GW men’s basketball fans got their first look Friday night at a 2010-2011 Colonials team that returns all but one player from last year’s 16-15 squad and is entering this season’s campaign with something to prove.
In eight of their 10 conference losses last season, the Colonials fell by nine points or fewer, including a four-point loss at Charlotte, a one-point loss to La Salle and a pair of losses to Richmond – an NCAA tournament team a year ago – by five and four points, respectively. In a preseason Atlantic 10 poll released last week, the conference’s coaches and media predicted GW to finish 10th in the 14-team conference.
“It’s bulletin-board material, when you think about it,” sophomore Aaron Ware said. “We’re picked 10th in the conference, nobody expects anything of us. We have four of the five starters returning, and yet we’re not talked about, but I think that’s good.”
The underdog role is one Ware said he and his teammates will cherish as they look to prove their doubters wrong in the A-10 this season.
“We’re ready,” Ware said. “I think we’re under the radar this year a little bit, which is good. I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people with our play on the court.”
Surprising people this year will mean winning some of the games in which the team fell just short last season. Making that happen, Hobbs said, will require a cocktail of getting turnovers and creating offense more efficiently.
“I think, number one, we got to continue to defend. I think we got to create some turnovers to score in transition. We got to put up more points, we got to average 72, 74 points a game, particularly when we get into the league. I think if we can put up more points and if we can shoot a little better, higher shooting percentage, I think we’ll be fine.”
How Hobbs and the Colonials plan to execute that strategy was on display Friday night at the Buff and Blue scrimmage, as the Blue team topped the Buff team 37-23. The game, comprised two 15-minute halves, both of which wound up being much shorter since the clock ran during timeouts, featured numerous steals that turned into fast breaks, especially for the Blue squad, which outscored the Buff team 17-4 in the first half.
Particularly impressive in the contest was preseason All-Atlantic 10 Third Team member Lasan Kromah, who scored 14 points and had four rebounds for the Blue team. Junior point guard Tony Taylor was second on the team in scoring, with nine points to go along with a rebound, an assist and a turnover. Hobbs said that even though the game was just a loose scrimmage, there was a lot to be pleased with.
“I thought David Pellom looked like an experienced player out there. I thought Daymon Warren, I thought he looked real good, I thought he looked comfortable, where he understood some things,” he said. “Obviously, Tony was terrific. I thought Lasan was terrific, I thought he rushed a couple of plays but those things will happen.”
Freshman Nemanja Mikic was the leading scorer among the team’s newcomers with eight points, all in the second half, on three of five shooting to go with his three rebounds.
With the team’s first game of the season, an exhibition game at the Smith Center Nov. 6 against Bowie State and its head coach, former GW assistant coach Darrell Brooks, fast approaching, Ware said he was excited to be able to put on a show for Colonials fans. He’s even more excited, however, at the chance to put on that show for the rest of the A-10.
“It’s always good to play in front of your fans, especially the student body because they’re gonna be the people supporting you for the rest of the year. As far as a player’s standpoint, it’s always good to be on the floor and have a clean slate a little bit, because it’s gonna be a new year, an exciting year, and I think we’re gonna be much better this year,” Ware said. “We want to get out there and show the rest of the country that we’re gonna be legit this year. We’re very excited and we’re chomping at the bit, we’re ready to get it started.”