative in my recruiting, creative in my scheduling and take advantage of the resources that we have," he said.
Hobbs ended the session by taking one more question from a child seated next to his father in the back row of the bleachers. Likely expecting a softball, he was asked a loaded question - one GW fans have been asking for years, "Why won't Georgetown play us?" Ever the diplomat, Hobbs skirted around a direct answer, instead calling Hoya coach John Thompson III "a heck of a coach." He also suggested that it might be better for GW to wait a few years before playing Georgetown considering the Hoyas made last year's Final Four.
GW will play a closed scrimmage with Villanova and have a preseason match-up with the University of the District of Columbia Oct. 31 before kicking off its regular season with a 2 p.m. game against Mount St. Mary's Nov. 10 at Smith Center.