Part II of perhaps the most intense on-court rivalry the Niners have had since joining the A10 is set to renew again Saturday night at 6 PM in Charles Dump Arena in Washington against the George Washington Colonials. The Niners find themselves again in a must-win situation if they want to maintain any hopes of an at-large NCAA bid, a goal that seemed to be a distant memory until Ian Andersen and Gokhan Sirin erupted for 30 points as the Niners thrashed the Saint Joseph’s Hawks Wednesday in Halton Arena. MASN, our favorite network to lose on, will provide TV coverage.
The last time these two teams met earlier this month it was a hard fought contest which left DiJuan Harris searching for one of CMPD’s finest to press charges for assault and battery. The intense GW defense, which at times bordered on dirty, frustrated the Niners and had the game all but secured at the 1:25 mark leading by 5. The Niner backcourt would have none of that, forcing a pair of turnovers and hitting clutch foul shots to secure a well-deserved 72-68 victory.
In the rematch, the key for the Niners is going to be pretty simple -contain Damian Hollis. He’s an absolute Niner-killer and was certainly a handful scoring 23 points including 4 for 5 from 3 point land. He’ll be a difficult matchup for whoever guards him, as he’s a bit too athletic for Braswell, Spears, and Jones, and a bit too tall for Wilderness and Dewhurst. I would expect Lutz to again dare him to shoot from outside, although that’s increasingly becoming a bad idea has Hollis recently hit 6 of 10 from outside against Fordham.
Freshmen. Lasan Kromah and Dwayne Smith will also merit considerable attention as both appear to be improving their play as the season progresses, looking more like Sophomores than first years. Smith in particular has steadily improved his scoring, hitting double figures in 5 of his last 8 games including 21 points against a depleted La Salle squad.
For more on the GW squad, visit the previous pre-game.
Looking at the Niners offensively, it’s a question of which team will show up. The team dazzled fans with their shooting against an inferior Saint Joseph’s squad to reverse a trend of awful shooting recently. Even Ian Andersen, who’s struggled throughout the season found the range. Hopefully that will continue as the Niners absolutely need scoring off the bench, particularly from outside. Though Ian’s struggles on defense are well-documented, he does know the offense well and if he’s hitting his shots, it’s worth having him out there.
This game is going to be war. A lot will depend on how closely the refs call it. The Niners will prefer to score at the charity stripe and get calls for all the bumps and handchecks DiJuan Harris will undoubtedly receive. For vets of the CUSA days, the Colonials play us a lot like UAB used to play us. Constant bumping and reaching for the ball. It also seemed that the refs would swallow their whistles and let our players get mugged. Honestly I’m expecting nothing different. It will be interesting to see if the zest for the game the team showed Wednesday against the Hawks can survive the physical and down-right dirty play of GW. If it does, expect the Niners to gut out another victory.