PHILADELPHIA – The GW men’s basketball team had five players in double figures in Saturday’s 86-74 win over La Salle at Tom Gola Arena. They shot 51 percent from the field, out rebounded the Explorers by nine and had two players with double-doubles.
But Karl Hobbs was not happy. He said he was disappointed with his team’s effort, his freshmen played like freshmen and it left him wondering if this squad, which now sits in fourth place in the Atlantic 10, is ready for tournament play.
“A mature basketball team, they feel threatened,” Hobbs said. “This team didn’t feel threatened to me. As a result, we didn’t stop them in transition and didn’t get the stops we needed to get.”
Despite the worry, GW (18-8, 9-5 A-10) now sits in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Saint Joseph’s and is in contention for a first-round bye in the conference tournament March 7-11 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Finishing the game and ensuring a victory seemed to be a problem for the Colonials as La Salle battled until the very end. When GW had a double-digit advantage, Hobbs said he felt that his squad could not put its opponent away.
“I thought that when we had a chance to really create some space, we allowed them to attack us in transition,” Hobbs said.
Thursday the Colonials will face Charlotte in North Carolina in a hostile Halton Arena on ESPN2. The 49ers are in seventh place in the conference but present GW with its most serious roadblock on the way to a 20-win regular season.
If GW’s offense is as potent as it was here Saturday, Charlotte could face some problems. Junior Maureece Rice’s 21 points led the way on 7-for-14 shooting in this town, where he is a high school legend. Rice’s shot selection, Hobbs said, was the difference in his game.
“I thought that he really selected shots as opposed to just taking shots,” Hobbs said. “Whenever he comes to Philadelphia, it seems like he scores points.
Senior Carl Elliott had a double-double complete with 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Elliott’s role on this team is clearly defined but is new to him, Hobbs said. In years past, the New York native was surrounded by older players. This year, Elliott is expected to score points, a departure from his role as a point guard. Hobbs said Elliott is beginning to understand that he needs to have big games for GW to emerge victorious this late in the season.
“He’s sort of an all-purpose guy,” Hobbs said of Elliott. “He does it all for us. He has to rebound, run the team and guard the opposing team’s best player. Tonight is pretty typical of the night he has to get for us to be successful.”
Although not as successful as in years past, this team is showing shades of previous squads where scoring is widespread. In GW’s third road win in the conference, freshman Damian Hollis continued his stellar offensive play with 11 rebounds, but Hobbs said his defense and rebounding were lackluster. Sophomore Rob Diggs came off the bench for the second consecutive game with 13 points, while senior Dokun Akingbade had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.