Basketball to Host Selection Sunday Event at Smith Center

After reaching Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals, GW will learn its NCAA draw.

Kevin Larsen
Kevin Larsen and GW will learn their NCAA tournament seeding Sunday night.
March 15, 2014

By James Irwin

Thousands of George Washington University alumni, fans and supporters traveled to Brooklyn this weekend to watch the Colonials make a run at the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball championship. And while GW fell short of the title game, losing to Virginia Commonwealth, 74-55, in Saturday’s tournament semifinal at the Barclays Center, a bigger tournament, and a potentially longer road trip, awaits.

The Colonials, with an overall record of 24-8, are virtually assured an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. They learn their draw Sunday evening. A selection show event will be hosted at the Charles E. Smith Center at 5 p.m.

It would be GW’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007.

“I’ll be happy for our team if we get into the tournament, and happy for our fans,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said. “All these people are into it, and that’s how it should be. There’s a lot of people who are really happy about our success. And we don’t want to just make the tournament. If there’s ever a year you can advance, hopefully, this is the year. We’ll refocus and, hopefully, play better next Thursday.”

GW split its two A-10 tournament games, defeating Massachusetts, 85-77, Friday night before losing to VCU on Saturday. They were backed by a full-throated fanbase that traveled from Washington, D.C., and from destinations across the country. Around 2,000 fans purchased tickets to GW’s games through the GW athletic ticket office. Nearly 1,000 packed reception venues for GW Alumni Association pregame events Friday and Saturday.

The Friday night pregame event, held upstairs at the Barclays Center’s 40/40 Club, filled to capacity inside of an hour.

“I thought we had a great crowd,” Mr. Lonergan said. “We had tremendous support.”

The Colonial Army, made up of ardent GW students, piled fans into three coach buses for the conference tournament. Others, away from campus last week on spring break, returned from their vacations and came straight to Brooklyn.

“We had two people take a plane from Cancun to JFK, then take a train to the game Friday night without sleep,” said Ian Mellul, co-president of the Colonial Army. “The fan turnout was pretty incredible.”

The Colonial Army has a similar plan for the NCAA tournament, depending on where GW plays next week. For some Colonials, distance hasn’t been a deterrent and won’t be going forward.

“We’ll definitely be there,” said Tessa Bay, co-president of the Colonial Army. “We made it this far, and we’re not stopping now.”

Lisa Harwood, daughter of GW Athletic Hall of Fame basketball player Larry “Tex” Silverman and a member of the GW Athletics National Advisory Council, took the train from Maryland to New York for the conference tournament. She, too, hopes to travel to GW’s NCAA destination.

“Oh, I’m there,” she said. “My son is a senior in college, and we have a spring break trip planned, but this would be the first stop.”