Slow starts, three-point shooting bog down men’s basketball

Media Credit: Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. leads the men's team in three-point shooting.

Four games into the season, men’s basketball has struggled to hit shots from deep and adjusted slowly to teams in high-pressure games.

The Colonials’ (1–3) last two games have been decided by two and four points, respectively. In the four games the team has played this season, the lead has changed 52 times, and the squad has remained cold from behind the arc, connecting on 31 of 113 three-point shots.

“We need to make outside shots, right now I mean we’re seven-in-31 from the three today,” head coach Jamion Christian said after the team played Morgan State Saturday. “A lot of guys are wide open, taking these shots. And we probably shouldn’t be in those situations as much if we just complete and finish where we are.”

The Colonials have only shot at a .274 clip from behind the arc this season, down from last season’s average through four games and ranking them last in the Atlantic 10. The squad shot 36.3 percent last season through four games, more than its 31.1 season shooting percentage that ranked the team No. 11 of 14 A-10 teams last season.

The team’s three-point shot attempts have increased from 72 last season to 113 this year, and the team ranks second in the A-10 in three-point shot attempts.

Junior forward Javier Langarica has gone 0-for-9 from behind the arc, and senior guard Justin Williams is 3-of-10 from deep. After the game against Howard, Christian said Langarica and Williams need to keep shooting to gain more experience, which will give them an edge over the course of the season.

“They kept taking them because they make them in practice,” Christian said. “They’re going to make a lot of them in games, but you’ve got to have the ability to miss a few and really benefit from it.”

Freshman forward Jamison Battle leads all players with more than 10 three-point attempts, sinking 12-of-35 attempts at a .343 clip. His 35 attempts also lead the team, and junior guard Maceo Jack and freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. follow behind, attempting 25 and 16 shots from deep, respectively.

Battle, Jack and junior guard Justin Mazzulla are the only Colonials to sink four or more triples this season.

Christian said the team needs to remain confident in itself and continue taking shots from deep, a range the team has continuously worked on during practice.

“Maybe our shots will start to fall next game,” Christian said. “When they do, that’s going to be really tough. And looking at the shot distribution, we’ve got guys taking shots from a range they can make and they make every single day, and they’ll step in there and they’ll make them as they get more comfortable.”

The Colonials were unable to overcome their halftime deficits against Towson and American, dropping both games by 14 and two points, respectively. In the first half, the Colonials are averaging 29.5 points per game, an increase from last season’s 27.25 points per game.

But last season, the Colonials saw two ranked programs in eventual NCAA champions Virginia and Sweet Sixteen-bound Michigan. This season, the squad hasn’t played a team that finished with a recent winning record.

The Colonials have improved from the first to second half, scoring nearly seven more points per game and averaging 36.25 points in the final frame. GW’s three-point shooting percentage has increased in three of its four games during the second half, and its field goal percentage has increased in half of its games.

The team has turned the ball over 53 times this season, which Christian said contributed to the team’s slow starts this season.

“At the end of the day, it just comes down to individual accountability and taking care of the ball and handling it in the ways we do in practice every day and carrying over on the floor,” Christian said after the squad played Howard earlier this month.

Rebounding has been a strong spot for the Colonials this season. The team averages 36.5 rebounds per game, ranking them eighth in the A-10 this season. The squad has nabbed 2.375 more rebounds this season.

Senior forward Arnaldo Toro has proved to make a difference for the team this season on the boards. He averages 12.5 rebounds per game and leads the team with 50 boards, 30 more than Nelson Jr., who ranks second on the team. Toro’s 24-rebound effort against American tied Yinka Dare for the all-time A-10 record for rebounds in a single game.

Last season, Toro averaged a team-leading 9.25 rebounds through four games. Toro’s absence was felt in GW’s game against Morgan State Saturday, when the squad grabbed just 29 rebounds. Christian said the team would have performed better on the boards if Toro was in the lineup.

“No. 1 I think is not having AT, because AT’s getting about a fourth of our rebounds,” Christian said. “That’s kind of where we are right now without AT.”

The Colonials are back in action Friday in the Island of the Bahamas Showcase. Tip off is slated for 5 p.m. against UMKC.

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