When Mike Lonergan arrived in Foggy Bottom in 2011, he inherited a program that had finished 17-14 overall the year before. A team that seemed unable to win close games. But he also inherited a team that had been rather untested in its non-conference schedule. Lonergan quickly changed how the program scheduled, recruited, and their whole approach.
In his first season at George Washington, Lonergan scheduled three AP Top 25 teams (#24 California, #3 Syracuse and #25 Harvard) in addition to signing Harvard and Kansas State to home-and-home contracts. The following year, in addition to Harvard and Kansas State returning their games, Lonergan scheduled Notre Dame, as well as signing Georgia and Rutgers to home-and-home contracts.
In addition, the program attracted forward Isiah Armwood, a transfer from Big East power Villanova, and a year later, guard Maurice Creek from Indiana. Lonergan added international flavor to the Colonials’ roster with Patricio Garino (Argentina) and Kevin Larsen (Denmark). The program had made a turn for the better.
And boy had it. The 2013-14 was a special one for Colonials’ fans. The team posted a 24-9 record that included wins over reigning ACC Champion Miami, #25 Marquette, #20 Creighton, Rutgers, Maryland and Georgia. GW made their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2007, earning a 9-seed in the East Region.
Now, two years later, Lonergan has George Washington primed for not just another NCAA Tournament appearance, but perhaps a run to the Sweet 16. This year’s team features a balance of an experienced core three, while sprinkling in young talent and transfers.
All of this can be attributed to the success of Mike Lonergan and his staff of assistants, who have provided the perfect atmosphere for the program to reach its full potential. Lonergan has brought a sense of family to the program that his predecessor, Karl Hobbs, never did. Lonergan is a family man who has his wife and five kids in the first row behind the bench at every game. The family dynamic with which Lonergan has infused the program can be felt at every level.
Take last season for example: before George Washington was set for a showdown at #9 Virginia, he made the effort to show his appreciation for the fans and alumni who had made the trip down to Charlottesville. He left the arena to give a brief talk at an off-site alumni reception, thanking everyone for their support.
This was not an isolated event either. Lonergan has continued to build a sense of community with fans and staff alike. He has also supported the women’s program, busing down to Richmond with his team to support the women in the A10 Tournament finals last year.
Mike Lonergan has spear-headed the resurgence of the GW basketball program, and has proven he’s in it for the long haul. He has received many offers to coach at more high profile schools, but every time has elected to stay in Foggy Bottom, with the family he has built. Not just with his wife and kids or team, but with the entire University and all who support it.