Friday, December 18, 2015

Great video about GW basketball: Building the Foundation


GW is doing great lately -- top 25, big wins, and some great outreach. Here's a fantastic video about the team's growth since 2012, especially the seniors: Joe McDonald, Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino.

It's really well done and inspiring. Hail to the Buff!

I can't figure out how to embed it, but here's the link.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Yes!! GW now #21/22 in the AP and USA Today Coaches Poll!


It seemed like any day now, and it's here: GW is in the top 25! The AP has GW at #21 and the USA Today Coaches Poll has the team at #22.

That's a jump a jump in 8 and 9 spots respectively after the Colonials demolished Rutgers 83-49 to improve to 9-1.

This is the first time since 2006 that GW has been ranked, and it's well-deserved -- the good guys have only lost to then #24 Cincinnati and have beaten then #6 UVa, plus Tennessee, Penn State, Seton Hall and Rutgers.

GW is also an absurd #8 in the RPI.

GWSports.com has more on the rankings!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Colonials now 8-1; GW looks at best starts in program history


The good guys resoundingly beat Penn State on Tuesday, 76-66, improving to 8-1. That's among the best starts in program history, and GWSports has an interesting article looking at other good starts in the past.

Highlights include 2004-2005, when GW beat #9 Michigan State and #11 Maryland in back to back games at the BB&T Classic, the great 2005-2006 team when the Colonials started the season 26-1 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament, the 1992-93 Sweet 16 season, and all the way back to 1953-54 when the team won the Southern Conference and reached the NCAAs for the first time.

That team included two players that scored 21 points a game, Corky Devlin and Joe Holup, and Holup also added an absurd 18.6 rebounds per game. Both later played in the NBA, and Holup collected 25.6 rebounds in the 55-56 season! Not bad for a 6'6" guy.

One of the most interesting things is that with all these great starts, GW made the tournament each time. Time will tell, but I'm hoping.

Here's the stats from that 53-54 team. Yow.




Pictured is the 1906-07 team from the GW Encyclopedia and 1953-54 stats from Sports-Reference.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

GW vs Penn State tonight at the Smith Center -- and free Ben's Chili Bowl for first 250 fans!


The Colonials are back, looking to improve to a redonkulous 8-1 tonight, hosting the 5-2 Penn State Nittany Lions. It's the first time GW has hosted a Big 10 team since 1986, and there will probably be a lot of PSU fans in attendance, as there's a big fan base in DC.

So you should go! And another good reason is FREE FOOD! GW is giving away 250 Ben's Chili Bowl chili dogs to the first 250 fans, starting at 6 pm. Pretty awesome deal -- and also an awesome way to make lots of Bronx cheers to drown out the opposing fans.

It's also a good chance for revenge, as last year Penn State beat GW in State College, and the Colonials played poorly, shooting only 34% and hitting 0/8 threes and 15/23 free throws.

GW needs a big turnout today -- let's go!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Today in random GW eBay finds: awesome Elena Vishniakova jersey


I'm going to start posting the random and cool GW things I find on eBay, and the first installment is this pretty awesome buff Elena Vishniakova #22 jersey.

A forward transfer from Russia via the University of Georgia, Vishniakova averaged double figures in points for her two years at GW (2000-2002) on those great teams with guards Cathy Joens and Erica Lawrence and forward Ugo Oha's freshman year. GW was 43-19 those two years and made the NCAA tourney once, along with the NIT. Here's her somewhat out of date bio from GW.

The jersey looks pretty great too, it's buff with Vishniakova's name on the back, and right now is $34.95. Not a bad deal for a cool old jersey.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

GW beats Tennessee, loses to #24 Cincinnati: will they be ranked?


GW had a pretty good showing in the Barclays Center Classic this weekend, beating Tennessee 73-70 and then losing a tight one to #24 Cincinnati, 61-56. That means the Colonials are 6-1 with their only loss coming to a ranked team, and a win over then #6 Virginia. That's a pretty great place to be, so far.

So, will GW be ranked? In last Monday's poll, the good guys were unofficially #27 in the AP top 25, receiving 85 votes, just behind Utah's 95 in the "also receiving votes" section. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, GW was farther down the "also receiving votes," coming up at #31.

For the teams in the AP top 25, most did well this week, but LSU lost two and Wichita State lost three, presumably dropping those teams from the rankings. UConn also lost two, but one was to #10 Gonzaga, so I don't see a huge drop there.

However, there's the feeling I've heard from some people that GW isn't well-known enough to get consideration unless there's another huge win. I'm not sure that's true, given the 85 votes already and if the Colonials had knocked off Cincy, I think they'd definitely be in the rankings.

I guess we'll see what happens on Monday. I personally don't think GW will be ranked, though I sure hope they are.

And it's also pretty great to be having this discussion. Raise High!

Photo by Michael Layton

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

GW clobbers the other GW (Gardner-Webb) 94-65


It was a battle of GWUs, and the real GW stood tall. The good guys drubbed the Runnin' Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb 94-65 in front of a rowdy audience of school kids (GW is off this week for Thanksgiving.)

Gardner-Webb University is a small Baptist college in Boiling Springs, NC -- and being the other GW, sometimes their logo gets put on sites in place of ours. And interestingly, NBA Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore went there before transferring to Jacksonville University, where he brought the Dolphins to the 1970 NCAA championship game, where they lost to UCLA. How crazy is it that Jacksonville made the title game?

Digression aside, I wasn't able to go to this game, but it sounds like a fun atmosphere, GWHoopsters say the crowd of mostly elementary school kids were super loud and boisterous, which is great to hear. And it's also good marketing for GW -- maybe these kids will have fond memories and want to come back when they're older.

As for the game, the Colonials shot 54% from the floor and were 10/21 from three, which is a nice change of events -- in previous games, the Colonials didn't take or make many from beyond the arc. In the last four games, GW was 2/17, 4/15, 6/20 and 4/16 from deep. If this wasn't just a fluke or due to lax defense, that's a big good thing. The good guys were also solid again from the free throw line, hitting 22/27 for 81.5%.

Five Colonials scored in double figures, as Tyler Cavanaugh leading the way with 20 points, 7 boards and 3 assists. Yuta Watanabe had a solid game with 19 points on 5/7 shooting, 3/5 from behind the arc and 6/6 from the stripe. Atlantic 10 player of the week Patricio Garino added 16 on 7/8 shooting plus 5 boards, Matt Hart had 13 and Kevin Larsen had 12 with 6 boards. Joe McDonald had an interesting stat line, with 0 points but 10 boards. Here's the AP article, GW Sports article and box score.

On defense, GW held GaWe to 39.7% from the floor and 8/28 from three, much different from the Army game before where the Black Knights (shouldn't the be the Cadets?) torched GW with 12/28 from deep.

It's also kind of a nice revenge on a school, through no fault of their own, that has sometimes had its logo substituted for our own on various sports websites.

The good guys have improved to 5-0, and next face Tennessee at 9:00 pm in Brooklyn.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Here's lots of reactions to the UVa game!

That UVa game was huge, and folks from all over were talking about it. Here's a rundown of some of those great reactions from GW fans, DC folks and national media. And listen to David Earl talking to NBC Sports' Rob Dauster about the game on Dave's Hail to the Buff podcast!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wow! GW upsets #6 Virginia in an incredible atmosphere 73-68


The Smith Center was packed and extremely loud last night as GW held off UVa for a 73-68 win in an amazing atmosphere. The student section was rocking and generally drowned out the significant Virginia fan base (I'd say about 30% orange.)

GW led for most of the game and held fast when UVa took a few brief leads, making stops and knocking down big shots to go back up. The biggest GW lead was 9, while UVa's was 6 at the very beginning.

It was a tough, gritty performance for the good guys, who never looked out of control. As UVa coach Tony Bennett said, "We can’t just say, 'oh, it wasn’t our game.' We got outplayed and outexecuted. We have to keep finding ourselves." The team executed and played smart and tough.

Patricio Garino had a huge game with 18 points and 5 boards on 7/8 shooting, and Tyler Cavanaugh also scored 18 with 5 rebounds. The team as a whole shot 82% from the free throw line with 28 free throws, which was a key to staying in it and taking the game at the end.

Kevin Larsen also played well, but more as a passer -- he made a lot of great dishes for 5 assists, plus some hockey assists where his pass led to another pass that led to a shot (plus 9 points.) Yuta Watanabe had a cold night from the floor, just 1/7, but did grab 7 board and had 2 blocks, and was clutch on defense. Paul Jorgensen and Joe McDonald both had 10 points, and Jorgensen had some nasty moves, burning his man for an open jumper, then drawing a foul the next play on another nice move.

It's hard not to say everybody was great -- the defense was solid, there were great passes, and they weathered every run from UVa, outplayed the Pack Line defense and just were all around solid. The good guys only were 4/15 from three, but they showed they can make it work even when they happens.

The game was intense and stressful -- I was making every possible facial expression, clenching my fists and generally going nuts. It was hard to tweet or retweet about the action. But it was great. It never seemed like GW would lose, and in the end, they didn't. Maybe it was the new jerseys.

And the Smith Center was electric. It was as loud as I can remember since maybe the Charlotte buzzer beater in 2006, and reminded me of the crazy crowds in 1998-99, my freshman year, when the team reached the NCAA tourney behind 5'4" Shawnta Rogers (whose son Darnell is coming to GW next year) and Yegor Mescheriakov. The Colonial Army turned out big and were super noisy, and the folks under the basket were dressed tropically also going nuts, bringing inflatable whales, palm trees, flamingos and other props. Those fans rushed the court after the win, while the student section was blocked by security.

(The only minus about the crowd was that the side opposite the students was pretty stoic, not getting into any of the usual Gee! Dub! or D-Fense chants.) And Coach Lonergan's son was hilarious, wearing a coconut bra like his dad did in Hawaii.

The UVa fans were mostly solid and seemed fine -- a couple dudes behind me yelled something about Yuta's mom, but otherwise they kept to themselves.

I saw a fair number of notable folks too, like NBC4 weatherman Doug Kammerer, Post reporter Gene Wang and writer/commentator Clay Travis. There were also some national college basketball reporters. The Gee! Dub! chant guy was in attendance too. Anybody see other well-known folks?

And still, wow. What a game. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

Here's recaps from the Hatchet, the Post, AP, NBC Sports, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, and ESPN. The Post has more too about Lonergan.

Monday, November 16, 2015

GW plays UVa today at 7:30 at the Smith Center!

GW faces #6 Virginia tonight at the Smith Center, the biggest game in many years. This in the highest ranked team to visit since 1995, when GW faced (and beat!) John Calipari's #1 UMass, with the Clinton family in attendance.



So it's a big game. Virginia is favored, but GW can win this with solid defense and good outside shooting. And you should be there! The Smith Center needs to be packed with loud, rowdy and excited GW fans to drown out any tie- and blazer-wearing Cavaliers fans who may be there. It's sold out, but you can get tickets on Stubhub -- make sure to not let UVa fans get them. (Seriously.)

The teams faced off last year at UVa's campus, and GW led at halftime before getting tipped 59-42. The Hatchet has more.

I'm pretty pumped. So is David Earl, who runs the Hail to the Buff podcast, who gives a series of great reasons why you, the GW fan, should be there and going nuts. He also talks to a UVa blogger about the game.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

GW beats Lafayette 85-76: a tale of two halves (and I'm on the Hail to the Buff Podcast)

In a battle of of Revolutionary War military heroes, GW beat Lafayette 85-76 in the Colonials' home opener on Friday. The Colonials dominated the first half, up 50-28 at the break, but did not look sharp in the second, eking out a 9 point win.

Tyler Cavanaugh had a monster game with 15 points and 17 boards, and he looked great: quick drives to the basket and good post moves, while Kevin Larsen had a career high 24 points plus 11 rebounds. Patricio Garino had 17 points with a couple of threes and Paul Jorgensen added 10 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.

GW rolled in the first half with Kevin Larsen dropping 18 as the Colonials pulled out to a big lead. The second half wasn't much fun though, as the good guys seemed to lose focus on both ends of the court: Lafayette had lots of open looks and open drives to the basket, though to their credit they knocked down shots. The refs took the new emphasis on calling it closer to an extreme, calling 57 fouls for a total of 77 foul shots, which really slowed the game down and made it painful. Lafayette capitalized on those too, hitting 88% of theirs while GW hit 72.5%.

Yuta Watanabe was in foul trouble for most of the game, but played well when he was in, with 7 points, 7 boards, 2 blocks and a steal. Joe McDonald was 0/4 from the floor and took an elbow to the face. He went to the locker room but did return.

The crowd, especially the students, were noisy and into it, and the band seemed much louder than usual -- they really impressed me. And thankfully, the girl who used to scream an extremely annoying blood-curdling shriek after fouls, either graduated or stopped yelling. (The GW Band confirmed on twitter that the scream was no more.) GW also added a second bar in the Colonials Club, so that means easier access to beer, and there were new banners all around the Smith Center (though folks on GWHoops say the parking situation was a disaster, with some people waiting 30-40 minutes to leave the garage.)

Here's the box score and recaps from GWSports.com and the Hatchet.

GW next faces #6 Virginia on Monday at 7:30pm in the Smith Center, the biggest home game in years. More on that tomorrow.

And if you'd like to hear me talk with David Earl about the game (and also some good-natured ribbing of UVa) check out David's great Hail to the Buff podcast.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The season is here! Colonials Invasion is tonight at the Smith Center!


Oh man, we're getting close. Tonight is Colonials Invasion, the kickoff of the men's and women's basketball seasons with lots of performances, music, contests, and introductions to the teams.  Sounds pretty awesome, you should go!!!

Here's the full rundown from the athletic department:

COLONIALS INVASION

Join the GW Men's and Women's Basketball teams, Gymnastics, Capital Funk, Bhangra, the Spirit Program and more at the Smith Center as we kick off Colonials Weekend and get the 2015-16 basketball season under way. The night will be filled with performances, giveaways, and more. Doors will open at 8:00 p.m. and all fans can enter through the main entrance of the Smith Center on 22nd Street, between G and F Streets, NW and ADMISSION IS FREE for all students, families and fans.
Doors will open at 8 p.m. and all fans can enter through the main entrance of the Smith Center on 22nd Street, between G and F Streets NW.

What To Expect

  • Introduction to the GW men's and women's basketball teams
    Performances by:
  • The GW Gymnastics team
  • The Cheer Team and First Ladies
  • Capital Funk
  • GW Bhangra
  • Colonial Brass Pep Band
  • Colonial Idol Winner
    Plus:
  • Special skills contest
  • Fun, music and more!
Attention ParentsVisiting your student during Colonials Weekend or just a big Colonials fan who wants to get their children involved in the show? Sign up your son or daughter ages 5-12 to be apart of a High-5 Tunnel for the Men's and Women's Basketball Teams during player introductions! Your child can meet the team, get an autographed certificate, and be a part of the show! Sign up with Alex Hooper today at ahooper@gwu.edu. Space is limited. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Here's an awesome old school Colonials logo (maybe from the football days?)


Just spotted this on GWHoops.com: poster NJColonial put up a GW logo sticker on his Madsion Hall room in the 80s, and it's still there. Pretty cool of the dorm staff to let him see if it's there. (It was hidden behind some furniture.)

He says it was from the football era, which ended in 1966, and I agree just based on the style: a jaunty, scowling colonial (George?) in a frilly shirt. It reminds me of those 1960s live action historical TV shows. Pretty awesome.

(And kudos to poster Dootie Bubble for the Photoshop to make it more readable.)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

GW basketball, Pato featured in new Comcast Xfinity commercial


This is pretty awesome: Columbia Heights Colonial on GWHoops spotted a new Comcast commercial featuring GW versus George Mason at the Smith Center. The commercial shows people watching "the big game" until rain starts and knocks the picture out.

It shows a Mason alley-oop but shows Patricio Garino dunking at the end. Pretty awesome. I wonder if Comcast or the ad agency has a GW alum on staff -- in which case, kudos to you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Season Recap: A lot of highs and lows

The Colonials had some good times this season and some not good times. The good guys earned a postseason win for the first time since 2006, but it wasn't in the NCAA tournament. There's a lot of hope for next year, but also some disappointment for what could have been. Here's my season recap.

The first part of the season was definitely one of the best in years -- the team started with a 16-4 record, including wins over power conference teams like Rutgers, Depaul, Colorado and of course, Wichita State, which was ranked #11 at the time.

That Wichita State game was the team's biggest win in years, and came at the end of a run to take the Diamond Head Classic. It got GW onto the bubble and the good guys started earning votes in the NCAA poll.

In time, unfortunately, most of those power conference wins looked less impressive, as the non-Wichita teams finished with a combined 38-70 record. And there were some missed opportunities: the team lost a winnable game against Seton Hall plus others to #9 Virginia and Penn State.

And then things started to fall apart: the Colonials went on another mid-season swoon, losing 6 of 7 starting with #14 VCU and including a loss to a bad Duquesne team. They rebounded a bit, finishing the regular season winning three of their last four, then won one in the conference tournament before falling to Rhode Island.



The team received a bid in the NIT, and collected GW's that postseason win over #4 seed Pitt in Pittsburgh. The season ended with a loss in Philly to old conference foe Temple, a #1 seed. The Colonials finished with a 22-13 record.

Some folks were disappointed in that result, expecting a huge season with the Core Four of Patricio Garino, Joe McDonald, Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen all back as juniors from a team that made the NCAA tournament. I was gutted during the swoon -- during the great early season run I asked off work to travel to the NCAA tourney -- but then again, GW lost two of the best players of the last decade, if not longer: big man Isaiah Armwood and clutch guard Maurice Creek.

My snowman ⛄️With that, they also seemingly lost some leadership. The Core Four played pretty well, but nobody took charge or fired up the team when things weren't going well, which Zeek and Creek always seemed to do. It's hard to tell from the stands, of course.

And while the team missed those two, they also gained two very promising players: freshmen Yuta Watanabe and Paul Jorgensen. Yuta, the 6' 8" Japanese forward, was immediately a revelation, hitting a lot of shots off the bench and immediately contributing. He finished with 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, and his minutes steadily went up. He also got a lot of press for GW -- my buddies and I invented a drinking game, where any time a commentator or analyst said Yuta was the fourth Japanese player to play in Division I, take a drink. And we took a drink every time a game was on. The New York Times and Washingtonian also published articles about Yuta -- pretty awesome.

And aside from Yuta's press, the good guys were on TV a lot -- 23 games were on TV, and Yuta earned a SportsCenter Top 10 for a dunk against Richmond. There seemed like a lot more fan support too -- good crowds at home and away, especially for the New York-area games, where GW fans outnumbered those at Fordham. And the Smith Center started selling beer.

The other freshman who contributed, Jorgensen, had earned the nickname "Prince Harry of Harlem" from his streetball play in New York. The Prince took a while to catch on, but became a solid contributor with a lot of flash as the season went on, with games of 13, 12 and 11 points. I'm looking forward to seeing more out of both of them next season.

The Core Four almost all finished in double digits in points too: Garino led the team with 12.4, Savage at 11.7, Larsen at 10.9 (along with 7.4 boards) and McDonald at 9.9 points and 5.8 boards, good for second on the team.

John Kopriva, the lone senior, also played well, knocking down big shots, playing defense and drawing charges. He served as a solid role player off the bench while collecting a 4.0 GPA in pre-med, getting named a third-team academic All-American. Not too shabby, #DrJohn.

After the season, the team lost a couple of players as freshman Darian Bryant and sophomore Nick Griffin transferred. We didn't see either player too much during the season, but Bryant was an aggressive driver and Griffin a good shooter, scoring 12 against Davidson. Too bad to see them go, but I wish them the best.

Another season in Foggy Bottom: good times, bad times, excitement and disappointment. I wouldn't have it any other way. And with the Core Four back again with a seasoned Watanabe and Jorgensen, I'm looking forward to more excitement. And more Smith Center beer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nick Griffin, Darian Bryant to transfer


It's always too bad when this kind of news comes up, but it's also not rare: freshman Darian Bryant and sophomore Nick Griffin are transferring, according to articles in the Hatchet.

Griffin was a pure shooter who didn't see a ton of time, but also had a 12-point game earlier in the year. He averaged 2.6 points in 7.9 minutes a game, shooting 24/66 (.364) from three and only .326 from the floor overall. He had a great shooting stroke, but as some mentioned on GWHoops.com, he didn't seem to be able to get his own shot and I didn't get a good sense of any other facet of his game. That said, I liked watching him and wish him the best.

Darian Bryant was a tough, big guard who played aggressively, but also didn't see much time. He averaged 1.2 points in 5.4 minutes per game. I liked his high energy play but he would sometimes be a bit out of control -- that said, I definitely hoped to see more of him.

That means all of Coach Lonergan's 2013-14 class has left, as Miguel Cartagena and Skyler White have already transfered. Then again, as the Hatchet noted, the team was able to add Maurice Creek instead, so that worked out well.

That means the team now has two open scholarships, so I look forward to seeing if they sign new freshmen, snag some transfers, or hold onto them (I hope not the latter.) The team is alerady adding transfer Tyler Cavanaugh from Wake, who can play this coming season, and freshmen Jordan Roland and Collin Goss.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

No sleep till Brooklyn: a look at GW's A-10 tourney

The Colonials crushed UMass and have rolled into the Atlantic 10 tournament on a positive note: winning three of their last four. The good guys finished the regular season at 20-11 and 10-8 in the A-10, good enough for the #6 seed in the conference tourney. The team would have to win 4 to make the NCAA tourney -- not impossible, but certainly not easy.

The first game is against the winner of the 11 and 14 seeds on Thursday at 9 pm -- that's either Duquesne or St. Louis, respectively. That game to decide the matchup is Wednesday at 9 on the A-10 Network/SNY.

A pretty solid draw, considering the swoon for most of the conference season, although those potential matchups are not as good as you might think: GW beat SLU by only 3 in the one game they had early in conference play and split the season series with the Dukes, losing the second game by 14 in Pittsburgh.

If the good guys triumph Thursday, they'd face Rhode Island on Friday, also at 9 pm -- the Colonials lost a close one at Rhode Island earlier in the season due largely to 21 turnovers and poor free throw shooting.

I don't want to look to far ahead, but after that, it's the winner of #2 seed Dayton and St. Bonaventure or St. Joe's, and then the conference title. Here's the full bracket article.


So, do the good guys have a shot? It's difficult, of course, but like someone said on GWHoops.com (I can't find the link now) GW has surged to a surprise conference tourney title before -- and they were certainly hot enough during that UMass game. If the team can play their solid defense from the first part of the season, can knock down open shots and free throws, and can get some good production out of the bench, things will look up. And in the last two games, the team has had 55 points off the bench. Of course, George Mason is not a good team, but the much better game statistically was against a tougher UMass squad -- aside from bench play, the team looked much more focused, crisper on offense and all-around solid.

We'll see. I plan to go up Friday, fingers crossed, and am feeling a lot better about things than a few days ago.

There's some other good news too: Kangy the Kangaroo is back from Parts Unknown. Kangy, you may recall, was the good luck charm from the great 2006-2007 season where GW went 26-3 and was 16-0 in A-10 play. Last year, he showed up again and gave some bar recommendations near the Barclay's Center. (Here's more about Kangy.) I consider him GW's Quetzalcoatl, appearing from the mists when we need him most.



And if you're going to Brooklyn, let me know. Let's hang.

Monday, March 9, 2015

GW (the mascot) in awesome ESPN SportsCenter ad

This is pretty great. The mascot (no longer Little George, right?) is in a ESPN ad featuring friend of GW Scott Van Pelt, plus other mascots. Good stuff.


If you recall, Van Pelt used to always mention GW and Pops Mensah-Bonsu on SportsCenter during the team's great run in 2006, sat in the student section at a game at the Smith Center, and even wore a yellow tricorner hat on ESPN (to toot my own horn, that was my suggestion, though they might have come up with it at the same time.) Here's him at the Smith Center:


Thursday, March 5, 2015

I made a GW snowman


What did you do on your day off? (or, telework day in some cases.)

Amazingly, I teleworked, but made this fellow after I was finished. Not the greatest snowman, but the snow wasn't quite wet enough to make into big rolls. I used an old school Regis Koundjia jersey and some other paraphernalia.

Maybe it was the happiness from the win over George Mason in the Revolutionary Rivalry (nee Battle of the Orange Line) that inspired me.



Monday, March 2, 2015

The season's not over yet: why you should keep watching


Not since DJ's Fastbreak closed has there been this much disappointment at 22nd and H Streets. DJ's, pictured above in 2007, served awesome and cheap Korean bibimbap, rice bowls, pancakes and "bagel" to many a hungover or all-nighter-pulling student (e.g., myself.)
They occupied the building catty-corner from the Smith Center, and then one day they were no more, and an atmosphere of sadness descended on the corner, flushing away the aroma of grease.

And much like that, a promising season has descended into ennui. The good guys beat then #11 Wichita State plus a passel of big-conference teams with killer defense and tough offense, then suffered the dreaded swoon and went on 2-7 slide, dropping from 16-4 to 18-11, groaning to 8-8 in conference play. Those early big conference wins looked rusty as the season went on, too, with many of them faltering badly.

Fans and GWHoops.com netizens can't agree on why the team has slumped so much -- is it the coach? Tired players? A lack of confidence? The curse of Larry Lembo?


I dunno. But I'm still paying attention, though resigned to the fact that I probably won't need to take off those days in late March that I hoped to. I'm going to keep watching, and here's why (aside from the obvious that I am a GW fan and thus slightly brain damaged.)
  • Simple reason, but I like watching these guys. When they're on, they're fun -- KevLar's big post moves, Joe being tough as hell, and so on. I remain optimistic that fun will occur.

  • John Kopriva: the team's lone senior deserves a big sendoff for his last game on Saturday. He improved a great deal on the court this season and served as team captain, all while studying to be a doctor. No small feat.

  • What seed will GW get in the A-10 tourney? Who will they face? Perennial (almost) questions that make for some interesting theoretical banter.

  • Pauly Jorgensen and Yuta Watanabe: how will they be used going forward? More two, three or four guard sets?

  • The youngsters: will Anthony Swan get more playing time after his three against Bona? How about Nick Griffin with 12 points against Davidson? Will we see more of Cimino and McCoy?

  • Did you know that Patricio Garino is the team's leading scorer? When he chooses to, he drives better than Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, combined. (Yes, I apologize for the Fast and Furious joke.)

  • Will someone other than a little baby win the Pita Pit dance contest? Who knows!

  • George Mason kind of stinks, so the good guys have a shot there. 

  • The George Mason band is pretty awesome and their band director is famous for being super excited and wearing Bernie Mac suits. Bill Murray likes them. (Also they don't have a band member who lets loose a blood curdling scream all the goddamn time, which I appreciate.)

  • It's always fun to see exactly how the Tonic trivia question is rigged.

  • Along those lines, Brooklyn is pretty awesome. Just watch out for hipsters. (The crazy thing is that this video came out in 2007, before the word selfie was even invented -- I think.)
  •  

Friday, February 6, 2015

GW likes buzzer-beaters against Dayton

Today's game is a big one, and if other GW-Dayton games are a guide for today, it's going to be a close one. BM over at GWhoops.com reminded me of three (!) buzzer-beaters GW has had against the Flyers from Ohio. To wit:

Carl Elliott's almost half-court buzzer beater in 2005:



Isaiah Armwood's monstrous putback in 2013:

And Wynton Witherspoon's three (remember him?) in 2008:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A call to arms: let's pack the Smith Center!


by Endrit Demi

A battle is brewing in Foggy Bottom.  A battle not fought in the name of greed, revenge, or jealousy, but rather for the hearts and minds of a very fickle breed: the George Washington University student.  Having been one myself, I know the type.  Excited about being in the nation’s capital, into all things global and political; adventurous, sometimes spoiled; seeking to help others and to better the world; and into sports too, if there’s time.

These are generalizations, but it’s hard not to generalize when describing a student body of 25,000 and a collection of global alumni 200,000 strong.

That’s not to say that GW students don’t have a sports-fan bone in their body. Those who were around to witness the Sweet Sixteen run in 1993 can attest to that, as can those lucky enough to see the King Whale Killer (Pops Mensah-Bonsu), Mike Hall and company bring GW to a #6 national ranking in 2006.  I was one of the latter and still vividly recall having one leg over the Smith Center railing on Senior Day in anticipation of a frenzied court rush, triggered by Carl Elliott’s last-second put-back to preserve an undefeated conference season. (See photo above.)

After that magical season ended, the GW men’s basketball program was not able to capitalize on its success and floundered for several years, culminating with the firing of Coach Karl Hobbs. 

Enter Mike Lonergan. A Maryland native, Coach Lonergan led Catholic University to the Division III title in 2001 and brought the University of Vermont to national prominence.  Then came the opportunity to come back home to rebuild the Colonials.  Not even halfway through his fourth year, he has already taken the team back to the NCAA tournament and has established a culture of winning and academic success.  He seems to have all the tools to make GW basketball a local favorite and a national staple: good players, good recruits, the right assistants on staff, an eager athletics department -- except for that fickle GW fanbase.

This is not an indictment of the GW community. That community is strong both locally and internationally, but when it comes to regular attendance at basketball games, we fall a little flat.  And our coaches are noticing. Here’s Coach Lonergan after the A-10 home opener:
It was disappointing. I told my assistant, "God, we are 11-3 playing the two-time defending [regular season] champs and there are a lot of empty seats." I know our students aren’t here, but we played St. Joe’s [over the weekend in Philadelphia], it was a sellout. I think we will sell out games now -- the Daytons, the VCUs -- but we’ve got to get people to come out every day.
I get it.  There are a lot of wild and wonderful diversions in Washington, DC.  I take advantage of them every day.  And it’s not like attendance at the Smith Center is anemic -- the last couple of weekends have seen a big uptick -- but we can do better.  We have in the past, and I think we will in the future.  Athletic Director Patrick Nero and Coach Lonergan are laying the groundwork required for sustained long-term success that I know will broaden the fanbase.  But why wait until that happens when we have exciting basketball to watch now? Have you seen this team?!

A Core Four of athletic juniors, Coach Lonergan’s first big recruiting class, who gel incredibly well and provide matchup nightmares for opposing teams. Game to game, you may be able to neutralize one or two, but you can’t contain them all.

Joe McDonald (JoeMac) is a consummate floor general, able to control the pace of the game and of his own play – feeding the action on a regular basis and jumping to action when the team needs a bailout.

(Macho Man) Kethan Savage lives up to his name on a daily basis.  HAVE YOU SEEN HIM DUNK?  Check out his resume here, here, and here.

Patricio Garino (Pato) is basketball’s Renaissance man: he can do it all.  He rebounds on both ends, is a pesky thief, a block party planner and a contortionist. Scientists are still working to classify some of his amazing layups.

Kevin Larsen (KevLar) has a somewhat misleading nickname.  While he is as tough as Kevlar, he is also as graceful as a ballet dancer.  He can overpower you down low, but also has quick hands, quick feet and great court vision – as you would have seen with his two recent behind-the-back passes in traffic.

Senior captain John Kopriva (#DrJohn) has made a huge leap in on-court execution this season -- perfectly timed to fill in the gaps left behind by the graduated Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood.  And he does this on the heels of fulfilling a pre-med degree while on the dean’s list.  What did you do today?

Yuta Watanabe, the 6’7” big man from Japan, has more tools than there are botched pronunciations of his name by sports anchors – though ESPN’s pronunciation as WIN-tanabe is coming true. Tall, quick and confident with his shot, he has matured into this team’s Sixth Man faster than anyone could have expected.  Keep an eye on this guy – he’s going to be really special.

And I haven’t even delved deeper into the likes of 3-point-specialist Nick Griffin, defensive hound dog Darian Bryant, assist-aficionado Paul “Prince Harry of Harlem” Jorgensen, and Wake Forest transfer Tyler Cavanaugh who is sitting out this year but will be a stud next year, among others. 

You get the picture.  This team is good. Very Good.  (And I know I’m saying this in the midst of a two game skid, but it makes my point even more important in light of our crucial home game against Dayton this Friday at 7pm!)

So here is my plea: come to the games.  If you already do, come to more of them.  Invite your friends, family, coworkers, wacky neighbors, sorority, fraternity, Secret Santa, the guy who runs the kabob food truck, and maybe your dog too. Ok, not the dog, but definitely all those other people.  Even if they aren’t hoops fans, the game is a lot of fun (and they sell beer now.) If they are basketball fans, even better: Lonergan’s 1-3-1 defense and a Japanese forward are not something you see every day.

Building a community is a team effort, the responsibility of which stretches beyond the basketball team itself.  They support our community by giving us something to be proud of and to rally behind.  We can give back by showing up and being loud and being amazed. 

And the same goes for the women’s team, who just entered the top 25 poll after 17 straight wins. 
When the Smith Center is packed, it’s not an experience you’ll ever forget.  Who knows?  Maybe one day you’ll make your own “one leg across the railing in anticipation of a buzzer beater court rush” memory.

#RaiseHigh

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The GW Band scream is the worst thing ever

I like the GW band -- they play good songs well and get folks pumped up. They're dedicated and help make GW games fun.

But when the opposing team commits a shooting foul, a young woman lets out a horrible, blood-curdling scream. I'm not sure why; it's not funny, not distracting to the players or anything. It's just damn annoying to the fans. It's worse when the band is under the basket, but it still sucks when they're in their normal spot.

And I'm not the only one: there are two separate threads about it on GWHoops.com, plus I've compiled here a bunch of people on Twitter complaining about it.

One of the GWHoopsters actually says the screamer yelled right in Kethan's face when they were down on the end zone: not cool. A person, presumably a former band member, said it was a 10 year old tradition, but I don't ever remember hearing it. If it's a tradition, it's not a very good one.

There's a lot of fun things you can do around fouls (like "you let the whole team down,") and that scream is not one of them.

Band, we love you. Stop the scream.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kevin Larsen's "Learn Danish" video is amazing

If you weren't at the game this weekend, you missed a hilarious video of Kevin Larsen on the big screen. And now it's on Youtube. It's great. (The funny face makes it.) Kom så GW indeed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quick takes on GW vs Fordham (and in general)

The good guys triumphed again, beating Fordham 79-59 in their first really solid conference win. The result was never in doubt as the Colonials started the game on something like an 18-2 run, hitting their first 7 shots on 7 assists.

Watching the game on a huge screen at a new sports bar in Petworth, The Pitch, my buddy kept saying the Rams were the worst college team he's seen. I didn't agree with that, but they did make a lot of questionable plays, bad passes, crummy shots and such. But GW took advantage. John Kopriva had his best game yet, scoring an aggressive 19 points on 7/7 shooting and 4/4 from the line. I've been really impressed by Kopriva this year, he's really stepped up and gotten better. 

Patricio Garino wasn't afraid to shoot it, which is a welcome development, hitting two threes, while Joe McDonald also didn't hesitate to shoot, continuing a positive trend over the last few games. 

Kevin Larsen also played aggressively with 11 points, 8 boards and some nifty assists. Personally I want him to always shoot it if he gets the ball down low.

The good guys also got to the line and knocked then down, hitting 21/29 free throws, also continuing a welcome trend in the past few games. If the offense isn't clicking, they'll have to keep that up.

Something else exciting to see was the GW fan base in the stands at Rose Hill Gym: they were numerous and loud. The Fordham fans on the other hand were pretty sparse and quiet -- apparently there's some kind of Fordham fan protest going on. (Also I just realized their acronym is FU.)

On a more somber note, Yuta Watanabe appeared to hurt his ankle early on and didn't return. He was able to limp though, so I hope it's not too bad.

As for the rest, Paul "Prince Harry of Harlem" Jorgensen got a fair amount of playing time and continued to impress. He ran the point well and knocked down some nice shots. Darian Bryant also had a nice jump step-and-floater move too. 

All the starters scored on double figures, but the bench only contributed 8 -- due to Yuta's injury and Coach Lonergan leaving the starters in for most of the game. 

There were a few defensive lapses allowing easy Fordham baskets, but those seemed to have been only in the first half, if my memory serves.

A nice night of basketball, and I hope the good guys keep it up against tougher competition. GW faces Duquesne at 2 pm in Saturday at the Smith Center.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Comparing Wizards games to GW games: maybe we could learn a thing or two

Last night I got to go to the Wizards-Spurs game with my buddy, a Wiz season ticket holder -- and it was a lot of fun. I think there's a few good ideas that GW could take up for the fan experience: getting them involved and interested, some benefits for season ticket holders, and more.

I hadn't been to an NBA game in years, maybe since Jordan played for the Wiz, and have many of the complaints you probably do -- they just play one-on-one, there's no defense, they don't call fouls or run plays, etc. But I have to say, it's a different style of basketball, and a different fan experience, but still a good time.

Basketball-wise, the game had a lot more midrange shots, and they knocked down many of them. There also didn't seem to be formal players, but maybe they were just more fluid and subtle than in college. I couldn't recognize defenses, either. It was also really-fast paced, with the home team winning 101-93. And I had no idea that Kris Humphries, most famous for marrying a Kardashian, was good at basketball. They also play music, mostly hip hop (and not all of it new) during play, mostly when the Wiz are on offense, something which is not allowed in college ball. I had forgotten about that.

As for the fan experience, there's a few things I think GW could pick up. For one, they give special (cool) Adidas warmup jackets just to season ticket holders. I saw them everywhere, first because they looked awesome, and then even more when my friend told me what they were. Considering how inexpensive GW tickets are (which is awesome) giving away a jacket wouldn't be feasible, but I'd definitely buy an awesome one that was just for season ticket holders. It could be a good way to build up interest and awareness of season tickets: "Hey, where'd you get that jacket?" It's also a great bonus for season ticket holders.

They also had a lot of little games and promotions during breaks in play -- one was completely random: Jeff Gordon, the NASCAR star, crushed a guy in a tricycle race. There was also a promotion where if the opposing team missed two free throws towards the end of the game, everybody gets a free chicken sandwich -- and people go nuts for it. It really increases the volume when the opposing team is shooting free throws.

This isn't to say I don't enjoy GW games -- I always do. But the more promotions, games and fun things for fans, the better.
You can get college basketball tickets here.