Before the season started for the men’s basketball team, most of the discussion surrounding GW centered around sophomore guard Lasan Kromah, the Colonials’ breakout freshman last season and 2010 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team member.
Kromah was GW’s leading returning scorer and the only player on the team to average double-digit points last season. Big things were expected of him. He was named to the preseason all-conference third team, the only GW player to earn a preseason all-conference nod.
The basketball gods had other plans, though. Kromah sprained his left foot Oct. 30 and hasn’t played since. It’s an injury that will likely require surgery, and the official statement from the team maintains that he is sidelined “indefinitely.” However, men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs said after GW’s 76-67 loss to Boston University Wednesday that Kromah would likely be out for the season and that his absence, at least against the Terriers, was felt by the entire team.
“Obviously, he’s not gonna play this year,” Hobbs said. “We missed him right from the opening tip, because now we don’t have another ball-handler, another play-maker and a guy that can make big shots in certain situations. We’re still making that adjustment and trying to play without him.”
Against BU, the Colonials opened the game sluggish on offense without a go-to number one scorer to feed the ball to. The Terriers took advantage and rolled to a 21-5 lead over the first 13-and-a-half minutes of the game. GW’s offense eventually found a rhythm and, at one point late in the game, shrank BU’s lead to five points. But the hole the Colonials had dug for themselves was too great.
The points that were expected to come from Kromah can’t be made up by one person, Hobbs said. Instead, the adjustment needs to be made by the entire team and it’s a large group of players, not just one or two, that needs to step in and fill Kromah’s role.
“I think that’s the adjustment of this basketball team without Lasan,” Hobbs said Wednesday night, pointing to players like sophomore guard Tim Johnson, sophomore forward David Pellom and junior guard Tony Taylor as Colonials who will need to take on a greater offensive load this season. “Those guys have got to step up, and I think they’re starting to realize that. We talked about that last night, and I thought they did a great job.”
Taylor, who scored 18 points in GW’s loss against BU and a career-high 23 in the Colonials win against Marist, said he has felt increased pressure to score some of the points that otherwise would have been Kromah’s responsibility. He added that distributing the load, like GW did with four separate players in double figures against Marist, has made the transition a little easier.
“I definitely feel like I have to score a lot more, but I got great teammates around me and when they score it’s a lot easier for me to score,” Taylor said Wednesday. “Like today, Chris hit a lot of shots so I was open a lot more, they’re worried about him making more threes, so I’m just knocking down the open shots.”
Learning to play without their top offensive weapon will be a gradual process, not an immediate adjustment, Hobbs said. After the team set a baseline Tuesday night of uneasiness and confusion for much of the game against BU, the GW head coach liked what he saw against Marist but said he knows that as the competition gets stiffer, not having Kromah’s scoring ability on the court – especially late in games – will continue to present a challenge.
“I think we made a step,” Hobbs said. “I think that we still are a little ways away. We’re still gonna have some challenges that we’re gonna have to overcome, and I think one of the challenges we have to overcome is, we’re still adjusting to playing without Lasan, and what has happened is, there’s different guys playing more minutes, they’re put in different situations.”