George Washington's offense features a classic one-two punch from their starting lineup and a big contributor off the bench to provide their scoring.
The big gun on the front line is forward Mike Hall (6-8, 220) who nearly averages a double-double with 10.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Hall gets a number of his points on offensive stickbacks - he has nearly as many offensive rebounds (23) as defensive (26).
Teaming with Hall is guard T. J. Thompson, who is a three-point threat averaging 16.6 points per outing. Thompson (5-10, 180) is shooting 38% from three point range, so he will require attention from the Mountaineer defense on the perimeter.
True freshman Carl Elliott (6-4, 220) gives GW a big physical presence in the backcourt. The callow freshman has run the team well, but does have a tendency to turn the ball over. J.R. Pinnock and Lafonte Johnson provide steady relief at the guard slots, combining for 13.4 points per game.
The other front court starters are Omar Williams (6-9, 185) and Tamal Forchion (6-6, 255), who each average about four points per game. The most productive of the frountcourters, other than Hall, is sub Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who averages 13.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Mensah-Bonsu (6-9, 220) actually averages more minutes than either Williams or Forchion.
This battle of super subs will likely determine dominance in the lane, which in turn could be the difference in this matchup of former Eastern 8 and Atlantic 10 conference foes.
|Sat 12/6 1:00 p.m.|
WVU 2-1, 0-0
GW 4-1, 0-0
Fox Sports Pitts
WVU - 79
GW - 91
|Line: GW -3|
That description could also be applied to WVU's Fischer, who has been the Mountaineers' saving grace in the paint this year. Fischer is shooting a phenomenal 84.2% from the field, and has controlled the lane defensively with blocked shots. Each player will be looking to establish the upper hand early, so a blocked shot, a couple of quick hoops or an impressive rebound as the two athletic big men face off could give one player something of a psychological edge.
Both players are counted on to provide their teams with a big lift coming off the bench, and the player that meets that need the best will probably boost his team to victory.
The Colonials started off the season with an impressive win at Charlotte, but stumbled with a loss at Appalachian State, which they had defeated just five days prior in a tournament.
Games like this, especially early in the season, make it difficult to predict outcomes. WVU's home loss to Northeastern, followed by a neutral court win over St. Louis, is just another of many examples of this type.
Two items to watch in this contest are rebounding margin and the turnover ratio. The Colonials have several jumping jack forwards that figure to give the Mountaineers trouble on the glass, especially on the offensive end. GW averages more than 14 offensive boards per game, which is a scary prospect for the rebounding-challenged WVU squad.
On the other hand, Coach Karl Hobbs' squad doesn't protect the ball particularly well. Ninety-five turnovers in five games has meant a lot of missed opportunities on the offensive end of the floor, and that will be an area that West Virginia will be looking to exploit.
If the Mountaineers can improve their defensive and rebounding output just a bit, they should be in good shape this year. WVU is scorching the nets from the field, hitting 52% of their attempts so far.
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This will be the third time in six games that the Colonials have faced a team called the Mountaineers this year. George Washington has already played Appalachian State twice this season.
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Mensah-Bonsu's full name is Nana Papa Yaw Mensah-Bonsu. Cool.
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While many observers get hung up on who starts a game, it's really not a huge factor. Head coach John Beilein observes that some player perform better coming off the bench. Also, it's not always a matter of who starts, but who gets the playing time.
In WVU's case, a pair of subs have almost exactly the same amount of PT that the starters "in front" of them do. Tyler Relph (19.0 minutes per game) and Jarmon Durisseau-Collins (19.7) split time almost evenly at the point, while D'or Fischer(25.3) and Kevin Pittsnogle (24.7) are sharing the center duties.