Coach: Karl Hobbs (42-45 in three seasons).
Last season:18-12, 11-5 Atlantic 10.
If George Washington is going to make its first NCAA tournament since 1998-99, Hobbs knows his team must improve its defense. George Washington gave up 70 points or more in 16 games last season, losing 12.
"I really feel very, very positive about our defense," Hobbs said. "Every year we've made progress in that category. I think if we can just limit the layups and second shots, we'll really improve in that area."
Hobbs said his goal this season is for his team to hold opponents to 40-percent shooting or less. The Colonials did that in 12 games last season, winning 11.
George Washington is blessed with two physical guards in J.R. Pinnock and Carl Elliott, who fit the mold of former Xavier guards Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato. They're big, strong and tenacious. Elliott starts alongside senior T.J. Thompson (Newport School) in the back court, and Pinnock provides a spark off the bench. Elliott took over the point guard duties last season, freeing Thompson to take on more scoring. Senior Lafonte Johnson, a transfer from Nevada-Las Vegas, backs up Elliott at the point, and sophomore Ricky Lucas (Herndon) and freshman Maureece Rice can play on the wing.
Rice, from Lutheran Prep in Philadelphia, scored 2,681 points during his high school career, breaking Wilt Chamberlain's city record of 2,206 points. Rice, 215 pounds, led Pennsylvania in scoring for three consecutive seasons.
"He has a great deal of maturity for a freshman," Hobbs said. "He plays under control."