#58 George Washington Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

George Washington Colonials
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #58
Conference Rank: #5 Atlantic 10
Reaching the NIT was a bit of a disappointment for George Washington. Many expected this to be a team that not only could reach the NCAA Tournament, but do a bit of damage once they got there. But the Colonials made the most of their trip to the NIT. They knocked off Hofstra, Monmouth, Florida, San Diego State and Valparaiso en route to an NIT title. With Tyler Cavanaugh back, GW should be able to at least make it back to the NIT. Cavanaugh scored in double figures in all 38 games last season and averaged 16.8 points and 7.6 rebounds. The 6-9 senior made a huge splash in the A-10 after transferring in from Wake Forest and that will continue in 2016-2017. Coach Mike Lonergan has some holes to fill, but being able to build around Cavanaugh for one more year will put George Washington in a position to win plenty of games.
2015-16 Record: 28-10, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Mike Lonergan
Coach Record: 97-70 at George Washington, 474-226 overall
Who’s Out:
Seven players averaged more than ten minutes per game last year and five of them are gone. That is a huge blow. Patrico Garino was second on the team in scoring behind Cavanaugh with 14.1 points per game and knocked down an impressive 43.0 percent of his team high 135 attempts from beyond the arc. Joe McDonald ran the point and dished out 3.1 assists per game. He added 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds too. Kevin Larsen is the other lost starter and perhaps the most significant of them all. The 6-10 forward averaged 12.3 points and a team high 8.3 rebounds. He was an absolute beast in the paint and even dished out 2.6 assists per game. Guards Alex Mitola and Paul Jorgensen provided much of team’s depth and both were able to provide an offensive spark off of the bench.
Who’s In:
The two newcomers with experience will likely step right into starting roles. Jaren Sina comes from Seton Hall and has the talent and experience to run the point from day one. In his 58 games with the Pirates as an underclassman, Sina started 42 of them. Back in 2014-2015 he averaged 7.0 points and 2.3 assists. The scoring potential is there, but Sina needs to become a leader and share the ball effectively and efficiently. The other transfer is Patrick Steeves, who comes to Seton Hall as a graduate transfer from Harvard. The 6-7 wing averaged 9.1 points per game last year and knocked down an impressive 45.8 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. At least a couple of the six freshmen will have to play some minutes too. One likely candidate is 6-9 forward Kevin Marfo. He is a tough player who has the physical tools to compete right away. His scoring may take some time to come around, but there are other scorers on this team. Look for Collin Smith and Arnaldo Toro to compete for minutes off of the bench. The backcourt adds Jair Bolden, Adam Mitola and Justin Williams.
Who to Watch:
Yuta Watanabe had a very good sophomore season, averaging 8.4 points per game and starting 37 of the team’s 38 contests. He is a big 6-8 guard who has a lot of versatility. Considering where this group has talent and experience, Wantanabe could spend some time as the shooting guard. Having a 6-8 shooting guard, with a 6-7 Steeves on the wing, gives George Washington a ton of size in the backcourt that most A-10 teams will have trouble matching up against. Playing those two beside Sina at the point is a lineup Coach Lonergan tried out while the Colonials toured Wantanabe’s native Japan over the summer. Ideally, the backcourt will find a more traditional shooting guard so the frontcourt can have more depth with Wantanabe at the small forward position and Steeves spending some time stretching the defense at the power forward position. But that will depend on how many minutes the freshmen and Matt Hart can manage. Hart averaged just 8.8 minutes per game as a freshman, but he is a very good shooter who can be a very productive shooter off of the bench. Combo guard Jordan Roland could see a bigger role too after averaging just 4.7 minutes per game as a freshman.
Final Projection:
George Washington certainly has some questions to answer, but there are four very solid starters in this lineup. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the minutes have to be filled by freshmen. As long as a couple of them pan out, this will be a tough team, albeit lacking depth. If that lack of depth does not become an issue and the injury bug stays away, George Washington should be able to compete with the better teams in the Atlantic 10. Surpassing the likes of Dayton, VCU and Rhode Island may be asking too much, but the Colonials are right there in the next tier that will be competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. But Cavanaugh can only do so much and a return trip to the NIT is more likely.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jaren Sina, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Yuta Wantanabe, Junior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Patrick Steeves, Senior, Guard, 9.1 points per game (at Harvard)
Kevin Marfo, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Tyler Cavanaugh, Senior, Forward, 16.8 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.7 (115th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.5 (87, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.7 (139, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.8 (132, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (167, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.1 (60, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.3 (16, 3)
Rebound Margin: 5.2 (40, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (120, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (49, 4)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#164 Kevin Marfo