A-10: The Foggy Bottom Boys

By - October 24, 2006

George Washington loses four starters from a team that went undefeated in the conference before bowing to Temple in the A-10 tournament then Duke in the second round of the NCAAs.

Gone are all-league performers Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mike Hall, Alex Kireev, Danilo Pinnock and Omar Williams -- a collection of veterans who accounted for close to two-thirds of the team’s scoring during last year’s headline-grabbing campaign.

So how did the Colonials finish fifth in the preseason poll in spite of such considerable losses?

“I like to think of it as respect,” sixth-year coach Karl Hobbs said. “Based on what everyone else has coming back -- if you base it just on paper -- we probably should be picked to finish eighth or ninth. I think it’s just more out of respect.”

The perpetually upbeat Hobbs is excited for the upcoming season and optimistic about his team’s chances to defend its regular-season conference championship.

“We’re young but we have speed and quickness and hopefully that will spur us on,” Hobbs said. “We’ll play the same. We’ve always been a team that’s never relied on one person to score points for us. When you look at the last three years in the league, we’ve always been in the top two in scoring, yet we’ve never really had anybody in the top 10 in the league in [individual] scoring. We always finish in the top three in team assists.

“So I think that won’t change. Our offense is predicated on what we call ‘sharing the game’ -- and I think we’ll continue to have three or four players that will average in double figures.”

GW's lone returning starter is senior point guard Carl Elliott, a dark horse conference Player of the Year candidate who spurned the NBA draft to return for his senior season. Elliott averaged 11.5 points as a junior and paced the conference with 117 total assists. Also back is Maureece Rice, the dynamic reigning Sixth Man of the Year who will move into the starting lineup from day one.

"[Rice] and Carl Elliott as a core are two of the most underrated players in the country as a backcourt," Hobbs said. "Maureece is a very special guy. He's unique in this day and age. You come from high school and you broke Wilt Chamberlain's [Philadelphia high-school] scoring record and have been a tremendous scorer -- and then you go to college and as a freshman you play against Michigan State and Maryland and you don't even get an opportunity to take your sweats off. I think he averaged maybe 10 minutes a game as a freshman. Most kids wouldn't stick that out -- they would just transfer and leave.

"The thing that I love about this kid is that he understood there was a lot of basketball that he had to learn, and his development has been tremendous."

Posted by at 04:45 PM on October 24, 2006

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