The George Washington University (TGWU) is now seven months away from the next millennium (no matter what anyone else says). I recently took the opportunity with the Colonial Century to step back and do my damnedest to figure out what we’ve accomplished.
The answer was – not much.
No, I’m kidding. If I didn’t eat up GW sports with a spoon, I wouldn’t be here. But let’s be honest, as lovable as our heroes have been (Ah, Tuffy, Joe – What would I do without you?), we’re about 10 athletes and 10 games away from having American’s bio.
Which is why, although I was about nine at the time, I appreciate the decision GW made a decade ago to put athletics as a top priority again. God knows what might have happened when the men’s basketball team went 1-27 in 1989. Look at American. They just dropped the Colonial Athletic Association for the Patriot League. Sure, it’s not like they left the Big 10, but they basically just declared their intention to become the best club team they could possibly be.
And there but for the grace of God, go we.
And then there’s Georgetown, which is talking about moving Big East games back to its on-campus gym – thereby completing their career arc.
As for the rest of the local scene, there’s George Mason, which is going nowhere fast until they improve their conference standing, and Howard, which, um, well, um, well, they have Chris Rock.
That leaves Maryland. They’re set. They’re building a giant arena, they’re in the ACC and they’re totally established. But they’re Maryland. They’re in Maryland. They have grass and a fraternity drive. In Maryland. Which is not in D.C., because it’s in Maryland.
Which leaves us. Which leaves you wondering what I’m talking about it. I’m talking about the next Colonial century (which, my sources tell me, will see Strayer U. field a championship football team). In the foreseeable future, we have the chance to do something we’ve never quite been able to do. And that’s to be the kings and queens of Washington.
It’s amazing, from the perspective of a few short years ago, that we could be in this position. But it’s there for the taking. Every city has its 600-pound gorilla. New York has St. John’s, Chicago has DePaul, D.C. had Hoya Saxa.
City schools get to that position through their men’s basketball team. It’s only appropriate. It’s the city game.
So, why GW? What are the real the chances that the Colonials can take over, move to MCI, pack in 15,000, sell a hat, etc., etc.?
Well, we are hampered. We’ll never play all our games at the MCI Center. Not while we’re in the A-10, anyways. But we can still be the hegemon we all fantasize about. Georgetown’s running on fumes right now. Maryland seems to have taken over the sports pages, but outside Washington, no one even realizes that they’re not in Annapolis or something.
So, right now, the king is dead. It’s anarchy. Which is where you come in, Val Brown, Chris Monroe, Tom Penders.
It’ll take time, but it can happen. We already have the wheels in motion.
The first thing GW had to do to crawl out of obscurity was win. Mission accomplished. Then we had to win pretty. So we hired Tom Penders. Next was learning to win for people, which puts their butts in the seats. That meant recruiting D.C. kids, New York kids, etc.
Now, we just have to win more. Enter 2000-2001.
It’s hard to say what’s going to happen next year. I think a lot depends on recruiting. Attila Cosby is a big help for the front line. But GW needs more. GW needs Shawn Davis to qualify; GW needs to sign Greg Jenkins; GW needs to close out the deal with Darnell Miller. If none of that happens, the world doesn’t fall apart, but Val’s Final Four will have to wait another year.
Wait, what’s that you say, dear reader? Tell you more about next year? USBL games (motto: Show up early – Start) aren’t keeping you happy? Alright, here’s the skinny for 2000-2001.
Uniforms: Our uniform contract is up in the air. Might be And One. Might be anybody. Wait and see.
Pat Ngongba: Penders is planning on seeing a bit more of the big African. We shall see.
The A-10: The conference will be one division next year. Penders thinks the class of the league will be Xavier, UMass, Dayton and Temple.
The schedule: I know this is what you really wanted to hear. Keep in mind, all of this is very tentative. For example, this time last year we thought we were playing Pitt. Dates, teams, everything could change. And, of course, the schedule’s not complete yet.
Nov. 18 – GW opens with Texas A&M at home. This is the beginning of a home-and-home series.
Nov. 21 (tentative) – American here or there.
Nov. 24-25 – Red Auerbach Classic. GW opens vs. Howard. The other teams are Boston University and Quinnipiac.
Nov. 28 – Very, very, very tentative game with Providence at home. There’s lots of problems up there right now. It could easily fall through.
Dec. 2-3 – The BB&T Classic. Game of the Year. Then the next day, Game of the Year II. GW versus Mike Jarvis and St. John’s. The other two teams are Michigan and Maryland.
Dec. 9 – Old Dominion at home.
Dec. 27-30 – The Rainbow Classic in Hawaii. The field includes Iowa, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Manhattan, Detroit, St. Louis and Hawaii. GW doesn’t have an opponent yet, but it won’t be A&M.
GW will also go to UNCC and South Florida. They’re also working on a game in Baltimore versus either Towson State (Bring it on, Tamir Goodman!) or UMBC. This is as a favor to Pat Ngongba (who went to high school in B-More) and Mike King.
There will also be the full slate of 16 league games. That schedule hasn’t been announced, but GW will not be playing every A-10 team under the new 11-team format.
Now, obviously, the Rainbow Classic is pretty big news. That’s a good field. In fact, it’s a pretty good schedule. GW will actually open at home with some quality opponents.
But what of the team that has to play these games? Well, expect a pretty similar makeup. Although this is just me talking, Bernard Barrow, Val and Chris are locks to start. Darnell Miller will see a lot of minutes (Who knows if it’s in a GW uniform). Attila will start once he becomes eligible in December. I assume Iturbe will continue to start. Mike King will continue to come off the bench, and the frontcourt beast of Jason Smith, Albert Roma, Pat Ngongba (???), etc. will continue to shuffle in. And if you factor in Greg Jenkins, anything could happen.
But with everybody back, you have to believe this team has a chance, hell, an expectation, to return to the NCAA Tournament. Penders knows that.
I think there’s reason to expect more because we won’t have to rely on new players.Freshmen being your key players, they have their ups and downs, more than other players. When you have to rely on freshmen, you’re asking for inconsistency.
Don’t expect Val to average 25 again. As Penders says, less is more. If he does average 25, he’ll do it with less shots. Which is entirely possible.
The senior leadership, the depth and the development of Chris and Val are the top things we have to look forward to next year.
And back to my original point, there’s no reason to think it should end there.
Even if Val’s gone to the NBA (By the way, God love you but you’re not ready now, Val), the long-term future holds much promise – even after Penders is gone. I love the competitive, fun-loving, supremely confident brand of player that Penders recruits. And apparently everyone else does, too. It’s true that wherever Tom Penders goes, the program not only benefits when he’s there; it benefits when he’s gone. Texas is still basking in his handiwork. He takes every program to a new level.
So we come back to the prospect of George Washington ruling Washington. It only seems appropriate. The real George never got a chance.
So I’m glad I could be here for the beginning (Mike Jarvis – who’s that?). For two years, and especially this one, I’ve had a great time. I learned more than you ever want to know about GW sports. I hope that while you’re here, y
ou appreciate the joys of intercollegiate competition, because God knows you’re paying enough for it.
As we all know, GW doesn’t have the greatest tradition, which gives the people we see everyday a unique chance to become legends. In fact, some of the greatest names in GW history have walked among us.
And renown could not come to better people. Meeting them has enriched my experience and our experience here at GW, as we’ve enriched theirs. I’ve met great athletes (Shawnta), great human beings (Chris Monroe, Sam Anyan, the list goes on), walking parties (Val, Jason Smith) and people who could not be more genuine about caring for and respecting young people (Tommy P.).
And I apologize to journalism majors for being so soft.
There are many more people that have made writing these manifestos way too much fun. From Sports Information to The Hatchet staff to assistant coaches to managers to players to you, my dear reader – I thank you. It’s only been a year or so, but it’s been a career for me.
I hope we had some laughs. I hope we made some memories. I hope you had half as much fun as I did.
Now go play some ball or something. Jeez, who would read this whole thing?