GW head coach Karl Hobbs wore a turtleneck during Wednesday night’s preseason game against Augusta State at the Smith Center. It was a departure from his typical suit and tie, but for Hobbs and the GW men’s basketball team, it was business as usual.
The sixth-year head coach was his animated self as his team ran its Division II opponent off the court en route to an 81-72 win.
Hobbs repeated an idea that he told fans at an open practice Oct. 26: this year will require patience.
“This is a young team,” Hobbs said. “We’re a team that’s going through some growing pains, and it’s going to take some time to really bring it together. At the end of the day, they kept score and from what I know we won the game.”
The Colonials shot 54.7 percent from the floor and held the Jaguars to 37.3 percent in front of more than 2,000 fans. Junior Maureece Rice had 15 points while freshman Travis King put in 14 in his GW debut.
Rice went 5-for-12 from the floor and missed all three attempted three-pointers, prompting Hobbs to say his guard will need to step up his game this season.
“He is going to have to play better than he did tonight if we’re going to have any success this year,” Hobbs said of Rice.
From his courtside behavior, Hobbs did not seem to care that the game’s result would not count in the standings. At one point during the first half, Hobbs ran out about 10 feet into the court to yell instructions at his players on the other end of the floor. Even with the game in hand at the end, Hobbs jumped, rolled his head and turned around after an Augusta State player hit a three-pointer.
After only one preseason game, Hobbs said his young squad is still adjusting to the offense and getting used to GW’s game plan.
“I don’t think this team will ever be where I’d like them to be, but I’m going to have to have some patience,” Hobbs said. “It’s going to take some time with these guys. I thought we played hard at times. We just didn’t play hard enough consistently.”
Without sophomore Cheyenne Moore, who is out with a stress fracture in his left tibia, GW previewed a three-guard offense in which senior Carl Elliott, junior Maureece Rice and freshman Travis King played concurrently. In the offense, King brought the ball up the court, while Rice and Elliott set up on the wings.
The trio, which combines experience and youth, will be commonplace this season.
“I think you’re going to see that combination a great deal,” Hobbs said. “We’re at our best offensively with them in.”
Sophomore Rob Diggs started in Moore’s place, but King played more minutes. The New Haven, Conn., native scored 14 points in his first collegiate game. King went 5-for-7 from the floor and 2-for-4 from behind the arc. He also added in three assists and two steals.
Toward the end of the contest, Augusta State’s Demetrius Howard (15 points) sparked a 6-0 run on back-to-back three pointers.
“We lost our focus (towards the end),” Hobbs said. “(Howard) made two threes in a row and that’s the beauty of college basketball: as long as that line is there, you always have a chance to win.”
Besides King, Wednesday also debuted freshman forwards Damian Hollis and Hermann Opoku, who is suspended for the first 11 games of the season, as well as the return of senior Dokun Akingbade, who red-shirted last year.
GW will scrimmage at Villanova Saturday in Pennsylvania before opening the regular season against Boston University in Boston Nov. 10.