Saturday, December 28, 2013

GW tops Hofstra 69-58

On an afternoon where the GW faithful dominated the arena, the Colonials pulled away in the second half out in Hempstead. After yet another slow start, GW scored eleven unanswered to go ahead 12-6. The bench invigorated the team early as Cartagena, Griffin, and Mikic scored back-to-back-to-back threes. Yet a stagnant offensive performance in the first half, a trend Coach Lonergan has become all too aware of, coupled with Hofstra’s work on the offensive glass left the Colonials down 32-29 at the half. However, the team roared back in the second half with a 15-2 run and never looked back. Mo Creek had a stellar second act, scoring 15 of his 17 and totaling three of his team-leading 4 steals. GW stifled The Pride on defense, holding them to 34.6% from the field in the second half and 42.3% on the game. The switch to the staple 1-3-1 zone confounded Hofstra and led to multiple steals by the GW backcourt. McDonald had 3 steals to complement his 7 assists and—wait…is that Kethan Savage’s music?


But seriously look at that vigil Hofstra holds under the basket for Robinson after the poster. Look at the GW fans packed in section 103 behind the team’s bench. This felt like a home game. This feels special. That dunked marked the turning point of the game, as the team played with a new energy with the backcourt as its catalyst. Larsen put up a quiet 14 points and 7 rebounds. Perhaps it went a bit unnoticed because Hofstra grabbed 17 offensive boards and out-rebounded the Colonials by seven. Armwood had a poor showing on his birthday, but managed three blocks.

Last year the team went as the frontcourt went. It’s refreshing to see that the Colonials no longer need to rely on their big men to win games for them. The team now has knockdown shooters in Creek, the resurgent Mikic, and Griffin. McDonald and Savage can hit the open three and get to the basket with ease. GW plays at Kansas State on New Years’ Eve and returns home January 3 to conclude non-conference play against Georgia. Then the fun starts.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maurice Creek (and GW) gets full-page article in this week's Sports Illustrated!

How awesome is this? What can I say that SI writer Dan Greene didn't say there? Zeek and Creek (and Joe McDonald and Macho Man Kethan Savage) make for an exciting time in Foggy Bottom this year. And keep in mind, this has all been without Patricio Garino who should come back soon.

Hope to see everyone on Saturday against UMBC!

(Click it for the full version.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Silly: GW vs Boston U.

By Giovanni Scarcella

Things that worked well, things that need improvement, and things that were endlessly entertaining as GW improved to 9-1 over the BU Terriers.

The Good
-Down by 8 at the half, GW again showed great resilience at home, outscoring the Terriers by 18 in the second half. Wins from behind are great for the team but bad for my blood pressure. How the Colonials found themselves down so much against a decent team needs explaining, but we’ll take the win and the continued national attention that comes with it. GW has begun to find itself in articles with titles like “Teams to Look out For” or “Teams We Underestimated” or “Teams I’m Going to Bring Up Now as Possibly Making the Tournament so that I Seem Like a Genius When They Do And Aren’t at Fault When They Don’t.” The publicity has, dare I say it, stirred a sense of school spirit within me? #RaiseHigh (and without a hint of irony!). 

-Speaking of school spirit, GW students filled up the entire lower section of the Smith Center’s south side on a weekday, during Finals, uphill both ways. Look, I can dedicate an entire post to the weird lack of a GW-wide sense of identity. I could sit here and theorize over the possible causes. Maybe it’s a result of GW’s being a city campus. Maybe a large portion of the student body places more importance on gaining professional experience afforded by the school’s prime location in America’s political center. Maybe students identify more with their smaller organizations (Greek Life, ROTC, Young *Insert Political Party Here*) than with the community as a whole. Regardless, the basketball team’s success has energized the student body, and as the wins pile up so too will the crowds in the Smith Center. Even the old people section (sorry old people) was unusually full. Everyone’s hoping to catch a glimpse of the best team in the DMV. 

-Defense, as usual. The Terriers turned the ball over 16 times, shot under 40% from the field, and only took 8 free throws. GW has a tendency to get into foul trouble, as Zeek did this game, and BU opted not to attack the rim frequently, but keeping the numbers low is a positive sign. The transition defense looked as good it as it possibly could be, with Armwood and Savage starting the block party. Sports Reference lists Savage as 6’3’’ but he has major ups. Nice to see that athleticism put on display at both ends this season. 

- More on the defense. The 1-3-1 zone has become a staple of this team. You would think that opposing teams would start planning for it, right? Time and again, the zone has shut down the opponent’s offense, and GW seems really committed to running it to cut a lead or extend their own. Great stuff getting guys to buy into zone defense, as it’s more difficult to convince someone to guard an area than a man. 

-The Zeek and Creek Show took a back seat to Macho Man Has a Farm, E-I-E-I-O…you know? Because of Macho Man Kethan Savage? And Joe McDonald has a farm, like Old McDonald…nevermind. No catchy names here, but the sophomore guards combined for 42 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists. Superior guard play, rim protection, and strong defense make up the traditional recipe for tournament success. 

The Bad
Not everything smells of roses in Foggy Bottom (pun not intended but totally intended). How did the team go down by so much at home? Obviously BU deserves some credit. They took a ton of threes, and got those looks in creative ways off of flare screens and pick-and-roll action. They needed to, since everyone in the arena took one look at the matchup and saw the clear height difference, but BU game-planned well. D.J. Irving dropped 23 and Dom Morris, who looks less three-point shooter and more human wall, had a few daggers from distance. BU ran plays to get their shooters open, a lesson GW needs to learn going forward. Mo Creek did not get a good look off of any movement until the second half. It seemed like Mikic had none, save a breakdown along the baseline that allowed McDonald a nice skip pass to the wing. 
Part of this was the defense of BU, but part of it was also the lack of adjustments made until the second half. Even then there were too many isolation plays. In the first half, GW looked to go inside. I get it. The post-up draws a double team, and lo and behold Zeek or Larsen (good passers for their position) can find the open man. But on Wednesday, BU did a great job denying the post, and the offense did not merely stagnate, it practically died. BU really took the forwards out of the game. Larsen and Armwood finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds combined. Both are capable of that stat line by themselves. No one knew what to do. On any given night, this philosophy on offense might be the Colonials’ undoing. Post play is being re-examined at the professional level. The nerds will tell you how post-ups yield fewer points per possession than attacking the lane or shooting a three. Some teams, such as Carlisle-coached Mavericks and Portland (coached by Carlisle disciple Terry Stotts) rarely bother to double team the post at all. Dwight Howard has bullied both teams down low and absolutely gone off in a limited three-game sample size, yet the Rockets are 1-2 against the Blazers and Mavs. It might be more prudent to focus less on the post play and get the guards involved early. We certainly have the personnel for it this season. 

The Silly
Not too much silliness on display this week. The big heads in the crowd are a nice touch. A few guys got robbed in the tater-tot competition. Seriously, is there an appeals process? Otherwise, the only thing silly was BU’s decision to switch to zone. GW has no dearth of shooters, and enticing the team to shoot only allowed Mo Creek to find some rhythm. GW plays UMBC on Saturday, unfortunately in a time where campus will have already emptied. If you live in the DC area, definitely check it out.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

GW beats BU 70-60 thanks to big second half

For the first half of yesterday's game against BU, it looked like GW had gotten into a time warp to the low points of previous seasons -- the team played listlessly, passing it around and not really doing much until the shot clock came close to expiring. The team wasn't shooting particularly well (around 30% from the floor and less than 50% from the line in the half) and BU was hitting shots and forcing turnovers. Then, to end the half, BU hit a three giving them an 8 point lead. It didn't look good.

But then as so often happens with this team, they came out a little warmer in the second half, gradually heating up -- more of a radiator than a Gilbert Arenas-style Hibachi, in that it starts cold but then gets too hot to be in the same room. GW reduced the turnovers and got steals, and first Joe McDonald, then Macho Man Kethan Savage and Mo Creek willed the team back into the game. Savage finished with 22 points 8 boards and 2 steals, while Joe finished with 20. Joe and Mo made a lot of big shots in a game where the post offense was struggling. The good guys eventually won by 10 and the Smith Center fans went away happy.

Some notes:

As mentioned, the post offense didn't click. Isaiah Armwood got in foul trouble early (on questionable calls) but didn't shoot very well, though Kevin Larsen scored 11 with some nice shots off the glass.

We saw a rare handoff penalty -- you can't hand off the ball to a teammate, you must pass it, but usually the players just kind of pretend to do a little one inch pass. In this case the refs (more on them shortly) called it.

The refs were bad. They didn't call a bodycheck during a scramble, but did call a bizarre one. Creek had a fast break but lost the ball. He dove for the ball, as did a BU player, and somehow Creek was called for a foul while the BU player tripped over the ball. It was crazy and came after two other questionable calls, and the crowd let the refs have it. There was an official timeout, and the crowd started booing again after it ended.

The student turnout was decent, but the other side was again pretty bad. It gradually got a little more full as the game went on, but come on folks, this team is 9-1. And the game starts at 7.

And unfortunately, my bid to make my hot dog the #raisehigh fan of the game did not come to fruition.

Monday, December 9, 2013

GW gets 2 votes in AP top 25 poll, 1 in coaches' poll

Well, the polls are out and GW didn't move much -- however, it's pretty cool that we even have this problem. The good guys got 2 votes in the AP poll and 1 in the coaches' poll.

Amusingly, 2 votes is the same number that Creighton got, even though GW beat them. I guess name recognition helps a lot. But hey, it's great to be able to get a little annoyed that the Colonials aren't getting more votes in the top 25 poll. There have also been a lot of hot teams lately, so I'm not angry at not getting higher, though I think the good guys should get more votes.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wow! GW beats Maryland on last second shot, 77-75

What a game! Maurice Creek his a long jumper with 0.6 seconds to go to give the Colonials the win over Maryland, 77-75. This was the first time GW has beaten the Terps since 2005, and the first game against the Green liners since 2008.

For the first 30 minutes of the game, everything was going GW's way. The team was shooting well and playing great defense to keep the Terps at arms' length, going up by 17 one point. Then it seemed like the team got tired and grew sloppy, with the Terps ratcheting up the defensive pressure to go on a 19-2 run, tying it up with a minute to go. Some questionable refereeing didn't help either.

The main problems were with inbounding, the good guys just couldn't get the ball in successfully due to Maryland pressure, which resulted in a lot of turnovers and easy baskets for the Terps. It's tough to say why that was, but Nemanja Mikic was often the inbounder in those cases, though it may have been other people didn't go where they were supposed to.

It got to be a nervewracking and frustrating game towards the end, but then after trading some free throws, GW got the ball and brought it over half court, calling timeout. With about 5 seconds to go, Zeek Armwood inbounded it and Maurice Creek dribbled, over to the other side, then hit the shot to basically end the game. It was intense.

It was a great experience start to finish, as GW organized a reception beforehand with free food and beer (can't beat that) and then when the game started, it was obvious that Colonials fans outnumbered Terps fans by a large margin, both with the students and the non-students. In fact, Maryland only seemed to have about a dozen students in their student section, while GW had maybe 200. Great to see that. The GW crowd got loud while the Terps fans were silent, not having much to cheer about until the end.

There were a lot of big games too -- Maurice Creek continues to be really good, scoring 25 on a variety of moves and shots. Joe McDonald is a fantastic rebounder, at one time leaping past a Maryland big man to swipe a board. He almost had a triple double with 12 points, 9 rebounds (5 offensive!) and 8 assists -- 9 rebounds for the point guard -- plus 4 steals! Armwood played like Armwood, scoring 11 with 12 boards and a few big blocks, and Kethan Savage looked good too, adding 14 on some nifty moves and taking 4 steals. The good guys also shot 78.8% from the free throw line, which was huge in this game -- it seemed like the refs were getting paid by the foul.

Coach Lonergan has really shortened his bench, with only John Kopriva and Nemanja Mikic getting any real time, 19 and 15 minutes respectively and everybody else getting 2. I wonder if that's why it seemed the guys were playing poorly later on, with everyone but Larsen playing 32 or more minutes. Kopriva seems to be becoming a steady, scrappy hustler off the bench, which is nice to see. Kevin Larsen, however, had a rough game, scoring 5 on 2/7 shooting and making some mistakes, though he did grab 7 rebounds before fouling out (some of which were completely bogus fouls.) He looked pretty frustrated when he sat down.

The team still allowed too many wide open Maryland drives to the basket and easy buckets, but they still seem to respond to adversity by playing tougher and not giving up. It's corny to say, but really is accurate. They're tough, mentally.

This is a fun team to watch, and awesome to see groups of thrilled GW fans running around the Verizon Center (though the alcohol probably helped.) The good guys are now 8-1 and will probably get more votes in the top 25 poll, if not even a spot there. We'll see. The next game is on Wednesday at home against Boston University.

Here's ESPN's box score and recap on the game.

Friday, December 6, 2013

GW vs Maryland on Sunday at 3:30! Pregame (open bar) alumni reception at 1

Hey, do you like the Maryland Terrapins? If so, you are reading the wrong blog.

Ok, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but GW faces their northern foes on Sunday at 3:30 pm at the Verizon Center, part of the (maybe final) BB&T Classic. It's the first time the two teams have played since

Tickets are available by calling the GW box office at 202-994-7325, or on Ticketmaster if you don't want the GW section (use the code CYBERMONDAY and you may still get a deal.) There's also a reception for alumni at 1, but you have to call the GW box office about that too.

GW last faced the Terps in 2008, with the College Parkers winning that game. In the past, however, GW has used the BB&T as a springboard to bigger things, like when the team beat Michigan State and Maryland in back to back games in 2004, when both opponents were ranked in the top 20. After that, GW was ranked and good things happened, like three straight NCAA tourneys.

We'll see what happens this week. The Terps are 5-3 with two losses to ranked teams (UConn and Ohio State) and wins over some cupcakes like Abilene Christian, Marist and Morgan State, plus Northern Iowa and  Providence, and are #118 in the RPI (GW is 51.) So far, however, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has beaten Mike Longergan -- in a milkshake making contest.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

7-1! GW gets a good win over a hot-shooting Rutgers team, 93-87

Phew -- that was a close one, but the Colonials pulled it out. Rutgers started hot, knocking down all kinds of shots, and GW was down early. Then the Colonials defense stiffened and they started to hit shots, finally retaking the lead by the end of the first half.

It was an interesting game -- for the first 3/4 of the contest, Rutgers players knocked down every open shot they took and even some well-defended ones. GW mostly held their own, hitting rebuttals and getting steals, but there was rarely a sizable lead. The referees were pretty abysmal too, calling and not calling some strange stuff, including not calling intentional on an extremely hard foul while Joe McDonald was going up for a layup. He was on the ground for a while and had to helped to the bench and didn't come back. At one point both head coaches were furious at the ref for the same play too -- something I've never seen, and which is not a good sign.

But I have to say, even from a narrow win, I really like this team. You never know who's going to step up, and they respond to challenges. Five GW players scored in double figures, and while there were a fair amount of terrible defensive plays, namely leaving shooters wide open and allowing way too many unabated drives to the basket, the good guys held firm and were clutch when it was needed. GW's free throw shooting steadily improved during the game too, from very bad to solid towards the end, putting the game out of reach.

The student turnout was good and they really got into it. The other side, however, was pretty abysmally empty (see picture, and note that many of those seats are free t-shirts, laying untaken.) GW really needs to do something about getting butts in the seats over there -- I'm not sure if season ticket holders aren't showing up or what, but I think they need to market to more people -- maybe recent alums, law, med and grad school students, and non-GW affiliated people and groups in DC.

So, how about the game? Clutch was the key word here, when GW was teetering, somebody would answer -- be it Zeek Armwood, who had 20 points and 9 boards, or Kevin Larsen, who was huge in the second half, or Nemanja Mikic, who was visibly feeling it, pumping his fist after knocking down three threes in a row, playing hard on defense and drawing some big fouls. He was 4/7 from three with 14 points total, and folks on Twitter were talking about his resurgence. Joe McDonald only had 6 points but dished 9 assists and pulled down 9 rebounds, often due to great positioning -- really impressive from a point guard. Kethan Savage and Maurice Creek were also both huge, both scoring 18. The good guys, as usual, also had great ball control with only 11 turnovers and 20 assists and played with a lot of hustle, causing jump balls and the like.

As for the bad parts, some of it wasn't really GW's fault -- it's hard to complain when Rutgers is hitting shots from the Capitol dome, well behind the arc. That said, the Colonials didn't always rotate quick enough and left guys open -- I bet Coach Lonergan is going to ream them out for that. The Scarlet Knights shot 13/27 from three and over 50% from the floor -- not good numbers for the defense, but just shows that this team won't give up in the face of adversity.

I also hope that Joe McDonald is ok, and Patricio Garino sat out the game in street clothes. Not sure if he reinjured his hand from before or what. Stay tuned.

On the lighter side, there was a lot of silliness during the breaks. In the Tonic tater tot toss, or whatever it's called, we all witnessed one of the most impressive tater tot throwing-into-mouthing that has probably ever happened -- one team, who threw high arcs, made about 7 in a row to dominate. Then in the end zone seats, a student ripped his t-shirt in half, Hulk Hogan style, and a girl in the upper end zone won the dance contest -- the first time I didn't do the Sprinkler in forever. Coincidence? Not sure. Plus the Smith Center had a free Keurig coffee giveaway and a drawing to win 30 (!) coffee makers, and they also now sell Sour Patch Kids. I also ran into Mike Hall and chatted briefly, and later on Twitter he guaranteed a win over Maryland at Sunday's BB&T (tickets are still available!) and had some nice things to say about the program lately. Solid all around.

So, it was a good, gritty win. I'm excited to see the team against Maryland on Sunday. If the guys can cut back on the defensive lapses, this will be a dangerous team.

(Special thanks to @davidkanevsky for letting me use his iPad thing to tweet the game too)

GW vs Rutgers tonight at 7! It's a BUFF OUT so wear buff.

GW had an awesome weekend, and hopes to continue the winning ways with a game tonight against Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (80s Rutgers soccer guy pictured here). The game is at 7, so be there and tell your friends. It's also a Buff Out, so wear your buff-colored clothing. Being an idiot, I forgot my buff jersey today so I will be hiding in shame.

The Scarlet Knights are 4-4 this year with wins over Yale, Florida A&M and Canisius, plus over Stillman, which isn't a Division 1 school and losses to Fairleigh Dickinson (who also beat Seton Hall), William & Mary, Drexel and UAB. Just looking at that alone means to me that we should have a good chance.

The Post even has a preview! I think this is the first non-AP article the Post has written about the team this year, so that's nice to see.

Their star is Kadeem Jack, a big guy averaging 15.6 points nad 7.9 rebounds per game, so it'll be interesting to see Zeek Armwood and Kevin Larsen matched up against him.

It's also nice to see a power conference team at the Smith Center again. So go there! Seriously, tell your friends.

And shameless plug, I made some super cool buff shirts that you can buy!

UPDATE: There's a tailgate too! "Free tailgate in G Street Park (next to the GW Deli) starting at 5 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. Get there early to receive official BUFF OUT T-Shirt."

80s Rutgers soccer guy photo taken from their website

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Guest post: When is it time to come home again?

By Joshua Meredith

I have not viewed a GW(U) basketball game in-person since March 19, 2007. It was the final time I saw Joe McKeown patrol the sideline, and it was obviously a Colonials win, over Texas A&M, in where else, but Los Angeles, California. My last men’s game: the A-10 championship game in Atlantic City, NJ the same year, probably the last nationally relevant game played by the men’s squad.

The question, and probably the emotion, that keeps coming to me, is why has it been so long? The answer being: I have actively ignored and stayed away from the Colonial programs I spent so much time around during college, since my own graduation.

The secondary question is: was I just burnt out or is something holding me back from coming to the Smith Center, or actively viewing a game in-person? I have watched some games on TV when they were available to me, but what about the physical act is holding me back?

Some background. I spent four years in some capacity covering GW athletics. Freshman and sophomore year I worked for the Hatchet, I covered women’s basketball, baseball, soccer, women’s lacrosse, and volleyball. Junior and senior years, I covered both the men and the women for the flash in the pan, Daily Colonial. I spent more time in the Smith Center than I did in my dorm room. I would put my home contests attended in Smitty at over 100, add in Volleyball and Water Polo and the number gets insane.

One thing you try to manage when you’re an aspiring journalist during college is not rooting for your school. It can be hard at times. I rushed the court freshman year when TJ Thompson hit a game winning shot over Dayton. Truth be told it was the last time I ever sat in the student section. Same year, I somewhat celebrated Anna Montanana hitting a game winning prayer from mid-court over Xavier. As I got older and the years progressed, I did get better at separating the idea of school spirit from my work, which was to cover the team. I became friendly with the players, but they knew when the red light of the tape recorder was on, it was business time.

When you are working the beat, one of the things you pick up on is how an athletic department works. My wife (who I met at GW) will probably be upset that I am using this cliche but once you see how the sausage is made, it changes your perspective on things. I got to know Jack Kvancz, and Karl Hobbs relatively well; I respected them and appreciated what they had done for the schools basketball programs. As I penned in my farewell column, Joe McKeown, was a very special person in my college life, and his lessons taught me a lot about how to be a leader and a good person. I was upset when he left, because lets be frank, I am not sure the school made the effort to keep him. When Karl Hobbs was fired, I wasn’t sure how to feel. While he had taken GW to the mountaintop I knew that a lot of it was based on a recruiting well that was well, tainted. Once that well dried up, I kind of knew that the end was coming. I ran into him last year, he was very cordial. But as I remarked earlier, once you see the nitty-gritty of something, how do you then put that in the back of your mind and in this case openly root for your school? A question that obviously I am still dealing with today.

So I departed Foggy Bottom in July 2007. A few weeks later I packed up a Uhaul, and headed north from my house in Long Island, NY to Syracuse. I had been accepted into law school, and started a few days after my arrival. I had never been to Syracuse, never visited, had done minimal research and was generally beginning a very odd adventure. What I did know: the men’s basketball team was ridiculously good. Naturally, as I enjoy sports I immediately gravitated to them. The first year was hard to get to the Dome, because of the workload. But every game is on TV, every single game. By second and third year I was going to as many games as I could get tickets to. Also its not hard to become a big fan when your rooting for one of the best teams in the country with some of the best players: Johnny Flynn, AO (Arinze Onuaku,) Scoop Jardine, Rick Jackson, Donte Green, Wes Johnson, personal favorite Andy Rautins, KoJo (Kris Joseph), and a young Brandon Triche. To my credit, it’s not like these teams really disappointed very much and lets just say the Dome (aka Live at Loud House) is a tad more exciting than Smitty for a men’s game. With the law school literally being next door to the Dome, the opportunity to attend games and with my boy Lawson having the hook-up on tickets, it was natural to attend a bunch of games. I even got to attend the 2010 win against UConn, in which I was included in the largest on-campus NCAA crowd in history.

I still follow the team today, and again the run to the Final Four or Sweet 16 isn’t really hurting my Cuse fandom.

After I left the Cuse, I spent a few years in New Jersey. They were uneventful, but still I could have seen GW live on many occasions, but I just didn’t have the motivation to attend. Last February, when my wife started her new career in the D.C. area, we moved back. I got a tour from college friend Dave Earl of the Smith Center renovations. I could have attended some games, but I just didn’t feel comfortable. It was nice to walk through the building and see the banners, it felt like home, well it looked like a refinished version of home, and it was nice to say hi to Sarah Jo Lawrence but I felt uneasy. I continued to avoid.

When Barcroft Park opened later that spring, I felt I had to attend. I loved getting the assignment to cover the baseball team, but the facilities were always so awful, it was nearly impossible to actually enjoy the games. Kvancz and I spoke at length about a stadium, and it was really awesome to see Patrick Nero come in and get that done. The stadium is beautiful and I can’t wait to come back out this Spring for a game. (Can I bring my dog?)

Late in the Summer, I started to think what I would do when basketball season rolled around, would I want to go to games? Could I go to games? Can I walk into the arena and actually enjoy the games?

Well things got even weirder when in September I took a job with the most hated rival of both GW and Syracuse: BIG BAD GEORGETOWN (hoyasaxa!?!). I now have pretty accessible tickets to almost every GU game, two blocks from my office (Verizon). Would I really go and enjoy a Hoyas game before I came back to the Smith Center?

In October, I was in the Smith Center helping out my kid brother at an event. I sat out our booth, reviewed the new names in the A-10, looked at the banners, walked around the concourses, and took in the day. I again wasn’t ready to commit.

This season is now going strong, both the men’s and ladies teams are off to strong starts. Well, I still haven’t attended a home game, my excuse: I am busy at work and at home. Reality: I am not sure I am ready to go to Smitty.

Its hard to explain...I want to go, I love my school. GW was the place that has given me my best friends, the groomsmen's for my wedding, my wife, a lot of the life skills I have used and truly I love to #RaiseHigh. I talk up GW in person and on social media a lot, recently those supporting attitudes seem hollow to me. I am the guy who loves his school but can’t bring himself to buy a ticket to a men’s or women's game?

So back to the beginning, is it finally time to come home again? Can I be the guy who roots openly for the Colonials, as I have done for the Orange the last 6 years? To be honest, I am not sure. I haven’t openly rooted for the Colonials, in what feels like a decade, I have never paid for a ticket.

Thinking more about this Sunday as the men upset Creighton, am I merely avoiding my school and Smitty because I am not ready to give up my journalistic roots? Seems to be a reasonable thought. I left a career in journalism because I was seeing to many sports writers being laid off by their papers. A few months ago I started writing for a sports-technology blog and I have done some reporting. Would putting on a tri-pointed hat signal the end of that? At this point it feels going to Smitty would finally be the end. Maybe its time to move on from what was.

Another factor: the basketball teams haven’t been super competitive over the last several years. Now that both teams are having an upswing, maybe its time to join the bandwagon while I still can.  What Coach Lonergan, Coach Tsipis and especially, AD Nero have done for GW athletics is truly amazing so maybe it is time to wipe the memories away and live in the present. Its not like the memories are bad (for instance they include, so many great plays by Big Shot Carl, Mike, Pops, Omar, J.R. and the King of Bade, and on the ladies side include so many exciting games with Whit, Kim, the Adairs, Anna, and Cole than I can even remember). This leads me to the only life lesson I can take from this: don’t let your past cloud the opportunity for enjoyment. Everything that has made you the person, even as fan, should not hinder your ability to enjoy what is in front of you at this moment. Our lives remain in front of us everyday, go out and live it, and maybe you can let the shackles of the past stop you from moving forward.

So come Wednesday night, December fourth, I am going to trek across town, have a beer at the Red Lion, buy a ticket, and watch the guys try to beat Rutgers. I am going to sing the fight song and hum along to the band. I am going to learn the new players names and enjoy the game. It is time to come home, its time to let what was be just that, and finally it is time to #RaiseHigh once more.

Monday, December 2, 2013

GW's recap of Twitter buzz on the win over Creighton

It was a big win, and lots of folks on Twitter had a lot to say about it! GW put together a Storify with a rundown of those tweets, both from national media guys and from fans. Good stuff:

Whoa! GW beats #20 Creighton 60-53 for 3rd in the Wooden Legacy

What a night! GW faced #20 Creighton and their star Doug McDermott, one of the NCAA's leading scorers, and came away victorious. GW started the game hot, hitting open shots and frustrating McDermott and Creighton, taking it to a 12 point lead at one point in the first half. During the second, the Blue Jays tied it up and briefly took the lead, but the good guys didn't give in, fighting back for the lead and knocking down clutch free throws to win it.

The story of the game was Isaiah "Zeek" Armwood and his defense on McDermott, who was a non-factor in the game. McDermott was 2/12 with only 7 points, his first time in single digits since January. Zeek blocked 4 of McDermott's shots and didn't commit a single foul. McDermott was visibly frustrated, especially in the first half. A few sports reporters raved about Mike Lonergan's coaching this game, and his gameplan of playing single coverage on McDermott to not let the other shooters open worked perfectly.

The victory was GW's first win over a ranked team since 2005, when the Colonials beat Maryland and Michigan State at the BB&T Classic, beginning the rise of those great mid-2000s teams, eventually leading to three consecutive NCAA tournaments and a conference title.

While not quite the same, this weekend was definitely a good one for GW, with wins over Miami, which won the ACC last year (but lost a lot of players) and now Creighton. The only dark spot was the big loss to #25 Marquette, but hey, with this win, who's complaining.

The game was pretty thrilling and at times frustrating, as in the second half the good guys forced shots and allowed some defensive lapses, like two dunks by Creighton's Greg Gibbs. Bizarrely, these two dunks got most of the national sportswriters talking on Twitter, rather than the fact that it was a close game or GW was winning. Only towards the very end, when GW locked up the game with defensive stops, clutch shots and clutch free throw shooting, did those national media types come back and start talking about GW's win.

The free throw shooting down the stretch was great, as was some good defense and timely shots. With about 6 minutes to go in the second half it looked like the game would get away from the good guys, as Ethan Wragge and Gibbs closed the gap then put Creighton up by three. GW was suddenly missing shots they had made earlier -- short jumpers, threes and layups, but then the team got some defensive stops, Kevin Larsen made two layups off Joe McDonald assists, and McDonald added one of his own. Really nice to see that toughness come out down the stretch, the team straightened when they could have laid down.

McDonald had a great game, with 5 assists and 12 points, and once again the team only turned it over 10 times (previous games were 9 and 7) to go with 6 steals and 6 blocks. Larsen led GW with 14, Armwood had 12 and Kethan "Macho Man" Savage added 10 in only 15 minutes due to foul trouble. Interestingly, Coach Lonergan shortened his bench considerably, with John Kopriva getting 7 minutes and Miguel Cartagena and Paris Maragkos only a brief time on the floor. Patricio Garino and Nemanja Mikic both had 4 boards but combined for only 5 points in 40 minutes total. We'll see what happens with the lineup and rotation as the season progresses.

It was a good night to be a GW basketball fan. The good guys may even get a few more AP polls votes. The Colonials next play Rutgers on Wednesday at 7 at the Smith Center. I hope there's a big student (and non-student) turnout for this one.

Here's the box score and the AP's write-up.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

GW beats Miami, falls to Marquette

The trip to Fullerton for the Wooden Legacy tournament has gone pretty for the Colonials so far, beating Miami 71-63 in overtime, GW's first win over a power conferemce team since 2010, then falling to #20 Marquette 76-60.

GW now faces #20 Creighton and their star Doug McDermott, one of the top scorers in the NCAA for the last few years. It's going to be a tough one.

In the first game against Miami, the good guys played their game: shoot well from inside and outside (8/16 from three), get a lot of players scoring, and play (mostly) good half court defense. The Colonials only turned it over 6 times while taking 7 steals and blocking 5 shots, and five players scored in double figures.

For a while, three point shooting kept GW in the game (or bailed them out) but you can't really complain when shots were dropping. Miami had a fair amount of alley-oops and some of the Colonials (namely Nemanka Mikic and John  Kopriva) got burned a few times on D. The guys had pretty good transition defense though, and Mikic was also the leading scorer for GW with 16. Joe McDonald tied it up late and then in overtime, the good guys took over, outscoring Miami 12-4. It was a good, intense game to watch, and great to see GW play well on national tv. The guys stayed tough and pulled it out.

As for the Marquette game, it was less fun. The Golden Eagles seemed to hit every shot and either kept GW out of rhythm, or maybe the Colonials were just in a funk. GW didn't shoot well at all, 33% from the door and 21% from three, despite another game of single-digit turnovers, with the good guys only giving it up 7 times. Marquette outrebounded the Colonials 44-33 too. The refs didn't help either, calling some questionable flops and such. Thankfully I watched part of it from a whiskey and burger bar in Knoxville, TN so I was able to drown my sorrows. 

There were some other positives though, to go with 7 turnovers. For one, it was on the main ESPN. It's still only the Colonials' first loss, and the good guys outscored Marquette in the second half. They also blocked 9 shots.

And tomorrow's game is against another ranked opponent, #20 Creighton, who lost to San Diego State 86-80. It's at 6:30 pm on ESPNU, so tune in! 
You can get college basketball tickets here.