The GW men’s basketball team did what many predicted it would against Dayton at the Smith Center Wednesday night. The Colonials used and abused.
No. 8 GW shot 48.3 percent, caused 16 turnovers and stole the ball away seven times en route to an 81-67 victory in front of an announced sold-out crowd of 5,000.
With the win, the Colonials tied the program record for the best 20-game start at 19-1, and currently sit on top of the Atlantic 10 at 9-0.
But in the eyes of coach Karl Hobbs, his program is still in the same mode they were in in December: overachieving.
“We’re a program that’s overachieving right now,” Hobbs said at the post-game press conference. “And I’ll continue to say that until these players somehow make me believe otherwise.”
When asked why the team is overachieving, Hobbs said the matter was between him and his players but continued to say that it should be easy to figure out.
With the highest ranking in 50 years and averaging a robust 81.5 points per game, it is tough to see where the Colonials can improve. Hobbs’ characterization still seems tough to believe. Senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu (20 points and seven rebounds) and juniors Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock (21 points and six rebounds) and Carl Elliott (11 points and three rebounds) combined for 65 percent of the Colonials’ scoring in a dominating win against the Flyers (11-13, 3-7 A-10).
The Colonials, who have won 12 straight games, have not faltered as of yet and with their play, they show no sign of relenting.
Pinnock, who leads GW with 15.3 points per game, said he does not want to think about his team’s performance over the season. All the 6-foot-5 swingman is concerned with is getting victories.
“Overachieving, underachieving, we really don’t worry about all that we just want to win,” Pinnock explained.
GW basketball personnel are reluctant to put their squad on par with the luster of other big-name squads, and rightfully so. The team has only reached one NCAA tournament in Hobbs’ tenure, but this season, the Colonials appear to be doing everything right.
In their record-tying victory, the Colonials did what top-10 teams do to inexperienced squads. GW dominated. The Colonials seemed to pounce on every Flyer weakness. They pounded the ball inside to Mensah-Bonsu, exploiting freshman Desmond Adedeji’s inexperience. GW was able to get 36 points in the paint.
Last season and early in this season’s campaign, the Colonials let opponents beat them in the early moments of games. Hobbs recognized Dayton’s predisposed weakness to strong inside play and directed his offense to exploit the Flyers’ interior defense.
“I thought we got out of the gate early,” Hobbs said. “I thought Pops really established an inside presence, which we tried to do due to their lack of experience in terms of their inside guys.”
Sixteen Dayton turnovers led to 18 GW points, with Dayton coach Brian Gregory claiming that turning the ball over to the Colonials is a sure-fire two points on the board every time. Gregory also cited turnovers morphing into a highlight reel, notably by Pinnock. A steal turned into a self-alley-oop; Pinnock also grabbed a monster dunk from freshman Montrell McDonald earlier in the contest.
Pinnock also connected on two-of-five three-pointers, an aspect of his game that was previously undeveloped.
Although Hobbs seems to enjoy the results of the highflying performance, he said there are other things on his mind. He cited Pinnock’s defense as an apparent soft spot.
The fifth-year coach, who is known for his guard development, said Pinnock will become a better player with an improved outside presence.
“I thought he played terrific,” Hobbs said of Pinnock. “He has really started to string together some good games, and he’s a special player when he’s really hitting the three-point shot.”
When Hobbs came to the program from Connecticut in 2001, Pinnock was not even a thought in Foggy Bottom. But with the athletic figures such as Pinnock, senior Mike Hall (five points) and Mensah-Bonsu, Hobbs has been able to take a team that only won 12 games his first season to one being mentioned as a possible Elite Eight participant.
Sitting at 19-1 and tying the school record means something to Hobbs, but he is not sure what just yet.
“I think its great for the fans; it’s more for them,” Hobbs said of the record-tying performance. “Maybe at the end of the season I can reflect back on it and then it will have some significance. We’re in the middle of the season and we have a tough stretch coming up. I don’t mean to diminish it; so don’t take it that way, but when we got Saint Joe’s staring at you coming up on Saturday, you don’t really have time to think about that.”