George Washington basketball fighting for respect in NCAA Tournament
- George Washington forward John Kopriva (34) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Massachusetts in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference men's tournament in New York. (Photo: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) - First, Mike Krzyzewski takes a shot at George Washington's conference. Then the NCAA mistakenly puts the logo for crosstown rival Georgetown on T-shirts for sale on the official tournament website.
By George, what do the Colonials have to do to earn some respect?
NCAA selling tournament t-shirts with Georgetown's logo instead of GW's. pic.twitter.com/u4a00aobTk— Louis Nelson (@louisjnelson) March 17, 2014
True, it's been a while since there was Selection Sunday joy at the Smith Center. GW (24-8) is back in the NCAAs for the first time since 2007, earning a No. 9 seed in the East and a meeting with eighth-seeded Memphis on Friday in Raleigh, N.C.
"It was definitely an uphill battle, coming in here, building the program back up," said senior Isaiah Armwood, playing his second season at GW after transferring from Villanova. "But it was well worth it."
The Colonials were one of six Atlantic 10 teams to get a nod, and that's the first point of contention. Duke's Krzyzewski, concerned that his Atlantic Coast Conference might not get its fair share, implied before the field was announced that a half-dozen A-10s sounded a bit generous.
"I'll get in trouble probably for saying it," Krzyzewski said. "Like the Atlantic 10, they're a really good conference. I hear people saying there are six teams in there. Come on. I mean, they're good, but put them in our conference and go through the meat grinder that our conference has to go through."
GW coach Mike Lonergan, whose team finished third in the A-10 regular season, responded without even being asked.
"I'm really happy for our conference having six teams go, no matter what Coach K and people say," Lonergan said. "I appreciate their loyalty to their own conference, but the facts speak for themselves. This league was terrific this year."
The cold hard facts: The ACC and A-10 went 8-8 against each other this season. Both got six teams in the tournament. GW, by the way, was 2-0, taking down Miami and Maryland.
Speaking of the Terrapins, they're not in the NCAA tournament, and neither is Georgetown. It's only the third time in more than 50 years (1993, 2005) that GW is dancing while the two behemoths in the area are not, making it all the more surreal that the NCAA should have the wrong logo - a gray "G'' in place of a buff-and-blue "GW" - on some of the "March Madness Men's Basketball Championship" T-shirts on the organization's website Monday.
"A t-shirt mistake by the NCAA is not going to impact enjoying all the progress our team and staff have made. Not a big deal," tweeted athletic director Patrick Nero.
Still, if anyone knows how to use such slights, it's Lonergan. At the selection show party, he was still recovering from the loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the A-10 tournament.
"I lost my voice," he told the crowd. "I'm still trying to get those refs to call traveling on VCU."
Lonergan won a Division III national championship at Catholic in 2001 and took Vermont to four postseason tournaments. He went 10-21 and 13-17 at GW before this season's turnaround.
"This was a more enjoyable selection show," he said. "It's a little different when you're coaching Division III and in the first years you're sitting on a computer watching a show, and you don't know if the name of your team is going to appear. And then, at Vermont, I thought we'd earned a 14 seed ... and they made us a 16."
For another redemptive story, there's GW graduate student Maurice Creek, who left Indiana with a degree and a long medical rap sheet: dislocated left kneecap, stress fracture in right kneecap, torn left Achilles tendon.
But he still had eligibility left, so he enrolled in GW's Graduate School of Education and Human Development and this season hit the shot that beat Maryland.
At the selection party, Creek said he tries not to reflect on his journey. His mother, Pammy Morgan, couldn't think about anything else.
"With all the injuries that he's gone through, he has a testimony for any athlete - professional, student-athletes, any athlete," Morgan said. "Everybody said that he was washed up, that he was never going to play again. Look at what he's doing. ... He finally gets to dance. He actually gets out there and on his own two feet, on his own Achilles, on his own knees, and he gets to dance."