- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

CINCINNATI — Minutes after his team got bounced from the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament yesterday, George Washington coach Karl Hobbs was asked if the Colonials had missed an opportunity to earn a high seed for next week’s NCAA tournament.

For the next 20 minutes, reporters and Hobbs debated whether the question even mattered for the Colonials.

Yes, top-seeded GW’s 68-53 loss to No. 9 seed Temple at U.S. Bank Arena upset Hobbs. And yes, he’s not pleased his squad’s 18-game winning streak ended. But it’s clear that he’s still more bothered by last year’s snub.

“We were a 12th seed. A 12th seed,” said Hobbs, whose team won the A-10 tournament and went into last season’s NCAA tournament with a 22-7 record. “Why would I think we’re going to be a 3 seed this year? Where’s the proof? I’m going to sound like an idiot if I say that.”

On Monday, a number of A-10 coaches were asked on the league’s weekly teleconference where GW deserved to be placed on Selection Sunday. Most said the Colonials should be a No. 2 or 3 seed. That likely won’t be the case now.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” Hobbs said. “We’re going to have to play a good team, and that’s what it is. Last year, we won our league, and we were a 12th seed. We’ll probably get another 12th seed. I’m just telling you. You’re asking me a question that I don’t have an answer for, so all I can do is guess.”

The Colonials (26-2) didn’t have an answer for the Owls’ zone defense either.

With Temple coach John Chaney switching from a 2-1-2 zone to a 3-2 to one of his matchup defenses, GW made only 32.3 percent of its shots and just 24 percent of its 3-point attempts.

Temple (17-13) didn’t shoot much better. The Owls hit 39.3 and 31.6 percent, respectively — but they also forced 19 Colonials turnovers to keep them at bay.

“We couldn’t solve that zone today,” said Hobbs, whose squad got 18 points from junior guard Carl Elliott and 16 points from junior guard Danilo Pinnock. “That was our problem. As a coach, I don’t like to admit it, but I can’t deny the truth.”

Although GW held a 20-16 lead midway through the first half, the Colonials quickly fell out of sync as the Owls made a 13-0 run heading into intermission. GW made only two field goals in the final 12:58 of the half and didn’t score a point in the last eight minutes.

Meanwhile, the Colonials missed 12 shots and committed nine turnovers during their extended drought. They also gave Temple something more precious — self-belief.

“It was big in building their confidence,” said GW senior forward Mike Hall, who recorded 12 rebounds but missed eight of 10 shots. “When the defense smothers you like that, they form an arrogance. They carried that over into the second half, and it was hard to recover.”

But recovery proved an impossible feat for GW. Now the Colonials must answer the more important question of whether they can recover in time for the NCAA tournament when they’ll face a season-ending contest every game.

Senior forward Omar Williams thinks so, especially if injured center Pops Mensah-Bonsu can heal from a knee injury in time to return, something Hobbs expects.

“We know we have to break down the tape and see what we did wrong and get back to playing the way we can play,” Williams said. “We definitely have to be more prepared.”

But regardless of what seed the NCAA tournament selection committee bestows upon the Colonials, Hall said the Colonials would turn Williams’ wish into truth. His team, he said, will be ready to play the next time they take the court.

“We can’t comment on anything about the seeding,” Hall said. “All I know is that whoever we play, we’re going to give it our all and try to keep our jerseys for as long as we possibly can.”

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