There are a few ACC games Friday night, but really only one is significant,
and that is when State hosts surging George Washington. And make no
mistake - there will be a lot of pressure on both teams, but
probably more on George Washington. Obviously State doesn't want to
lose, but losing to a tough A-10 team - well, it's happened to ACC teams
before. There's no novelty there.
For George Washington, though, an awful lot rides on this. First of
all, two wins over Top 25 ACC teams (including their win over Maryland) would
pretty much mean that they'd have to self-destruct not to get an NCAA
invite. And for the school itself, it's a chance to establish something
that they can draw on for years: applications may go up, invitations to
big events may be forthcoming, and a Top 10 spot awaits them if they can pull it
off. And for Karl Hobbs, it's a chance to stamp himself as the hottest
young coach in the country. If he can maintain a Top 10 level at GW for
the season, when a school like, say, Indiana opens up, his name will be high on
the list. He'll be able to write his ticket, in other words, should he
choose to do so.
This will be a game where both teams fight to control the tempo, with GW
trying to press State and force them into turnovers, much like Hobbs' old boss,
Jim Calhoun, likes to do. State will try to play at a less frantic speed
and will do what they've learned to do very well - namely to use Illian Evtimov
at the top of the offense and to let him use his excellent passing skills to hit
cutters, and to distribute the ball around the perimeter to get three point
Danilo Pinnock has snuck up on some people who didn't realize how athletic he
was. Herb Sendek may well have the answer, though, in Cameron
Bennerman, who is as athletic as just about anyone. Beyond Bennerman
they have Gavin Grant, and beyond Grant they have Tony Bethel, Engin Atsur, and
Brandon Costner to throw at Pinnock, if necessary. We're not sure George
Washington has similar depth.
State's inside game is also underrated, and their guards are smart. We
think they have an excellent shot at this game.
And while UConn's performance against State last season wasn't up to what
they would consider their standards, the fact is that State beat UConn. If
they can beat the master, they can beat the student too.
In the other game of particular interest, Virginia Tech takes on Old
Dominion, a team which is unusually well coached by a protege of Mike
Montgomery. He has done a fantastic job at ODU and it really surprises us
that he hasn't gotten more interest from bigger schools.
In the other two games, Elon takes on Clemson and Charleston Southern
Nice to see Pete
Gillen has found something to do with himself.