King takes back his court

Basketball Preview Issue

One could argue that last year’s men’s basketball season was doomed before it even began, that what sunk the team was not a lack of chemistry or a surplus of malcontents, but an awkward landing in an August pickup game hundreds of miles from Foggy Bottom.

When presumed starting point guard Travis King fractured his right knee two summers ago in New Haven, Conn., the team was sent into a tailspin – forcing players to learn new positions on the job. Though a lack of senior leadership undoubtedly hurt the team, King’s injury may have been just as responsible for the team not making the postseason for the first time in 34 years.

But to King, all that is in the past.

“Last year was a tough year all around,” he said. “We had guys injured, but we’re looking past that, looking toward a better year this year.”

That kind of forward thinking may be just what is necessary for the Colonials to rebound this season — and multiple players and coaches have spoken of a mental transformation among this year’s team. When it comes to tangible improvement on the floor, however, most who follow the team are looking to the redshirt sophomore to kick-start the offense.

“Having a point guard really helps. Everybody is better,” said senior forward Wynton Witherspoon, who was thrust into the role of point guard last season. “It’s going to be easier this year.”

GW had hoped King’s injury would heal once last season began, and the Connecticut native even saw a minute of playing time in the Colonials’ second game of the year. King saw no more action from then on, though, and he was granted a medical redshirt.

For a player who calls basketball “my life,” missing an entire season and watching a team that had been so strong just years before hit rock-bottom was extremely difficult, King said in a recent interview. But King – who Karl Hobbs appointed as the team’s leader – made sure his absence from the court wasn’t a complete disaster.

“I had a chance to learn, by sitting out, what coach wanted from me as a point guard,” King said. “It helped me to be more of a captain and a leader off the court.”

King said he expects his experience as a “player-coach” to translate onto the hardwood this year, but for the 6-foot-2 guard to be truly effective, he will have to be close to 100 percent healthy. King estimated his knee was at about 80 or 85 percent and said that while he initially hesitated when making cuts in earlier workouts, he’s becoming more confident with each practice.

For now, Hobbs’ focus is how GW will play before King returns to full health, the eighth-year coach said.

“I think it’s going to take him some time to be 100 percent,” Hobbs said. “We’ve gotta find a way to get through the early part of the season while he’s adjusting to getting himself in condition.”

No matter who is on the floor, though, King promises a GW squad that will put forth plenty of effort. And with last year’s dismal performance behind them, the Colonials face lower expectations and thus more opportunity to turn heads, King said.

“We’re the sleeper team in the Atlantic 10, so nobody expects us to do nothing. But we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong, there’s going to be a lot of upsets,” he said. “It’s like a clean slate.”

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