If the Colonials’ quartet of seniors had anything they wanted to say after their final game donning the buff and blue Saturday, they didn’t stick around to do it. Head coach Karl Hobbs solemnly strode into the postgame press conference all alone, no players flanking his sides following the 63-53 loss to Temple.
By the time Hobbs was finished answering questions – at one point discussing how proud he was of the absent, graduating foursome – only junior Damian Hollis was still lingering in the Smith Center’s basement hallways, talking with former teammate Regis Koundjia on his way out of the building.
Perhaps Hollis had less incentive to flee the arena and leave the night’s season-ending 18th loss behind him, as his 21-point performance was often the lone spark in an otherwise lifeless GW offense. Already aware of his team’s 13th-place fate being sealed by St. Bonaventure’s win earlier that day, Hollis found a source of motivation that went beyond the Atlantic 10 standings – one he said has tapped into at other times during this trying season.
“I was doing it for them,” he said, referring to his departing teammates. “Basically this whole season I was trying to send them out on a good note.”
But the note which the seniors left on likely fell short of Hollis’ intentions. Walk-on hero Johnny Lee turned the ball over more often (three times) than he recorded an assist (twice) for just the fifth time in 24 games this season. Do-it-all swingman Wynton Witherspoon did little of anything, missing all but one of his five field goals and grabbing just one rebound in 14 minutes of action. Sharpshooter Noel Wilmore, whose four-year development has earned widespread praise, uncharacteristically missed all four shots he took in his final home game.
And after a commendable collegiate career that included more than 1,000 points and the second-most blocks in GW history, senior Rob Diggs left the Smith Center court for the final time not to ovation, but student-section rumblings that his coach should be fired.
All of which of course pales in comparison to the bigger picture: a second straight March without postseason basketball.
With the Colonials losing this season’s top scorer and rebounder in Diggs, the burden of shouldering next season’s load will primarily fall on Hollis. It’s a role in which the laid-back Floridian has dabbled this season, at times spurring his team to victory and, as was the case Saturday, even excelling in defeat.
“I think mentally I might be ready, but I’m not sure until I’m put into that situation,” Hollis said. “But I’m going to physically try to prepare myself for that.”
But first he will rest, allowing a season’s worth of accrued bumps and bruises to mend before rebuilding his body and retooling his game without leaving a single stone unturned.
“I’m going to try to work on everything – everything possible,” he said.
And a year from now, if Hollis’s work pays off in a more successful GW season, maybe the next Senior Night will have a more celebratory postgame vibe.