Thursday, January 3, 2013

We're near the halfway point: what have we learned?

We lostOur Colonials are 6-6 and near the halfway point of the hoops season -- what have we learned?

The team has been disappointing at times (see the Mt. St. Mary's game) and given us some good reasons to hope, like the close loss to a good Kansas State team and other recent strong performances. I've missed a few games lately due to holidays and all that, but I'm starting to feel optimistic. For one, the team has keep each game close lately. Despite a stretch where the good guys lost three in a row to Bradley, K-State and Rutgers, those three losses were by a total of 10 points. And since that stretch, GW beat VMI pretty soundly and crushed Sacred Heart, holding them to only 38 points.

It seems the defense is toughening up while the guys are finding their roles on offense. Of course, the last two opponents have been less than stellar, but to me it seems that things are looking up.

And what have we learned individually? First and foremost, Isaiah Armwood is a beast. The big man, who has another year of eligibility after this one, is leading the team in scoring with 13.3 and rebounding with 8.4. Those are Mike Hall-ian numbers. He's also blocking shots at a prodigious pace, at 3.1 a game. That's more than any Colonials player I can remember. According to the media guide from a few years ago, Yinka Dare has the school record with 84 blocks in 30 games in 1992-93. Armwood has 37 in 12 contests so far, so that's possible. Let's hope he keeps it up.

Lasan Kromah looks like he's stepping it up lately, both scoring and rebounding, though GWHoopsters say he looks like he's pressing too much. He's averaging 10.1 ppg though he's only shooting 20.7% from three, way down from his previous seasons. He has, however, improved his free throw shooting greatly, from 51.2% as a freshman to 80.8% this year.

Argentine freshman Patricio Garino has been another revelation, being a glue guy -- playing good defense, scoring, hustling and doing the little things. He leads the team with 2.1 steals per game along with 9.6 ppg. I really look forward to seeing him develop over the years.

Danish freshman Kevin Larsen has also impressed me down low, playing with nice post moves around the basket. It's good to see a young, true big man for GW.

'Merican freshman point guard Joe McDonald has had flashes of brilliance but still needs some time. He's turning the ball over a lot but has been improving on that front as the season moves on. Plus he's a freshman, it takes time to get used to the college game. I'm looking forward to seeing more from him too.

That brings us to McDonald's frequent backcourt mate, Bryan Bynes. Bynes's shooting has been abysmal. He's shooting 22.5% from the floor and 18.2% from three, and his free throw shooting has declined precipitously from previous years as well. I'm generally going bonkers in the stands anytime he shoots. He's playing almost 20 minutes per game and only scoring 2.2 ppg, which is less than John Kopriva who plays just over half as much. I'm not trying to pile on Bynes, just point out that he has been playing a lot worse than in previous seasons. I think that means he's going to bounce back in the rest of the year -- law of averages. Apparently he's been working on his shot a lot in the gym, and against Sacred Heart he was tied for the team lead with 10 points, which is a good sign. If Bynes starts to hit shots and becomes another scoring option, that will be big for this team.

For the rest of the guys, Nemanja Mikic hasn't been his normal sweet-shooting self, shooting only 30% and 33% from the floor and three respectively, and Dwayne Smith is decent but not spectacular. I haven't seen enough from Paris Maragkos or Kethan Savage to make an assessment, but GWHoopsters seem pretty positive on the two. Johnathan Davis has played limited minutes.

David Pellom, who averaged more than 10 ppg last year, may be able to come back for start of the conference season. That would be good.

So what's this all mean? In short, I'm optimistic. It seems the team is getting crisper on offense and stronger on defense, though I'd like to see what happens when Georgia or another team presses the Colonials. Earlier in the season it was a disaster, but seemingly improved somewhat. We'll see what happens when the good guys face VCU's Havoc defense.

Off the court, student support has seemed to be on the upswing after a great crowd before the Kansas State game, which was on CBS Sports. (Also, GW, maybe you should offer free beer before more games.) The athletic department has been strong on marketing, and Smith Center food still leaves something to be desired.

In short, I'm pretty happy with 6-6. What do you think?

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