Column: Now’s the time to start paying real attention to the Colonials

On the bus ride home from GW’s hard-earned victory at Virginia Tech two weeks ago, I found it a bit strange that head coach Joe McKeown told the driver to pull over in the middle of the highway somewhere in the local Virginia suburbs so he could get out.

I’m guessing that McKeown and his mother-in-law who had made the trip to Blacksburg were waiting for McKeown’s wife to pick them up since they lived in the area. Regardless, I just found it a bit weird that the bus just left McKeown and his mother-in-law in the middle of the highway during the late hours. Strange as it might have seemed, I figured that there’s absolutely no reason to worry about McKeown or his decision making, especially this season.

And as I expected (and also to my relief), McKeown showed up for last Sunday’s game against Temple in a bright yellow shirt, and despite watching his team commit a whopping 34 turnovers, the Colonials found a way to win once again. You see, one may think that GW losing to Xavier Saturday was a sign the Colonials have a way to go. They still do in fact. But if you look at the Colonials at this point, 14-3 overall, 5-1 in conference play, you had better not doubt anything McKeown is doing these days. The guy’s got over 300 career victories.

So maybe you’re thinking that you should probably then take a look at the one GW team that will be playing in the postseason. And if it’s come to mind that maybe you should watch Elisa Aguilar, Kristeena Alexander and Erica Lawrence in action, my advice is – well, yeah, you really should. Attendance for the women’s team at the Smith Center is not impressive. But because I realize this team got real hot over the break when many students weren’t at school, I’m going to hope that the four consecutive home games coming up will bring in the bigger crowds. Remember, the home advantage is you.

I admit picking GW to finish in third place in the Atlantic 10 West Division. And because this team doesn’t need my jinx, let’s just say that they’re still going to finish in third place. OK, with that said, how about that winning streak. It’s pretty hard to lose when you’re winning. And as the optimist, I’ll say that with Virginia Tech and St Joseph’s coming to town in early February, GW’s loss to Xavier was kind of a good thing. The Colonials proved during the 12-game winning streak that they can win the battles, both home and away. The victories over Rutgers and Virginia Tech speak volumes. There’s no pressure right now. I don’t even know if there actually ever was. The team knows that they’re good. So good that they will be in or hovering around the national rankings for the entire season. Now, it’s simply once again time for McKeown’s team to just win, baby.

Back in November McKeown told me that any season his team doesn’t compete for a national championship could be called a disappointment. GW’s team decision after being rejected from the NCAAs to not attend the National Invitational Tournament was certainly a statement. The 1998-99 team had 19 wins and Noelia Gomez. But it’s not where McKeown wanted to be and definitely not where he belongs. I don’t want to make any definite predictions – trust me when I say it’s safer that way. But I have a hunch as to which tournament GW will find itself a part of come mid-March. And what if the Colonials can pull off (let’s just say for fun) a six-game winning streak come that maddening time of year? Well, let’s just leave that up to them.

Well Regis, the real million-dollar question for GW (not the one where the guy spends five seconds and says that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth – I mean I actually would have won a million with that question) is an open-ended one: Can this team play clean basketball for 40 minutes and win the big game? Well, it’s a bit early to say for sure, but the Colonials have answered some questions as to whether they can compete with teams they’ll need to compete with to win the big one. And as long as GW can stay healthy, the lifelines McKeown will need down the stretch will be intact.

So to wrap it all up, come on out to the games and watch this talented and nationally recognized team win. Winning is what McKeown’s teams do best. Trust me, they’re worth the price of admission. (I know it’s free admission for students, but it sounds good). And if you can’t attend the games, listen to WRGW coverage. They’re really not that bad.

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