If the Colonials are going to be successful against a bigger, slower Marshall University team, Karl Hobbs said his team must grab six more rebounds and tire the Thundering Herd by using their speed to out run them. Heading into this weekend with just eight scholarship players, Hobbs now faces another setback. Junior Chris Monroe is not 100 percent, heading into the NABC Classic at Rupp Arena with tendinitis in his shooting hand.
Monroe, last year’s leading scorer and only returning starter, wore a right arm brace and a wrap around his left pinky before the team left for Kentucky on Tuesday. He said the tendinitis won’t affect him. “I’m banged up a little bit, but it’s really nothing.”
In addition needs to rebounds and energy, GW needs Monroe to not be affected by his tendinitis. He will be guarding Tamar Slay, who is six inches taller than Monroe, Marshall’s best shooter.
Marshall’s two best players, Slay and 6-foot-10 forward J.R. VanHoose, who combined for nearly 34 points a game last season.
The Colonials will often be outsized this season, which is why the team’s speed and quickness will play a vital role in many games, including the opener against Marshall.
Senior Jaason Smith said the game plan is simple: Go fast, go hard.
“Ninety miles an hour. Just keep running,” he said.
Last season, GW broke even in rebounding margin. He said this year the team must grab six more rebounds than opponents, whereas last year’s team averaged 39 rebounds and allowed 39 rebounds.
Hobbs added: “I think we’re going to have to take some chances against Marshall. I think if we sit back and try to play them straight up there five against our five just straight man-to-man I think we’re going to have some problems,” said Hobbs. “I think we’ve got to try and find a way to get them out of their rhythm. They run very, very good half-court offense and they have three terrific scorers. So, we’ve got to find a way to break them out of their normal set offense.”
The Colonials will only have eight scholarship players available for the NABC Classic and Marshall could also be shorthanded in the Thursday night. According to Randy Burnside, the Associate Sports Information Director at Marshall, two players will be suspended for about 30 percent of the season in connection with eligibility issues that also plagued the school’s football team this season. Marshall is not releasing to names of the two players as per university policy, but it is believed that Monty Wright and William Butler are the two players.
The school might be able to stagger the suspensions so it is not determined if the two players will be eligible to play against GW. Wright, a junior guard, started three games for the Thundering Herd last season averaging just less than 10 minutes and three points per game. Butler, a senior forward, missed last season with a ruptured patella tendon.
After the Colonials take on Marshall, they will either play the University of Kentucky or Western Kentucky University on Friday. Kentucky is currently ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll and third in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. Kentucky has seven players on their roster 6-feet-7 and taller, led by All-American forward Tayshaun Prince.
Western Kentucky has six players at 6-feet-7 and taller on their roster. The team is led by 7-foot-1 senior center Chris Marcus who received votes for the preseason All-American team, and who is expected by many experts to be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft.
After the NABC Classic, GW will head to Texas A&M, who the Colonials beat last season at the Smith Center 94-74 in a game marred by 54 fouls.
NOTES: Four high school seniors who have made verbal commitments are expected to sign with GW this weekend. Most recently, Alexander Kireyev, a 6-foot-11 center from Russia, Mike Hall, a forward from Illinois, Nana Mensah-Bonsu, a forward from New Jersey and Omar Williams, a forward from Philadelphia. The Colonials have five open scholarships for next season’s team.