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Another Glorified Warm-Up

George Washington Colonials

Atlantic 10 teams are usually on the high end of the mid-major spectrum and can provide solid tests for P5 programs. We've seen VCU and Davidson provide us stiff challenges in the past. But this George Washington iteration has come out of the gate reeling; are they really going to be much of a test for the Hoos?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Sunday, November 11th, 2:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ACCX

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:No line yet
TAPE:Ranks GW #130, predicts a 72-50 UVA win, 98% confidence
KenPom:Ranks GW #222, predicts a 75-52 UVA win, 98% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#2 Armel Potter, 6'1" 182, JR
30.5 mpg, 12.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, .000 3P%
SG#1 Terry Nolan Jr., 6'2" 180, SO
32.5 mpg, 13.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, .429 3P%
SF#0 Justin Mazzulla, 6'3" 195, SO
35.5 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, .545 FG%
PF#13 DJ Williams, 6'7" 215, JR
36.0 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .250 FG%
C#11 Arnaldo Toro, 6'8" 248, JR
36.0 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, .625 FG%
Key Reserves
PG#12 Shandon Brown, 5'10" 175, FR
13.0 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 2.0 apg, .333 3P%
G#5 Adam Mitola, 6'2" 192, JR
8.0 mpg, 1.5 ppg, 0.5 apg, .333 3P%
G/F#14 Maceo Jack, 6'5" 190, SO
7.5 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 0.0 apg, .333 3P%
F/C#15 Mezie Offurum, 6'6" 220, FR
23.5 mpg, 6.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .571 FG%

 

The ABC's of George Washington:

A) They're going with a small look. This will be a good test of our defense against a small lineup, as the Colonials start wing-forward DJ Williams as a perimeter-oriented 4. The transfer from Illinois has some big game experience, playing nearly 30 minutes a night as a true freshman in the Big 10. He's a career 19% 3P% shooter, so his stretch threat is limited, however. They only have one traditional big man, 6-8 248 lb Arnaldo Toro (6-6 220 lb freshman Mezie Offurum is the closest thing to a big man off the bench), so UVA will have a size advantage throughout.

B) There's a three-headed guard trio that will try to spread us out. PG Armel Potter is a Charleston Southern transfer who is pretty good at getting into the paint and running the offense (12.7 ppg, 3.2 apg as a sophomore), but isn't a scary shooter (career 33% 3P%). Scoring guards Terry Nolan and Justin Mazzulla (6-2 and 6-3, respectively) are good shooters on the flanks, each well over 40% two games in, so our closeouts are going to have to be great with them. They combined for 35 points in Thursday's loss, shooting a combined 6 of 10 from deep. Drive them off the line and let their lack of size hinder their ability in the paint.

C) They're already leaning hard on their starters. GW has played two tight games thus far (both losses, one in OT), and as such has limited their use of the bench. The starters played 165 (out of 200) minutes Thursday night after playing 180 (out of 225) on Tuesday. Complicating matters was redshirt junior forward DJ Williams sitting out vs Stony Brook, so freshman Offurum took his spot, but Offurum's lack of contributions on Thursday indicate they're not comfortable going with him for long stretches yet. If we can force them to go to the bench (foul trouble or fatigue), we'll see some sophomores and freshmen who aren't ready for prime time.

 

Their Season To Date

George Washington is 0-2 on the season. They opened by blowing a 22 point lead at home to lose in OT vs Stony Brook before losing at home 69-61 to Siena on Thursday night.

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Paint Touches. This may wind up being a running Key #1 for the foreseeable future until I see it consistently applied. No matter the defense we see (zone, press, man, whatever), get the ball into the paint and work the offense from there. If Toro is guarding the paint (3 blocks on the season so far), try to get the rest of the defense to collapse and kick to a shooter/slasher. If he's not? Attack the rim with the dribble drive and post-ups. This is a strategic rhythm we need to get established now.

2) Stay out of foul trouble. Not that I necessarily think it would cost us the game, but it'll make things harder than they need to be. I'm not overly worried about our Towson starters (none of whom have reputations as foul prone), but to be able to really take advantage of our size and depth, it's essential that we are able to keep Mamadi (3 PF vs Towson), Clark (3), Marco (2 in only 8 minutes), and Huff (foul prone as a freshman) from drawing many whistles.

3) Get out to a fast start. The early first half struggles were beyond frustrating on Tuesday night against a team UVA should've manhandled. Of course it was painfully reminiscent of our last loss, a slow start allowing an upstart opponent to stay in the game until they could heat up. Against tougher teams on our schedule, slow starts will doom us too, of course. Virginia needs to establish an offensive aggression right from the tip on Sunday vs GW, and look to find a good shot early in the shot clock, in transition whenever possible, to establish a confidence and rhythm to salt the game away well before halftime.

 

 

Predictions:

GW is a team that's reeling right now, and where some teams may take two disheartening losses and use it to double down and come back even stronger, my gut is telling me the Colonials right now are not one of those squads. I'm not a big believer in GW coach Maurice Joseph (he only got the job by ascending when his boss Mike Lonergan got canned right before the 2016-17 season commenced), and TBD if a roster dominated by underclassmen and newbie transfers has the internal leadership and maturity to bounce back as needed going on the road vs a Top 10 team (they've got a tourney date with Michigan coming immediately after).

This isn't a game where UVA needs to do anything fancy to win. GW does not have any particular strengths to try and counter like Towson's program-defining O-rebounding strategy. Just play our game, take advantage of our edge in size, talent, and experience, and don't do anything dumb, and we'll be fine.

Hoos Win 75-42