Over the last four seasons, this current senior class of the GW women’s basketball team has garnered more than a handful of awards and titles. But when it has come to those pesky three games in early March, the Colonials have faltered.
No. 13/12 (AP, ESPN/USA Today) GW has gone 0-for-3 in the Atlantic 10 Championship in the last three seasons, making the conference tournament the last great frontier yet to be claimed by the Colonials’ talented senior class. Kim Beck and company will have one last chance to cut down the nets this weekend when the Colonials travel to Philadelphia for the tournament, hosted by Saint Joseph’s.
In the last three seasons, the Colonials have twice been toppled in the championship game and once upset in the A-10 semifinals. With the title having eluded the team for all three years of the seniors’ tenure, the task of finally winning the championship could seem all the more daunting. If the Colonials want to be successful, though, head coach Joe McKeown said they’ve got to leave those losses in the rearview mirror.
“In basketball, you have to have amnesia,” McKeown said. “You can’t go into a tournament worrying about what happened last year or the year before. Especially when you’re a senior, you want to play with a sense of urgency.”
The question that remains is if GW (24-5, 12-2 A-10) will have the mental control to heed McKeown’s call and look forward instead of dwelling on the past. McKeown said he thinks they will.
“I think they’re excited. Basketball is such a game of momentum, and we’re coming off a great season,” he said.
Unfortunately for GW, that might not be enough. Last year the Colonials went undefeated in the A-10 regular-season, but ran into Saint Joseph’s in the tournament semifinals.
After leading through most of the game, GW squandered a 13-point deficit in the final minutes and finally surrendered to the Hawks, 57-55. For McKeown, that loss illustrates the nature of postseason basketball.
“Last year we were playing really well. We were rolling, and we just had a four-minute breakdown. There was nothing about what was going on that would say to me that was going to happen,” he said. “That was very frustrating for me and our players.”
This season, the Colonials face a bracket that requires them to get through a number of squads that have given them trouble. Presumably, GW will have to topple top-seeded Temple (who beat GW this year), and perennial contender Xavier, or the ever-sneaky Saint Joe’s.
But before the Colonials even get that far, they will possibly have a crack at the team that might have caused them the most distress this season – St. Bonaventure.
GW fell to the Bonnies 63-60 on Feb. 16, in a game where the nationally ranked Colonials came out flat in the first half and dug a hole they could not climb out of. If the Bonnies beat Rhode Island to advance on March 7, it would be GW’s chance for revenge. That game would be the Colonials’ first of the tournament, March 8 at 4 p.m.
While McKeown understands that revenge could be on some of his players’ minds, he cautioned against it being too much of a factor.
“There’s probably some of that in them,” he said. “But I think you can’t get too caught up in that either.”