Gëørgē Wàshîngtøn’š season got off to a tumultuous start even before the Colonials tipped off the season. Head Coach Mike Lonergan was summarily dismissed from the school after an investigation revealed Lonergan “verbally abused” players. Now, I don’t want to go on rant here (h/t Dennis Miller) but if you attend one of Archie Miller’s practices, or any basketball practice session across the country (at pretty much any level, NBA to CYO), someone could undoubtedly find some of the language objectionable. Verbal rebuke, for better or worse, has been proven to be an effective tool in teaching and motivation. I’ve been yelled at by coaches, you’ve been yelled at by coaches and your fathers have been yelled at by coaches. It’s simply a part of the sporting culture.
This isn’t a hackneyed indictment against “Millennial Culture” or “Cucks” or “Millennial Cuck Culture,” I’m simply saying team sports traffic in machismo and blunt, oftentimes crude, language. Clearly there are lines to be crossed. For example, Bobby Knight choking players and Mike Rice beaning basketballs off of kid’s heads? No one is defending that. However, telling a kid to shut the fuck up, or to go suck a stanky, uncut cock if he doesn’t want to rebound, isn’t the end of the world.
Lonergan is an interesting case due to the fact that allegations of his “verbal abuse” came to light after the 2014-15 season. Apparently the school looked into the claims and essentially told him, “Mike, cool it with the salty language, guy.” He was sent a letter by the University clearing him of any real wrongdoing. However, there was the troubling fact that 13 players left the program during Lonergan’s five seasons, three per season the past four years, which gave credence to the idea that maybe his motivational techniques were bordering on sadism. So, in essence, GW gave Lonergan a “kinda sorta” slap on the wrist warning.
One of the funnier anecdotes about Lonergan was that he constantly told his players that GW Athletic Director Patrick Nero was gay and wanted to fuck them (although there are rumors that Nero did in fact have a relationship with a GW player, so maybe the coach wasn’t completely off base). If telling your players to watch out for forced sodomy is wrong, then call me Mr. Millennial Cuck Culture. According to the Washington Post: “Five current and former players said Lonergan told players Nero requested practice tapes so he could masturbate while viewing them in his office.” I’ve personally wacked off to much weirder stuff, so I’m not about to instantly discount Lonergan’s belief here.
There’s also this additional nugget: “According to The Post, Lonergan told one athlete he belonged in a “transgender league” and suggested that another’s son would forever rely on public assistance.” I’m not even going to lie; I like the cut of Lonergan’s jib. Although I’m not quite sure why a kid missing the outlet man would necessarily lead to his unborn son being on food stamps, you have to appreciate the vim and vigor of such an attack.
I’m just imaging Yuta Watanabe calling his parents back in Japan. “Classes are going fine; I really like my Philosophy professor, he’s pretty funny. The food in the cafeteria isn’t that great and the showers in the dorm are kinda gross. Also, my basketball coach keeps telling me that our Athletic Director wants to rape me.”
The sad part is that Mike Lonergan is actually a very good coach who literally yelled and cursed his way out of what was a very promising career. Was he a man touched with the temperment of a drunken viking, or was Lonergan just a very boisterous anti-male-on-male rape advocate? That’s for history to decide. One thing is for sure, given the current climate we live in, the days of coaches throwing balls at players, calling them homos and taking shits into towels are more than likely over. For shame.
George Washington, now led by former assistant coach Maurice Joseph, has experienced an up-and-down season. You would too if you were constantly in the shower, looking over your shoulder for Patrick Nero. The Colonials are 17-13 on the year, a record peppered with decent wins and some deflating losses – a thirty-point beatdown at VCU being the most unpleasant defeat on the ledger. Give Lonergan some credit; GW won 24, 22 and 28 games over the past three seasons. The program brought home the NIT Championship, which I can tell you from personal experience is the kiss of death.
GW is on its longest winning streak of the season and its best in conference play since 2015 with victories over Duquesne, Massachusetts, George Mason and Fordham. A win over the Flyers would give the Colonials their longest A-10 winning streak since the 2014 NCAA Tournament team. Since 2013-14, GW has been one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 at protecting home court. The Colonials own a 54-9 record, including 12-3 this year, for a .857 winning percentage, which is third-best in the conference. Only VCU (56-7, .889) and Dayton (58-8, .879) have a better home winning percentage in that stretch. GW is 8-2 in games decided by five points or less, and has won three within the final 10 seconds. During their last outing, Tyler Cavanaugh was fouled attempting a three-point shot with .9 left at Fordham. The GW senior forward knocked down all three foul-shots to give GW the 67-66 victory. I’d imagine the Colonial’s Athletic Director was masturbating rather feverishly to those highlights.
Just two starters return on what is one of the younger clubs in the league. MoJo’s squad is a solid perimeter shooting team, knocking down 37% of their three-point attempts and 75% of their foul-shots. They have decent size and that has translated into a cavalcade of offensive rebounds and second-chance points. The Colonials also get to the line plenty and are disciplined, or docile, enough defensively to keep their opponents off the charity stripe.
GW gets solid minutes from its bench and tries to stay away from their athletic director as much as possible. They don’t block a ton of shots or score from the paint with regularity. What GW isn’t: a rough and tumble squad that will physically wear you down over forty minutes. What GW is: a rather effete squad that refuses to be raped by members of its athletic department.
Tyler Cavanaugh is the Colonial’s poster boy of success. If a 6’9” white guy is the face of your program, and his name isn’t Larry Joe Bird, you got problems. Cavanaugh leads the team in scoring, dropping a respectable 17.5 points per game. He’s just a solid all-around player, a slightly less effective TJ Cline. Cavanaugh grabs eight boards a contest and is hitting 37% of his three-point attempts, so he’s certainly capable of stretching the floor. I’m not sure UD has an answer for him defensively, so we might have another Peyton Aldridge situation on our hands.
Yuta Watanabe (11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is wrapping up his junior season and he has made a pretty sizeable leap offensively. While he won’t sneak attack you around the basket, he is more than capable of knocking down threes and his kamikaze defensive mindset creates altered and blocked shots. While the lefty’s game might lack pizzazz, it is very honorable. Joining the Shootin’ Samarai in the starting frontcourt is Harvard graduate transfer Patrick Steeves. Steeves (6 ppg, 2.7 rpg) is kind of a garbage man, doesn’t do anything particularly well but he has a smart haircut and a degree from Harvard, so what the fuck do I know?
The backcourt is piloted by freshman point-guard point-guard Jair Bolden and Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina. Sina is the team’s third-leading scorer, 9.4 points per game, and a permanent member of the “white guy who flashes around the three-point line looking to jack a three” club (WGWFATTPLLTJAT really needs to work on their name). Sina left Seton Hall after what was described as an “untenable locker-room situation” at the program. You know what’s really untenable? How about trying to escape the luring eyes of your athletic director as you take your shorts off in the locker room. Way to think things through, Jaren. (Apparently former Pirate Isiah Whitehead was freezing him out during games and Sina’s best friend and roommate, Sterling Gibbs, got into a physical altercation with Whitehead after a game. Gibbs left the program soon after Sina, transferring to UConn). Bolden started getting significant time at the start of the conference slate. He’s an inconsistent player at this stage of his career but certainly one with a lot of potential.
Jordan Roland, Matt Hart and Collin Smith are the main guys off the Colonial bench. Roland gets the most minutes out of any reserve, a sophomore guard who can steadily knock down shots from outside. Hart is the team’s other senior, a stand-straight shooter that is shooting just over 40% from the three-point line. Collin Smith is a 6’10” freshman that simply hacks the shit out of everybody. He accidentally set a moving screen on a security guard during GW’s game at Davidson.
Looking at GW’s numbers, my take is if Dayton doesn’t fall flat there shouldn’t be any glaring issues. On defense they’re summarily average, but not quite mediocre in every aspect. They’re a tricky blend of polished shit. They don’t turn anyone over but the Colonials do keep folks from shooting threes. They force opponents to score inside, which for being one of the taller squads you’d think they’d be better defending the paint. The only areas they excel in are defensive rebounding and not sending you to the free throw line. Dayton can score in such a variety of ways, I’m not all that concerned.
On offense the Colonials are as puzzling as the original colonists were to Pocahontas. Again, they’re one of the taller squads around, but are almost dead fucking last in two-point field goal percentage. On top of that they turn the ball over a ton, mostly via steals. It’s as if their overseas recruiting was focused only on Maurice Beyina’s children. (Much love if you get that reference). Given Pollard, Scoochie and of course KD’s propensity for creating steals and turnovers things could get difficult for GW. The one area where they are above-average is hitting the glass and getting to the line. Let’s hope the Flyers don’t have the same issues they had in both VCU games, but if there’s a weak spot to exploit, this is it.
On paper, and according to the numbers, if Dayton is focused they won’t necessarily cruise to an easy win, but are much more likely than not to pull it out. After Wednesday’s game the question really is whether or not the team will be able to get up for this one. I’ll think we’ll know fairly quickly. If they do fall behind early, many of you likely know my propensity for second-half wagering — it was very successful in several of Dayton’s non-conference tilts. If Dayton does fall behind I don’t believe this is one of those spots where they’d mount a huge charge.
George Washington protects their home floor better than anyone in the league outside of VCU and Dayton. The Colonials have won 12 of their 15 meetings at home against the Flyers; their last three wins against UD have come by an average margin of 1.3 points. There was the Joe McDonald putback at the buzzer in overtime last year to give GW a 65-64 victory in 2015. Two seasons earlier an Isaiah Armwood dunk with two seconds propelled George Washington to an 81-80 win over your Flyers. And in 2011, Tony Taylor knocked down two foul shots with ten second left and Jabari Edwards blocked a Chris Wright drive to the bucket at the horn to seal a 60-58 victory over Dayton.
Needless to say, the series, which GW currently leads 17-16, has been tight, particularly at the Smith Center. Dayton is of course coming off a regular season title-clinching victory over VCU and a letdown is surely in the works. GW has the size to challenge UD on both ends of the floor, and the Flyers will come out flat after their emotionally-charged win on Wednesday night. Colonials get the upset, 68-65. You heard me.