Author: Liam Omerchu
The Chris Caputo era got off to a successful start on Sunday afternoon, thanks to a 78-61 victory over Third Division Western Connecticut.
“Playing Western Connecticut is great [State]. GW head coach Chris Caputo said. “My very, very good friend who grew up on the same block as me as a child was Western Connecticut coach Guy Lancourt. He’s one of the reasons I coach. So the moment with him was fun. “
Senior guard James Bishop led all scorers with 19 points, shooting 5-9 from the field and 4-7 from 3-point range. Bishop also entered his third year at Foggy Bottom with 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound and an efficient adjustment performance with no turnovers.
Redshirt freshman guard Max Edwards followed Bishop with 18 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Edwards showed his jumping ability in his first game with GW, dunking and rebounding on players taller than him. Edwards moved to GW this offseason after spending his freshman year at Kansas State, but missed the season with a leg injury.
“I’m always happy,” Edwards said. “I haven’t played in two years, so it feels great to be on the court with my teammates.”
Another great player was graduate guard EJ Clark. The Alabama transfer had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in 26 minutes. But a lot of the things the Dallas, Texas native does well doesn’t necessarily show up in scoring. He’s a quick defender willing to guard the length of the floor and handle the ball. He’s also done well at the free throw line, shooting 85.6 percent from the free throw line in his two DI seasons.
Another freshman getting some action is junior forward Keegan Harvey, who transferred to GW from the College of Charleston in December and missed the season due to NCAA transfer rules. The Australian was a lanky four who gave fans a taste of his 3-point shooting ability, going 1-2 from beyond the arc. Despite his size, Harvey struggled to rebound, picking up just one but touching countless other potential rebounds.
The scoring is usually fairly balanced, which bodes well for a team that often relied on big games from Bishop or (now departed) Joe Bamisile last season. 31 of GW’s 45 attempts were 3-pointers, while Buff & Blue shot 48.4 percent from 3-point range. In fact, GW didn’t score two points in the first 11:13 of the game. Unfortunately for the fans in attendance, the free Domino’s Cheesy Bread promotion after 8 GW 3-pointers wasn’t up and running for the game.
“I don’t think we’re content with ‘Hey, they’re going down, I’m just sitting behind it and shooting.'” Caputo said. “It was more of ‘Let it keep going, let’s see if we can get them to make mistakes.’ Then the ball found the open player, and the guy stood up confidently and made a 3-pointer.”
Buff & Blue took the lead thanks to a 22-6 run at 6:46 of the first half. They haven’t looked back since then, looking at ease against a 16-man Wolves team.
While GW’s 3-pointer and guard play look good, there are still some issues that need to be addressed before the regular season begins. Defensive rebounding leaves something to be desired (though GW ended the game 24-19 on defensive rebounds), and the Wolves have decent penetration in the paint, especially early on.
But the most obvious problem is the one that also plagued GW last season. Small center Noel Brown and power forward Rich Lindor battled foul trouble throughout the game and were eventually ejected. Brown fouled three times in the first eight minutes of the game, limiting his minutes for the rest of the day and forcing GW into some unique lineups.
That’s been a particular problem for Lindo, who had four or more fouls in 11 of his 27 appearances last year. The fouls you can live with are those coming from an offensive offense or defending the rim. What you can’t stand are those tricky balls and unnecessary balls after the game (he had it on Sunday).
“I need him on the court,” Caputo said of Lindo. “So, we’re going to keep working. A lot of times, it’s not in the right position. You’re late to the game, you come in and foul. You have to be careful with your hands, your verticality.”
Absent from GW’s lineup are two putative starters of graduate guard Brendan Adams and senior forward Hunter Dean. Neither injury is long-term, and I personally expect them to play in the season opener (that’s my opinion, not GW’s official stance. Caputo said he expects them to be back “soon”).
Freshman forward Jabari West Jr, also out of uniform, is dealing with more long-term injuries and awaiting medical clearance to train. It is unclear when he will return.
Buff & Blue will officially kick off their regular season and officially kick off the Caputo era on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. against D-II Virginia State.