Improbable and seemingly impossible performances are a big part of sports, as witnessed in the New York Giants beating the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The GW men’s basketball team has also had some seemingly improbably and impossible performances this season – but, unlike the Giants, in a bad way.
The first indicator that things were going downhill for the program was the loss on the road at Maryland-Baltimore County. As a fan, I thought (hoped) this was just an aberration. Every team stumbles once in a while, right?
But after getting pounded at Virginia Tech and losing to the SUNY-Binghamton, GW’s record dropped to 3-5 and it became evident that maybe these losses would continue to pile up. Now 1-7 in the conference and mired in a seven-game losing streak – not to mention having lost all 10 games away from Smith Center – it is now an appropriate time to assess our disappointment as fans.
One of the biggest disappointments is with the fact that many of the individual players’ productivity has fallen off from last season. The four starters who were with the team last season all have lower shooting percentages than a year ago. The team’s shooting percentage has dropped off from 46 percent to just below 42 percent and scoring has dropped from 70 points a game to 64.
It is hard to say why, because the roster is very similar to last year’s and many young players have more experience playing college ball. What is definite is that this has been a very disappointing campaign so far.
It hurts that sophomore Travis King has to miss the entire season because of a knee injury, but there is no proof that the team would be winning even with him. The guards have been effective only in spurts and have not been able to sustain much success against the top-level competition.
The player with the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team is walk-on point guard Johnny Lee, and Coach Karl Hobbs seems reluctant to play him more than about 10 minutes a game, especially against the better teams, so distributing the ball to leading scorer Rob Diggs has been a problem.
The lack of ability to adapt to the loss of King has been a major letdown. This team has adapted before, whether it be winning late-season games two years ago without injured star Pops Mensah-Bonsu or winning the conference tournament last season after the team’s leading scorer from the previous season, Danilo Pinnock, left early for the NBA draft. So why not this year?
As a fan, perhaps where I feel the most abandoned is in the absolute futility of this team on the road. The Colonials have won five games at home and played competitively in two of the three losses. Why have they lost all ten road games by an average of 19 points per game? This is truly disheartening.
I think a big reason so many fans are so disappointed with the program is because of how successful the program has been the past few years. Did we take that success for granted? When I got to GW almost three years ago, this was a solid program. It was not St. Bonaventure.
Maybe I was spoiled. I appreciate the winning even more now, and I do not expect struggles to last very long. So do not give up on this team. The program has become too strong for a losing tradition to develop in Foggy Bottom.