PHILADELPHIA – Before doing so more than a week ago, the GW men’s basketball team hadn’t qualified for the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament since winning it in 2007. So when the Colonials travel to Dayton next Tuesday for their first-round game against the Flyers, it will be uncharted territory for all but three members of the team.
That lack of post-season experience, however, seemed to be the last thing on anyone’s mind Saturday afternoon after GW’s season-ending loss at Temple.
“I’m excited. I’ve been here two years, this is my third year, and I’ve never been to the A-10,” said junior center Joseph Katuka, who scored in double figures for the fifth time in six games Saturday. “I’m excited, so hopefully I will keep playing the way I’ve been playing – aggressively, chase all over the board, get the rebound for my team. I’m excited. I’m gonna go out there and go play hard.”
Senior forward Damian Hollis, one of the three GW players who won that 2007 A-10 title, echoed Katuka’s sentiments.
“I’m excited. We haven’t been there in a while,” Hollis said. “I’m just hoping to make some kind of impact and extend the season.”
If GW is to play its way to Atlantic City this weekend, the Colonials will have to win on the floor where they suffered arguably their worst loss this season in a 66-51 drubbing by Dayton Jan. 20. In that game, the Flyers out-rebounded the Colonials 43-30 and allowed only one player, freshman Lasan Kromah, to score in double digits.
While the sting from the Dayton loss has largely worn off for the Colonials, nobody seemed excited Saturday afternoon at the prospect of a second trip to the Gem City.
“Obviously the place you don’t wanna go is Dayton because of their record at home and how well they play at home,” head coach Karl Hobbs said before the seeding was finalized. “They’re so different away from home and I think it’s one of the toughest places to play on the road. Outside of that, it doesn’t make a difference to me.”
Hollis was equally unexcited by a potential return to the University of Dayton Arena, where the All A-10 honorable mention was limited to just 12 minutes earlier this season after suffering a rib injury that has plagued him since.
“Dayton’s a tough place to play,” Hollis said before learning his team’s Tuesday night opponent. “I don’t think anybody really likes going out to Dayton… They have a huge gym and it’s just a crazy atmosphere going against us, so it’s nobody’s personal choice to go out there. Nobody would actually wanna go out there.”
Katuka, who was held to six points and four rebounds in just 11 minutes in the teams’ last meeting, seemed more at ease with the possibility of a second road contest against the Flyers.
“I think the Dayton game, we knew what we did. We know what we have to fix,” Katuka said. “Dayton is a good team. Charlotte, Duquesne, they’re all good teams. We’re just going to stick to the game plan, go get ready and play them on Tuesday.”
“It depends on us,” Katuka added. “Whatever team we play next, it depends on how we go back and prepare and come out and play.”