The GW men’s basketball team will play the first of two home exhibition games Saturday in preparation for its season-opener against the University of North Carolina-Charlotte on Nov. 21. The Colonials will host the Universal All-Stars, a traveling exhibition squad, in the Smith Center at 7:30 p.m.
Now in their third week of practices, the Colonials said they are looking forward to getting back on the floor in front of their home crowd.
“We’re really excited for the game,” sophomore forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu said. “The team is working hard and we seem to be gelling together.”
Head Coach Karl Hobbs said his team is also ready for some outside competition after playing each other in scrimmages.
“We’re at that point where the boys are ready to play somebody else,” he said. “I’m looking for some sort of assessment of where we’re at right now.”
Hobbs added that he will be looking for two things in particular on Saturday.
“I’m looking for a high level of intensity on the defensive end and I’d like to get a sense of where our conditioning is,” he said.
Defensive lapses down the stretch prevented GW from winning many close games last season. Improved conditioning could make fatigue less of a factor when the Colonials need a defensive stop at the end of the game.
The players also stressed the importance of setting a strong defensive tone this season, starting Saturday night.
“We can’t wait to show that we can play good defense and clamp down on teams,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “Last year we played good defense at times but we weren’t consistent. I’m hoping we can be more consistent now.”
On Saturday, the defense will look to shut down forward Jermaine Ousley, who scored 21 points in Universal’s last game.
Ousley is one of two former University of Memphis standouts playing for the Universal All-Stars. The second is Kelly Wise, a six-foot-ten-inch power forward who led Conference USA in rebounding in 2001-02.
Saturday’s game will mark the second straight year GW has met Universal in the preseason. Last year, the Colonials rode a 32-point performance from senior Chris Monroe to a 94-84 victory.
“We’ve been going hard in the first few weeks,” Hobbs said. “Now let’s see how we match up against other teams.”