Tuesday, January 31, 2006

GW Basketball a Top 10 hit

For the first time since the 1950s, George Washington University men's basketball is ranked in the Top 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and by the Associated Press. And while most of the Colonials 16 wins have come against vastly inferior competition, the ranking is well-deserved. GW has two eight-game win streaks sandwiched around its only loss, at #18 NC State. The first streak included #17 Maryland and a bunch of nobodies like Kennesaw State, Morgan State, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, but the second stretch includes road wins at Temple, Marshall and Charlotte, and most recently, a dominant second-half performance to put away Atlantic 10 upstart Rhode Island.

The speed at which GW plays must be seen in person to be properly appreciated. Coach Karl Hobbs has settled into an eight-man rotation of players who can terrorize opposing offenses, forcing more than 18 turnovers per game. Five players average double figures in scoring and none play more than 32 minutes. That kind of balance and depth make it very difficult for teams to focus on stopping one or two players.

The loss in Raleigh was also the first game for LSU transfer Regis Koundjia, who became eligible at the end of the first semester. Koundjia, a 6-8 forward, has become a key reserve, averaging six points in 16 minutes since his debut. His transition into the lineup made a good team even better.

The Colonials' weak schedule will hurt their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. But, wherever they end up, don't be afraid to pick them to get to the Final Four.


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