WEB EXCLUSIVE: New GW coach Hobbs stresses discipline over winning

Karl Hobbs said he is excited to begin coaching his new players and pledged that his team will be founded on hard work and discipline May 7 at a Smith Center press conference in which GW officially announced Hobbs men’s basketball head coach.

“I come to GW with the knowledge and confidence that I can put a team together on the court,” Hobbs said. “I’ll be working daily with educators and administrators who care deeply about the institution and about student athletes who represent all of us on and off the court.”

Hobbs said he will bring discipline to a team which has seen off- and on-court trouble in recent years.

“Kids want to be disciplined,” Hobbs said. “I think they complain when they get disciplined. But I think they complain more when they don’t have discipline.”

Hobbs alluded vaguely to the season’s off-court trouble by saying winning would not come at the expense of the integrity of the University.

“Winning is the most important thing to me,” he said in front of a crowd of about 70 GW officials, alumni and reporters. “But I want to make this clear: I will not do it at the expense of the institution or the players.”

GW caught the national spotlight this year after four players admitted last month to illegally using the access code of assistant coach Tommy Penders Jr. and the U.S. Attorney’s office brought nine misdemeanor charges against forward Attila Cosby in January for an alleged sexual assault in his Guthridge Hall room last summer. The NCAA will likely hand down sanctions to the two returning players, Marquin Chandler and Darnell Miller, and Cosby awaits trial at D.C. Superior Court in June.

Sophomore guard SirValiant Brown will leave GW even if he is not selected in the NBA Draft, but Hobbs said he is sure sophomore Chris Monroe will stay after speaking with him.

“(Monroe) has every intention of staying,” Hobbs said. “We’re excited about him and we look forward to getting things going.”

Hobbs said he has not met with the entire team, but has spoken with a few players.

Hobbs dismissed concerns that former coach Tom Penders’ recruits would refuse to play under a new GW coach. Tamal Forchion, a power forward from Philadelphia, and T.J. Thompson, a point guard from Kensington, Md., have signed with GW. Hobbs said he had not spoken with the players, but said he expects them to play at GW.

“They’re all set to come here,” Hobbs said.

The men’s team will be without Brown, who announced his decision to enter the Draft last week. Brown said he will not return to GW even if he goes unselected, according to a May 3 Washington Post article. Hobbs said he has not spoken with Brown and does not expect him to play for GW.

GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who attended the press conference, said Hobbs is the right guy to steer GW in a new direction.

“It just seemed to us that he brought a quality of energy and appropriateness to this program at this time,” he said. “We’ve made our bet.”

Hobbs served as assistant coach at the University of Connecticut in a program filled with high-profile players, including Kevin Freeman, Khalid El-Amin, Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton.

Robert Chernak, vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said he likes Hobbs’ ability to recruit and handle high-profile players.

“None of them had any problems at the University of Connecticut,” Chernak said. “What he’s gonna prove is that he has all the attributes he needed to be a head coach. He just needed a school to give him a chance.”

The men’s program had been without a head coach since Penders resigned April 20, citing exhaustion from more than 30 consecutive years of coaching. Penders stepped down amid off-court turmoil surrounding his team.

One of Hobbs’ first orders of business will be hiring an assistant coach and staff. He refused to discuss any possible candidates but said he wants an assistant coach with experience as a head coach at the collegiate level.

“I think it’s important for me to have some wisdom sitting next to me,” he said.

Hobbs said GW should expect an up-tempo style of offense.

“I’d like to be able to fast break,” he said. “I’d like to be able to create easy baskets. You have to try to find ways to score easy points. We’re gonna try to be disciplined in everything we do.”

The Colonials scored 77 points a game during the 2000-01 season, something Hobbs said he wants his team to aim for.

Hobbs beat out Kevin Clarke, a former associate head coach at GW and a current associate under Mike Jarvis at St John’s University. Clarke, GW women’s head coach Joe McKeown and University of North Carolina-Greensboro head coach Fran McCaffery lead the field of candidates for the job.

Hobbs is known as a great recruiter and a guard’s coach. He served as assistant coach to Jim Calhoun on the UConn’s 1999 national championship team.

Hobbs’ connection to GW though is through GW’s assistant athletic director, Dom Perno. Perno recruited and coached Hobbs in the early 1980s at Uconn, and Hobbs led a 1983-84 Huskies team coached by Perno.

Prior to coaching at UConn, Hobbs served as a full-time assistant coach at Boston University for six seasons.

Hobbs had been pursuing coaching positions at a number of Division One colleges including American University, Washington State University, Siena College and Drexel University.

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