Author: Abel Rothstein
“The turnout today was unbelievable, impressive. I’m sure Virginia State felt it too.” What head coach Chris Caputo said after his first win was True, because the Buff and Blue loyalists showed up in the season opener. George Washington defeated Virginia State 85-58.
Coach Caputo and his teammates had an impressive second half after the first half. Virginia State is GW’s first non-D1 opponent since 1990 to not lead at any point in the game. From the beginning, GW was in charge.
While Coach Caputo may be new to the program, veteran backcourt duo Brendan Adams and James Bishop are in charge today. The A10’s role has been promoted with the departure of A10 rookie first-team PG Brayon Freeman, and Adams, a graduate student and former UConn transfer student, has successfully filled the vacancy. After shooting just 27 percent from 3-point range the previous year, Adams made a career-high four 3-pointers on just seven attempts. If Adams can find a way to boost the offense while being a solid backcourt option, the GW backcourt could be dangerous.
Working with Adams is James Bishop, a second-team member of the preseason A10. Bishop, who led GW in scoring last year, has begun to change the way he plays to distribute the ball. Bishop had a career-high nine assists on just one turnover with his game-high 21 points. Both members of the backcourt finished with excellent +26s to help lead the Buffs and Blues to victory.
Alabama’s move to EJ Clark came off the bench due to foul trouble and was effective even in limited minutes. His highlight came from a fast-break alley-oop against third-year center Noel Brown, who also contributed positively. Brown was especially good in the paint as he beat Virginia’s defense. An improved Brown could help fill a major hole in GW as they often play against bigs. C Hunter Dean and Brown had a great game today. With his nine points and four rebounds, he also contributed a block and a steal on the defensive end. There’s no way to talk about the word defense in this game without talking to Ricky Lindo Jr. The senior had just three points but filled the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Lindo was in the top 10 of the Atlantic 10 in rebounds, steals and blocks last year, and he will continue to be a dominant force. While Lindo didn’t score, he finished with a team-high +30. Coach Caputo praised the support of George’s army as he spoke of Lindo’s performance and his energy. “He even got poisoned on the layup… The students did it, it’s amazing.”
The energy at the Smith Center definitely feels different, and Brendan Adams made it very clear, he talked about it, and he said it was definitely better than anything from the year before. The player who can bring a lot of energy to the team is Max Edwards, the star of the Kansas State transfer class. Edwards attended high school at Our Savior Lutheran Church, where he teamed up with rumoured GW offense Christian Jones and was seen as a freshman in Caputo’s eyes. The inexperience did show at times, as Edwards found himself in foul trouble early on. Edwards did have an offense in the second half, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds on a 5-8 shooting. Edwards wants to avoid foul trouble because his four fouls did cost him minutes.
The Buffs and Blues take on Howard this Friday at Smith Center in what should be an interesting local matchup. The game was a good start to the Chris Caputo era, and GW will be looking to take advantage of the timing outside of the conference, which they couldn’t do last year.
As Caputo continues to adjust to his new environment and the team is largely in place, his mindset is to “seek understanding before being understood”. The connection between the players and coaching staff is clear, and Caputo wants to bring GW back to the top of the A10.