Men’s basketball picked to finish eighth in preseason poll

Then-redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh signals to the crowd after draining a three-point basket in GW's win against SDSU in the 2016 NIT. Cavanaugh was named to the 2016-2017 Preseason All-Conference First Team Tuesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor
Then-redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh signals to the crowd after draining a three-point basket in GW’s win against SDSU in the 2016 NIT. Cavanaugh was named to the 2016-2017 Preseason All-Conference First Team Tuesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: Oct. 21, 2016 at 3:36 p.m.

Men’s basketball has been picked to finish eighth in the 2016-2017 Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll , the league announced Tuesday.

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh – who led GW in scoring with 16.8 points per game last season – was also named to the Preseason All-Conference First Team, alongside Davidson’s Jack Gibbs, Dayton’s Charles Cooke, Richmond’s T.J. Cline and St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams.

The 6-foot-9-inch 2016 NIT Most Outstanding Player is the first Colonial to receive the honor since Patricio Garino in 2014-2015.

“[Cavanaugh] is a tremendous player, a tremendous talent and a unique combination of really being good in the post and really being good on the perimeter,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph told A-10 Live’s Chris DiSano Tuesday. “Having a guy like him in your program is vital.”

The Colonials received 195 points in this year’s poll, finishing one spot ahead of 2016 A-10 Champion Saint Joseph’s and one behind La Salle. Dayton narrowly edged projected second-place finisher Rhode Island as the favorite to win the A-10 for the second straight year. 

The eighth-place selection comes one year after GW was picked to finish fourth in the conference. The team’s 28-10 overall and 11-7 A-10 record in 2015-2016 was good for a fifth-place finish, but a quarterfinal loss to Saint Joseph’s in the A-10 Tournament thwarted its hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament.

GW lost seven players from its 2016 NIT Championship roster this offseason, including four of its top-six scorers in Garino, Kevin Larsen, Joe McDonald and Alex Mitola who all graduated last spring. Juniors Paul Jorgensen, Anthony Swan and Matt Cimino transferred out of the program.

However, the team welcomes seven newcomers – six freshmen and graduate student transfer Patrick Steeves – this fall.

The group will be led by Joseph, who was recently named interim head coach following the dismissal of former head coach Mike Lonergan in mid-September.

“I like to play up-tempo,” Joseph said Tuesday. “I’ve been fortunate to be coached by some tremendous defensive coaches…so I’ve always had a tremendous understanding of defensive schemes. We’re going to guard, we’re going to rebound, we’re going to play up-tempo offensively. We’re going to try to play fast, play free, play loose and have some fun with it.”

The Colonials will host an exhibition against Bowie State on Nov. 5, and officially begin their season on Nov. 11 at home against Maryland Eastern-Shore.

A-10 play will begin on Dec. 30 and conclude with the 2017 A-10 Championship scheduled for March 8–12 at Pittsburgh’s PPG PAINTS Arena. 

“There’s just a handful of things that makes the A-10 a very difficult conference to compete in, but that also makes it fun, ” Joseph said. “That’s what you want to college for, to compete at a high level in packed gyms against talented teams and coaches and I think our league really encompasses all of that.”

2016-2017 A-10 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll

  1. Dayton (16 first-place votes): 374
  2. Rhode Island (12): 370
  3. VCU: 340
  4. Davidson: 302
  5. St. Bonaventure: 246
  6. Richmond: 236
  7. La Salle: 234
  8. GW: 195
  9. Saint Joseph’s: 161
  10. Massachusetts: 147
  11. Fordham: 124
  12. George Mason: 83
  13. Duquesne: 73
  14. Saint Louis: 55

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