Please welcome new Colonial Hoops writer Giovanni Scarcella! He's a sophomore majoring in International Affairs and Chinese with a real interest in watching, analyzing and writing about hoops. Here's his first post!
Things that worked well, things that need changing, and things that were endlessly entertaining in GW’s home opening victory over Radford
-Defense. All of it. The team absolutely smothered Radford on the defensive end of from start to finish. Walt Frazier might just describe sophomore guard Joe McDonald’s efforts as “tenacious.” He consistently fought over screens and hounded the Radford backcourt whenever he took the floor. The starters played mostly man defense, but the bench units tended to shift to a 1-3-1 zone. Regardless of scheme, GW’s rotations were impeccable all night. Radford only converted on a third of their field goal attempts and shot an abysmal 23.8% from behind the arc, even with garbage-time scoring inflating those numbers.
-Speaking of three-point shooting, the Colonials were 5-9 from long range. Last year, the team’s perimeter scoring looked downright anemic at times. The addition of Maurice Creek looks to be huge. He hit a couple of big threes, including a half-time buzzer beater that needed some help from the backboard. Good thing he called bank.
-I know I already went over defense, but Isaiah Armwood deserves his own post. Zeke had a rough shooting night but looked like an absolute force in the paint. Two blocks doesn’t tell the whole story. Armwood altered shots all night, to the point where Radford’s guards had to resort to circus shots around the rim. They didn’t go in. He even took a charge late in the first half. His post defense could use a little improvement as he let his man get inside position more than a few times, but overall he played great inside. He also notched twelve boards, but we’ve come to expect that by this point.
-The absolutely savage play of number 11. How many times will I use that pun this season? As many times as he leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals. So no pressure. A pretty eurostep finish in transition highlighted Savage’s stellar performance.
-Look, Radford is not going to be the stiffest competition that the Colonials will face this year. All the team really had to do was attack the paint, which resulted in a quality shot, an offensive board, or just one pass to the perimeter as the defense collapsed. The team shot 50% from the field, but there needs to be better ball movement against better teams. The team only managed 12 assists on 76 points. There was some high-low action between Armwood and Larsen that seemed to work pretty well. It’s too early to make any judgments, and the Colonials still managed to score efficiently out of isolation and simple pick-and-roll, but there was too much standing around and not enough movement without the ball. Again, this is a little nitpicky, and I’m willing to reserve judgment until we have a bigger sample size.
-TURNOVERS!!!! 16 turnovers in a blowout win, three more than the Highlanders. No place for that when the team starts facing better opposition.
-One such turnover came when Joe McDonald hustled to prevent a deep pass from becoming a backcourt violation. He leapt; spun 180 degrees with a man draped over him and tossed it back to the frontcourt, unfortunately into the hands of a Radford defender. It was a good effort but an unnecessary one. The pass was an inbounds pass. There is no backcourt violation on an inbounds pass. Coach Lonergan could be heard ten rows up reminding his team of that rule. Fundamentals.
-The Smith Center was in rare form Friday night. The crowd, replete with pink gorillas and a deafening student section, really conveyed the home-court advantage. I think we need an award to recognize the best fan of the night. Let’s call it the Patriot Award until I think of something better. The first Patriot Award of the season goes to an older, grizzled fan seated behind one of the baskets. Throughout the night, he led the crowd in chants of “G-DUB.” Once a Colonial, always a Colonial and Old Man Basketball Fan can play for my team any day. GW is undefeated. Raise High.