These Colonials probably will be known as Tallent's Tiny Terrors.

Coach Bob Tallent has lost his top three scores and two top rebounders. The Colonials lack a center and their schedule is the toughest the school ever has faced.

In the technocracy of coaching, the playmaking guard is the 1 man right on up to the 5, or the center. "We don't even have a 4," Tallent said. "We've got two 3 1/2s."

But, if guard Curtis Jeffries and forward Oscar Wilmington can overcome knee injuries that have sidelined them for much of the preseason, this team should not be embarassed, although it will have problems, as always, of finishing among the top four teams in the Eastern Eight and, thus, gaining the homecourt advantage for the first playoff game.

The optimism is based on two newcomers: guard Wilbert Skipper, out of Anacostia High via junior college, and Steve Perry, a 6-foot-5 forward from Virginia AAA champion Gar-Field. Skipper averaged 25 points a game last season for South East (Neb.) Community College.

Until Wilmington, a flashy 6-3 who jumps like a man 6-9 and does everything well but shoot, and Jeffries can play, GW's starting five will consist of the two newcomers, point guard Randy Davis and forwards Curtis Smith and Paul Gracza, who will be the nominal center.

"We're playing pretty decently," said Tallent, beginning his seventh season as a coach in Foggy Bottom.

GW teams past have liked to run and, despite the team's lack of size, Tallent wants to continue doing so. "Our transition game is good, offensively," he said. "But defensive transition leaves something to be desired."

With the two players with knee injuries, the Colonials can go at least seven players deep without suffering. Wilmington's presence is especially important, because he gives Tallent some flexibility. "I want to use him some at second guard," Tallent said. "He makes things happen. He can penetrate and he's a good passer."

He also is a crowd-pleaser. No GW play -- not any of departed Brian Magid's picturesque long jumpers or any of Mike Zagardo's sweeping hook shots -- is remembered as vividly as the night last season when Wilmington broke away from the pack, bounced the ball off the backboard and, in one swooping motion, dunked the ball.

The crowds, of which Smith Center has experienced a few, love it. Tallent says, "Well, he's a good leaper and he's unpredictable at times."

Tallent also is expecting eventual contributions by 6-9 freshman Doug VanderWal and 6-4 freshman guard John Turner.

Strengths: Coach Bob Tallent; team quickness; scoring balance; good freshmen.

Weaknesses: Rebounding; no height; lack of experience.

Assessment: Could win 12-14 games and finish anywhere from fourth to seventh in the Eastern Eight.