Yogin Kothari: Don’t fire Hobbs… yet

Over the past two years, many fans of GW’s men’s basketball have called for the firing of our energetic head coach, Karl Hobbs. Some have criticized his coaching strategies, others his dealings with players and media. Obviously, the fact that the team has faced two consecutive losing seasons after successfully reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2007, 2006 and 2005 can’t be overlooked either. But is it too early to call for Hobbs’ replacement?

There’s no denying that Hobbs has had his share of issues, but the time to fire him hasn’t come. Remember that when Hobbs took over the reins in 2001, this program had not been too successful under former head coach Tom Penders – a coach who had not led the team to a winning season since his first as the men’s head coach. After two mediocre seasons in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, Hobbs led the team to an NIT appearance and then its first Atlantic 10 undefeated season just two years later in 2005. From 2005-2007, he led the team to three NCAA Tournament appearances.

Though the program has suffered for two consecutive years, Hobbs should be given a chance to restore his team. He lost many veterans at the end of the 2006 and 2007 seasons and now is in the middle of building the program back up. He should be given a chance to finish what he started. Consistency is important at this point in the program’s rebuilding phase, and with Hobbs at the helm, it’s there. Not only has he led the team successfully in the past but this year, with six new freshmen on the team, he has a chance to redeem himself through his recruiting efforts by rebuilding from the bottom up and turning the floundering program around.

Even though I believe Hobbs should not be fired, he does need to be held accountable, and he needs to know what is expected of him. This is the season that Hobbs needs to prove all his doubters wrong. In the Atlantic 10’s official coaches and media poll, the men’s team was predicted to finish 13th out of 14th for a second consecutive season – something that is unacceptable considering that the school would not even (and has not for the past two years) qualify for the A-10 tournament.

With the departure of Rob Diggs, the team’s best interior weapon last year, it is going to be difficult, but not impossible, to have a strong inside game. Juniors Joseph Katuka and Jabari Edwards and senior Hermann Opoku will all need to contribute more this season. While it will probably be difficult to match up with conference powerhouse Dayton, a team returning with 10 of its top 11 scorers from last year, or Xavier, a team that made it to the Sweet 16, GW has the talent to finish above 13th place. The incoming freshman class, many of whom are older than an average collegiate rookie, should provide a lot of excitement this season and help Hobbs prove his doubters wrong.

With three returning starters and an extremely deep freshman class, Hobbs must turn the program around this season and show some results to the students, the fans and the entire GW community. If he can’t, then the University should look into making some changes and head in a new direction. But remember, Hobbs knows how to build a program. He did it eight years ago. He can do it again, if we give him the chance and support his efforts. The GW athletic department has done so by providing him with new facilities. We can as well by showing up to games and supporting our team. Let Hobbs know what we expect, but give him a chance to prove he can meet our expectations. Otherwise, it’s time to give him the axe – or in GW’s case, the hatchet.

The writer is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.

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