Starters shuffle in GW win

Karl Hobbs does not understand why people seem to be obsessed with which players make the starting lineup at GW’s men’s basketball games.

Even so, it’s hard to ignore that sophomore Rob Diggs, who had started every game this season until three games ago, came off the bench for Wednesday’s 68-49 win over Richmond at Smith Center. It is even harder to ignore Diggs’ 24-point performance, showing success in his regained role.

“When I come off the bench, I just try to be the energy guy, try to spark up the team, block a couple of shots and get a dunk to get the offense hyped,” Diggs said.

He struggled as a starter, scoring five points against both Xavier and Saint Joseph’s, but has thrived in his new role. He shot four-for-four from the field against Temple and followed the performance by shooting nine-for-11 Wednesday. GW (17-8, 8-5 Atlantic 10) lost the first two games and won the second two.

Diggs said he does not have a preference as to whether he starts, although senior guard Carl Elliott nodded and smiled when Diggs was asked if coming off the bench has lit a fire under him.

More important than who starts, Hobbs said, is who gets rebounds for GW. After getting “manhandled” in the second half of the Xavier game, the Colonials out-rebounded Richmond 39-21, its second straight large rebounding edge.

Elliott has “stuck his nose in there” and shouldered the rebounding load for the Colonials as the rest of his team struggled. He followed up a triple-double against Temple Saturday with a double-double Wednesday, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for the Colonials. Diggs had six rebounds and said he feels recently as if he is getting pushed around less, the result of an escalated weight-lifting program.

Hobbs said rebounding has been the team’s focus since the beginning of the year and it has been emphasized as GW ended its four-game losing skid.

“Our mindset now is that everybody has to rebound;l it’s all we talk about right now,” Hobbs said. “It’s not about who starts, it’s about when that ball hits the rim, who’s going to get it?”

Against Richmond, the Colonials stuck to zone nearly all game. The approach took the Spiders out of their rhythm,” Hobbs said, and forced Richmond to hit three-pointers. They only shot five for 21 from behind the arc.

Despite the poor shooting performance, both coaches said that the game was closer than the final score indicated.

The Colonials play its second-to-last regular season game against La Salle Saturday at noon in Philadelphia.

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