The GW’s men’s basketball game Saturday comes under a set of unusual circumstances. The Colonials (15-6, 6-3 Atlantic 10) are playing to avoid its first three-game losing streak since the 2003-2004 season, when the team lost four in a row. The game is also on national television (ESPN2) and Smith Center is sold out, both firsts for the season. And most significantly, it comes against one of the school’s biggest rivals: Xavier.
“This is just a big game,” senior Carl Elliott said. “It’s Xavier, it’s on TV, it’s at home and it’s in front of a sold-out crowd.”
The game is also important in broader terms. Since beating Rhode Island Jan. 27 to take possession of first place in the A-10, GW has lost consecutive road games to Dayton and Saint Louis. Now tied for third in the conference with Xavier and Fordham, the Colonials are facing a rude awakening.
“After we won the Rhode Island game, everybody got a little comfortable,” sophomore Cheyenne Moore said. “We forgot that everybody is still coming after us. Now I feel like we’re back on track.”
“Teams lose all the time; that’s basketball. It’s how you respond to the losses that matters,” Moore added.
Xavier is not a team GW wants to face to end a losing streak, Elliott said. Xavier junior Stanley Burrell is averaging 13.4 points per game and is capable of single-handedly beating teams, something Elliott said the Colonials need to prevent.
Karl Hobbs, GW’s head coach, said that rebounding is the biggest problem facing the Colonials. He also noted the disparity in free-throw shooting in the team’s last two games.
“Part of it is just a mindset,” Hobbs said. “I like the officials to pay close attention to when we’re attacking the rim.”
GW is coming off a weeklong break, allowing the team to rest injuries and to work out some of its on-court issues.”This is a test for our character,” Moore said. “They’re obviously a really good team and we’re a really good team. To get back in the flow of things would take a big win, and this would be a big win for us to get back where we want to be as far as the league and team chemistry.”
In the midst of this losing streak, the Colonials are nursing the fourth-longest home winning streak in the country at 24 games. Elliott hasn’t forgotten the streak, which he said makes the game “more exciting.”
“It definitely means something to me,” Elliott said. “To be able to do something like that at home is a beautiful thing. To beat those guys to keep our record going would be a lovely thing.”