Colonials riding out roller coaster season

The record of a sports team sometimes belies its true nature of play. The realities of close, back-and-forth games doesn’t make it into the loss column when a team is narrowly defeated, and buzzer-beater wins are never explained with an asterisk to show that the tally in the win column wasn’t quite as cut-and-dry as it seems.

The GW men’s basketball team is an exception, its record a perfect encapsulation of the nature of this season: It’s tied, 12-12 overall, 5-5 in Atlantic 10 play, a visual reminder of the roller coaster that is the 2010-2011 men’s basketball team.

Wednesday night’s heartbreaking four-point loss to Richmond was the perfect example of the up-and-down ride GW’s experienced this season. The Colonials have been streaky in terms of wins and losses, and the nature of their play on the court has been sporadic as well.

“We’ve still got some more growing to do,” men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs said. “We’ve still got to continue to finish plays down the stretch.”

GW hasn’t won two straight games since beating Saint Joseph’s and Fordham early in conference play. Instead the team has flip-flopped between victories and losses over the past five games. Before losing to Richmond on the road Jan. 19, GW had won eight of its previous nine games. Prior to that streak, the Colonials had lost four straight. Basketball is a game of runs – but the Colonials’ season has been especially streaky.

The lack of a definitive rhythm can be frustrating for a team seeking its identity on the court, but junior guard Tony Taylor, the Colonials’ leading scorer, downplayed the effects the streaks have had on the team.

“[We’re] just staying poised and taking one possession at a time,” Taylor said, adding, “Just trying to will ourselves to win.”

It’s not hard to find evidence that the Colonials have struggled to find any consistency this season. Wednesday night against Richmond, the lead changed hands 17 times between the Colonials and the Spiders, keeping both teams on their toes until the final seconds.

While the Colonials have been consistently inconsistent this season, the second half has proven to be the tougher half for the team over the course of the season, with losses like the ones against teams like Harvard and St. Bonaventure found their roots in declined production after halftime.

Against Richmond Jan. 19, GW struggled even more than usual in the second half, en route to the Colonials’ first conference loss of the season.

In the first half of the game against the Spiders in Richmond, GW opened the game hot, shooting 55.6 percent before halftime and heading into the intermisson with a nine-point lead.

Something changed after halftime, however, and the Colonials’ shooting percentage dropped by 30 points. That, combined with a 23-6 Richmond run, wound up costing GW the game. It’s a pattern of collapse that the Colonials have repeated on more than one occasion this season.

“We’ve still got to be able to make the defensive stops when we need to. So there’s still a lot more improvement for us,” Hobbs said.

With less than a month left before the conference championship begins, the Colonials remain a team seeking to develop consistency, a goal Hobbs said he feels is within reach.

“I think overall, we’re really starting to hit our stride a little bit, at this point. We’re playing much better basketball,” Hobbs said.

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