GW’s hoop dreams

It has happened several times already this summer. The minute I tell someone I’m the sports editor at GW’s student newspaper, they immediately ask how good the men’s basketball team will be this season.

It seems GW sports are known mainly for the men’s basketball program. Well, this got me thinking about basketball a little early – and it seems the Colonials have all the pieces in place for a memorable season.

Sports is cyclical in nature. Winning teams come in cycles. It’s an easy pattern to identify. A team will be basement dwellers for awhile, slowly building a winning team.

Then the team’s stars will depart for whatever reason and the club will start losing. The cycle begins again.

Why should GW sports fans be interested in this pattern? It appears this could be the season the GW men’s basketball team reaches the peak of the winning cycle. In other words, this could be a special year for the Colonials.

Because players only have four years of eligibility, the cycle moves fast for college teams. It could be years before the Colonials get another chance to go deep into the NCAA Tournament, a chance they have this season.

For a team to be truly successful, all the pieces of the puzzle must be present. This year, GW seems to have everything in place. A star center (Alexander Koul), a spark plug point guard (Shawnta Rogers), a versatile scoring forward (Yegor Mescheriakov), a tough one-on-one defender (Andrei Krivonos) and role players who can come off the bench and provide a spark when the team isn’t scoring (J.J. Brade, Darin Green and Seco Camara).

However, all these pieces were in place last season and GW failed to meet expectations with a disappointing 15-14 record. So what will be different in 1997? The Colonials will have two key components which they didn’t have last season. One is experience. The other is Patrick Ngongba.

Last season, GW lost close game after close game with only one senior on the roster. Clearly, the Colonials suffered from a lack of experience. Last season could turn out to be one big learning experience for the team. If they learned the poise to make shots in the final ten minutes of close games, then their record should be much improved.

Ngongba was a highly touted recruit going into last season, but was declared ineligible to play for academic reasons. Ngongba is 6-7 and 220 pounds. He could provide another inside presence along with Alexander Koul. Mix in Mescheriakov at the other forward spot, and GW could have one of the best front lines in the country.

Head coach Mike Jarvis said at the end of last year that, had Ngongba been allowed to play, the Colonials would have won five more games.

This front line, combined with Rogers in the backcourt and some improved outside shooting from the other guards, could make GW one of the top 15 teams in the country.

-Dave Mann

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