Ross Romano: Sub-par slate for Colonials

In the film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. After seeing this year’s men’s basketball non-conference schedule, GW fans must feel the same way.

Once again, the athletics department has scheduled a weak out-of-conference slate for the squad – a problem further exacerbated by the fact that, as usual, very few of the marquee games will be played on the Colonials’ home court.

But that’s not all. Scheduling some of the poorest teams in the nation directly violates Atlantic 10 conference rules – rules the department has seemingly decided to ignore. The A-10 says Tier II (like GW) may only schedule teams ranked better than 250 in the Ratings Percentage Index, but GW will play 308th-ranked Harvard and Sacramento State, a team that was ranked 335 of 341. The A-10 has tried harder over the past few seasons to improve its national profile by requiring members to schedule higher quality non-conference opponents, but it looks like Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz lacks commitment to this plan.

After hearing the schedule, A-10 Director of Communications Stephen Haug said, “Our institutions are expected to play highly competitive non-conference schedules that will prepare them for the conference season.” It is unclear if they will reprimand GW, but if they don’t, what is the point of the rule?

At least last year GW played UCLA, who went on to reach its third-straight Final Four. This year, the schedule is highlighted by two local games: one against a team on the decline, Maryland, and one against a team prepared to have a rare good year, American. Really, the only reason these games are noteworthy are because of the opponents’ proximity to Foggy Bottom. And many students won’t even be on campus for the Dec. 17 American game, which comes at the very end of the fall exam period.

Worse still is the fact that the athletic department has not yet officially released the schedule. Before Kvancz gave a rough version of it to The Hatchet, the only way of knowing the Colonials’ opponents was to search through other school’s Web sites. This unexplained tardiness has become a trend as common as the poor quality of the opponents. It’s almost as if the athletic department is embarrassed to release the schedule each year – I couldn’t blame them.

It is hard to be enthusiastic about the season as a student or a fan, when the schedule is so uninspiring. Most season-ticket packages don’t even include a ticket to the BB&T Classic, where GW will play Maryland. The best home game is American, with the others being Harvard, UMBC and Binghamton. Seriously, why would people pay to see those games?

The best the Colonial Army can hope for this year is that GW does a good job of playing the hand it was dealt. Maybe Kvancz is reverting back to his old technique of racking up wins against pasties. After all, optimism is not exactly flowing for this upcoming season after last season’s debacle, so perhaps Kvancz thinks the team might as well get as many wins as possible. If that is his thinking, GW better beat up on their opponents. Because if they don’t, I’d rather see them get thrashed by a good team then lose handily to a mediocre one.

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