Rhode Island had the kind of second half GW had been known for earlier this season. The visiting Rams outscored the Colonials 42-22 in the second half Saturday, handing GW a humiliating fourth-straight loss while ending its own winless conference showing.
Not only did the Colonials (10-9, 3-5 A-10) effort continue the team’s slide, it showed that having a thin and overworked team is catching up to GW. After taking a seven-point lead into the second half against the last-place Rams (5-12, 1-5 A-10), the Colonials showed signs of tiring by losing the rebounding battle 42 to 27.
During the Colonials current four game losing streak, opponents are making 64 percent of their field goals and averaging just over 44 points in the second half. Hobbs said before the season began that his team needed to hold opponents to less than 40 points.
“There’s no doubt in my mind the number of minutes that guys are playing, is without question, starting to catch up to us,” coach Karl Hobbs said. “Earlier in the year, we were able to make runs at teams, but now we don’t have the legs.”
Among the four Colonials averaging over 30 minutes a game this season, only Chris Monroe has averaged that amount in the past. Monroe and Jaason Smith are the only returning Colonials who averaged more than 10 minutes a game last season.
“Chris Monroe, he can play the rest of the year 40 minutes a game and I don’t think it’s going to affect him,” Hobbs said. “But you can see where Jaason is starting to get a little worn down, and we’re giving up more points particularly in the paint now.”
Fatigue has also affected the Colonials aggressiveness. Against Rhode Island, the Colonials only had nine offensive rebounds, compared to 16 by the Rams.
“I think that’s something we seem to lack is some aggression on the offensive glass,” Hobbs said. “That’s something we were getting earlier in the year and right now we’re just not getting to the glass.”
With only seven players seeing significant playing time, Colonials fatigue has led to occasional lapses in focus, which opponents have exploited over the last two weeks. Rhode Island used a 15-0 run mid-way through the second half to catapult them to victory. Massachusetts used a 9-0 run at the end of the first half last week to take the lead against the Colonials.
The Colonials were only trailing by two points when Saint Joseph’s went on a 19-4 run late in the first half last weekend. And Xavier scored the first 10 points of the game in GW’s loss to the Musketeers Jan. 17.
“Physically and mentally there is some fatigue setting in, and as a result of that at times we lose our focus,” Hobbs said.
Expect to see some changes in upcoming games to counter this problem. Darrio Scott, Albert Roma and Lewie Helton, who have not played much recently, are likely to see more playing time to keep other players fresh down the stretch. Also look for the Colonials to play more zone defense to slow down the pace of the game, even though Hobbs prefers man-to-man coverage.
“We may have to resort to playing more zone, which I don’t like,” Hobbs said. “We’re going to have to try to play some more guys.”
Hobbs also said the coaching staff is going to have to find more ways to shorten the game, by employing more zone defense and possibly by not looking to run as much. Against Xavier last week, the Colonials were unable to complete a late run to keep the game close. Shortening and slowing down the game will enable the Colonials to stay stronger as the game progresses and could allow GW to make a needed run late in the game.
GW looks to end its four-game losing streak Wednesday night as the travel south to take on the Richmond Spiders (9-9, 3-2 A-10), the newest member of the A-10.