More than a few things did not go George Washington's way this season. The Colonials endured injuries to two key players, close losses and controversial finishes. Of the Atlantic 10 Conference teams, they were the ones hurt most by St. Bonaventure's forfeits.

Some might say GW had more than its share of hard luck -- but not Colonials Coach Karl Hobbs.

"I don't want you to go off and say we've been snake bitten," Hobbs said emphatically. "No we haven't been. We're a young basketball team, and that's what I want you to write."

GW (11-16, 5-11), which plays at Massachusetts (11-17, 6-10) tonight in a first-round Atlantic 10 tournament game, was a young team this season. The Colonials had only one senior and a total of 10 players -- three below the minimum -- on scholarship, which meant they were forced to rely heavily on freshmen. Such youth and inexperience undoubtedly contributed significantly to the number of losses GW had.

When asked how his young team handled the close losses and the adversity it faced, Hobbs became increasingly defensive about the Colonials' record.

"This program is winning," he said. "Whether you realize it or not, it is winning. If you don't think so, call St. Bonaventure. Call Rhode Island, and I can name a few others that you can call. It wasn't too long ago that we couldn't talk about this kind of thing. . . . You've got to be careful how you measure success. That's why you can never allow other people to define what is success for your basketball team. You [the coach] have to do that."

Whether Hobbs wants to acknowledge it or not, GW seemed to get few breaks. The Colonials were counting on sophomore forward Tamal Forchion to provide experience and bulk in their front court, but he severely injured his ankle before the season started. Although he has started 14 of the last 15 games, Forchion continues to be limited.

GW also lost junior point guard Darnell Miller after the fifth game of the season because of a wrist injury. Without Miller, the Colonials did not have a backup for T.J. Thompson.

Despite its lack of depth, GW was competitive in most of its Atlantic 10 games. Seven of the Colonials' 11 conference losses were by six points or less. The aftermath of the St. Bonaventure scandal also adversely affected the Colonials.

Because Jamil Terrell, the player at the center of the controversy, did not play in the Bonnies' victory over GW, the Colonials did not pick up an extra win, but La Salle did, helping the Explorers clinch the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament.

But all that will be history when the Atlantic 10 tournament tips off tonight.

"The tournament is a new start," senior guard Chris Monroe said. "This is a new season right here, starting against U-Mass., a new, fresh start. We've played against them. We know what they have. They know who we have so we are just going to go in there and battle. It's about who wants it more."