Over the past two games, men’s basketball has gone undefeated, averaged 75.0 points and shot 44.3 percent from the field.
Although the success has come against two teams that have struggled to string wins together in Atlantic 10 play, GW has undoubtedly benefitted from a rejuvenated Patrick Steeves.
The graduate student forward, who appears to be back to full health, has been a game-altering asset off the bench for the Colonials over the past week.
Against George Mason Wednesday, Steeves scored a then-season-high 11 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks. He played 26 minutes, committing zero turnovers and maintaining solid defensive pressure during the team’s 19-point road victory.
Steeves bested his season-high again on Saturday against Saint Louis, with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Although he only saw 18 minutes on the court against the Billikens, his five second-half baskets all came during a critical stretch.
In the final three minutes of the comeback victory, the 6-foot-8-inch forward scored four points to tie the game and later put GW ahead with a bucket in the paint, helping the team to an eventual 63-55 win.
“Pat was huge down the stretch,” graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh said about Steeves Saturday. “He was wheeling and dealing in the paint.”
This season has not always been a smooth road for the Montreal, Quebec native. He has only played 12 of GW’s 20 games so far after missing seven matchups due to a knee injury and sitting on the bench for the better part of January.
For Steeves, who turned 22 on Friday, this is something he had grown accustomed to before transferring to GW this year. After breaking his foot his freshman year at Harvard and dealing with a torn ACL the next two seasons, Steeves has had to battle back from injuries time and time again.
“I’ve been through it before. I dealt with adversity at Harvard so it is nothing new,” Steeves said. “I just [try to] stay with it and trust the process, keep moving forward and keeping trying to get [wins].”
After helping the Colonials to an eight-point win on Saturday, Steeves was all smiles. When asked about whether he had anticipated these impressive outings beforehand, Steeves joked, “Yeah, of course.”
With Steeves’ production increasing on the floor, interim head coach Maurice Joseph has depended on him to play more minutes in the past couple of games. The expanded role has given Steeves an opportunity to become another weapon in the young but deep Colonials’ frontcourt.
“[Steeves] gives us a player who has tremendous savvy. He is a good passer who can post up but can also play on the perimeter some. We don’t have that outside of Tyler,” Joseph said. “[Freshman forward Arnaldo] Toro is rock solid, [freshman center Collin Smith] is athletic, [freshman forward Kevin] Marfo is a high-motor, high-energy guy. [Steeves] adds a different dimension to us on the court.”
Although GW has now won three straight games, they generally have not been able to stay consistent – most notably on defense, shooting from three-point range and holding on to the ball.
Since returning back to the regular rotation, Steeves has been one of the most reliable players, shooting an impressive 9-for-13 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line. He has remained a solid defender while not unnecessarily fouling against more athletic attackers.
Beyond what Steeves is able to do on the floor, Joseph says he looks to him and Cavanaugh as leaders on the court with a largely young roster.
“[Steeves] has been instrumental in helping the young guys along. Even when he was hurt, he was a loud voice in practice,” Joseph said. “Sometimes I just take a step back and let guys like him and Tyler grab guys by the jersey and rev them up.”
In the upcoming nine days, the Colonials have one of the hardest stretches of their season, taking on Rhode Island and Richmond on the road before hosting VCU Feb. 8. GW will look toward veterans like Steeves to sustain their winning momentum.