The GW Colonials, who occupy a space in this blog's subtitle, open their season tonight at Boston University. How about a little preview of the game and the season?
GW lost Mike Hall, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Omar Williams and Alexander Kireev to graduation, and Danilo Pinnock left early. Let's see, that's two Atlantic 10 First Teamers (Pops and Pinnock), one Second Teamer (Hall) and a 6-9 forward who started 79 straight games (Williams). On top of the statistical losses, Coach Karl Hobbs has to replace leadership and rebuild team chemistry.
Fortunately, Hobbs still has one of the best backcourts in the country in Carl Elliott and Maureece Rice. Both of these guys are tremendously skilled and experienced and should be ready to step up as much as Hobbs needs them to. The frontcourt is a different story. Regis Koundjia became eligible midway through last season after transferring from LSU and is a superb athlete, but he needs to be much more composed and consistent this year as he moves from the team's seventh scoring option to third and the primary threat up front. Redshirt senior Dokun Akingbade returns after a one-year layoff and has to provide defense and rebounding and the occasional basket while avoiding foul trouble. Sophomore Rob Diggs will be the fifth starter as long as he can do the same. All three frontcourt starters are 6-8 or 6-9 with great quickness and hops but Koundjia is the heaviest at 218, so GW block some shots but will struggle against teams with strong post up players.
For now, the bench is thinner than the frontcourt, with only freshmen Travis King and Damien Hollis likely to get significant time. King looks and plays like Carl Elliott, Jr., so don't be surprised to see three guards on the floor frequently. Hollis won't have the luxury of time to adjust to the college game, but he has an excellent all-around game. Cheyenne Moore, a transfer from Clemson, is out indefinitely with a tibia stress fracture but will be the top contributor off the bench when he gets healthy.
In spite of the short bench, GW will still press and trap the entire game. Hobbs only recruits players who can run and and jump all day and his teams are rarely out of any game. Because I am a fan and an optimist, I think this team will get back to the NCAA Tournament. They'll need about 50 points from Elliott-Rice-Koundjia every night and they'll need Moore to get back by January at the latest. And they'll need Koundjia to settle down and Diggs and Hollis to grow up, and that's asking a lot, but what fan ever asked for a little?
As far as tonight, BU is a team with little experience that, according to Herve on the GWHoops site, relies on physical play and three-point shooting. Last season GW won 75-62. This game would be a double-digit win for GW at home, but since it's away, call it 79-72 Colonials. Rice gets 22, Elliott 18, and BU turns it over 20+ times.