By James Irwin
A tired smile, the kind that comes when a sliver of good news brightens a tough experience, stretched across Mike Lonergan’s face Saturday night inside the basement-level interview room of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The George Washington University had just been eliminated by Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinal round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, and yet the Colonials’ season, Mr. Lonergan was reminded, wasn’t over yet.
“I told the guys before the game, if we win we had to prepare for Sunday; if we lose, I’m going to be miserable for a few hours, and then I’ll wake up tomorrow, and it will be a great day in my life,” Mr. Lonergan said. “We’re getting into the tournament—unless, you know, everybody’s wrong.”
It turns out "everybody" wasn't wrong: The Colonials still have basketball left to play. They just had to wait a day to learn the details.
“I’m just happy for GW,” Mr. Lonergan said. “This program has great tradition and history, and I’m glad we have something to show for our hard work. We’re really happy for our fans, the dance team, cheerleaders, the band. We have a lot of support.”
Mr. Lonergan’s smile Sunday was much bigger than the one Saturday night. The third-year GW coach, who has taken the Colonials from 10 wins in his first season to 24 this year, said he and his players are ready for the next phase of the season.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Our fans and students stuck with us through some tough times, and we have a great opportunity ahead of us.”