As George Washington warmed up before its game against St. Bonaventure on Thursday night, the players didn’t look like a team that had won only one of its past 14 games. The Colonials appeared loose and upbeat, smiling and joking with each other. It was a departure from the more somber tone that had prevailed during their slump.
Their carefree attitude carried through to the game. Scoring with effortless efficiency, GW raced to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes and never relinquished it. The Colonials’ 90-62 win was their largest margin of victory since they beat St. Louis, 49-20, last season.
“Those early shots went in and we weren’t playing from behind,” Coach Karl Hobbs said. “Guys were loose taking their shots. Every shot wasn’t THE shot that needed to go in, if you know what I mean. Guys were more relaxed.”
Slow starts have doomed GW this season. When the Colonials would fall behind early, every player would feel pressure to make his shots. The more pressure they felt, the harder it was to put the ball through the basket.
Fast starts are “vital for this team,” Hobbs said. “I think once they fall behind, it becomes very difficult for us because now every shot, every possession becomes important. Every missed shot becomes more magnified.”
Too often this season, GW has done one thing in practice and another thing during games. But against St. Bonaventure, the Colonials stuck to their game plan. They got transition baskets off of turnovers. They passed the ball until they found the open shooter. They took high-percentage shots.
“I thought tonight we stayed within what we do,” Hobbs said.
Now the challenge for GW will be carrying the momentum from this game forward. The Colonials remain in danger of missing the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. Only the top 12 teams in the standings are invited. GW sits at No. 13, 1½ games behind No. 12 St. Bonaventure.
“It’s in the front of my mind,” Rob Diggs said of making the tournament. “I’m just trying to get us there. . . . I just try to come out and let the team know we can still accomplish something real special.”
February 20, 2009; 6:09 AM ET
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