Kethan Savage spied his moment and didn't miss it. Running back on defense inside McDonough Arena this past Saturday, the 6-foot-3 guard tracked down an opposing dribbler nearing the basket. Showing off the athleticism that helped spark George Washington's turnaround campaign last year, Savage soared in the air in time to swat the layup attempt away.
This type of high-flying moment came often during the first half of year with the Colonials. Then in mid-January, poof, gone. Savage fractured his left foot and essentially broke GW's chances of a deep March Madness run.
Now the rising junior with an electric game is on the mend with hopes of making up for lost time.
"It's just good to get up and down. I haven't played in a game setting in like six months," Savage told CSNwashington.com. "I've been working out on my own all summer, getting better, but to come out here and try an actually put practice into game situations is good for me."
GW still won 24 games and made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007, but was bounced in the round of 64. Who knows what happens if their second-leading scorer and best threat off the dribble sticks around.
The most unheralded member of his sophomore class entering the 2013-14 season, Savage averaged 12.7 points on 52 percent shooting with 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals. The Fairfax native was on his way to winning the Atlantic 10 conference's most improved player award. GW center Kevin Larsen ultimately received that honor.
"I knew I was going to have an opportunity for more minutes, play a lot more. When I got the chance, I wanted to take advantage it. I was confident. I was ready. I knew I had put the work in. I knew I just had to be aggressive," Savage said of approach last season. Now, a different challenge.
"That's the same mentality I have this summer. It's a little harder because of the injury, but I worked so hard over the summer. I'll be fine this year."
The Colonials return a strong core with Savage plus fellow rising juniors Larsen, swingman Patricio Garino and point guard Joe McDonald. They also lost leading scorer Maurice Creek and top rebounder and shot blocker in forward Isaiah Armwood. That means from a leadership standpoint, it's time for the kids to take control.
"We talk about that with our coaches all the time," Savage said. "The core of our starting five is probably going to be my class, our junior class. We have to come out here and be leaders and stuff."
As for stuffing that layup, even the Episcopal product was a bit "surprised" he elevated like that.
"It's slowly coming back. I've been with (GW Director of strength and conditioning Matt Johnson) all summer trying to my explosiveness back in my left foot," Savage said. "That was a little flash of it."
Kenner League resumes play this weekend with Savage's Team Takeover squad scheduled to play Saturday and Sunday.