Well, what a week. GW kicked off the basketball season with a light show on the scoreboard, we lost a losing coach and Sports Illustrated dragged our man Tommy P. through the mud again.
But first things first. Let’s talk basketball. Has GW ever seen so much offense? The men and women’s teams scored a combined 215 points Sunday. And howzabout that SirValiant Brown? (And why must it say V. Brown on the back of his jersey? And why can’t I buy these jerseys anywhere? And why did I see a Xavier hat at Pentagon City? Why? Why? Why?)
GW’s men’s team scored 120 points Sunday. They had 69 in the second half. SirValiant had 35 in 26 minutes. That’s all I can say. That and the fact that this team is better than anyone else in the country thinks. Or as Penders said when told that the Nectars’ coach thought GW was the best team his squad of Ivy League alumni had faced:
Does that mean we get to change our 172 ranking?
But I’m sure everyone’s waiting to see what will happen when GW plays real teams. Especially a pretty good Indiana State group Friday night at 11 p.m.
But I will say that the Five Star Hawks were not bad. Heck, they beat Davidson, which also brings up another point. There are universities that win exhibition games and there are universities that don’t. GW is still and will firmly remain, for now, in the former. There’s plenty of reasons for that, and I’ll get to one in a second. But first, a sport that didn’t do so well this year – soccer.
The soccer program (whose teams went a combined 6-27-3) is theoretically the flagship fall sport. I said something in a column this summer about this being a Golden Age of GW sports. Well, that must have been Ed Meinert who wrote that, because besides a pretty good volleyball team, the fall was absolutely mediocre. Which is why the resignation of Michele Rodriguez-Smith (3-15-1 in ’99) was good news if you care about winning. Quite possibly you feel sorry for her, but a season like the one women’s soccer had would not be tolerated at athletic programs around the country that are serious about success. GW has shown in the last 10 years that it is. Sports are fun, but it sure can’t hurt a university to have an athletic program that wins, too.
Then there’s the most famous coach we have on campus – Thomas Penders. He of the 498 victories (GW’s program has 1,025 in 82 years) was featured in Sports Illustrated’s College Basketball Preview this week. It was the same old news about his scandal at Texas, and the portrayal was undeniably anti-Penders. There were far too many pictures of the oh-so-sad-and-lonely Eddie Oran (Penders’ former assistant coach at Texas) dribbling basketballs on his used car lot to leave doubt about what SI thinks.
Sunday, Penders told me what I already knew – that there really wasn’t anything new in the piece. But he and Athletic Director Jack Kvancz also shared some comments that SI and anyone interested should listen to.
Penders said that he not only suspended Luke Axtell because of grades but because of academic and other reasons. The other reasons he won’t elaborate on.
I suspended him for something I could not overlook, he said.
Penders also had this to say about the inquiries Kvancz made at Texas before hiring Penders:
Kvancz has been protecting a very high official at UT who has told him that the whole thing is bogus.
Penders still says he had nothing to do with the faxing of Axtell’s grades to a local radio station, that he had every right and reason to suspend Axtell in the offseason, and that SI’s comparison of Penders to other coaches who committed major NCAA violations was wrong.
Said Kvancz: I did a lot of work and I spoke to a lot of people and all my questions were answered. I’m satisfied. We’re all satisfied. It’s a non-issue. Let’s talk about basketball.
Amen. See you in Alaska.