Every conference has its perennial cellar dwellers. The programs that, year in and year out, are at the basement of the standings. It is to these teams that other squads dare not lose.
Wednesday night, the GW men’s basketball team fell victim to one of those bottom feeders, La Salle, 80-58 at Smith Center. The difference is that this season, GW is the bottom feeder, now dead last in the 14-team Atlantic 10 and fighting just to qualify for the 12-team conference tournament, March in Atlantic City.
La Salle is a program that has had one winning season the past 12 years and did not make the A-10 tournament last season. While the Explorers seem to have improved slightly this year, sitting in the middle of the conference pack at 4-4, their other three wins are over another perennial St. Bonaventure twice and Richmond.
GW has not missed the A-10 tournament since the school joined the league for the 1976-1977 season. It seems as though GW may not make the tournament this season. The Colonials still have to play Xavier, Charlotte and Rhode Island ??- three of the league’s top four teams.
Coach Karl Hobbs said he is not that concerned about the A-10 tournament and that he is “just trying to get the team to play at a certain level.”
“If we can get ourselves to play at a certain level, (making the tournament) will become a realistic shot,” Hobbs said.
La Salle’s Paul Johnson said that his team is looking ahead to getting to the tournament and that he considered the victory over GW a big win.
“It’s big for two reasons,” Johnson said. “For building our program and because we needed an A-10 win in terms of us going to Atlantic City.”
It was obvious that La Salle head coach John Giannini was excited about his team’s win and said he never expects to win comfortably at GW.
“I felt like we were in for a challenge against a team that had talent,” Giannini said.
But the Explorers, for one of the first times in the programs’ playing history, did not have much of a challenge, while the Colonials struggled.
And n the A-10 this season, struggling is about all GW can do.
This article appeared in the February 7, 2008 issue of the Hatchet.