What: Men’s basketball vs. Howard
Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Friday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
The Colonials open their 2017-18 season at the Smith Center against Howard. They return only six members from last year’s team that finished with a 20-15 record in head coach Maurice Joseph’s first season.
GW has started each of its previous four seasons with a win, while Howard fell in its first five regular season games last year.
Last December, GW defeated the Bison by 17 points for the team’s seventh win of the year. The Colonials shot 45.1 percent and made 13 three-pointers on the night and then-freshmen guard Jair Bolden and forward Arnaldo Toro each contributed six points.
Case for the Colonials:
GW enters into its season opener after an 86–63 victory over Fairmont State in an exhibition game Saturday. The Colonials shot 52.5 percent and held the Fighting Falcons outside of the paint for a large part of the game. Senior guard Yuta Watanabe and Bolden both scored 21 points.
Against Howard, and continuing on in the season, Watanabe will be at the center of the Colonials action on both sides of the floor. GW will be counting on his offensive output, especially early in the year.
Neither team will have the distinct size advantage or the complete upper hand inside the paint, which will likely benefit the Colonials. Toro and graduate student forward Patrick Steeves will benefit with any additional room they are given in the interior and the inside focus could give GW guards more room on the perimeter.
Last season, the Bison shot a significantly worse percentage from beyond the arc than their opponents. If the Colonials are able to restrict the paint, it may be difficult for Howard to string together runs or keep the game close.
Case for the Bison:
Howard returns only one of its starters from last season’s roster that finished 10-24. Head coach Kevin Nickelberry will look for new faces, including some of his eight first-year players, to make an impact early on in the year. The Bison may struggle early on because of the lack of experience throughout the roster.
However, they do return their top scorer from last year in sophomore guard Charles Williams who added 15.6 points per game and a team-high 66 three-pointers in his rookie campaign last year.
Howard will look towards Williams, who will likely be matched up with Watanabe, to provide an offensive spark in their first game of the year.
The Bison will benefit from GW’s reliance on its youth and relative short bench. The Colonials will likely start freshman guard Terry Nolan Jr. again, but if Nolan and the other freshmen struggle to keep up in their first college game, Howard may be able to take advantage in transition.
The Colonials should have the upper hand on their home floor, but since it’s so early on in the season, neither squad comes in with a whole lot of expectations. If Watanabe is able to find his rhythm or GW’s defense is able to limit runs by the Bison, the lead may extend to double digits.