Basketball: Men return from break with dismal record

Those who have not kept a close eye on GW’s men’s basketball team during break may be surprised when they check the Colonials’ record.

After beating American University 63-50 at the Smith Center Dec. 17, GW had a 5-2 record and looked to be headed in the right direction, back to respectability. A little more than two weeks later, the team is in a freefall.

Four straight losses have followed a Dec. 23 win at Sacramento State, leaving the Colonials with a 6-6 record entering the conference portion of their schedule. The losing streak began with an 83-72 loss to a middling Vermont team in the University of Hawaii’s annual Rainbow Classic tournament. Two days later, GW was blown out 73-47 by the hosts of the tournament, who are considered mediocre. Just 14 hours later, the Colonials lost 59-53 to Coppin State, who entered the game 0-10 against Division I opponents.

Senior forward Wynton Witherspoon, one of GW’s best players last season, did not play in any of the three games in Hawaii. Head coach Karl Hobbs told The Hatchet after the Vermont loss that Witherspoon “has not done certain things; you have standards that you have to meet and he hasn’t met them.” Hobbs declined to elaborate on the comment.

The team had just three days to prepare for its next game, a matchup with a Longwood, a program which joined Division I in July 2007. Despite leading for most of the game, the Colonials collapsed down the stretch and lost 80-78. Witherspoon played for 16 minutes, scoring four points.

Senior Rob Diggs has been the team’s best player during the losing streak, though he did not play in the second half of the team’s loss to Coppin State. Redshirt sophomore point guard Travis King has started to look like the player he was before fracturing his kneecap last season, but the team has struggled to score in its half court offense.

Saturday’s Atlantic 10 opener with Richmond at the Smith Center comes during what is perhaps the low point of Hobbs’ eight-year tenure, and it does not look like it will get easier. The A-10 is expected to be relatively strong this year, with Xavier, Temple Rhode Island and Dayton all garnering national attention for their play. If GW does not finish among the top 12 teams and subsequently misses the A-10 tournament in March, Hobbs’ job may be in jeopardy.

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