George Washington head coach Maurice Joseph talking with point guard Jaren Sina
Hall of fame coach John McLendon once said about his mentor James Naismith "his philosophy was that adversity is just another opportunity." George Washington interim head coach Maurice Joseph is living proof that this philosophy is an ideal one. Joseph inherited a program in the midst of turmoil. Former head coach Mike Lonergan was let go in September, one of the most decorated classes in GW history in Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen graduated, and a new wave of six talented freshman were now in the program looking for guidance as they transitioned from high school to high level college hoops. That's a lot to handle for any head coach let alone a newly appointed one. Being blunt, things could've went to hell real quick, yet, we sit here and the Colonials are 8-4 despite star wing Yuta Watanabe (13.4 points and 5.2 rebounds) missing the last seven games, Grad Student Patrick Steeves missing the last three games and having to rely on a rotation that involves four freshman playing significant minutes. Despite all of the off season adversity, the program under Joseph's leadership has thrived, so it's time to remove the "interim" and name Maurice Joseph head coach officially.
I know it's early, and yes once conference play starts (with the A-10 being no joke) things can change as far as win's and losses. Although if you know basketball, you understand it's deeper than wins and losses. The true measure of a coach can be seen by the game by game effort of his players. It's undeniable how hard the Colonials play during games and that type of effort just doesn't come without belief in the coach and the staff. Sure, having a Tyler Cavanaugh (17.1 points and 7.6 rebounds) caliber player in your program help's matters, however, he can't do it alone. George Washington has seen multiple players step up during the season and help carry the load, another testament to Joseph's team preparation during practice. Senior guard Matt Hart, junior point guard Jaren Sina have been steady leaders on the perimeter along with sophomore Jordan Roland who exploded for a career high 27 points in a win over UCF in the last contest. While Watanabe has been out, Cavanaugh has received help in the paint by committee from talented freshman forward's Collin Smith, Arnaldo Toro and Kevin Marfo. It's been a full team contribution that has brought early season success to the Smith Center. Even with their four losses, three of them were winnable games excluding the Florida State contest in the BB&T Classic. Still, trials can be blessings in disguise and I guaranteed that ugly loss to Florida State motivated the team in a lot of way's, the Colonial's haven't lost since, currently enjoying a three game winning streak.
Is it a lot of basketball left in the season, absolutely, and adversity is almost guaranteed to strike again as should be expected during the journey of a basketball season. When it does, I have confidence that Joseph will have the Colonial's rise to the occasion. Remember, adversity is just another opportunity, with Joseph leading the way George Washington has seized every opportunity that has come their way, why would things be any different moving forward?