Men’s basketball struggles to defend under the rim

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Sophomore forward Javier Langarica defends a Richmond player during an away game last weekend.

In its last three games, men’s basketball has struggled to shore up its defense underneath the rim and along the perimeter.

The Colonials (7-17, 3-8 A-10) are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and while the team’s offense has been steady, GW’s defense has allowed opponents to pick up an above-average 74.0 points per match in the last three games.

“We didn’t play hard enough, we didn’t get after it the way we needed to and that’s why we lost the way we did,” head coach Maurice Joseph said after the team’s loss to Richmond. “So we gotta look ourselves in the mirror because we didn’t guard with grit or toughness, nearly the grit and the toughness that we needed to guard with to win this game.”

Across their last three games, the Colonials averaged 24.3 rebounds per contest, down from their season average of 33.3 boards per game. Opponents have been outrebounding the Colonials by an average of 10.0 rebounds per game in the same span.

“Our size is an issue, we’ve had an issue with that regard all year,” Joseph said after the game against Saint Louis. “We have to have a collective mindset that we are all going to gang rebound and we are going to come in and battle.”

The Colonials were held to their lowest rebounding tally on the season against Richmond, grabbing just 18 rebounds across 40 minutes of play and did not tally a single offensive rebound.

“We needed to be sharper and we didn’t do that at times and they made us pay,” Joseph said after the game against Richmond. “They made us pay at a clip that I haven’t seen.”

Against Richmond, the Colonials were without sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. who was unavailable to play due to illness. Nolan leads the Colonials with an average of 5.3 rebounds per game and without him, the Colonials were effectively boxed out from the paint. Sophomore forward Javier Langarica tallied the most rebounds with four to his name against the Spiders.

“Collectively we weren’t playing as hard as we could on defense and that’s definitely something we’re capable of,” sophomore guard Maceo Jack said. “We just didn’t do it tonight so we’ve got to improve that moving forward.”

Against VCU the Colonials allowed the Rams to nab 34 points in the paint while grabbing 13 offensive rebounds that VCU converted into 11 second-chance points.

“We succumbed to their style and to what they do a little bit and we didn’t give ourselves the opportunity to get some of the shots we wanted,” Joseph said after the game against VCU.

Opponents are shooting a combined 79-for-156 from the field against GW in the last three games but have been especially potent from the perimeter.

The Colonials have given up an average of 8.3 shots from beyond the arc – a tick north of their 8.2 three-point shots allowed average – in the last three games, but GW has been held to 5.6 threes per game in the same span.

The Colonials allowed the Spiders – a team averaging 7.5 three-point shots per game – to nearly double that total Saturday, ending the game with 13 made shots from the perimeter.

GW held VCU to three made shots from the perimeter last week, but the Colonials were also cold from the perimeter, going 3-for-14 from beyond the arc on the night.

In the team’s loss to Saint Louis Wednesday, the Colonials gave up a 42-point second half to the Billikens after entering halftime tied 31–31.

The Billikens, the best rebounding team in the A-10, held GW to 26 rebounds on the night while grabbing 33 of their own and 19 points off 14 GW turnovers.

“We just gotta keep fighting and learning from our mistakes,” redshirt junior guard DJ Williams said. “We’re never going to play the perfect game and you just gotta stay hungry. The season’s not over yet, we got a couple more games left. We got to keep fighting like it’s the first game of the season.”

With seven games left before postseason play begins, the Colonials are set to face three of the top-four rebounding teams in the A-10 in VCU, Rhode Island and Duquesne.

“We lack size, it’s no secret,” Joseph said. “Our job is gang rebounding.”

The Colonials return to action Saturday on the road against Duquesne. Tipoff is slated for noon.

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