GW no longer up a Creek from 3; Miami next

GW no longer up a Creek from 3; Miami next
November 27, 2013, 6:15 pm
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George Washington proved doubly irrelevant from 3-point territory last season. The Colonials rarely took shots from beyond the arc and when they did, clank.

Mike Lonergan isn't some behind-the-times coach who doesn't buy the modern trend of shooting from deep early and often. He simply didn't have the proper personnel to keep up from distance.

That was then. With graduate transfer Maurice Creek and freshman Nick Griffin now on the roster and holdover Nemanja Mikic rediscovering his perimeter game, the undefeated Colonials head into this week's Wooden Legacy tournament armed with a plethora of deep shooters.

Playing in Southern California, George Washington faces Miami (Fl.) in the first round on Thursday (2 p.m., ESPNU) followed by games on Friday - against either Marquette or Cal State Fullerton - and Sunday.

Stats don't always tell the truth, but the numbers between last season and the four games this campaign show a clear difference. As mentioned in this week's college hoops roundup, the Colonials made only 84 3-pointers last season, shooting an unsightly 27.9 percent. They ranked last in the Atlantic 10 with 301 attempts - the only team with less than 400 tries.

In four games this season, Lonergan's squad has already made 32, including 10 in GW's 94-50 thumping over Delaware State on November 19.

More stats: Per KenPom.com, the Colonials last season ranked 257th nationally in effective field goal percentage (46.6). Compared to traditional FG percentage stat, effective FG percentage puts a greater emphasis on made 3-pointers.

This season, the GW ranks eighth at 60.8 percent.

Creek transferred from Indiana to the Foggy Bottom program, bringing with him deep range and high expectations. So far, so good and that's an understatement. Creek has made a staggering 62.5 percent (15 of 24) of his 3's. The 6-foot-4 guard has also opened the floor for other shooters, not to mention GW's notable big man pairing of Isaiah Armwood (15.5 ppg) and Kevin Larsen (12.8).

As a freshman under former coach Karl Hobbs, Mikic shot 43.6 percent from beyond the arc, tops in among all first-year players. Then he lost his way over the next two years with Lonergan, bottoming out at 32.9 percent in 2012-13.

That led to frustration from the man who doles out the minutes, but Lonergan praised the 6-foot-8 senior in a conversation with CSNwashington this week. The fact that Mikic is 9 of 20 (45.0) from beyond the arc helps, but the senior has elevated his entire game.

As for Griffin, he made four 3's against DSU. Don't expect the former Magruder product to help as anything more than as a knockdown shooter this season. Considering the Colonials had no such player last season, that's more than fine.

The new-look Hurricanes have size to contend with Armwood and Larsen, but Jim Larranaga's squad is allowing opponents to shoot 37 percent from 3.

Last season the Colonials wouldn't have been able to take advantage. That was then.