Week off couldn’t come at better time for team

With its loss to La Salle Wednesday night, GW’s men’s basketball team fell to 0-6 in the Atlantic 10, making them the only one of the conference’s 14 teams not to win a game. The Colonials have lost 10 games in a row overall and sit at the bottom of the standings by itself.

Karl Hobbs’ team now has a full week off before it heads back to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph’s at the famed Palestra. Instead of having to prepare for a rapidly approaching game on Saturday, the team’s coaches will have the rare opportunity to take a step back, go over the team’s recent losses and figure out what has been working and what hasn’t been.

For those who haven’t been following the team closely, the team’s three seniors – Rob Diggs, Wynton Witherspoon and Noel Wilmore – have been working. Diggs can be relied on for solid games every time, and Wilmore has started to look comfortable, even confident, on the court, actively and aggressively looking for shots. If he can keep that up for the rest of the season, the Colonials will have a much easier time keeping up with opponents, most of whom also have a three-point specialist.

What isn’t working is the all-or-nothing approach to playing time that players like sophomore Joseph Katuka and junior Herm Opoku have been subjected to. Both players are raw and need time to hone their skills. But playing them each 20 minutes one night, then not at all the next straight games, is detrimental to their development. It’s not just those two: After playing 44 minutes Sunday against Rhode Island, junior Damian Hollis played just 14 Wednesday.

Basketball is a game of rhythm and defined roles; if a player knows he is going to get eight minutes of play at the end of the first half, he is more likely to feel comfortable on the court during that time and, subsequently, play well. This is especially the case for players who are still learning what they are and aren’t capable of.

Next Wednesday’s game against Saint Joseph’s is going to be tough for GW no matter how well it plays, but the team has had the lead relatively late in the second half in six of the last seven games – all losses. But in the four games after that, GW plays the three teams directly above them at the bottom of the standings.

If Hobbs and his assistants use the next week to work out some kinks and the Colonials win those three games, they will be on their way to securing the 12th-place record needed to make the A-10 tournament in March.

If they don’t make it, there may be a new head coach in Foggy Bottom this time next year.

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