Women eye title defense

When coaches and members of the GW women’s basketball team talk about this year’s schedule, there is a tone of confidence in the players’ and coaches’ voices. There is also a tone of respect.

The Colonials are not taking anybody for granted, because as head coach Joe McKeown said, in the Atlantic 10, one loss can have a big effect on tournament placement.

Also, when you are historically the best team in the conference, as GW has been recently, opponents will always be gunning for you. Head coach Joe McKeown is aware of this and said he wants to prevent any possible letdowns.

“I think everybody circles GW and says that’s the biggest game they’ve got to win,” he said. “I look at it as, when you’re us and our seniors have finished in first all three years that they’ve been here, we’re the ones with the ‘x’ on our back.”

Defending their A-10 West regular season title will not be an easy task, but the Colonials are confident. This is the last season in which the league will have two divisions, East and West.

In the West, McKeown said a big challenger could be Richmond, a squad that GW handled easily in two meetings last year, winning by over 20 points in both games. Xavier is another squad that could pose problems for the Colonials.

“I always start with GW because we won the league,” McKeown said. “Richmond finished second last year and has a lot of people back so they’re going be somebody to reckon with. I think Xavier is also a quality program. I think those two in the West, along with us, are going to probably be the favorites going in.”

In the East Division, the Colonials will have their sights set on Temple, a team they beat last year but went on to lose to in the conference tournament. Rhode Island could also be a good team, but the rest of the division has a bleak outlook. St. Joseph’s lost four starters from last season.

“Temple finished first last year, I think they have three starters back and some pretty good young players, so they’re probably going to be the team that everybody’s picking,” McKeown said. “Rhode Island was in the championship game against us two years ago. So, it’s pretty wide open.”

Senior Anna Monta?ana said she will be ready for the St. Joe’s game. The Hawks knocked the Colonials out of the conference tournament last year.

“We struggled against St. Joe’s,” Monta?ana said. “A lot of people graduated from that team, so it’s not going to be the same team, but we still want to beat them.”

Before A-10 play begins, GW has a tough non-conference schedule. The toughest game will likely be at the University of Tennessee, last year’s national runner-up, on Nov. 23.

There are games in the month of December against Villanova University, Boston College and North Carolina State University, all NCAA Tournament teams last season. In early December, there is also a West Coast road trip in which the Colonials will travel to the University of Oregon and Brigham Young University.

“Our non-conference schedule is really going test us, but it’ll also prepare us,” McKeown said.

Monta?ana looks forward to the challenge.

“We have to go game by game,” she said. “We’re going to learn a lot during the season.”

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