PHILADELPHIA – It took only two minutes to recognize that it was a three-point Musketeers night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia Monday. It also took about two minutes to recognize that GW’s chances of beating No. 11 Xavier were slim to none.
It’s kind of funny how this all worked out. GW knocks off Xavier at the Smith Center in January but loses in overtime in Cincinnati by two points a month later. So, after two relatively close and competitive games between the conference’s elite duo in the regular season, the third and final match-up of the season becomes the March rubber match – the one for all the marbles on espn2.
But instead of a thrilling A-10 finale, it was your typical blowout. And for the second-straight season in the A-10 title game, it didn’t go in GW’s favor.
The reality is that it makes no difference now for the Colonials. In winning, Xavier probably guaranteed itself home-court advantage through the first two rounds. They’re on an 18-game winning streak and they went 13-0 at the Cintas Center this season, which is pretty darn perfect. With a current record of 28-2, an arsenal of inside and outside weapons that shot down the Colonials from every angle Monday, Xavier made its statement to the country.
Fortunately, Monday was probably the last time GW will see Xavier this season. And if it’s not, well. But, now the A-10 Tourney is over so let’s move on.
Last year Xavier won the tourney and was eliminated in the opening round of the NCAAs. The at-large Colonials defeated UCLA in round one and gave Joe McKeown an amazing 8-0 career record in NCAA first-rounders. So, why not do it again?
What it comes down to now is pairings for the Colonials,
who will receive an at-large bid Sunday night. McKeown has been critical of his team’s shooting and passing this season, but what’s the difference when you’ve won 22 games and are about to go back to the tourney for the ninth time in 11 years. You’re heading back to the Dance, and that’s all that matters.
Petra Dubovcova was in tears after the Xavier loss Monday. Forget about it and show up mentally prepared. Just show up ready to play. This team isn’t UConn, and this team will never be UConn. That was proved in grand fashion in late November. I
mean there’s just no Sue-to-Shea-to-Svetlana-to-Swin combination at GW. The Lady Huskies are the best team in basketball.
Speaking of UConn and opening round sites, what if GW receives an eight or nine seed in the tourney at goes back to Storrs or South Bend?
The selection committee likes rekindling old NCAA battles. GW lost to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight in 1996-97. Last year, the Colonials traveled to South Bend and fell to the Irish in the second round. It was only three years ago when the Colonials lost in the second round to UConn.
GW has already played the Lady Huskies once this season, so why shouldn’t the committee give Joe and company another shot at them. One’s got to figure McKeown will find a way to get to at least the second round once more.
The Colonials hopes for pulling upsets comes in the form of pairings and that stroke of luck. I challenge every player to step on the court and dominate it with confidence. This team needs Lindsay Davidson to feel it and hit the three-ball.
Dubovcova and Kristeena Alexander must show senior leadership and recognize which players are hot. Get them the ball. What McKeown has to do is keep the games close somehow, something the team was unable to accomplish against Xavier and UConn.
As for how GW will do in the tourney, I will never pick against Joe McKeown in the first-round. As for the rest of the tourney, we’ll just wait and see. Keep it close and play with confidence because what has worked for the Colonials the entire season for has earned them an NCAA tourney berth. Sunday they’re going to get one. It’s up to the Colonials to figure out what to do with it.