“Patricio and Mo are gonna have to really help us handle the ball – and Isaiah – and just as a team, we’re gonna have to use our ability to pass the ball,” Lonergan said. “We’re very unselfish and we share the ball well, but we just don’t have the personnel, really, to just dribble through that kind of pressure and we don’t have the foot speed.”
Still, this game won’t be played at the Colonials’ fortress – the Smith Center – where they are 12-0 this season. The Rams will be in their own comfort zone in Richmond, in front of an average 7,741 fans, where they have won 17-straight games.
Lonergan said players would lean on their experience playing at St. Bonaventure this season, winning in another arena with rabid fans.
Facing UMass will be a completely different challenge, with the added task of taking on one of the A-10’s best talents, Chaz Williams. The redshirt senior ranks seventh in the conference in scoring at 15.8 points per game, first in assists at 7.5 per game and sixth in three-point percentage.
GW, though, has shown its ability to keep superstars in check all season long. Behind the stellar defense of Armwood, they limited All-American Doug McDermott to just seven points and took down then-No. 18 Creighton. In their last two wins, the Colonials have held their opponents’ leading scorers – Ovie Soko (Duquesne) and Jon Severe (Fordham) – to 13 and nine points, respectively. Both came into their games as top three scorers in the A-10.
On paper, the Minutemen seem like a balanced matchup for the Colonials. UMass ranks first in scoring offense, putting up 77.5 points per game, but GW will combat that with its second-best scoring defense, which only allows 65.3 points per game. UMass comes in first again in rebounds per game with 38.9, but right behind them in third are the Colonials, at 37.6.
“It ain’t no pressure at all,” Creek said. “I just see my team going out there and playing like we usually play, and going out there and playing hard. We haven’t played UMass yet, but we have a clear vision after watching them play against other people and we know what their talents are and they know what our talents are too.”