They call him High Rise, a testimonial to the jumping ability that has won tipoffs from Moses Malone, a player six inches taller. For three seasons, Les Anderson basically was George Washington's inside game, on a basketball team dominated by guards.
Recently, for a variety of reasons ranging from his role as team captain to his transformation into the small forward's position, Anderson has been playing like a garden apartment. He started pressing and things became worse.
The foundation of High Rise, as steady a scorer and rebounder as any player in recent GW history, came tumbling down early in the second half of the Colonials' 73-71 victory at Pitt. He had a breakaway basket and missed.
"I was pressing so much I got cautious," he said. "I stumbled and missed the shot. That was the backbreaker. I didn't quit or anything, but I was out of it. I was just trying to figure out what would happen next."
At Bell High Anderson started 82 straight games, score 1,147 points and grabbed 730 rebounds.
"He's got to have a good game for us if we're going to be a good basketball team," said coach Bob Tailent, who finally has the strong inside attack that the Colonials always have lacked.
And that is where Anderson's problems begin. He is that commodity found quite often in college basketball, a 6-foot-5 forward who operates better as the so-called "power forward." His offensive strength is rebounding, not the 18-foot jumper.
But on this current GW team, 6-10 center Mike Zagardo and 6-7 forward Tom Glenn, both sophomores, are providing the rebounds, Anderson's job in the past.
"I personally feel we have a better team," Anderson said. "I'm sure my game will pick up soon, as we play more frequently and we play more at home."
The Colonials play seven of their next 10 games at Smith Center. Anderson found out the past two weeks what it is like to be a team captain and play on the road with officiating seldom favoring the visiting team.
As captain, Anderson took it upon himself to ask the officials why they made certain calls - which he has the right to do - and his efforts in behalf of teammates served only to his apparent detriment. He was in quick foul trouble at Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
"I've talked to the coaches and thought about that," he said. "It's something I'm in the process of changing. I can tell they (the officials) were bothered."
"He's come to understand that officials are like everyone else," said GW assistant coach Tom Schneider.
"They take things in the wrong vein, too. That's the thing you sometimes forget. These kids are college students and they're still learning."
When Anderson is not learning on on the basketball court, he is learning in the courts. He had an internship last semester with the D.C. Bail Agency, serving both D.C. Superior and U.S. District courts.
Anderson will graduate in the spring with a degree in social work. He wants to be involved with youth and young adults because he feels the D.C. school system does not give guidance counseling that athletes need.