Walk-ons get their due, and their points, on `Senior Day’

The game may not have been one the players wanted to remember, but the occasion – Senior Day – will always last in Mark Lund’s, Sam Anyan’s, and Francisco de Miranda’s memories.

On Saturday, the three graduating players each received rousing standing ovations from the capacity Smith Center crowd and were called to center court – accompanied by parents and relatives – to receive framed GW jerseys, a sort of retiring of their names.

Anyan and Lund, both walk-on players (and the latter a former team manager), received the loudest cheers, signifying the support the two hard-working players have garnered during their college basketball careers.

I think the day was extremely special, Anyan said. I guess when they called my name, and I heard the cheers and the ovation from the crowd, that made me feel really good, to see that people appreciate the effort I’ve put into basketball.

Lund, a reserve point guard, capped off his Smith Center career by burying a three-pointer from the corner and tossing a sweet alley-oop pass to junior forward Jason Smith, who skied above the rim to flush it home.

Hitting that three was great, Lund said. It was my first three at the Smith Center, and I definitely will always remember it. I wouldn’t call it a defining moment in my career – I’m thankful for any time I get to play or any impact I have on the game at all.

Termed The People’s Champion by a wildly loyal GW student body, Lund also had another first during the game: his parents were able to watch him play at the Smith Center for the first time. An Alaska native, Lund was grateful his parents were able to make the trip.

It was very nice to share this event with my parents, he said. They’ve seen me at home (at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks in November), but never have they seen me at the Smith Center, and it was great that they were able to come.

Anyan, who grabbed a rebound and nailed two free throws in his final Smith Center game, was equally honored to have his parents, family and friends at the game.

My mom, dad, brother, sister, sister’s fianc? – they all came down, which was great, he said. It’s too bad the game ended up like it did.

Our goal was to make them play GW basketball. They like to keep the score in the 50s, and we wanted to get out and run and not let (Pepe) Sanchez get into a groove. But they’ve got great players on the team, and they just kept hitting their shots.

Bittersweet is how I would characterize the game, Lund said. On one hand, the ceremony was very nice and receiving my framed jersey was great, but the game itself kind of took a little away from the whole thing.

Both Lund and Anyan stated the goal of winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament, with both players saying that the road to a conference title goes through Temple, which GW will likely face if it makes the semifinals. But now that they’re done at the Smith Center, the seniors face the prospect Thursday against UMass of possibly playing their last game anywhere as a Colonial. But at least they’ll have the memories from Saturday.

I just want to say thanks to the entire GW community, the athletic department, coaching staff, and fans for giving me the opportunity to play, Anyan said. I really believe that all my effort and sweat I’ve given in practice was appreciated on Saturday.

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