Sometimes wins are as hard to find as GW coverage in The College Park Post.
Sometimes you can’t win even when you come back from 14 down in the second half to take the lead on Old Dominion. Or when you’re down by 16 and come back on Siena. Or when you’re down by 17 and come back on Duquesne.
Sometimes you can’t win when you’re at the line, up by four on UNC Charlotte with 15 seconds left.
Sometimes you can’t even win when you score 89 points. Or 91. Or 92. Or 93.
And then other times, wins come five at a time, and you can’t even lose when you’re down to Xavier by 15 at the half. Or when you give up 90 points.
What does it all mean? Why did a 6-11 team that was 0-4 in the Atlantic 10 get to a point in a matter of days where first place is within reach? Well, if you were paying attention, you saw it coming. You also weren’t that surprised when GW lost at La Salle Saturday to probably end hopes of winning the West – but then that always required several miracles.
But with six games left, there’s still hope for postseason play. With this team, you never know, but I feel safe penciling in 13-12 as the record after this weekend. After all, the games are at home, which has been very, very good to the Colonials lately.
I’ll get back to the postseason in a second, but first GW’s road woes, since the two are inexorably tied. Tom Penders is basically on the right track when he said of the La Salle game, I throw this one out. It was a clunker.
But there was a lesson to take from La Salle. The loss just showed once again how inexperienced these Colonials are. The game in Philadelphia (motto: You tink you betta den me?) was painful to watch. And what’s with an arena that’s on the third floor? But I digress. There’s no doubt that if the gang at the Smith Center had watched Chris Monroe miss about 10 layups, they would have screamed loud enough to remind Monroe that he’s not supposed to do that. And there’s the rub. How does a team find the self-motivation on the road? (Or is it just the crappy balls, like Sam Anyan says? GW’s balls are like velvet. I could sleep on them. Why wouldn’t other schools play with nice balls? Right after the A-10 gets better refs, they need nice balls. And that’s the last time I’ll say nice balls in this column).
You’ve gotta develop an `us against them’ attitude, said Penders of playing on the road, not nice balls (Damn!). It’s about focus and concentration and experience. Sometimes on the road, when things go wrong, they continue to go wrong.
So you say, if Penders knows this, why didn’t he just tell the team? Ah, if it were ever that easy.
You can tell these players how hard it is to play at La Salle, for instance, Penders said. But until they see it themselves, they don’t believe it.
It’s all about experience. There’s no reason a team can’t be just as good on the road as it is at home. The great ones are. For these guys, that kind of payoff probably won’t come this year, but at the same time, if GW’s going anywhere, the payoff has to come. Now.
If GW wants a first round A-10 bye, or that Georgetown NIT matchup the kids are whispering about, they’ll have to win on the road. Three of GW’s last four games are on the road at places where victory is well within reach – but it requires an effort GW has yet to show this year outside of Washington.
Now, as for the games with Virginia Polytechnic and the hopeless, hapless Rams (I shudder to think at what announcers ESPN’s going to dump on that one), they’re must win games. And, God knows, should win. That’s why I’ve hardly mentioned them. I expect they’ll be some big student sections for these games, especially Saturday. (Some people really get turned on when ESPN comes. If you like being on TV so much, why don’t you just go to Radio Shack?)
With big crowds at the Smith Center, the Colonials can’t lose. And maybe if you’re loud enough, they’ll still be hearing your screams when the road show hits Cincinnati, and the Bronx and Amherst. And then maybe that game with Temple can mean something.
But going down that road is something we’ll save for another day.
This article appeared in the February 17, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.