Lonergan prepares to return to Dayton for “really tough” first round foe

Head coach Mike Lonergan exits the Smith Center after dropping a close contest to La Salle this season.| Hatchet File Photo

The 2011-12 season wasn’t what men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan wanted it to be.

Lonergan, who took the helm of the Colonials this season, emphasized the importance of winning, pure and simple, from day one. Throughout the year, as he watched his team struggle to a 10-20 overall record, Lonergan readjusted game plans mid-competition that often featured rotations between defensive sets, an indication of the defense-first play the head coach intends to build a program on.

GW didn’t finish in the top half of the conference, it didn’t earn a bye to Atlantic City. But it did earn a slot in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, headed to Dayton tomorrow to face the Flyers in the first round.

So Lonergan’s not giving up on the season yet.

“We’re excited to be in the A-10 tournament,” Lonergan said. “We had a really good practice yesterday, [and we’re] trying to focus on us.”

As the team prepares to head back to Dayton– after facing off against the Flyers Saturday, GW returned to Foggy Bottom and will travel back to Ohio at 5 p.m. today– Lonergan’s prepared to build off the Colonials’ loss in their regular season finale. The holes in the team’s play were easy to spot, he said: too many turnovers, too many Flyers shots from long range, too little execution of GW’s gameplan.

As Lonergan and his team prepare for round two against Dayton, he knows it’s a chance to turn what he calls a “definitely disappointing” season around. And though GW was bounced from the A-10 tournament in the first round at Dayton in 2010, Lonergan said his team’s focus isn’t on what happened two years ago.

“We really watched film and focused on the mistakes we made [in practice] and didn’t really talk about two years ago,” Lonergan said. “Definitely a tough opening game at Dayton.”

This morning, the A-10 announced its postseason awards. Only sophomore forward Nemanja Mikic represented GW on the ballot, earning a slot on the All-Academic Team. But Lonergan wasn’t surprised or disappointed with the lack of Colonials. Those awards circle back to winning, the head coach pointed out.

Seeing senior guard Tony Taylor fail to make an all-conference team, after earning preseason first team honors, was tough, Lonergan said. But postseason awards are the result of performance during the season, and GW’s chance to put its mark on the 2011-12 season will come tomorrow night.

“I feel bad for Tony Taylor, he’s a senior and he’s had a great career,” Lonergan said. “It’s just tough, I believe winning matters a lot, so I wasn’t surprised at all by seeing those teams.”

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