The George Washington Colonials entered the 2016-17 season with several questions surrounding the future of the program. How would Maurice Joseph do as a head coach? How would 7 new players fit into the lineup? How do you replace Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen? While not all of these questions have been answered, we at least have a better feel for this year’s team, and the direction they’re heading, if not the direction of the program as a whole.
The Colonials currently reside at 8-5, after opening the season with three consecutive wins over Maryland Eastern Shore, Siena and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. GW then hit a rough patch, losing three consecutive games to Georgia, UAB and Penn State, with the first two coming at the CBE Classic, in Kansas City, KS. Since the loss to the Nitney Lions over Thanksgiving, the Colonials have won 5 out of 7 games, with the two loses coming to two Floridian power-conference teams: Florida State and Miami.
As usual, George Washington’s strength of schedule hasn’t been exactly overwhelming, and as such, the Colonials haven’t been able to get more than a couple quality wins. That, and the fact that this is an incredibly young team. But two wins do stand out, at least from an RPI perspective.
On December 7th, GW went on the road and defeated a very good Temple team 66-63, thanks in part to a clutch Tyler Cavanaugh three in the waning seconds to help secure the victory. The Owls are ranked 26th in the RPI rankings, and have defeated then-#19 West Virginia and then-#25 Florida State. In addition, GW’s 74-59 win over a solid UCF team also stands out in my mind. Jordan Rolland lead the Colonials with an impressive 27 points, a career-high, to lead GW. Temple and UCF are ranked #85 and #86 respectively in the Kenpom ranknings, and both appear to be solid wins for George Washington moving forward.
On paper, at least, George Washington really doesn’t have a “bad” loss this season. If you had to pick one from a math standpoint, then the loss to UAB, who is #136 in the Kenpom rankings (just 13 behind GW though), and has a RPI ranking of #199. But from a “basketball” standpoint, the loses to Georgia and Penn State stick out the most in my mind.
The game against Georgia was a great chance to get a win over a quality SEC opponent, which would have helped GW’s mathematical rankings. In addition, a win over Georgia would have guaranteed a match up with Kansas in the championship of the CBE Classic. True, that’s not likely a game that GW would have won, but a game that the Colonials could have learned a lot from. And you never know what could happen; a lost opportunity for sure.
The loss to Penn State was a game that George Washington should have won. You don’t get true home games against a Big 10 team very often, and to lose by 6 points at home in a game where GW looked “out of it” mentally at times, is still difficult to stomach. Of course, I understand this is a very young team with a bright future, but those are the types of games you should win as a program that help with things like recruiting and national respect.
Non-Conference Grade: C+
This team is just a couple of wins away from, frankly, being in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament bid. If the Colonials had two of the three wins against Miami, Penn State and Georgia, we’d be having a very different conversation about a team that’s 10-3. But instead, this is an 8-5 team that’s so close to getting over the hump and being a good team, but is just not quite there yet. GW is still a year away, but make no mistake, this is still a team that could steal some wins in A-10 play.