The GW men’s basketball team converted only one of its trademark alley-oops in Saturday’s exhibition against the EA Sports All-Stars, but the Colonials were still able to put on a show for the Smith Center crowd. In a game that saw GW make numerous flashy dunks, dishes and defensive plays, the Colonials cruised to a well-rounded 87-64 victory in their final tune-up before Friday’s regular season opener at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
GW held EA Sports to just over 34 percent shooting and had three players in double figures, including a double-double from freshman guard J.R. Pinnock. GW Head Coach Karl Hobbs said the preseason has been a good indicator that his team is starting to play his style of basketball, which revolves around high-pressure defense and a fast break offense that produced 28 points Saturday.
“This is the first year we can establish a personality,” he said. “We’re trying to play at a high level and pick up teams full court. In the past two games we’ve been able to exhaust the other team.”
Hobbs praised the work of his freshmen, especially the explosive Pinnock, who had 10 rebounds and 18 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including a thunderous follow-up dunk six minutes into the game. Pinnock’s best play came on the defensive end, though, when Broderick Hicks of EA Sports appeared to have an easy fast break lay-up early in the second half until a streaking Pinnock glided in to block the shot by pinning it against the backboard.
“I was very pleased with his (Pinnock’s) energy,” Hobbs said. “He gave us a lot of energy on the defensive end, he gets out on the break well and he attacks the glass.”
The outcome of Saturday’s game was never really in question, as GW jumped out to a 19-9 advantage and did not allow the lead to drop below nine points the rest of the way.
Every Colonial played except senior guard Greg Collucci, who Hobbs said injured an ankle in practice this week. Hobbs said he hopes to have Collucci back for Friday’s opener.
The coach also added that he would probably continue using a variety of lineups to keep his starters fresh for crunch time.
“We’re going to need a strong (junior T.J. Thompson) at the end of games,” Hobbs said. “There was so much of a burden on him. He was the only creative guy with the ball last year.”
Thompson had eight points and 10 assists in 28 minutes Saturday, firing passes that allowed Pinnock, freshman guard Ricky Lucas and junior forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu to score in double figures on easy dunks and open jumpers.
Hobbs said Thompson and the rest of GW’s guards are going to have a tough test Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Charlotte, however, which is a strong outside shooting team.
“We haven’t been great on the road,” he said. “But my main concern in this game is defense and taking care of the ball. Because their guards are pretty good, the challenge there is how we can defend the perimeter.”