Player to Watch
Freshman guard Mike King didn't qualify academically to play at the start of the season, but instead of sitting out the year he retook the SAT in the fall and got a good enough score that he was able to suit up for the Colonials on Jan. 7. Not surprisingly, he fit right in with point guard Rogers; they played together at Lake Clifton High in Baltimore and won a state title there. Either King or Rogers led the Colonials in scoring in eight of their last 10 games.
George Washington has 10 players who were born outside of the U.S., led by 7'1" center Alexander Koul (12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a game) and forward Yegor Mescheriakov (12.8 points), both Belarussians. When they play well inside and the Baltimore backcourt of King-Rogers is on target outside, the Colonials can be a matchup nightmare.
Despite the emergence of King, the Colonials' first-round opponent, Oklahoma State, has a better backcourt. This being March, that will make the difference.
MARCH 13, 15/LEXINGTON
4 New Mexico
Coach Dave Bliss
Team scoring 76.6 (FG%: 48.1) (3-pointers: 286-701, 40.8%)
Opponents' scoring 66.4 (FG%: 42.5)
Rebound margin +0.6
Team FT% 750
Whom not to foul David Gibson (77%), Kenny Thomas (77%)
Whom to foul Kevin Henry (65%)
Quality wins TCU 98-77, Utah 77-74
Player to Watch
All the early-season talk was about Thomas (175 points, 9.3 rebounds a game) leaving after this year for the NBA. The 6'8", 255-pound junior center has acknowledged that he isn't ready, but senior forward Clayton Shields (16.9, 6.7) might be. He holds the Lobos' career record for three-pointers (278) and was named the WAC Mountain Division player of the year.
They say if you live by the three-point shot, you die by it. Has anyone checked the Lobos for a pulse lately? After senior long-range shooting specialist Royce Olney, who had made 80 of 156 threes, blew out his right knee on Feb. 21, New Mexico lost its next three games by an average of 21 points, including an 83-62 home defeat at the hands of 20-game loser BYU. Olney's injury leaves the Lobos with only seven players who can contribute significant minutes, and three of them are freshmen. The results speak for themselves.
Given the turn the Lobos' fortunes have taken of late, a first-round loss to Butler wouldn't be that much of an upset.