If the heartbreaking losses, player departures and ongoing 10-game losing streak are a dark cloud over the current men’s basketball season, then senior Noel Wilmore would have to be a silver lining.
In a season filled with disappointments both on and off the court, Wilmore’s emergence as a consistent scoring threat off the bench has been a rare highlight in what has been so far an otherwise forgettable season.
For Wilmore, the key to his dramatic improvement this season has come down to minutes. In head coach Karl Hobbs’s veteran-centered offense, getting significantly more playing time in what is his final season of collegiate basketball has allowed Wilmore to blossom.
“I’ve seen this happen with other seniors,” Wilmore said. “The style of play kind of revolves around the older guys, so I’ve been able to get a lot more looks . it becomes easier to work yourself into the offense.”
In becoming a more consistent offensive threat while maintaining his role as a three-point specialist, Wilmore has worked closely with assistant coach Greg Collucci, once the Colonials’ primary outside threat himself when he played at GW from 2000 to 2004.
“The thing that is good about Noel is you don’t have to tell him to go in the gym and get shots, you don’t have to tell him to work on that step-back move,” Collucci said. “He’s built on what he’s had and he’s added something every year, which as a basketball player, as an athlete, I think that’s what you have to do.”
For those who have been around Foggy Bottom long enough to have seen both Wilmore and Collucci in GW uniforms, the fact that Collucci has worked with Wilmore is obvious. They played similar roles on their respective teams and as Collucci will tell you, their games have a lot in common.
“They’re very, very similar. I mean really, really similar,” he said. “The thing that I try to talk about with Noel and try to give him is the idea that we all have scouting reports. The other team knows when Noel comes in the game, he’s going to shoot the ball. And my thing was just trying to teach him and give him the tricks that I learned.”
“Most of the time, you give either of us good looks, we’d make them,” he added.
The Colonials’ coaching staff has not been blind to Wilmore’s success in a tumultuous season.
“As coaches, that’s all you can ask for,” Colucci said. “We’ve lost games, but I can honestly say there are no complaints from the coaching staff about Noel Wilmore – his attitude, his preparation for games.”
Even still, Wilmore is hesitant to talk about his personal success this season. His circumstance is not an easy one, to be playing the best basketball of your life on an underperforming team.
“If you just look at the stats, I’ve had some games this year where you look at the minutes I’ve played and what I did, you know, the game looks great,” Wilmore said. “If you don’t win, it doesn’t matter.”