George Washington guard Tony Taylor reached the 10-shot plateau in the closing seconds last week against Bradley with a frantic heave off a broken play that was swatted aside as the Colonials suffered a 67-66 loss.
It was a less-than-ideal situation. Not Taylor's try for the winning shot, which was improvised only after the Colonials failed to properly screen for the senior. Rather, Taylor barely reaching double digit shots — again — reflected how GW hasn't made the most of its best player early this season.
Taylor, a second-team all-Atlantic 10 pick last season and a preseason first-team selection this year, has not led the Colonials (4-6) in shots in any of their past six games. That stretch coincides with a five-game losing streak George Washington will attempt to end when it meets James Madison (5-3) on Thursday at the Smith Center.
"I think coach [Mike Lonergan] has been doing a really good job of trying to get me those shots, but my mentality growing up has always been 'Pass first and I'll get my shots later,' " Taylor said. "I really need to be more aggressive, and that's what helped me last year. I was really aggressive, and when I was really aggressive a lot of things opened for my teammates. I think I have to pick it up in that aspect."
There were early signs this season it wouldn't be a problem for Taylor, who averaged 15 points a year ago. He scored at least 20 points in each the first three games and was especially potent from the perimeter, shooting 9 of 13 from 3-point range in that stretch.
It hasn't carried into December.
While Taylor remains a near-constant presence on the floor — he's logged at least 31 minutes in every game and ranks eighth in the Atlantic 10 with 34.8 minutes per game — his scoring and efficiency have dipped along with his attempts. During the Colonials' skid, he's 19-for-50 overall and 3-for-15 from 3-point range.
"He played very well early in the season, and we have to do a better job of getting him back to that level where he is a major factor for us offensively and defensively," Lonergan said.
After the loss to Bradley, Lonergan briefly discussed the need for Taylor to hold teammates accountable. He is one of three seniors who regularly play for the Colonials.
That might not come naturally to the soft-spoken Taylor, though it probably is a task that will fall to him as GW ventures deeper into the season.
"I think I need to do a better job of that," said Taylor, who is averaging 12.9 points. "I'm a pretty quiet guy. I just have to get on my teammates a lot more than I do. I try to be a positive influence and just make sure everybody's OK and give them encouragement every day. I think I need to give them both sides."
The Colonials and Taylor have the chance to shake off their respective - though intertwined - slumps in the next week and a half. GW plays three non-conference games, all at home, before opening its Atlantic 10 schedule with games at St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis.
A sharp and aggressive Taylor would help make the Colonials a contender for a spot in the top half of the league, which means the tail end of December is significant for George Washington to recalibrate itself after its recent disappointments.
"Very, very, very important," Taylor said. "There's a big emphasis on these next three games because that's right before we go into A-10 play, and we really need to get a lot better before we start playing those games."
NOTE: Lonergan said junior forward David Pellom, who was suspended for the Bradley game for a violation of athletic department policy, will play against James Madison. Pellom is averaging 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench.
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