Loss of Miller to limit men’s basketball’s depth

Last year, the GW men’s basketball season was marked by a streak. This Saturday, the Colonials look to end one.

Nearly a year after last season’s 10-ga me losing streak began, the Colonials (6-7, 0-2 Atlantic 10) will try to put a quick end to their season-high three-game losing streak when Dayton (10-3, 2-0 A-10) visits the Smith Center Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“Now it’s down to the part of the season where every game is critical, every stake is more magnified,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs said.

Hobbs also said his team “is battling a lot of adversity right now,” due in part to the loss of key reserve Darnell Miller for the rest of the season. The junior point guard tore cartilage in his left wrist after falling on it during the Red Auerbach Colonial Classic Nov. 29-30 and will have arthoscopic surgery in the next few weeks.

“Now we’re back a little bit to where we were last year, relying on T.J. Thompson to play 40 minutes per game, and God forbid if he ever got hurt,” Hobbs said. “(Miller) has helped us win some games and now, all of the sudden, we don’t have him anymore.”

Saturday’s game will be only the fourth home appearance for GW this season and the first with most students on campus. After an impressive start, the Colonials have faltered on the road in conference play and dropped below .500 for the first time all season. Hobbs noted that the team has played more away games than any other A-10 team, but getting back on a winning track will not come any easier against the Flyers, who are currently in first place in the A-10 West, while GW is in last.

“They pose a serious threat to us because the strongest part of their attack is going inside, and that’s probably where we’re most vulnerable because we have such young frontcourt players,” Hobbs said. “Our guys have been in the weight room since September. Their guys were in the weight room three years ago.”

Dayton’s strongest inside weapons are forward Keith Waleskowski (14.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and center Sean Finn (7.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg). At 6-foot-6, guard Brooks Hall (14.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg) is also a threat in the paint and outside the arc.

The Colonials will counter with frontcourt depth and quickness but cannot match Dayton’s strength. The only GW player with considerable bulk on the inside is 240-pound sophomore Tamal Forchion, whose minutes have remained limited after making an early comeback from a broken ankle in late November.

“People forget the guy’s playing with screws in his ankle, and he’s still not 100 percent, so the difficulty for me is to find minutes for him to get into the rotation,” Hobbs said. “He missed the whole preseason and we have six big guys who have had four months of basketball ahead of him. In time, it’ll work itself out one way or the other.”

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