LAHAINA, HAWAII – After landing on Maui Saturday, the GW men’s basketball team spent Sunday preparing for its first game in the Maui Invitational versus ninth-ranked University of Kentucky.
GW (3-0) will play its first-ever game against the Wildcats Monday at 9:30 p.m EST. The game will air on ESPN.
If the Colonials win, they will move into the winners’ bracket and play either the University of Arizona or Boston College Tuesday, also on ESPN. If GW loses, the team will move to the losers’ bracket and play the loser of the Arizona-Boston College game.
The Colonials will play their third and final game of the tournament Wednesday before returning to Washington on Thanksgiving.
The Wildcats enter Monday’s game ranked ninth by the Associated Press. Kentucky is a much different team this year than the one that lost to Arizona in the NCAA Championship game last season.
The changes start at the top, with the loss of Coach Rick Pitino to the Boston Celtics. Kentucky also lost three starters, including star guard Ron Mercer.
However, new head coach Tubby Smith, who coached at the University of Georgia last season, returns a talented and experienced group of core players. Heading the list are senior guard Jeff Sheppard, junior forward Scott Padgett and senior swingman Allen Edwards.
Smith also has brought in a group of talented freshmen, most notably Michael Bradley, a 6-10 center who averaged nearly 36 points and 12 rebounds in his final high school season.
Meanwhile, the Colonials hope to have more success against ranked teams this season than they did a year ago. In 1996-’97, GW was 0-4 against ranked teams, including an embarrassing loss at the University of Kansas. GW was also a poor 7-14 against teams with winning records last season.
GW’s 74-47 victory over American University at home Wednesday was its third straight win to start the season. But the Colonials have not yet played a quality opponent, and Monday’s game against Kentucky certainly will provide GW’s first test of the season.