Exhibition, noun: the act of showing something in public.
GW got its first look at the five new freshman members of the men’s basketball team Saturday during a 89-47 rout of Bloomsburg (Division II) in exhibition play.
The group of Paul Jorgensen, Anthony Swan, Yuta Watanabe, Darian Bryant and Matt Cimino racked up a combined 78 minutes and scored 37 points off the bench, while Bloomsburg only managed 11 points from its supporting cast.
With 16:11 left to play, Lonergan tried out a total changing of the guard. All five freshmen entered the game and all five starters exited. They played a total of 1:20 together and showed talent, but also inexperience.
With time expiring in the first half, Watanabe blocked a shot by Bloomsburg’s Alssene Saintilus, scooped up the ball, passed it to Garino who laid it in, and walked off the court at the half to chants of “Yuta, Yuta, Yuta,” from the crowd.
Watanabe led the team in blocks with three and also added 12 points in 20 minutes. While it remains to be seen if he can muscle his way through a Division I field of opponents, Watanabe was an impressive defender and showcased a smooth stroke on offense.
He played the most minutes of any freshman and looked like a viable scoring threat, with Lonergan saying after the game that Watanabe’s coach-ability enabled him to quickly take on a large role.
“One thing about Yuta – he really listens,” Lonergan said. “You know he was hand-checking early and then I just said, ‘Hey, don’t play defense with your hands.’ And then the next play he shows the ref his hands and gets a charge off the dribble, which is a very difficult play to make as a defender.”
Jorgensen played 18 minutes at point guard, a total likely augmented by the absence of guard Nick Griffin, who was out with a minor injury. Jorgensen struggled at times with Bloomsburg guard Jon Riles, who led the Huskies with 12 points, and was the only GW player who did not score.
The first time all five freshmen took the court together, Riles swiped the ball from Jorgensen, and the rookie was replaced by shooting guard Kethan Savage for the next play. Both of Jorgensen’s two turnovers occurred when he was managing all four of his classmates on the floor with him.
“Sometimes when we want to get a lot of minutes, we’re putting five freshmen in,” Lonergan said. “It’s difficult to play these guys together, and that’s not going to happen really in the games.”
Contribution from the point was limited in general: Starting point guard Joe McDonald had only two points, largely because of the number of points off the fastbreak GW accumulated as well as the strength of the inside game. GW outscored Bloomsburg 24-2 on fastbreak points and 60-18 in the paint.
Bryant led the rookies in scoring with 13 points in 16 minutes of playing time. He added four rebounds, two assists and two steals, though he turned the ball over three times.
Bryant also went 3-4 from the line, where Lonergan said he will give the team a boost in a weak area.
“I think that will be improving because I know Darian and Yuta are really good free-throw shooters,” Lonergan said.
Swan saw the least amount of playing time on the team with 10 minutes in the game. He showcased some pretty shots, hitting a couple floaters, showing some acrobatics on a pair of fastbreak layups and making one of GW’s two three pointers. Swan ended the day with seven points on 3-4 shooting and a 1-2 mark from downtown.
He also played clean and was the only player on the team to never turn the ball over. Lonergan’s main concern about Swan has been whether he is ready for college ball. His minutes will likely stay limited this season, but he showcased some raw material for his coach to develop long-term.
Cimino was one of the top-25 players at center for his recruiting class and a three-star recruit, according to ESPN and Rivals.com, and his play Saturday reminded fans why.
Nevertheless, Cimino was one player who was most obviously a freshman on the court. He bounced out of the gate and collected 10 rebounds to lead the team. He had some rookie jitters, turning the ball over three times and making just one of four free-throw attempts, which Lonergan said was surprising given his usually good aim at the stripe.
“When I saw the stat sheet, I was surprised that he more than doubled the big fella over here,” Lonergan grinned, gesturing at Larsen.