Friday, January 15, 2016

Looking at GW's conference season so far: the good, the bad, the not great

The Colonials are on the way to one of the best seasons in recent memory, and GW is now four games into the Atlantic 10 season. However, there have been some ups and downs along the way, with the good guys going 3-1 thanks to a painful loss at Saint Louis. Today we look back at the team's performance in the first four games of the conference schedule.

Tyler Cavanaugh has been the man. T-Cav is averaging 22 points a game in conference, as well as 7.2 boards per game. He's been aggressive, playing tough, and taking (and making) outside shots. He's playing at an Atlantic 10 Player of the Year pace, and it's been awesome to watch.

Kevin Larsen is also playing better in the conference season so far: a little quiet in the non-conference, he's been averaging 15 points and 9 boards per game in conference games. I wish he would go to the rim harder sometimes, but it's nice to see a more active Big Kev.

Patricio Garino has also been strong, and helped push the team to victory against UMass on Tuesday, when he knocked down a few threes and flashed the slashing Garino we know and love to keep GW going strong as the game wound down.

The bench has also been solid, in all games except the loss to Saint Louis where the bench only accumulated 7 points. But that loss isn't to be blamed on them -- the team was uncharacteristically bad with free throws, shooting 54%, well below the season average of 77%, and they played lackadaisically towards the end, letting the Billikens push them out.

Joe McDonald has been out for two games with an eye injury, but the bench has been filling in ably, especially Alex Mitola. The Dartmouth transfer has scored 26 with 11 assists and only 1 turnover in two games of significant action since Joe went down. He's been calm against pressure and controlled the tempo of the game, at times flashing some serious speed. And I always like watching Paul Jorgensen play, even if he sometimes goes a bit out of control and makes Coach Lonergan go bonkers. Matt Hart has also been solid off the bench, as has Jordan Roland, even though he occasionally gets burned on defense.

It'll be interesting to see how the lineup changes when Joe is back, as Mitola has demonstrated he can be trusted. Maybe more two (or even three) point guard setups with Joe, Mitola and Jorgensen.

That leaves Yuta Watanabe: Yuta seems to have lost his confidence, though he's focusing more on defense and rebounding. His shooting has been only 28.6% in conference play, well down from his 44% for the season. That translates to 4.8 points in conference rather than 8 for the season as a whole. Let's hope he finds his confidence and his shot.

The team sometimes still seems to lack the toughness that Coach Lonergan mentions at press conferences, but with an average margin of victory of 10 points in conference tilts, I'm not too worried. It will be an exciting next few weeks!

Photo by Bill Bride
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