Maybe this season won’t be the “Maureece Rice Show” after all.
With Rice struggling Wednesday night, junior forward Rob Diggs powered the Colonials for the second straight game, as the Colonials broke down Boston University en route to a 69-56 win at Smith Center.
Although he is still longer than he is wide, Diggs outmuscled opposing post players in a way no GW player has since Pops Mensah-Bonsu made Atlantic 10 centers his hurdle. Diggs had his way around the basket, grabbing seven offensive rebounds (12 total) and scoring 20 points.
Sophomore Travis King played just one minute in coming back from a knee injury, but the team’s offense looked cohesive in his absence. “When in doubt, dump the ball in to Rob” seemed to be the Colonials’ motto, and it worked.
“I’m able to hold my balance on the blocks more and not get pushed around as much,” said Diggs, who played 37 minutes. “I can basically just bang with the big boys.”
Diggs is listed at 6-foot-8, 202 pounds after adding 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, enough to allow him to finish shots in the post instead of having to take outside jumpers.
Midway through the second half, with GW ahead 10, Diggs got offensive rebounds and scored on four consecutive possessions to put the game away.
Rice, a senior, scored just three points – his lowest total since his freshman year – on 1-for-7 shooting. Juniors Wynton Witherspoon and Cheyenne Moore were not much better, combining to shoot 1-for-12. But younger players such as freshman Xavier Alexander and sophomore Damian Hollis filled the void.
“We can win games without him playing well – I’m not sure we can win a lot of games,” head coach Karl Hobbs said of Rice.
Alexander scored 11 points and played stout defense on BU’s Carlos Strong in 22 minutes. Hobbs has praised Alexander since the Oklahoma 4A Player of the Year committed to GW early last year and Wednesday was no exception.
“His role is expanding by the minute because of his ability to play defense,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs added that Alexander was “very well-coached” in high school and physically ready to contribute at the college level.
For the second straight game, junior Noel Wilmore asserted himself on both ends of the floor, scoring eight points and joining Alexander in playing tough defense.
Hobbs said he will know more about King’s status Thursday. GW’s game against No. 2 UCLA is two weeks away. While the Colonials may be able to get by without a true point guard against a team of BU’s caliber, it will likely have a more difficult time against the Bruins.
GW now gets 10 days off before one final tune-up at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Nov. 24. The time off will give the team a chance to regain its energy, but Hobbs said he is worried it might ruin its “fluidity.”
Despite promise from the team’s youth, Hobbs is not yet satisfied.
He said. “We’ve still got so many more things to work on.”