The Colonials not only have the most inexperienced players in the Atlantic 10 but the most inexperienced coaching staff, too. Among the three new assistants, just one, Darrell Brooks, has any experience as a head coach.
Steve Pikiell, Kevin Broadus and Brooks said it was Hobbs’s enthusiasm and talent that draw them to GW despite the inescapable fact that this year will be one for rebuilding.
“That’s my guy,” assistant Kevin Broadus said about Hobbs. “I knew what I was getting into. He’s very energetic and I know he’s going to make this thing happen in a positive way.”
And for Hobbs, it was their knowledge and love of the game that attracted him to them.
“All three of them are terrific teachers. All three of them are great communicators. All three of them are family guys,” he said. “And they love the game. They love every aspect and every part of the game. That’s why I hired them.”
Broadus coached at American the past four seasons and met Hobbs through Brooks, who coached Broadus at Bowie State University. Pikiell comes off a stint at Central Connecticut State.
None of the assistants said they are concerned about their new boss’s own inexperience. Hobbs has been well trained. His boss at the University of Connecticut was Jim Calhoun, who coached his team to seven Sweet 16’s and one national championship thanks to many of the players Hobbs recruited.
The inexperience of GW’s new coach may have surfaced in the first week of practices when Hobbs imposed a closed-door policy on the women’s team during a practice.
“I’m still trying to figure out a lot of things as a rookie coach. I’m still learning,” said Hobbs, who was quick to publicly apologize for his minor blunder at GW.
Joining Hobbs on the bench with the most wisdom is Brooks. Last year, he headed a Western Maryland University team ranked among the top three in the Centennial Conference in scoring, assists, three-pointers and steals. Before that, Brooks spent 16 years as assistant coach for George Mason, American, William and Mary College and other schools. He played point guard at Bowie State in the late ’70s.
“It was a terrific situation,” Brooks said, referring to his year at Western Maryland. “But I’ve known coach Hobbs for a long time and really trust him. In the kind of situation I was coming from, I was basically putting my career in his hands. I felt very confident to come with him to this place.”
Broadus, whose duties include recruiting and day-to-day operations, was an assistant at American for the past four seasons. Before that, he coached at the University of the District of Columbia and Bowie State.
He said part of the goal is to restore the program’s on- and off-court credibility to what it was under Mike Jarvis, who left GW for St. John’s University.
“I think being with (Hobbs) we can all get this back to where it was once upon a time when Jarvis was here,” Broadus said.
Steve Pikiell was an assistant coach at Central Connecticut State for four years and captained for two seasons the University of Connecticut basketball team in 1990 and 1991. Before Central Connecticut State, he was an assistant at Yale University for three seasons and at the University Connecticut for a year.
Pikiell, who works with the guards at practice along with recruiting and administrative work said he looks to continue his education in coaching with Hobbs.
“Karl Hobbs – that’s why I came to GW,” He said. “I’m a UConn guy, played at UConn. Karl played at UConn and coached there. I knew he was a terrific teacher, and I wanted to come here and learn from a guy who I really respect.”
Hobbs and his staff have brought a renewed spirit to the program.
Players are more involved in the GW community, even showing up for GW volleyball games.
While it is unclear whether the new atmosphere of men’s hoops is a direct result of new coaching, what is clear is an increased level of intensity at practices.
“One of the biggest differences (from last year) is the intensity in practicing.,” Roma said. “We have to go 100 percent every second.”
Roma, a senior, is accustomed to practices under former head coach Tom Penders.
“Coach Hobbs asks a lot of us. If you make a mistake or you do something good, he’s there,” Roma said. “If you make a mistake he’s going to tell you. If you do something good he’s going to tell you.”
Despite the extra work, players said they favor the new system.
“It’s a lot different from last year because we’re actually having fun,” senior Jaason Smith said. “We love coming to practice. We love getting better, and we do want to win this year.
Inexperience aside, Pikiell said he believes the new coaching staff will be able to restore a winning program.
“I think this is a building program,” Pikiell said. “Our freshmen are going to get better. Things don’t happen overnight. You have to develop a program, and he’s in the process of laying the foundation for what’s going to be an exciting program.”