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 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.

You can get college basketball tickets here.