SirValiant Brown departed GW for professional basketball with two years of eligibility remaining. Head Coach Tom Penders resigned amid turmoil, although he cited exhaustion. Four players made thousands of dollars worth of illegal phone calls last spring, and Attila Cosby last summer was convicted on seven misdemeanor charges and sent to jail for two and a half years. Meanwhile, the GW men’s basketball finished 14-18.
Plagued with infractions that showered the team with negative attention, including national headlines after the team rumbled with the University of Tennessee after a game in Hawaii, the Colonials return to the court this year with a new coaching staff and eight new players. They even have new jerseys. GW turned in its And One contract and opted for Nike over the summer. GW has made attempts to re-face the team, bringing in a leader without head coaching experience.
But will students embrace the new program and attend games?
For the past two years, attendance has declined about three hundred students from 4,000 students a game to about 3,700. With eight freshmen and an improved attempt at reaching out to the GW community, it seems some students are willing to forgive past errs.
“It’s in the past,” said senior and former GW baseball player Frank Cerullo. “I’m rooting for the team no matter what, and I hope they do well.”
Sophomore Nawal Ziyadeh agreed: “Despite all that happened last year, I will still go support the teams. It will not affect my attendance at the games in the slightest.”
Freshman gymnast Amber Melvin thinks what happened last year was sad but sees a need to move on.
“You fall down, get back up, and keep it rolling,” she said.
According to the stats, off-court troubles had little impact on the men’s team last year, as attendance remained steady throughout the season. The numbers draw a sharp contrast to attendance for the women, who never drew 2,000 fans to a game last season despite a clean bill of behavior. But the men’s 3,700 attendance average that number lags behind a popular 1999-2000 season when students marveled over freshman phenom SirValiant Brown, who for much of the year led the nation in scoring.
Many fans said they will support the team even if the Colonials don’t win 20 games and fail to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m still excited to go and watch the games, even though they’re bad,” said freshman Jordan Wallack.
Uncertainty surrounding this team makes some fans more excited than before.
“I hope they make it to the NCAA Tournament this year, but I can’t expect more. I’ll cheer no matter what,” junior Scott Taub said.
Junior Jonathan Hirsch said he goes to the games because, “it is GW basketball, and we’re still a Division I school.”
Hirsch, who ranks himself as a 10 in terms of fanaticism, added: “I’m excited for Hobbs. He got some awesome recruits from UConn and he’s working to build up the team, just like when Jarvis was here. I’m excited because there’s a lot of new stuff this year, but I’m not sure if they’ll be really good yet.”
Other fans anticipate progress from last year.
“I attended every game last year, and it was great,” sophomore Tim Yowda said. “The only thing that was bad was the attendance. They need our support, and with Hobbs it should be a huge turnaround.”
Other fans look forward to test the waters of GW basketball. Sophomores Jessica Levin and Whitney Stern have never been to a men’s game.
“I went to Midnight Madness last year, but that’s about it,” Stern said.
When asked if either Stern or Levin could name five members of the men’s team, the girls giggled and said, “We couldn’t name one!”