Ben Krimmel: The Colonials get their swagger back by The GW HatchetMar 06, 2014 “Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
On Senior Night, the Colonials punched their ticket to the big dance.
The five-point victory over Saint Joseph’s was far from the prettiest game GW has played all year, but it was one of the most memorable in an already memorable season.
The Foggy Bottom faithful got their last chance to witness an Isaiah Armwood double-double and a Maurice Creek 20-point performance—regularities that are underappreciated because of their frequency.
Though a smiling Creek held a large cardboard cutout of his own smiling face at the victorious postgame press conference, victory was far from certain for much of the second half.
Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
Junior John Kopriva celebrates Wednesday night at Saint Joseph's.
With just over 10 minutes to play in the game, GW’s 14-point first-half lead had faded to a distant memory. The Colonials found themselves down eight points and in danger of becoming one of the dreaded “on the bubble” teams for the NCAA Tournament.
But once again, head coach Mike Lonergan’s squad proved that they are not the Colonials of season’s past and didn’t let their late-first-half falter become a game-costing tumble.
To overcome the deficit, GW mapped out an offensive gameplan: create open space for shooters by exploiting Saint Joseph’s when they went to double-team the Colonials’ big men in the post.
It worked. Guard Joe McDonald fed the ball to forward Kevin Larsen, who would take on the double-team and find a teammate cutting to the basket or an open player on the perimeter for a jumper.
With good spacing and timely ball movement, guard Patricio Garino scored 10 of his 17 points down the stretch and GW knocked down a trio of three pointers, all on Larsen’s assists.
But GW slammed the door shut not through ball movement, but on tough shots by one of the toughest players in college basketball: Joe McDonald.
The play was McDonald personified. With the shot clock winding down and GW holding on to a five-point edge, McDonald drove to the middle of the paint and nailed a jumper with his defender draped all over him.
McDonald finished the game with 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting – 4-for-6 from behind the arc – and added four assists and six rebounds.
The sophomore from Lorton, Va. has proven that he has plenty of moxie. Battling a hip injury all season, McDonald hasn’t stopped driving to the basket, absorbing contact and falling hard to the floor. And despite every fall resulting in a tremendous thud, McDonald remains a scoring respite for the Colonials when they need a basket.
After the loss at Saint Louis, Lonergan said of the Colonials: “We’ve got to get our swagger back.” With back-to-back wins under its belt, the team has gotten a bit more of that early season pep in their step.
And speaking of steps, injured guard Kethan Savage was walking around the Smith Center Wednesday night without the aid of crutches, and had cast or boot on his broken foot. The Colonials have seven days before the Atlantic 10 Tournament and a healthy Savage would be a huge boost for an already confident squad.
The hard part of the end of the season is over for the Colonials. A six-game stretch that saw GW face the top four teams in the conference has come to a 3-3 close. With bottom feeder Fordham on Saturday, confidence can multiply.
This win is another one for Colonials fans to savor. Early season hopes of a return to basketball relevancy have been exceeded and the faith of many has been rewarded.
GW is headed back to the NCAA Tournament. Ben Krimmel, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.”
Women's basketball in unfamiliar territory heading into A-10 tournament by The GW HatchetMar 06, 2014 “Media Credit: Judy Lim | Hatchet Photographer
The women's basketball team meets at mid-court during a pre-tournament practice at the Smith Center earlier this week.
Women’s basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis came to a losing GW team two years ago, stepping in to turn the program around. Now, in his sophomore season, the team has rediscovered its winning potential after struggling for half a decade.
The Colonials start Atlantic 10 Championship play on Friday in the quarterfinals, after earning a double bye in the tournament with a four seed. GW finished the season with an upset over regular-season champion Dayton.
GW, though a contender, isn’t a favorite to take home the A-10 trophy or make the NCAA Tournament, but they could get hot. As forward Megan Nipe said, the team can “beat anyone in this conference.”
Nipe and fellow graduate student Danni Jackson provide senior leadership for GW. The goofy pair poke fun at each other after games, but they take the prospect of winning a championship very seriously.
None of GW’s active players have experienced a winning season with the team and the furthest the Colonials have gone in the A-10 tournament in recent years was a quarterfinal loss last year to Dayton. The then-eight-seeded team won a first-round game against No. 9 Richmond to get to the quarters, the first A-10 tournament win for the squad since 2008.
Sixth-year graduate student Brooke Wilson will travel with the team, but is unlikely to play due to an injury. Wilson is the only player on the team who has experienced a winning season with the Colonials, during her freshman year in the 2008-2009 season when the squad went 17-12.
Tsipis said he thinks Nipe will be playing with a chip on her shoulder after not receiving the A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year award.
“I think she’s disappointed. I’ve seen that where it’s manifested itself – hopefully it will take itself out on a couple of the teams were playing on in the postseason,” Tsipis said.
Still, GW leads the A-10 with three players making it onto all-conference team rosters, as announced by the league Tuesday. Caira Washington won Rookie of the Year and, along with Jackson, was named to the third team. Sophomore Jonquel Jones got a spot on the second team.
While GW is adjusting to its new status as a contender, the opponents blocking their way to the title game are mainstay powerhouses.
“I think it’s premature to [say] we’re going to win the championship on Sunday. We talk about we’re going to play well Friday,” Tsipis said. “We’re packing for the whole weekend.”
Barring an upset by the winner of the play-in game between No. 13 Massachusetts and No. 12 George Mason against No. 5 Saint Joseph's, GW will take on the defending-league champion Hawks in the quarterfinals on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
In either scenario, GW’s quarterfinal opponent will be one they have faced twice during the regular season – having toppled both the Minutewomen and Patriots twice, while splitting games with the Hawks.
“We're at the point where our kids have at least played in this quarterfinal game after last year, but [need] to understand the turnaround and getting ready,” Tsipis said.
Should they jump that hurdle successfully, the next likely opponent would be the regular season champion Dayton Flyers, who play the winner of No. 8 VCU and No. 9 Richmond in the quarterfinals.
These teams have players seasoned over their college careers to make deep postseason runs – something GW lacks. Tsipis said one of the main challenges for the team will be maintaining focus in that new environment.
“Just be able to go one game at a time, but knowing that you've done the things to put yourself in this position to succeed and hopefully with the mindset that we’ll be there all weekend,” Tsipis said.
While players like Nipe and Jackson lend a jovial air to the squad, Tsipis brings experience, with his NCAA championship ring gleaming from his finger during games. After deep postseason runs during his time on the Notre Dame coaching staff, he’ll be a steadying force for the Colonials in Richmond.
Tsipis said that Notre Dame head coach Muffett McGraw has texted him frequently throughout the season and that they’ve each wished each other postseason success recently.
“They’re kind of like us,” Tsipis said. “They’re trying to figure out how to win three games in a row in the next week.”
The Colonials have gone to the most NCAA tournaments in conference history, but Dayton will likely see NCAA Tournament action after A-10’s for the fifth-straight year. It would likely take a conference championship to get the Colonials into the group of 64 teams.
Tsipis will be focusing on keeping his team composed, especially Nipe and Jackson, who he said may be inclined to press.
“I think there is a maturity level with Danni and Meg that at times when they’ve pressed a little bit, it’s a matter of making sure that I’m doing what I need to be doing all the time. Just teaching them and getting through that process,” Tsipis said. Whether or not nerves get the best of them, GW has the momentum of seven wins in the last nine games in its back pocket.”
Calendar by The GW HatchetMar 03, 2014 “Monday, March 3
Off-Campus Housing Fair
Meet local landlords and explore your options to find the perfect Foggy Bottom apartment.
Marvin Center Grand Ballroom
Tuesday, March 4
Student and Alumni Speed Networking
Learn networking basics and meet GW alumni. Refreshments will be served. Online registration required.
Wednesday, March 5
An Evening with Ina Garten
“Barefoot Contessa” host Ina Garten, a chef and alumnus, returns to campus to speak with Bonnie Benwick, The Washington Post’s deputy food editor. Student tickets cost $25.
Friday, March 7
Tilting the Playing Field: Women in Sports Media
Sports journalists meet to discuss the media’s coverage of women in sports and the challenges women face in the industry. Online registration is required.
Jack Morton Auditorium 5 p.m.”
Women's basketball faces tougher road to A-10 banner by The GW HatchetFeb 28, 2014 “Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Alexandra Kruse
Head coach Jonathan Tsipis huddles with his team last week. He will need the Colonials to knock off nationally ranked Dayton on Saturday to clinch a No. 4 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Last year, a home win over a struggling St. Bonaventure team locked up a bid to the conference tournament for the women's basketball team, improving the Colonials to 6-6 on the season in the Atlantic 10 with two games to play.
This time around, GW's matchup against the Bonnies would give the team a chance to finish second in the A-10. But turnovers plagued the Colonials. Foul trouble prevented their bigs from finding a rhythm. They lost 74-64 and put themselves in a tough spot with a 10-5 record.
GW will need a win at home against conference regular season champion No. 21 Dayton (14-1) if it wants to clinch a top-four spot in the conference. Doing so would automatically advance GW to the quarterfinals of the A-10 Championship, giving them a double-bye.
A loss, and the Colonials will finish fifth, forcing them to play a round earlier and setting up a potential semifinal rematch with the nationally ranked Flyers.
“We’re a confident team, and at our best we have a shot at beating anyone in this league, including Dayton,” graduate student Danni Jackson said. “We’re not going to fold just because it’s Dayton and they’re 14-1 in the league.”
The goal for the team, set by Jackson and two other graduate students: Raise an A-10 banner. Senior day at the Smith Center on Saturday will be more than an emotional moment for Jackson, Megan Nipe and Brooke Wilson to celebrate each of their five-plus years with the Colonials.
It will be a chance to achieve their goal, under the direction of a second-year head coach who always wears his NCAA Championship ring from his days on the Notre Dame coaching staff.
“It’s senior day and an opportunity to play the team that won the conference and then be able to go from there,” Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the scenarios in the final week of women’s A-10 basketball:
Regardless of a GW win over Dayton, the Flyers have captured the regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament. But they are pushing for a better seed in the NCAA tournament and in the AP top 25 rankings.
St. Bonaventure (11-4) can wrap up a second-place finish with a win at La Salle (8-7). A loss and it becomes a little more complicated. Anywhere from one to three teams could finish with an 11-5 conference record, bringing tie breakers into the mix.
Fordham (10-5) and Saint Joseph’s (9-5) play each another in a pivotal final game. The Hawks will head to Massachusetts (1-13) Thursday before coming home to Philadelphia. A win in both would give them the third seed.
With a win, the Colonials would finish fourth, but no better, as both Saint Joseph’s and Fordham hold complicated tie-breakers over them. A loss, though, and they would undoubtedly finish fifth, holding a tiebreaker of their own over Duquesne.
The No. 5 seed will play March 6 against the winner of the play-in game between the bottom two teams, likely Massachusetts and George Mason. The winner of that game will play the next day against the four seed and then once again for its third game in as many days, likely against Dayton. A road to a banner will take at least one win over the Flyers – a victory Saturday will make it a bit easier journey.”
Alumni launch boozy juice company by The GW HatchetFeb 28, 2014 “From Facebook to Snapchat, college dorm rooms have a history of inspiring students to start the next great company.
GW now has its latest entrepreneurship story: Two alumni have launched a company to make getting drunk taste a bit better.
Media Credit: Photo courtesy of American Juice Company
Recent graduates Chris Wirth and Buster Brown run the New York-based American Juice Company, which specializes in making juices to mix with alcohol.
Recent graduates Chris Wirth and Buster Brown have worked to lift the American Juice Company off the ground this year after getting their start mixing jungle juice at fraternity parties on campus.
“It originally started as a college dorm room idea when I was in Phi Psi,” said Wirth, the company’s chief executive officer who graduated in 2011. “We had jungle juice at all our parties and I had the idea of making a jungle juice concoction that people could order.”
Wirth’s business model has evolved since his fraternity days. The company now focuses on supplying high-end bars and individuals with juice for cocktails.
The company, based in New York, sells a line of $20, 32-ounce juice bottles designed to mix with alcohol to make cocktails. Wirth and Brown use locally grown fruit to make concoctions like the “Harriet Peacher Stowe” (a peach and ginger blend.)
Internationally renowned bartender Massimiliano Matté, who bills himself as a “mixologist,” helps craft up recipes the company. He met Wirth while working at the Jefferson Hotel in D.C.
Offering other flavors like lychee/rose and pumpkin/passion fruit, the company also allows customers to experiment mixing their own unique drinks without emptying their wallets at expensive bars.
“So that’s the magic in it. You can be your own mixologist and make drinks that you would usually only find at a high-end hotel,” Wirth said.
But steering a small business to success hasn’t been easy.
One of the biggest challenges came when the pair were attempting to follow Federal Drug Administration regulations and drafting specific (and expensive) manufacturing plans, Wirth said. He’s tried to offset some of those costs by studying the ins and outs in a course instead of spending thousands of dollars on consulting fees.
Brown, who works as the company’s communication director, said that work is paying off. An event company asked them to work the bar at an official Super Bowl party, where football stars and Miss America sipped on their cocktails.
“It’s moments like that where you think, ‘A year ago I would have never thought I’d be serving cocktails to NFL players,’ and just out of nowhere we got that deal,” Brown said.
Buoyed by recent success, the duo looks towards the future, aspiring to change the face of the bar and the mixology world. “Five years down the road, we want to make it a norm through the cocktail industry that you can go to people like us and have us create a cocktail for you that you can easily implement in your bar,” Brown said.”
Broken school records highlight A-10 swimming championships by The GW HatchetFeb 25, 2014 “The Colonial swimmers finished toward the back of the pack but broke several school records last weekend in the Atlantic 10 championships.
In Ohio, the men's and women's swimming teams finished in sixth and eighth place, respectively. One of just two teams competing without a diving squad, GW rallied to take home a combined team score of 619.5 points for an overall ranking of seventh place in the championships.
The men’s team gathered 366 points over the four days, while last years champions – St. Bonaventure University – reclaimed its title with 718 points. Massachusetts and cross-town rival George Mason took home second and third place, respectively.
The women's team totaled 253.5 points throughout the event, as Richmond won the team title with 645.5 points. Fordham followed in second and UMass in third, with 493 and 467 points, respectively.
Wednesday night saw two school-relay records broken for the Colonials. In the 800-yard freestyle relay, junior Goran Koprivnjak, sophomore Jordan Sharples, and freshmen Liam Huffman and Bogdan Balteanu combined for a 6:35.92 record-breaking time. The 200-yard individual medley saw Koprivnjak, joined by senior Jake Mortensen, junior Adam Rabe, and sophomore Oliver Keegan swim a university record-tying 1:31.32 performance. The two swims resulted in fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.
“It was definitely a great opener for us,” Koprivnjak reflected. “I mean the whole weekend was definitely the best meet of the season we had."
Huffman took the men’s first podium on Thursday, delivering a personal best 4:29.35 to earn bronze in the 500-yard freestyle. Koprivnjak’s personal best came with a bronze medal as well, with the Croatian-born swimmer posting a 1:49.65 time in the 200-yard individual medley event.
Koprivnjak’s exceptional weekend continued on Friday, with a fourth-place finish of 49.00 seconds in the 100m fly – breaking a school record set in 1999. For the men’s 400-yard medley relay, Mortensen, Rabe, Keegan, and Koprivnjak shattered another GW record with their fourth-place time of 3:19.45. Koprivnjak and Keegan stood together on the podium after the 200-yard butterfly. Koprivnjak, who specializes in the event, took home silver (1:48.12) and Keegan the bronze (1:48.65).
“Day to day, I feel like I got better and better,” Koprivnjak said. “I am definitely satisfied with the performance on an individual level.”
On the final day, Rabe nabbed the silver with his 1:59.35 performance in the 200-yard breaststroke. The swim set a new school record in the event and qualified him for an NCAA B cut time.
The female swimmers set records of their own as well, beginning with the 800-freestyle team of senior Caroline Myers, freshman Lauren Law, and sophomores Madison Reinker and Kally Vanderbilt. Together they posted a collective 7:27.67 performance and replaced the old GW mark in doing so.
Freestyle-specialist Myers continued her success, earning silver in the 500-yard freestyle with a personal best 4:50.46 swim. She also took home gold in the 1,650-yard freestyle on Saturday. The senior, a two-time silver medalist in the event, stood atop the podium with her 16:36.61 final day performance.
The seventh-place finish by the 200-yard freestyle relay squad of Vanderbilt, seniors Sloan and Sydney Saunders, and junior Morgan Zebley’s broke the GW record with a 1:35.45 finish. Law found personal success on the third day in the 400-yard IM event. Though she didn’t qualify for the A Final that morning, the freshman won the B Final while breaking her own school record with a new time of 4:23.32.
Against unprecedented competition, GW struggled. However, certain individuals shone and earned individual recognition throughout the weekend. But, swimming is a sport about besting personal records and breaking school records. The sport is about improvement and in that regard, GW certainly flaunted its ability. Breaking a number of school records, the men and women’s swimming teams added “2014” to the Colonials record books. These are times to appreciate now, but benchmarks for the future and the new definitions of success in GW swimming.”
After accusations from ex-SA senator, finance committee pledges more transparency by The GW HatchetFeb 21, 2014 “Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Shashwat Gautum, a former Student Association senator, accused current student leaders of ditching their responsibilities to keep the group transparent.
After the student body approved a fee increase last year to bulk up the Student Association budget, senators promised that the campus would get more financial transparency in return.
But the regulations they passed didn't all happen – at least, not until this week, after a former senator accused the Student Association finance committee of shirking accountability by not disclosing financial details for groups that receive the SA's largest financial allocations.
The finance committee updated its bylaws this week to comply with two bills passed almost a year ago.
Ryan Counihan, chair of the SA Senate’s finance committee, and last year’s senate leader, Abby Bergren, both said the bylaw changes were lost in the shuffle as the group switched leadership last spring.
While the committee failed to formally update its governing document – which Bergren called “an honest mistake” – Counihan said the finance committee still gave out money according to last spring’s big financial reform bill.
But he said the group failed to enforce one key part of the legislation, which required umbrella organizations, like the Student Bar Association and the Club Sports Council, to disclose how leaders divided up its large pool of funds.
That misstep should not be ignored, said former graduate student senator Shashwat Gautam. Gautam launched an online campaign this week calling for the resignation of top SA leaders – including Counihan, SA President Julia Susuni and Executive Vice President Kostas Skordalos.
The committee published the updated bylaws online Tuesday, just hours after Gautam’s website launched. Gautam had previously emailed Counihan alerting him of the outdated bylaws last week, and then launched his website days later.
The legislation would have made public the budgets of all “umbrella” organizations, which have faced criticism for doling out cash from their large chunk of funds without public scrutiny. Umbrella organizations typically receive the largest allocations – some bringing in thousands of dollars – from the SA.
Gautam, who was a lead sponsor on that bill, called it the “biggest achievement of last year’s SA.” He said financial transparency was even more important because of the student fee hike, which will double the SA’s budget over the next decade.
“We promised to take more money from students because we promised we would be more accountable. Everything has focused on accountability and transparency,” Gautam said.
Counihan said after he noticed the regulations were not in the SA Senate’s charter last semester, he worked on a bill that added the measures already passed into the bylaws and also added tweaks to the process. It is slated to go to a vote in the Senate on Monday.
The bylaws will be updated in time for the finance committee to allocate its more than $1 million budget to hundreds of student organizations seeking funding for next year.
Bergren, last year’s senate leader, said the out-of-date bylaws were accidental. She added that she didn’t have direct access to the page on the SA’s website that keeps the bylaws because it is managed by an outside administrator. “Because we are constantly sending new documents and information, some things get lost in translation,” Bergren said. “It's an honest mistake that this year's SA has been working on and trying to rectify in a way that is fair to both students and student group leaders.””
Building home-court hostility by The GW HatchetFeb 18, 2014 “Building home-court hostility
Outside the Smith Center on Saturday afternoon - the day after Valentine's Day - the adoration for the men's basketball team was palpable. Ticket scalpers floated through the pre-game swarm and NBC satellite trucks lined F Street as fans shuffled off the icy sidewalks and into the arena.
GW went into Saturday's matchup undefeated at home this season, building what Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg would call a "hostile environment" after his team broke that streak. But nurturing that hostility - and creating a home-court advantage - takes work.
For those groups charged with breeding GW fervor for two hours every home game, game day is a meticulously calculated stretch filled with chants, video cues and song selections that try to cover fans in goosebumps. From the athletics department's marketing team to the student groups Colonial Army and Colonial Brass, a winning basketball team makes those routines more critical.
"There's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff going on to keep momentum in the gym," said Nicole Early, assistant athletic director for marketing and tickets. "But when our students are here in full force it makes our job so much easier because they are the ones that are creating excitement for everyone who comes."
Even as the Colonials try to muscle their way through the season's final bend and into the NCAA Tournament, success still seems new. Just last year, GW was nearly last in the Atlantic 10 in attendance.
But with three sellouts so far this season and a 19-win team in the top tier of the A-10, enthusiasm is back at a University often derided by its own students for a lack of school spirit.
"We don't have football, so we feel that our job is to build a product and I feel we are doing that," athletics director Patrick Nero said. "For what you consider the GW community - current students, alumni, Foggy Bottom residents and D.C. residents - this is the only time that all of those parties can come together, and that's at GW basketball games."
An early start
For the GW sports marketing team, the day starts at 9 a.m. when eight staff members jam into a small Smith Center control room - surrounded by monitors, sound boards and a loose basketball shoe atop a file cabinet - and go through a 20-page production agenda for that afternoon's men's basketball game.
The staff discusses everything in this 20-minute period: promotional activities and sound levels, entrances and exits, the best timing to display a Twitter poll. Next comes a walkthrough of every item to be displayed on the stadium screens. Staff members check the slides for spelling errors or misprints.
Nicole Early - in her 14th year with GW and her second year as assistant athletics director for marketing and tickets, leads the morning meeting - emphasizing that timing is everything when trying to cultivate the fan experience.
"I never played basketball, but as a fan ... I feel like I can sense a crowd's reaction and know the things the crowd is going to get excited about," Early said.
One of those crucial moments is just before tip-off: the National Anthem. The silencing of the crowd before the song to generate an immediate buzz once it ends can be a tricky balance.
As Sgt. Jason Gottshall began to belt the final words of the anthem, Early observes from the baseline. She appears nervous as she waited for the cue to music by another marketing staff member, Matt Ackerman, sitting on media row.
A burst of applause by the Smith Center audience is closely followed by the stadium anthem "Seven Nation Army" over the public address speakers – a go-to song in Ackerman's repertoire. Cue instant relief from Early as the Colonial Army, the student fan group, erupts.
Early hopes that the environment her staff creates is memorable and that some aspect of the game will stay with the fan long after the game ends.
"I think that's the thing I enjoy the most is being able to be a part of a memory that these students are going to remember 20 years out of college," Early said. "If we can have you leave and come back 20 years later and say, 'I remember that game,' then we will have accomplished our jobs."
Building a product
Patrick Nero, in his third year as GW's athletic director, doesn't sit back during basketball games. He takes a surprisingly hands-on approach for the athletic director of a Division I program, texting Early at least 10 times a game about when to blast music and when to let the band play.
When Nero was at University of Miami, he did Early's job, focusing on the stadium experience and helping feed rabid Hurricane fans. "It's where I kind of grew up in the business," Nero said.
Now at GW, the men's basketball team has found on-court success a year ahead of schedule, forcing the athletics department to catch up with more seating and more promotions.
"The job of an athletic director is to give the support to students in order to be successful. So part of that for us here is to provide a home-court advantage," Nero said.
Both Nero and Early have roles to play in creating that advantage for GW's teams who play at the Smith Center.
Increasing attendance and improving ticket sales are big parts of Nero's game plan for improving the athletics department. Happier fans and more ticket sales at the Smith Center creates a cycle of success - more revenue for teams, which allows for more recruiting trips, higher-paid coaches, new scholarships and better facilities.
But while Nero has made flashy improvements to the arena's facilities - like refinishing and redsigning the floor and million-dollar locker room renovations - he's now turned his attention to attendance. Last year, the athletics department announced that all Class of 2013 alumni could attend home games for free, and last November it was announced that the $25 Colonial Army membership fee would be covered by the athletics department.
For Nero, there is no home-court advantage without a student presence. Even with the large crowds that have filled the Smith Center in recent games, at least half of those seats are being filled by free student tickets. But that's okay - generating revenue from attendance is less important than having a strong crowd in the first place.
"We have to take an attitude and a philosophy of the students are part of the product," Nero said. "It's what separates and differentiates between professional sports and college sports. People who come to watch a GW basketball game, that's part of it, it's that environment that students set in the building."
For Early, the marketing team works all week before the game to create crowd enthusiasm.
Just before the announcement of GW's starting lineups, the marketing team played a flashback video highlighting the Colonials' upset of Massachusetts from 1995. After a slow fade, Lil Jon's "Don't Drop for What" blared through the speakers, sparking a roar from students and alumni alike.
Strike up the band
With video sketches, half-court shot contests and pop music piped through the speakers, one group fights being muffled: the Colonial Brass. The band has rehearsals twice a week and plays at every home basketball game, but does not cut any students who want to join.
The band sees itself as timeless, playing at games on and off since 1931 - long before game day became a production of video screens and Top 40 music.
The band, which sits in the upper fan level during men's games, see themselves as entertainers who can help calm heavy tension. While fans chant "bullshit" at contested referee calls, the band tries to lighten the mood.
But the band isn't as celebrated as GW's rivals in the area. Pep bands at George Mason and VCU, donning flashy uniforms and led by charismatic conductors, were named the No. 1 and 2 "most entertaining pep bands in college basketball" by the website Deadspin.
The atmosphere in the band section is jovial, as students play songs like "We've Got the Beat," "Let's Groove" and MGMT's "Kids."
"I think that spirit in the band is much friendlier than the spirit all around us. When it's kind of friendly and when it's kind of corny like that, it's really easy to get in that rhythm," said David Giordano, a freshman tuba player.
"For what you consider the GW community - current students, alumni, foggy bottom residents and D.C. residents - this is the only time that all of those parties can come together, and that's at GW basketball games."
Calling in extra troops
As the men's basketball team took free-throws near the end of Saturday's game, students in the bottom section raised their hands in unison for good luck, as they have all season. Under Massachusetts' basket, dozens of male GW fans dressed in togas and standing on bleachers continue to chant, causing select members of the Colonial Army to politely yell "Shut up!" in their direction.
In a way, the Colonial Army sets the tone for the crowd - or at least tries to. If there's any group of students capitalizing on the men's basketball team's success this year, it's the Colonial Army. They are behind the cheers, the near-deafening noise, the giant cutouts of players and the catchy nicknames.
Led by sophomore Ian Mellul, members of the Colonial Army often takes games personally.
Down the stretch in Saturday's loss to the Minutemen - the first home loss of the season for the men's basketball team - fans' faces contorted with stress. Mellul's face was blank, staring at the GW players, many of whom are his close friends, as the game fell out of their reach.
"I don't do well when it's this close," Mellul said. "I really feel it for Patricio. Pato is one of my best friends and when he puts up 20 points and you still lose, it's tough to watch."
They also welcomed a new group of super-fans to the Smith Center on Saturday. The fans dressed in togas were members of the men's water polo team, who screamed at UMass players as they inbounded the ball and waved giant palm trees in the air. When television and arena cameras looked for the most crazed fans, their lenses were trained on the guys in togas.
"We like to have fun. We like to go for more of the extreme aspect, I think that's where the togas come in," said Paul Deasey, a senior men's water polo player.
The two groups fed on each other off and the team's runs. As fun as it can be to be a part of the student section, the fans still feel expectations to perform - and scream.
"The team is doing well, we're doing well and obviously we ride the team's success, to an extent," Mellul said. "I was talking to coach Lonergan yesterday and he said, 'We really need you Saturday.'"
'Make some noise'
The Colonials were out of sync during most of Saturday's game against Massachusetts, which they ended up losing 67-61.
But a late second half run started to change that. With 7:22 left to play, a tip-in by senior Isaiah Armwood coupled with an acrobatic reverse lay-up by sophomore Patricio Garino cut a UMass lead that was as large as 11 down to just a single point.
The scoring momentum ignited the crowd, which was speckled with celebrities like Mayor Vincent Gray and ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon.
But then, a standstill. A timeout called from the UMass bench halted the action and the crowd's cheers. Within seconds, the Smith Center scoreboard read "Make some noise" in bright lights accompanied by the fan-favorite "Zombie Nation," which blares over speakers in almost every sports arena across the country.
With sudden direction, the Smith Center erupted once again, sustaining their excitement until the Colonials retook the floor and scored the ensuing basket to take their first lead of the game since the 9:56 mark of the first half.
The turnaround was a brief victory for GW's sports marketing team. It was a simple part of the game, but underlined the importance of seizing the crowd's excitement – and shepherding fans in the right direction toward raucousness.
"From the logistics end, it's being able to make decisions on the fly when we need to and being able to take advantage of those moments where we want to build momentum and how seamlessly we can make those moments feel really special," Ackerman said. - Josh Solomon and Everly Jazi contributed to reporting.”
Softball remains winless by The GW HatchetFeb 18, 2014 “Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
After dropping all five games in the Mizuno Invitational at Long Beach State two weeks ago, the softball team looked to bounce back at the Tiger Invitational at LSU this weekend.
Instead, the story was much of the same.
The team lost twice to both Northwestern and host No. 21 LSU, as well as Penn State, bringing their overall record to 0-10.
One day it was pitching, the other it was lack of offense and then defensive errors. Together, the Colonials failed to put forth an all-around effort in any game, and it cost them.
The first day of tournament play was the closest the Colonials ever came to a win, ultimately falling to Northwestern 12-11. Freshmen Megan Linn, Jillian Galich, Mary Wiley and Madi Myers-Cook combined for 10 of the team’s season-high 12 hits to keep the game close. But despite their offensive prowess and a four-run comeback in the top of the sixth, an eventual game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the inning from the Wildcats' Olivia Duehr was too much to overcome.
That same night, despite striking first, the Colonials lost to LSU in just five innings by a score of 14-4. The Tigers offense scored nine runs in the second inning, including a two-out grand slam, that dashed GW's hopes and all but put the game out of reach.
Senior pitcher Courtney Martin (0-7) took the loss after allowing five runs, three earned, on one hit and four walks in one inning, while sophomore Meghan Rico (0-3) allowed nine runs on eight hits and six walks in three innings.
The next day brought the same opponents, the same challenges, and unfortunately, the same results.
Another strong 2-0 start against Northwestern was squandered in the third inning when the Wildcats scored five runs. GW would respond with just one more run while the Wildcats doubled their score and captured a 10-3 win.
In the nightcap, GW did a much better job against LSU but still dropped the game 8-4. LSU gained the lead early, but two bases-loaded walks in the fourth by sophomore Carlee Gray and Linn cut GW's deficit to 4-3. That was the closest they would come.
Martin pitched a complete game, allowing eight hits and three walks with four strikeouts, but still remained winless on the season.
GW’s final game Sunday brought another five-inning loss, falling to the Nittany Lions 9-1. The Colonials failed to score until the top of the fifth, by which time their defense had already given up seven runs. With two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, Penn State ended the game early and kept the struggling Colonials with a zero in the win column.
The Colonials continue to struggle on both sides of the ball. The pitching duo of Martin and Rico now have a combined average ERA of 11.61 and 78 walks on the season. On offense, although the freshman class is setting itself apart, as a team, the Colonials are under-producing in both hits and runs, accumulating just a .199 team-batting average through 10 games. GW looks to turn things around this Friday in Greensboro, N.C. at the UNCG Spartan classic, where they will face No. 22 Minnesota, among others.”
Men's tennis comes up inches short at indoor championships by The GW HatchetFeb 18, 2014 “The Colonials arrived at the 2014 ECAC Division I Men’s Tennis Indoor Championship Friday afternoon, with fresh hopes that last weekend’s win against St. John’s would ignite their season's lackluster start.
By Sunday morning however, GW had been swept in both tournament matches against hosting-No. 63 Dartmouth and No. 55 Princeton, dropping their season record to 1-4.
An inability to gain momentum with the doubles point led to multiple unfinished singles matches over weekend play.
“Losing hurts, but I’m not completely upset with how we’re competing," junior Francisco Dias said. "A lot of these tight matches eventually are going to start going our way.”
Throughout this season, the team has done a remarkable job hiding its lack of depth. However, fielding a team of 10 compared to 12 for Dartmouth (8-1), Friday’s matchup against the Big Green exposed the team’s most obvious weakness.
In doubles, the No. 1 duo of Dias and freshman Julius Tverijonas continued their season-long dominance against Dartmouth’s Cameron Ghorbani and Brendan Tannenbaum winning the match 6-2. Dartmouth would ultimately gain the doubles point, though, with the Colonials' No. 2 duo – senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov – and No. 3 duo – seniors Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thompsen – coming up short 6-2 and 6-4, respectively.
With the initial momentum lost, the Colonials play in singles looked to come up just short in every match. Dartmouth was first to victory in three-straight singles matches, handing them the remaining three points necessary for the win.
“Our energy needs to be at a level that is compatible with our talent and our effort,” Dias said.
After a Saturday reprieve from action, GW returned Sunday morning against a 5-1 Princeton team. In some respects, this match looked like a repeat of Friday with the same 0-4 end result, despite another doubles win from Tverijonas and Dias. However, in the end the often-overlooked areas of the game decided the match.
Although head coach Greg Munoz raved that “today’s [Sunday's] performance was the best I’ve seen the team [play],” their energy was just not enough in overcoming the “inches” that determined the match.
“Once we get that first [ranked] win we’ll feel good and the fact that we haven’t lost to any unranked opponents, we think that things are moving in the right direction.” The Colonials defeated four ranked squads last year, and after going winless thus far, are tabbed to face only four more this season. Next on the schedule for the men's tennis team is an 11:00 a.m. matchup against Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia on Feb. 23.”
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