Upon exiting the Smith Center, those in attendance at the GW’s men’s basketball team’s 87-62 blowout win over Fordham Saturday were met with a delightful combination: an unseasonably warm day and Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” which was blasting from Tau Kappa Epsilon’s townhouse on the corners of 22nd and G.
Whether the members of the fraternity played the song because they were excited about a rare Colonials victory, had an acute sense of humor or just because they enjoy the Boss is up for debate. But while no one is confusing this win with those of the true glory days a few seasons ago, this was a win head coach Karl Hobbs’ team needed in the worst way.
With an 0-7 record in the Atlantic 10 entering the game, GW will likely have to win four of its remaining nine games in order to finish twelfth or better in the 14-team conference and subsequently make the Atlantic 10 tournament in early March. The win against Fordham came at the beginning of the most crucial stretch of the season for the Colonials, who play the four teams directly ahead of them in the standings, beginning with Saturday’s win.
If they can harness the momentum garnered after breaking their recent 11-game losing streak and win the next three games – two of which are at home – GW will be well on its way to making the trip to Atlantic City. That means the team has to continue relying on senior Rob Diggs to close his collegiate career with the same tenacity he has brought to the court recently and on junior Damian Hollis to play confidently. Sophomore center Joseph Katuka added eight points and had nine rebounds in just 17 minutes of play. If he can continue to produce at that level and stay out of foul trouble, Diggs may be able to move to his natural position at power forward, making him even more valuable.
After the game Saturday, Hobbs – who literally breathed a sigh of relief as the final buzzer sounded – said that what made that game different from the others was the synchronicity of multiple players having good games concurrently. He makes a good point: GW has sufficient talent to be a middle-level A-10 team; it’s just a matter of each player playing up to his ability more consistently.
Hobbs added that, as a coach, he is inclined to focus on the bad things the team did rather than savor the moment of victory. Though he has been criticized in the past for infamously saying his teams are “overachieving,” he was smart to downplay his team’s achievement. After all, blowing out the worst team in the conference is not a remarkable accomplishment. But it is something to build off, provided his team uses the win as an affirmation that it is making progress, not as false confirmation that it has arrived.
During the first half of the game against Fordham, when GW put the game out of reach, the Colonials looked like a team from yesteryear, playing at a breakneck pace and flustering the other team. It was a far cry from the stand-around-and-pass-the-ball offense the team has seemed to employ at some points this season.
Though their glory days are still a long way away, if the Colonials manage to avoid reverting back to their early-season form over the next two weeks, the worst of their struggles could be over. And given the right circumstances, who knows? They may even win a game in Atlantic City.