The Washington Times - September 12, 2008, 08:19PM

Back to basketball after ignoring this little project for a while.

More and more college basketball schedules are coming out. And there’s actually now a backlog of teams to get to.

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Still, it’s not too severe – 21 teams to go, and five weeks until practice starts. That leaves plenty of time – but still plenty to do.

So let’s roll out George Washington tonight, and see if Karl Hobbs will find life in the Atlantic 10 nasty, brutish and short for a second straight season. …

They’ll miss: Guard Maureece Rice, who averaged 9.2 points as a senior and was a member of three NCAA tournament teams.

They’re adding: Belief things can’t get much worse than last season. The Colonials went 9-17, the program’s worst record since a ghastly 1-27 in 1988-89. It was only the third time in 40 seasons that GW failed to win 10 games.

Home/road/neutral schedule split: 12/12/4

Best team visiting Foggy Bottom: An answer here would require a decent idea how the top half of the Atlantic 10 will be reshuffled. Dayton, Rhode Island and Temple were all good last year, and could be again this time around.

Best home game subplot: The first time things looked like they could go bad for the Colonials last season was a loss at UMBC. The Retrievers, who went on to win the America East, return the visit to the Smith Center on Nov. 26.

Funny seeing you here:  Tommy Amaker-coached Harvard swings into town on Dec. 13.

Best road venue: The renovations at Alumni Fieldhouse mean the Palestra will be Saint Joseph’s homecourt this season – and that makes for a sweet experience for the teams passing through Philadelphia to play the Hawks. GW makes its trip on Feb. 4.

Best showcase: The Colonials have done well against Maryland in the BB&T Classic. And while the Terrapins are not the powerhouse of old, it would still mean a lot to a team coming off a 9-17 season to upend Gary Williams‘ team on Dec. 7

Best opponent: Xavier made it to the Elite Eight last year, and should be especially tough at the Cintas Center on Feb. 22.

New to the schedule: Maryland, Harvard, American, Sacramento State and up to three of the following teams: Colorado, Colorado State, Coppin State, Hawaii, Pepperdine and Vermont.

Pivotal stretch: Whenever GW has a chance to clinch a berth in the A-10 tournament. The worst part about last year’s free-fall was getting lumped with woeful St. Bonaventure on the conference tournament sideline.

Patrick Stevens