GW-Bonnies preview: Colonials gain A-10 'respect'

GW-Bonnies preview: Colonials gain A-10 'respect'
January 18, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Matchup: George Washington (14-3; 2-1 Atlantic 10) at St. Bonaventure (11-6, 1-2)

When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Olean, NY; Reilly Center

Broadcast: TV - none; Radio - 1500 AM.

Last time out: Kevin Larsen dominated the first half against A-10 preseason favorite VCU then Patricio Garino took over after halftime as the Colonials improved to 9-0 at home with a 76-66 win. Garino set a career-high with 25 points while Larsen had a personal best 22.

History: GW has won eight of the last 10 and leads the all-time series 32-24.

KenPom: George Washington 48, St. Bonaventure 69

RPI: George Washington 27, St. Bonaventure 82

Coaches: George Washington - Mike Lonergan; St. Bonaventure - Mark Schmidt

Leaders: Scoring (Maurice Creek, 14.1), Rebounding (Isaiah Armwood, 8.2), Assists (Joe McDonald, 4.1)

A-10 contender?: Racking up impressive non-conference wins counts for the overall résumé, no doubt. Yet beating the likes Creighton and Maryland means nothing when it comes to pursuing the Atlantic 10 regular season title. Knocking off VCU, the conference preseason favorite, signals something else. Sure, it's ultimately just a single win, just like falling to LaSalle counted as a lone loss. But considering the foe, the victory meant a bit more.

"I think its respect," Lonergan said candidly about the big picture following the 76-66 home win over the Rams.

Now, the coach stated that it's too early to ponder such title chases, which is true. That won't stop us from looking ahead, now will it.

GW enters Saturday tied with Saint Joseph's one game behind a trio of 3-0 teams, No. 16 UMass, No. 24 Saint Louis and LaSalle. VCU, Dayton and Richmond are also one-loss teams.

On paper, the home schedule shapes up nicely, especially for a coach who publically declared that going undefeated is a goal this season. Of the primary contenders, only LaSalle (Jan. 29), UMass (Feb. 15) and Saint Joseph's (Mar. 5) will visit the Smith Center this season. 

Including remaining road games, seven of the Colonials final 13 matchups are against projected first or second tier teams. That means six games versus opponents currently sporting losing A-10 records, including two against 0-3 Fordham and George Mason.

For comparison, LaSalle has nine games remaining against the top teams, while Saint Louis has eight.

Following today's matchup, the Colonials split their remaining games between home and road.

The Bonnies: Two straight losses entering Saturday, but both came on the road against ranked conference foes UMass and St. Louis and by an average of 5.5 points. Before that the Bonnies had won four in a row including their conference opener over Richmond.

Senior guard Matthew Wright is a pure stat-stuffer, averaging 16.0 points, 3.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds. The defensive-minded Garino is the right man to take on the Bonnies top scorer once GW's sixth-man enters the game. Guard Charlon Kloof ranks second in the A-10 with 4.8 assists while big man Youssou Ndoye is fifth with 2.1 blocks, four spots behind league-leader Armwood (2.6).

Road swing: Starting with the matchup against the Bonnies, GW plays three of its next four games on the road including at George Mason (Jan. 25) and Dayton (Feb. 1). The lone home against is a rematch versus LaSalle, which handed the Colonials their first conference loss on January 9. George Washington is 2-2 in pure road games this season.