GW’s men’s basketball season came to an abrupt end last Tuesday when the Colonials hosted the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams at the Smith Center as part of the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. Officially invited to the tournament March 14, head Coach Karl Hobbs jumped on this opportunity to continue the Colonials’ basketball season. Even though GW came within two points with 14 seconds left in regulation, the Rams prevailed 79 to 73, and the Colonials were bounced from the first round of the CBI.
The loss to VCU definitely wasn’t the perfect way to end the season, but the game did represent just how far the Colonials have come after two consecutive disappointing campaigns in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons. While there’s still room for much improvement, the Colonials far exceeded preseason expectations by not only clinching a spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament for the first time in two years, but also by playing in a nonconference postseason game for the first time since GW’s last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007.
Looking back on this season, labeled as a “rebuilding year” by fans and the media, we can see just how much the men’s basketball team has successfully resurrected itself to be competitive for the next few years. Hobbs has successfully developed a strong corps of young freshmen who have positively impacted GW’s success on the court. Led by A-10 All-Rookie team member Lasan Kromah and featuring Dwayne Smith and Bryan Bynes, these freshmen have taken prominent roles in Hobbs’ rotation. Each brings a unique aspect of the game to the team, whether it’s strong defense, explosive offense, or the ability to shoot lights out from the three-point line. Given these strengths and the ability to further develop during the offseason, I have confidence the team will be increasingly successful in the coming years.
Besides these fan favorites, basketball lovers have been fortunate to see the emergence of Joseph Katuka and Tony Taylor. Katuka finished the regular season strong, posting career highs in points and rebounds in games against Saint Joseph’s and La Salle, respectively. He has started playing up to his potential and his height. Taylor has been the steady hand GW had been searching for at the guard position. He limited turnovers, dished out assists and provided offense when necessary. He has helped improve the flow of the Colonials’ offense, which seemed a little sluggish over the past few years.
While the players have played a significant role in the revival of the GW men’s basketball program, the coaching staff deserves just as much credit. We fans may not always agree with Hobbs’ decisions during the games, but after coming under fire over the last few years, he has really worked hard to put together a strong product on the court. With the help of his assistants, Hobbs has finally shown immense dedication to this program, and his efforts are beginning to take GW men’s basketball in the right direction.
The 2009-2010 men’s basketball season was a success. Not only did the team go above and beyond preseason expectations, but it also showed that it could compete with the best when giving its strongest effort. For example, the team came close to beating Richmond and Xavier, two teams that earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Still, while this season was a great accomplishment, it is not where the program needs to be year-in and year-out. It has to consistently improve and compete annually to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. If Hobbs and the Colonials can improve with the group they have built so far, there will be much more for GW fans to celebrate next March.
The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.