Along with our own college basketball preview, we're taking a deeper dive with several of the area's teams -- and doing so with the help from some hoops-loving friends around town. Next up, George Washington with Elizabeth Traynor, who covered the Colonials men's program beat for the previous three seasons for The Hatchet.
1) Let’s put a bow on last season. Do you look back and think progress especially with the Colonials reaching the A10 Tournament or frustrating because of several close losses and ultimately a losing season?
Standig: Progress with a capital P. Perhaps starting four freshmen curtailed last season's win total, but for the long-term growth of the program, coach Mike Lonergan's move accelerated future growth. Over the second half of last season, the Colonials kept it close against soon-to-be NCAA Tournament teams Temple, Butler and Saint Louis before losing to all in the final minutes. That's what the plan was all about. No, not the losing, but getting the kids, including guards Patricio Garino and Joe McDonald, a taste of what pressure-packed basketball is all about.
Traynor: It was hard not to think progress, overall - their team was essentially run by a group of freshmen and a player in his first year with the program. It wasn't a resounding success - but what basketball team's season isn't frustrating at times?
2) With all the starters back plus transfer Maurice Creek, where are we on the expectations scale?
Standig: Let's start with what Creek adds is exactly what the Colonials need: Experience and perimeter shooting. The graduate transfer with sincere long-range touch claims good health after several years of any but at Indiana. GW made the fewest total 3-pointers last season among A-10 teams and shot a dismal 27.9 percent from beyond the arc. With Creek's presence, teams doubling inside against the tandem of Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen will now actually pay for that decision. Now, even an improved team might not crack the top-8 in a sneaky deep conference, but nobody should be stunned if they finish closer to the top five either.
Traynor: I think fans should start looking for answers if GW isn't toward the top pack of the A-10 this year. If it's another year where the team has a nail-biting race to just qualify for the A-10 tournament, I think that would be far below expectations.
3) Player you’re looking to step up most this season.
Standig: Patricio Garino. For most of his freshman season, the 6-foot-6 Argentine swingman showed savvy far beyond his freshman status, especially as a passer and on the defensive end. Though his outside shot faltered much of the season, Garino's entire game declined late in the campaign due to a knee injury. Expect the Manu Ginoboli disciple not to simply return to pre-injury form, but far beyond this season. I mean, that's why NBA scouts are already sniffing around, right?
Traynor: John Kopriva. Not only is he one of the team's captains, but after the flood of departures this off-season, he's now one of the most senior players, too.
4) Are you feeling the “Revolutionary Rivalry” with George Mason?
Standig: Even if it happened because of a conference switch, at least some of the locals are embracing games against another around-the-Beltway program. Creativity breaks up the season slog and early on, the two sides are showing signs they understand what it takes in this realm.
Traynor: Ugh. I really, really want to be - it's the sort of sports rivalry GW needs - but I'm not exactly sure Auburn-Alabama started with a press release. I wish they would have given it time to grow organically.
5) You get to be program czar for the day. What if anything on or off the court are you tweaking, fixing, throwing away, etc.
Standig: Let's just say I hope Lonergan the scheduler doesn't undo Lonergan the coach. Since arriving on the Foggy Bottom campus, the D.C. area native hasn't been shy about taking on BCS programs. This year's lineup includes Maryland in the BB&T Classic, at Kansas State, Miami in the opening round of the Wooden Legacy Tournament plus games versus Georgia and Rutgers at the Smith Center. No doubt I admire the guts. Here's hoping it pays off comes A-10 time.
Traynor: I'm getting an assistant coach to replace the excellent Pete Strickland. Easier said than done!