Perhaps right as you read this, I’m winging my way toward Notre Dame (on your dime, sucker!) to cover GW’s overachieving women’s basketball team. I’m particularly excited because I was just told this afternoon that we have a women’s basketball team, and I can’t wait to find out if this is true.
(I only wrote that outrageously controversial last sentence so the men’s novice crew team would have a reason to write another letter to The Hatchet.)
After we here at The Hatchet decided to apply the next issue’s ad revenues toward Otis Towns’ rehab, it turns out there won’t be an issue for two weeks (Now’s your chance, GW Journal! . Hey, and while I’m on the topic, what’s with all these long, boring historical articles in The Journal? Who do they think they are, me? Even a story on Charles E. Smith? That’s my bag, baby! Back off, Steve Roberts!)
So, anywho, I felt now would be the best time to perform a little post mortem on the overachieving men’s basketball team.
Yes, yes, I am aware such an adjective might be a tad generous. This was the worst team in a decade, after all. And it was a bit painful to see a postseason roll around without the Colonials. Is this what we were to expect a year after Tom Penders took GW to the mountaintop? Is it all downhill from here?
Well, of course not. That’s crazy-talk. The second year of a new coach’s tenure can be expected to be tough. Sure, TP went to the Sweet 16 his second year at Rhode Island and the Elite Eight his second year at Texas, but it can’t all be gravy, can it? And, by the way, if 15-15 and second in the A-10 West is as bad it gets, I’ll take it.
But should we have seen it coming? The answer is absolutely yes. Why? Well, this team isn’t very good. Ouch, I know, that hurt.
This year will have its memories: the BB&T, that hot February, walk-ons, and of course the human highlight reels that were Baby Iverson and Baby Barkley. But overall, this season will be mostly forgotten, because as Penders is fond of saying, no one remembers what you did before March. (And what did we do in March – lose by 49 points to Temple and UMass?)
When I look back on this year (as I surely will every night when I lay-me-down-to-sleep), I’ll think about how much worse it could have been. Sure, there were the injuries, but how, I ask, did a team without a frontcourt ever go 15-15?
Frontcourt? I hear you ask. We had a frontcourt? Would that have been the tall guys in GW uniforms who always seemed to be on the court during games? I thought those were towel boys.
Look, it’s nothing personal, but a famous quote from legendary Texas coach Abe Lemons comes to mind: Doctors get to bury their mistakes. Ours are still on scholarship. Another quote from another legendary Texas coach also seems appropriate. This one comes from Penders: For a couple of years, someone was asleep at the wheel.
Much was made of the Shawntas and Yegors Mike Jarvis left behind. After that, though, the cupboard was a bit bare. Outside of Jason Smith and Big George, the rest of the frontcourt is a bunch of great guys who are marginal Division I players. Not one single player could create his own shot, or rebound, or catch a pass – not that they didn’t try like hell, and I give them all the credit in the world for that. But this is not a championship roster. It’s not even an NIT roster, apparently.
So, thank Jack Kvancz for Tom Penders. Without his studs, we’d be complaining about the coverage Cardozo High School gets in The Post. With his boys and some valiant efforts from some overmatched warm bodies, GW went 15-15. Woohoo.
With what Penders has coming in (players he says are just like Val and Chris, and who am I to question at this point?) GW will be expected to compete on a much higher level next year – and Penders seems to be inviting the pressure. GW will still be thin, but the Colonials will have a very impressive rotation. Heck, maybe we’ll finally be ranked. (Fun Fact of The Century: GW’s football team has finished in the final Associated Press rankings more recently than the basketball team.)
Chris and Val will be the greatest one-two combo GW’s ever had, and they ain’t too shabby now. (And it’s a travesty Chris wasn’t on the All A-10 Team.) No other duo in the entire nation, regardless of class or position, averaged as many points this year. With Chris and Val and company, GW went 5-3 vs. NCAA Tournament teams. Sure, they went 10-12 vs. everyone else, but in terms of the future, I’d rather have that than the other way around.
With a frontcourt to speak of next year, every aspect of the game will come easier. Offense we got plenty of, but even defense will improve when the big guys up front can hold their own. (And rebounding? Don’t get me started).
Obviously, there was a lot to be encouraged about this year. After a 15-15 year, there’s more excitement around GW basketball than there’s probably been in 45 years. And I mean that. I know we went to the Sweet 16, but who do you like more, SirValiant Brown or Yinka Dare?
Yeah, it’s too bad this season ended when it did, but this team was never going to win a national championship. And as long as Tom Penders is GW’s coach, that’s why we’ll play the game.