Entering the 2015-16 season, there seemed to be a gaping hole in the Colonials’ lineup at the forward position. The role had previously been filled by John Kopriva, who had averaged 24.5 minutes, 6.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Kopriva had also been the leader of the team, often stepping up in key moments to make shot, like in the game at Virginia last year. Despite being the rock of the team, Kopriva never was able to produce on a regular basis, or be the go-to guy for GW.
There was talk pre-season among the GW community of a transfer from Wake Forest who had the potential to fill the void. I was skeptical of what to expect from the new guy, as GW fans sometimes over-hype transfers or incoming freshmen. But Tyler Cavanaugh was not over-hyped. His impact could be felt immediately upon his arrival in Foggy Bottom. In the season opener, Cavanaugh scored 15 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in the Colonials’ 85-76 win over Lafayette. So the kid had a good game, but can he keep it up? And could he produce against the Pack-Line Defense of #6 Virginia?
Yes. Against the Cavaliers, Cavanaugh had 15 points, 5 rebounds, and went 8-8 from the line. Perhaps more importantly, he took the pressure off of Kevin Larsen, who had struggled in last year’s game at UVA. And when Virginia double-teamed Larsen, Cavanaugh would be wide open for a easy layup for GW.
Tyler Cavanaugh has so far posted four double-doubles, and averages 17.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and shoots 85% from the line. In his most impressive showing of the season on January 9th vs. Duquesne, Cavanaugh posted a career-high 30 points, with 10 rebounds, and hit 6 threes in the Colonials’ 91-64 rout of the Dukes.
But Cavanaugh hasn’t just increased GW’s scoring and defensive capabilities, he has increased his own and become more efficient. As a freshman at Wake Forest last season, Cavanaugh scored 291 points, and grabbed 127 rebounds in 699 minutes. This season however, he has 310 points, 129 rebounds in just 528 minutes. As this season is not yet complete, he will most likely surpass his playing time from last season and then some.
One question one could find himself pondering about Tyler Cavanaugh, is why “downgrade” from a big name school in the ACC to come to “little” A10 school, GW? A native of Syracuse, NY, maybe he wanted to be a little closer to home. Still, its not like Foggy Bottom is next door to the Carrier Dome. And almost 700 minutes as a freshmen is not too bad, and his playing time would have only increased. Cavanaugh even had big minutes in an upset of then-#4 Duke, scoring a career-high 20 points in 27 minutes against the Blue Devils. Everything looked good for Tyler. So why leave Wake Forest?
I remember listening to WRGW Radio, the George Washington University radio station, the day of the game vs. Virginia earlier this season. While preparing to face an old ACC foe, one of the hosts of the show that was on urged Cavanaugh to prove that “I’m good enough to play in the ACC, I just choose to play in the A10.”
And proving that he has, Tyler has become an essential part of the Colonials’ lineup night-in and night-out, and he is a big reason why GW has done so well this season.