When the buzzer sounded at the end of last year’s contest with Maryland, the scoreboard showed 101-92 as the GW men’s basketball team topped the then-No. 12 Terps. The Colonials were an unranked squad that upset then-ranked. No. 9 Michigan State the day before.
The implications of the tournament were astronomical, as the wins propelled GW into the top 25 of men’s college basketball for the first time since 1999. This year, the game seems a bit more balanced, with GW ranked 19 in the Associated Press writers’ poll and 22 in the ESPN/USA Today coach’s poll. Maryland is number 23 in the Associated Press poll and sits at 20 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
Maryland has gotten off to a quick start this season with impressive victories over Arkansas and Minnesota. The Terps’ sole loss came at the hands of No. 8 Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational in Hawaii. The Colonials, who trail Maryland in the all-time series 35-28, have played a significantly weaker schedule with all of the games coming at home.
GW head coach Karl Hobbs said he is not sure the schedule has prepared his squad for the meeting.
“I’m not sure,” Hobbs said. “That’s a good question. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m not confident in our team and what we’re capable of I would preferably have a few more days to prepare. This is a real, real tough stretch for us. A ‘B’ game won’t be good enough. Its going to take an ‘A’ game.”
GW, who has only beaten Maryland in back-to-back games twice since 1955, is attempting to establish itself as the top program in the Washington area. Coach Karl Hobbs said he is impressed with the Maryland team he sees this season.
“I see a lot of great things in that team,” Hobbs said after beating Boston University 75-62 Friday night. “I see a team that prior to last year went to 11 straight NCAA tournaments and a team that plays with a great deal of determination.”
Hobbs admits that he studies the Terps and is not taking the game lightly.
“I read every quote from (Maryland) Coach (Gary) Williams makes, I read every quote that the players make in the paper,” Hobbs said. “They sound like a team that has really galvanized themselves. They seem to be very team oriented. They seem to support each other. What makes them dangerous is that they appear to be a team that’s on a very serious mission.”
GW was the team last year that was on that mission. In the then-GW senior T.J. Thompson scored 27 points and Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock dropped 22. Junior Omar Williams had 14 points, Mike Hall had 12 and Carl Elliott scored 11. GW shot 53 percent from the floor and held Maryland to 50 percent.
John Gilchrist, who went undrafted in last year’s draft, scored a team-high 23 points for Maryland while Nik Caner-Medley dropped 16 points.
Hobbs said although the team’s goal is to win the game Monday, he has another goal.
“Our goal is to win the game but we have to make sure we come out of that game a better basketball team,” Hobbs said.
As for the players, GW junior Carl Elliott already has a good idea what the game will be like. He likened the area battle to war.
“I think it means a lot,” Elliott said of the game’s implications. “Coach was saying, we were chasing guys last year. Then we beat Maryland and Michigan State and people were chasing us. Now we are being chased, now if we get this one over Maryland it will do a lot for us and give us confidence going into league play.”