Conference quality stymies men’s squad

With more than a quarter of its conference games already in the book, the GW men’s basketball team’s record has taken a hit since the beginning of Atlantic 10 play, dropping from a 10-3 mark after nonconference play to the team’s current overall record of 11-7. At first, it may seem that the team’s level of play has dropped off, but head coach Karl Hobbs sees it a different way.

“I think it speaks to how good the A-10 is,” Hobbs said of his team’s struggles after the Colonials’ 62-57 loss to Richmond Saturday at the Smith Center. “The people that we’ve played have a lot to do with our record.”

GW’s conference foes this season have proved to be much more of a challenge for an inexperienced Colonials squad. Richmond has three victories over BCS-conference opponents this season, including a December win against then-No. 13 Florida, and Dayton was a preseason top-25 team. Xavier, a perennial conference power, has been to eight of the past nine NCAA tournaments.

Things do get easier for the Colonials as the season progresses. Just five games into conference play, GW has already played the four teams predicted to finish at the top of the A-10 in a preseason media poll. After winning against St. Bonaventure Jan. 6, the Colonials fell at home to Xavier (predicted to finish second), on the road at La Salle (fourth) and Dayton (first) before dropping Saturday’s contest to the Spiders (third).

Aside from the Dayton game, GW has played all of its conference opponents closely so far this season, losing to Richmond, Xavier and La Salle by a combined 13 points. Hobbs said that despite the team’s record of late, he has not been disappointed by his team’s effort.

“I don’t think we’ve ever played a game where we lacked intensity, or someone played harder, more intense than us,” Hobbs said. “They haven’t played anybody that has outworked them or played more intense than them.”

Looking forward, Hobbs said he is optimistic that the close losses marking his team’s early conference schedule will turn into wins as the season progresses and his young team gets acclimated to the A-10.

“We’re improving and we’re getting better,” Hobbs said. “We have to cut down on the errors, because these games are coming down to possessions. They really are.”

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