Lonergan knows what’s at stake when George Washington takes court Friday

(Photo: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

By PAUL GOTHAM

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Mike Lonergan’s George Washington Colonials take on the the No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s in Friday’s Atlantic 10 quarter-final round game. A win means a date with the Dayton-Richmond. Lonergan knows Friday’s results will have a direct impact on his team’s schedule for the rest of March.

“If we lose tomorrow, we’re going to the NIT,” Lonergan said after GW’s 73-65 over Saint Louis in the A-10’s second round. “I have no problem saying that, and our goal will be to try to get to Madison Square Garden. If we win tomorrow I truly believe we`ll be in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Colonials will be looking to punch a dance ticket for the second time in three years under Lonergan.

In non-conference play GW defeated then No. 6 Virginia, 73-68 earlier in the season and Seton Hall, 72-64. The Colonials also have wins over Tennessee (73-70) and Penn State (76-66).

“If you take the names on the top and off the list and do a blind taste test and look at the résumé, Seton Hall is a top-three Big East team last time I looked. ACC, Virginia might be number one,” Lonergan added. “Penn State is not a bad team, they’ve beaten a couple nationally ranked teams, VCU at VCU, St. Joe`s here would give us four top 50s. Even within our league, if you look at some of the teams everybody has locked in, they don’t have — some of them don’t have four top-50 wins.”

GW, though, suffered a disappointing 20-point setback at Big East bottom feeder, DePaul.

“I don’t really listen to all that noise as (St. Bonaventure) Coach (Mark) Schmidt would say, but I think if we win tomorrow we’re in great position. Some of those other teams I see on the TV, they can’t do anything else, they’re done.

“I’ll put our wins against Monmouth’s wins any day of the week. They’re a big story, but I truly believe in the end if we do the right things here, whether we have to win one game or two, the people in that room that know basketball, it’s not going to be about who has the best player in the country or who has the bench, all that stuff, it’s going to be about the deserving teams. We played a tough schedule.”

George Washington lost to tomorrow’s opponent, Saint Joseph’s, 84-66 on February 10th.

“We have not lost a game to a team from a one-bid conference all year,” Lonergan continued. “We only lost two games in a row once the whole year. If we were in the Big East or ACC, everybody would be talking about we lost to Dayton. We were up six with five minutes left and Joe McDonald didn’t even make the trip. But nobody knows that so we’re still fighting for respect just like our league is, but I don’t talk to the team about that.

“I just say, hey, we do the right things and win. But I laugh when people say we have to win the whole thing here to go to the NCAA. It’s definitely not true. I don’t study it, but I think we’re in a great position, but none of that matters tomorrow if St. Joe’s beats us.”

Friday’s game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

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