Wednesday, March 14, 2007

George Washington Preview from the Horse's Mouth

Note to our reader(s): The following was prepared by Andrew Alberg, Senior Staff Writer for the GW Hatchet. Andrew graciously agreed to give the Vanderbilt Sports Line an "expert" preview of the Colonials. Andrew is the beat reporter for the men's basketball team. Also, today's Hotline will be an afternoon edition. Finally, don't forget to register for the Vanderbilt Sports Line Bracket Challenge (league name: Vanderbilt Sports Line; password: commies).

GW Basketball 2006-2007
by Andrew Alberg

Karl and Carl

In his sixth year as head coach, Karl Hobbs has done his best coaching job this year. More than once during the season, this team could have decided that it stunk without last year’s departures (Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mike Hall, Danilo Pinnock, Omar Williams) and accepted a low NIT seeding. Hobbs managed to motivate his players and use his team’s length and athleticism to his advantage. He is extremely energetic on the sidelines and the former UConn player and coach possesses one of the loudest hand-whistles known to man. He uses a loud foot stomp to show his frustration or get his players’ attention. If those methods don’t work, he is not afraid to run well onto the court of play to yell something at someone. As for coaching, he uses frequent substitutions to keep his players fresh. After a player makes a mistake, Hobbs will immediately take him out and express his displeasure in no uncertain terms. Opposing fans will get a kick out of his antics.

Senior guard Carl Elliott is far and away the most important player on this team and undoubtedly its leader. He is a big (6-foot-4) point guard, whose biggest impact may be on the defensive end, where he averages almost three steals a game. He will likely be responsible for covering Byars Thursday. Offensively, Elliott is an inconsistent shooter, but has games where he shoots very well. He is a good at penetrating and finishes well, although he is prone to getting out of control on fast breaks. Without a consistent inside presence, Elliott has had to pick up his rebounding, even recording the program’s first triple-double this season. As far as being intimidated by the stage, he won’t be. This will be his third trip to the NCAA tournament and he earned his nickname (“Big Shot”) by hitting two unbelievable buzzer-beaters during his career, then hitting two massive free throws against UNC-Wilmington in the first round of the tournament last year. He also won the Colonials’ game against Virginia Tech this year by hitting two free-throws while trailing by one, then making a game-saving defensive play in the final seconds.

Book It

Junior shooting guard Maureece Rice may be small at 6-foot-1, but he is a lock for at least 15 points a game. The Philadelphia high school legend can score in any number of ways, including three-pointers, mid-range jumpers, drives or free throws. He was named the Atlantic 10 tournament’s Most Outstanding Player despite having his grandmother die the same week. His shooting stroke is extremely quick and his makes rarely hit anything besides the net. The team usually runs screens for him that leave him just enough time to hit a jumper from the baseline, but he could also fit right in on an And1 streetball video. His crossover is nothing short of embarrassing, but he usually uses it not to blow by someone (he is not extremely quick); rather, he gets his defender off balance, then steps back to swish a jumper. He is a very good finisher on fast breaks because he has such a soft touch, but he has been getting blocked on breaks recently for some reason. Regardless, Rice is the most consistent offensive player on the team.

Consistently Inconsistent

Former walk-on and fifth-year senior Dokun Akingbade is the biggest player on the team at 6-foot-9. He is very strong, but tends to either play very well or be a complete non-factor. When he plays well, GW wins. He played well in two of the three games GW played in the A-10 tournament and had a newfound mean streak that is surprising considering how soft-spoken he is off the court. His offense consists of a baby hook that he goes to every single time he gets the ball in the post (with decent results) and put backs. He took mid-range jumpers earlier in the year but seems to have eliminated them from his repertoire.

Sophomore forward Rob Diggs started every game for GW until about three-quarters through the year, when he started to struggle. Since then, the Md. native has played extremely well coming off the bench. He has a nice touch around the basket and is very athletic, but is liable to be pushed around down low because he is so skinny. He broke his nose in the finals of the A-10 tournament and it will be interesting to see how that affects him.

For GW fans, there is no more terrifying site than seeing senior LSU transfer Regis Koundjia sprinting down the court with the ball. He will be far and away the fastest player on the court Thursday (he always is) but whether he can control his own speed is another issue. He hurt his wrist in GW’s first A-10 tourney game, but has played well since. He has a good-looking jump shot that always seems to hit off the back of the rim and rarely seems to go in. Koundjia uses his speed and length to drive effectively, but he is an inconsistent finisher. He is also almost guaranteed to hit the floor very hard at least once a game after a driving. Regis is essential to the team’s trapping defense because he is so fast and so long; seeing his long arms and legs waving in front of you can fluster even the most poised player.

Freshmen Damian Hollis and Travis King are maturing quickly. Hollis is 6-foot-7 but plays mostly on the perimeter, where he can show off his smooth jumper. King is a lightning quick point guard with enough muscle to push around weaker ones. If those two have big games, watch out.


GW played its best ball of the season during the A-10 tournament. Whether the five-day layoff will kill the team’s momentum will be interesting to see, but one can be assured that Hobbs will have his team motivated and energized come game time. If Vanderbilt can avoid turning the ball over to GW’s trap and knock down its threes (an area where GW was susceptible earlier in the year) then the Commodores should be able to win the game. If not, and the game comes down to the wire, GW has to be favored—this team hasn’t lost a close game in two years.

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