Between The Lines: Bite your tongue, not your fist

If one defines a team’s success by how many games it wins or loses, by where it finishes in the standings or by how well it competes with teams like Temple and Xavier, then it is more than fair to say GW has had a pretty bad year. The Colonials (10-14, 3-10 A-10) dropped into last place with Saturday’s loss to Duquesne, and in three games against Temple and Xavier they lost by a combined 44 points.

The problem with looking at the Colonials like that is that in college basketball, success cannot be judged by those criteria alone. You have to consider what the team has accomplished with the personnel it has. Unless we are talking about Duke, all teams experience rebuilding seasons. That’s what this is, as the Colonials lost four starters coming into this season. Usually, coaches recruit talent, they exploit that talent and they lose that talent. Meanwhile it takes time to recruit and develop new talent.

Many of you may read the final scores of GW’s games and not think too highly of what Karl Hobbs and his team have done. After all, the men haven’t won a game since classes started in January. Only twice has the team lost by less than double digits during the eight-game streak.

This was and still is a team with little more than Chris Monroe, who has led the team in scoring in 18 of 23 games, carrying it on his back during the eight-straight losing streak.

Entering the season, no other player besides Monroe averaged double-digit points or double-digit minutes, making the inexperience of the players even more of a factor than the inexperience of their first-year head coach.

Assistant coach Steve Pikiell said in October that coaches would have no other choice but to “throw them to the wolves,” and that is exactly what has happened.

And yet several of these players have overachieved simply by outworking opponents, a focal point of Hobbs’ system. Judging by attendance at the Smith Center, which is down about 25 percent from last year, many of you have not seen the team’s work ethic. But these players could not do what they have done based on talent alone, so credit must be given to their efforts. They don’t give up.

Jaason Smith has made up for a significant lack of strength and size inside by blocking 60 shots and grabbing nearly eight rebounds per game.

Greg Collucci has been deadly from behind the arc at times, as he ranks second in the conference in both three-point shots made and attempted.

Freshmen T.J. Thompson and A-10 Rookie of the Week Tamal Forchion have also given the team needed boosts with Forchion adding 17 points in Saturday’s loss. At nearly 36 minutes per game, Thompson plays more than any other freshman in the conference and gives GW 10 points a game. Forchion has also stepped up at times, delivering seven double-digit scoring performances over the course of the season.

As the season has continued and the losses have compiled, the effectiveness of these players has diminished, as all of their scoring averages have decreased. And the losses have compiled in a hurry, with GW looking at a 10-14 record with just two games remaining, erasing what began as a great conference record: 10-5. Still, all things considered, this hasn’t been a bad season. Perhaps most importantly, Hobbs has cleaned up the Colonials image, keeping them out of trouble, instilling what was clearly lacking when he assumed his position in April.

And if you’ve had enough of the losing, don’t forget: Hobbs will bring the 22nd best recruiting class in the country next year.

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