BOSTON, Nov. 10-During the second half of GW’s men’s basketball game against Boston University, senior guard Carl Elliott was knocked hard to the floor after a rough foul while driving. Rather than get in the face of the culprits, Elliott briefly lay on the hardwood floor, then smiled a big toothy grin, got up and calmly hit two free throws.
The series of events exemplified Elliott’s play during GW’s 70-57 opening night win Nov. 10 against BU. Elliott played the role of a poised leader well, scoring 25 points, 11 of which came from a perfect night at the free throw line.
GW head coach Karl Hobbs called upon Elliott not only to score, but also to shut down BU freshman Carlos Strong, who scored a team-high 19 points, late in the game.
“When the game got down to the stretch, it looked like he was the only guy who could score,” Hobbs said of Elliott. “Those are the kind of things we have to look to him for, which is a huge responsibility but he’s faced…tougher challenges and this is just another challenge.”
With scouts from the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks in attendance, Elliott impressed BU head coach Dennis Wolff with his well-rounded game.
“Elliott is an NBA player,” Wolff said. “He was the most poised player on the court.”
As for his remaining time at the collegiate level, when someone suggested to Hobbs after the game that Elliott would have to continue to produce at that level in order for the team succeed, Hobbs laughed and dropped his head in begrudged acknowledgement.
“That’s an understatement,” he said. “There’s going to be some nights where he’s going to have to score 30 points and get six or seven rebounds – that’s just a fact of the matter.”
In reality, Elliott did not have to win the game entirely on his own. Junior guard Maureece Rice scored nine points in 38 minutes. More surprising, sophomore forward Rob Diggs, who averaged seven minutes a game last year, played 34 minutes and was the only Colonial besides Elliott to score in double figures, with 12. He also added seven rebounds and two blocks.
Although this year’s roster may be different from last year’s, its play Friday had all the earmarks of a Hobbs-coached team: long, quick players pressured and trapped the young Terrier team from the tip-off. The aggressive defense confused the five underclassmen BU starters, causing 10 first-half turnovers and a 16-3 Colonials lead to start the game.
“For our first night out, I thought we did a terrific job of establishing the tempo,” Hobbs said. “I liked our defensive pressure, and we’re a team that always finds a way to score. I think we’ll need to find a way to score a bit more in the future, but it was a good effort.”
Hobbs, who served as an assistant coach at BU from 1987 to 1993, said BU played well considering it was the first time many of them had played at the collegiate level.
“It’s a team I don’t necessarily want to play two years from now when those young kids grow up,” Hobbs said.
As for GW’s young kids, freshmen forward Damian Hollis and guard Travis King contributed, but they were not relied on as heavily as Strong was, which allowed time for lessons along the way.
In the middle of the second half, Hollis took an ill-advised shot and was immediately taken out by Hobbs, who then kneeled in front of Hollis on the bench and screamed what one would assume to be constructive criticism. Not one to let a player get down on himself though, Hobbs immediately sent Hollis back into the game. After all, freshmen make freshman mistakes.
Elliott once made freshman mistakes, too. Not anymore, though, and Friday night against BU he hardly made any mistakes at all.