Alex Ellis/photo editor
Two years ago, after one of the best seasons in program history, the men’s basketball team opened the year with a 73-60 win at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. In that game, then-senior point guard Carl Elliott dominated both ends of the floor, scoring 25 points and shutting down BU’s best player late in the game.
Afterwards, GW head coach Karl Hobbs said of BU, “It’s a team I don’t necessarily want to play in two years.”
Like it or not, there was Hobbs this Friday, leading his Colonials against the Terriers in the same venue. This time, the Colonials were coming off one of the worst seasons in their history, and in place of Elliott was Travis King, who missed last season with a fractured kneecap, and freshman Tony Taylor.
Friday’s game, a 63-58 overtime win, was considerably closer than 2006’s because GW didn’t have a player like Elliott to lead the offense and come up with baskets when needed.
After this year’s game, Hobbs said his team was fortunate to win. While Hobbs, a former BU assistant coach, seems to use that phrase after almost every Colonials win, a glance at the game’s statistics proves him right. GW made just 55 percent of its 29 free throw attempts and took an astounding 28 fewer shots than BU did (46 to 74) because GW turned the ball over 26 times. Luckily for GW, the Terriers made just 46 percent of their free throws and 30 percent of their field goal attempts.
The possible explanations for the teams’ offensive inefficiency range from obvious to bizarre: opening-game rustiness and/or jitters, stout defense, plain old bad shooting, the newly extended three-point line and condensation on the court from the ice rink under it, causing players to slip and slide throughout could have all attributed to the impotence.
Whatever the cause, GW needs to figure out a better way to get the ball to its best player, senior forward Rob Diggs, who often struggled establishing position in the paint against BU’s big freshman frontcourt duo, Jake O’Brien and Jeff Pelage. Diggs had no problem stopping the twosome defensively. The Maryland native pulled down 14 rebounds, but he shot just three of 12 from the field. If he can’t exploit inexperienced defenders from the American East Conference, the 6-foot-9 forward is going to have even more trouble against the Atlantic 10’s centers.
Still, director of athletics Jack Kvancz – chewing on an unlit victory cigar a la late friend, GW alumnus and Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach – put it best.
“It’s a win,” said Kvancz, palms turned up to the sky.
It wasn’t a glamorous win or a dominant win, but it was a win on the road against a team predicted to win a not-awful conference. It was the kind of win GW probably would not have gotten last year, especially considering the deflating way the game went into overtime. It was the kind of win Elliott would have wanted for his team. And perhaps most importantly, it was the kind of win a team coming off an awful season can learn a lot from.