We start our look at some of the local area men's college basketball teams in Foggy Bottom where George Washington is coming off a second straight 20-win season and postseason appearance under coach Mike Lonergan. With three seniors headlining the roster, including Atlantic 10 Player of the Year candidate Patricio Garino, there's a good chance the Colonials reach those heights again. Can they get back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and challenge the likes of Rhode Island and Davidson for conference title are the questions. Either way, this is the last go-round for Lonergan with the senior class that helped turn the program around.
Last season: 22-13 overall, 10-8 Atlantic 10; lost in second round of NIT
Head coach: Mike Lonergan
Key returnees: Senior G Patricio Garino (12.4 ppg, 1.7 steals), senior C Kevin Larsen (10.9 ppg, 7.4 reb), senior Joe McDonald (9.9 ppg, 3.1 ast), sophomore F Yuta Watanabe (7.4 ppg)
Notable losses: G Kethan Savage (transferred to Butler), F John Kopriva
Incoming players: Junior F Tyler Cavanaugh (Wake Forest transfer), G Alex Mitola (Dartmouth graduate transfer), freshman G Jordan Roland, freshman F Collin Goss, junior G Jared Sina (Seton Hall transfer; not eligible this season)
Games to watch:
- Nov. 16 - Virginia
- Nov. 27/28 - Tennessee/Cincinnati or Nebraska (Barclays Center Classic, Brooklyn)
- Dec. 2 - Seton Hall
- Jan. 22 - Rhode Island
- Feb. 27 - VCU
CollegeBasketballTalk.com predictions: Fifth in 14-team league
The Wild Card: The 6-foot-9 Larsen has the size, bulk and skills to compete with the top big men in A-10 if not be leader of the pack. The Denmark native can score inside, sink perimeter shots and control the glass. Lonergan calls Larsen his best passer and often uses him as a press breaker. However, getting consistent production and effort from the Montrose Christian product has been a three-year challenge. Keeping Larsen on the court regardless is key considering the truly limited interior options behind him on the roster. Having a true power forward in Cavanaugh and more 3-point shooters on the floor should help open scoring options. If Larsen plays at an All-Conference level, good chance GW returns to the postseason for a third straight season.
Biggest concern: GWs starting lineup hasn't been the issue ever since this current senior class arrived on campus. But when Lonergan turns to the bench, especially because of foul trouble or injuries, the drop off limited the Colonials. Assuming Watanabe starts, sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen is the most proven returning reserve and he only averaged 3.6 points last season. Getting anything out of Cimino and Goss inside would go along way to keeping Larsen fresh. There are high hopes that Roland, a two-time Player of the Year in New York, can help immediately. Same with the 5-foot-11 Mitola, who averaged 12 points an shot 37% from beyond the arc with Dartmouth last season.
NCAA Tournament hopes: Assuming the A-10 maintains their level with 3-5 teams in the March Madness mix, GW won't have an RPI or strength of schedule issue. Several non-conference road games could prove tricky, but matchups with Virginia, Penn State and Seton Hall are at Smith Center. Same goes for the lone matchup with A-10 preseason favorite Rhode Island. In other words, win games and the math should take of itself.