2008-09 George Washington Basketball Preview: #113
George Washington Colonials
Overall Rank: #113
Conference Rank: #9 Atlantic 10
2007-08: 9-17, 5-11, 13th
2007-08 postseason: none
By George Washington standards, or pretty much anybody’s standards, the 2007-2008 season was horrible. Now the question is whether the 9-17 record is a sign of things to come or will the Colonials quickly revert back to their successful ways of the recent past? There are plenty of excuses as to why the team took such a huge step back, most notably the injury to Travis King and the distraction of anointed star Maureece Rice, but are they ready to jump back into the race for an A-10 championship? Probably not yet, but they are a lot closer to becoming a serious contender than their record would indicate.
Two years ago Rice averaged nearly 16 points per game and big things were expected from him in the future. Last year he was a distraction and ended up being dismissed from the team after a few suspensions. He still averaged 9.2 points per game in the 22 contests he played in, but all the hoopla was not worth any on-court production. Dominic Green and Keri Gonsalves were the only two seniors on the roster by the end of the year, but neither played a big role on the team. The bigger losses were the off-season dismissals of Cheyenne Moore and Miles Beatty. Moore had the potential to develop into a solid scorer around the basket and Beatty never really got the opportunity to show his stuff playing in just 14 games as a freshman.
The most important addition, if you will, is the return of Travis King. King averaged 5.7 points and 2.4 assists two years ago as a freshman and was expected to take over the point guard duties from Carl Elliott last season. Instead, he busted his knee in August and was out for the year. King is expected to be fully healthy by the time the season starts, but it has been a while since he has played competitive basketball. The Colonials will not be stuck without a point guard again this year as incoming freshman Tony Taylor will add some much, much needed depth to the position. Matt Allbritton will likely need some time to adjust to the level of play, but he has good size for a shooting guard and can hit the outside shot with consistency. Add athletic wings Aaron Ware and Dwayne Smith to the bunch and the team will have no problem finding quality depth in the backcourt and some good starters in the years to come.
Who to Watch:
In the meantime, it will be the frontcourt that carries the hopes of the Colonials. Rob Diggs will once again lead the way after averaging 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last year. The 6-8 senior has slowly improved during his time in the nation’s capital and that should not change this year. With Wynton Witherspoon and Damian Hollis joining him in the frontcourt, Coach Karl Hobbs has a very dangerous and versatile group. Witherspoon is a solid slasher and the only other player to average double figures in scoring during the debacle that was the 2007-2008 season. Witherspoon can hit the outside shot, but he should not take as many as he does. The moving back of the three-point line should fix that little issue pretty quick. Hollis is no stranger to the deep side of the arc either. But, like Witherspoon, Hollis’ strength is using his quickness and size to get to the basket. If he can improve his defense, Hollis will be a great all-around player.
With Witherspoon and Hollis, the team has its slashers. Diggs provides the presence in the paint and King should be able to effectively run the show. That leaves GW missing just one thing…a shooter. Noel Wilmore fits the bill. As a junior last year Wilmore averaged 6.0 points per game and nearly all those points came from beyond the arc. It would be nice if Wilmore could mix in the threat of scoring in other ways, but at least he fills the teams’ need on the perimeter. Sophomore Xavier Alexander started 14 games last year, but he is more in the mold of Witherspoon and has yet to prove that he can consistently knock down the outside shot. As long as one of the newcomers can be a shooter off the bench this year, George Washington will have enough weapons to make things interesting. An NCAA berth would still be a stretch, but a postseason tournament of another kind would not be.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Travis King, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Noel Wilmore, Senior, Guard, 6.9 points per game
Damian Hollis, Junior, Forward, 9.1 points per game
Wynton Witherspoon, Senior, Forward, 11.0 points per game
Rob Diggs, Senior, Forward, 13.9 points per game