- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. — George Washington arrived at the NCAA tournament knowing a significant reinforcement is unlikely for Friday’s second-round game against Memphis.

The Colonials have played for almost two months without sophomore guard Kethan Savage, whose broken left foot still hasn’t completely healed. Savage tried to play during the Atlantic 10 tournament last weekend, but lasted barely a minute on the floor in a semifinal loss to VCU.

George Washington, the No. 9 seed, still went 9-5 without Savage, who was the team’s second-leading scorer before injuring his foot in a Jan. 18 game against St. Bonaventure. He was averaging 12.7 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game, an athletic presence who could get to the rim.

But if he hopes to play at all against the Tigers, Savage will have to prove to the Colonials’ training staff that he’s ready to go. He didn’t look it against VCU after limping to the bench shortly after entering the game.

“I’m staying out of that one because [Savage has] got two years left,” GW coach Mike Lonergan said Thursday. “He had a great season and I wish he was playing. Maybe he does, but I really don’t know. It’s just I’m prepared that he’s not going to play.”

Pellom leads Tigers vs. old team

The Colonials will see a familiar face on the court against Memphis on Friday. Senior forward David Pellom averaged 10.4 points per game as a junior at George Washington in 2011-12, but he missed his senior year with a wrist injury.

Pellom left the Colonials as a graduate transfer student with one year of eligibility left and landed at Memphis, which was in dire need last spring of frontcourt help.

“The committee might have knew something we didn’t,” GW guard Isaiah Armwood said. “They might have put us up against him. … [But] we know a lot of people on the different teams in the tournament, so that just so happened to be the draw.”

Pellom is a bench player for the Tigers, averaging 4.3 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game. But if his contributions on the court have been relatively limited, Pellom has at least helped a young frontcourt develop. Starting forwards Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols are a sophomore and freshman respectively and rank as Memphis’ third- and fourth-leading scorers.

“Being a freshman coming in, I wanted to learn as much as I could,” Nichols said. “So I turned to the veterans on the team, all the seniors, including David. And I learned quite a bit from him. He used to play for GW, so I’m excited for him because we’re about to play them.”

Duke’s Parker hopes for one-and-done impact

In the age of one-and-done college players who quickly leave for the NBA, Duke freshman Jabari Parker may be appearing in his only NCAA tournament. That’s not lost on his coach, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski.

But can Parker have the same impact on his team during this year’s NCAA tournament that another star freshman, Carmelo Anthony, once did for his team in 2003? Syracuse, of course, won the national title that year and Anthony, the tournament’s most outstanding player, turned pro that spring.

“I’ve coached Carmelo over the last eight, nine years. Carmelo’s one of the great players in the NBA — not just now, but ever, and maybe as good an individual scorer as there is, he and Kevin Durant.” said Krzyzewski, who has coached Anthony for the United States in the Olympics. “Jabari’s going to be an outstanding pro. He’s in the process of development. To compare the two now, there is no comparison. In three, four, five years, Jabari will be a franchise player.”

Mercer ready to make own March statement

Florida Gulf Coast became the darling of the NCAA tournament last year with its “Dunk City” moniker and its entertaining style of play. One group that wasn’t enthused? The Mercer Bears, who were actually the No. 1 seed in last year’s Atlantic Sun tournament only to lose to Florida Gulf Coast, which beat Georgetown and San Diego State last year as a No. 15 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16.

“There was mixed feelings about that,” Mercer forward Jakob Gollon said. “Obviously, it was really good for the Atlantic Sun, so we were happy about it in that aspect. On the other hand, it was hard to watch because we took down some mid‑major schools. We know that had we been the team that got the bid, we probably could have done something similar.”

This year, Mercer gets its chance after repaying the favor to FGCU, where the Bears won the Atlantic Sun title as the No. 2 seed earlier this month. Mercer has a tougher road, though. The Bears play No. 3 seed Duke on Friday in front of what should be a partisan Blue Devils’ crowd in Raleigh.

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