- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2006

George Washington University students are celebrating the return of their men’s basketball team to the Top 10 rankings after a 50-year hiatus — but you would never know it if you looked on campus.

Hardly a T-shirt advertising the Colonials’ logo was sported, a banner draped or a bumper sticker stuck anywhere on campus in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood in Northwest yesterday.

Nothing, despite the Colonials’ 16-1 record and an upcoming nationally televised game against Xavier University tomorrow night. Yet, the team’s home game against Richmond Sunday is sold out.

“People come here for political science or international relations. They are more concerned about the State of the Union than they are about a basketball game,” says Philipp Havenstein, a 20-year-old junior from Detroit who is majoring in political science.

Nevertheless, he says he is an avid fan of the Colonials.

Mr. Havenstein and his friend Matthew Cohen begin debating how far the Colonials are likely to go this season. Mr. Havenstein says they maybe could go to the Sweet 16, the third round of the 65-team NCAA championship tournament.

Mr. Cohen thinks the team is likely to lose in the second round.

So does that mean they are skeptical of pollsters who say the team is among the elite in the nation?

“Anyone that knows anything about basketball is a little skeptical,” Mr. Cohen says. “It doesn’t mean we don’t support them, though.”

Parker Bollinger, a 22-year-old senior who grew up in Alexandria, also describes himself as a fan.

He says it is “amazing” that the Colonials has had so much success at a school known more for its academics than for its athletics. But, he says the drawback is that it doesn’t get as much support as teams at other schools.

“When you go to the games, it is a good time in the stands, but it’s hard to get any of my friends to go,” he says.

David Bonett, a 19-year-old freshman from Frederick, Md., brushes aside the notion that the student body is indifferent to the team.

“On game days, you see every other person in Colonial Army T-shirts,” he said, referring to a booster club for fans.

In the campus bookstore, a collection of sweatshirts, T-shirts and jerseys advertising the basketball program is prominently displayed to take advantage of the Colonials’ successful season.

“There’s been more interest in the basketball merchandise,” said Patricia Lee, director of the campus bookstore. “This year we even added more to it.”

For yesterday at least, there was more of it to be seen on the shelves than on the students.

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