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We continue our flyover of the Atlantic 10 Conference with one blurb per team on what we’ll be watching.  Previews are for another day… for now, some summer teasers on what could mean a couple more W’s for your program of choice.

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George Washington rounded out its 2012-2013 campaign having won just seven of its 17 Atlantic 10 games en route to a so-so 13-17 mark overall. Record aside, however, make no mistake… Mike Lonergan’s squad was a group of pests last year — 11 of GW’s 17 losses were by single digits, six by five points or less.

Credit: GW Athletics Communications

(Credit: GW Athletics Communications)

GW’s feisty style of play had the Colonials boasting a top-50 quality defense for most of the year, giving up less than 66 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot just a shade above 42 percent from the field. On the shoulders of Villanova transfer Isaiah Armwood who brings a legitimate post presence on both ends of the floor — 11.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg in ’12-’13 — we know George Washington’s defensive approach this year will mirror that of a season ago.

What we don’t know, however, is if George Washington can be equally as effective on the other end after a year of growth. A season ago, the Colonials’ 66.3 points per game was good enough — or perhaps more appropriately, bad enough — for 204th in the nation.  To pinpoint GW’s offensive struggles, however, one cannot overlook the youth Lonergan was forced to rely on. Consider that of the Colonials’ 66.3 ppg last year, 29.1 were provided by the freshmen class.

Fortunately for fans in our nation’s capital, those freshmen got plenty of burn and GW now has three rising sophomores who showed plenty of promise and one transfer from Indiana of whom big things are expected.

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald averaged 24.5 points per game among them a season ago. All are now a year older, a year wiser and a year more experienced in executing Lonergan’s system.  Garino is one of the most underrated players in the A10, McDonald has a penchant for embracing crunch-time situations, and Larsen is a skilled big who will continue to improve as a facilitator.  Those three will join IU transfer/graduate student Maurice Creek, who averaged 8.3 ppg as a freshman for the Hoosiers a few years back, in hopes of providing a more potent offense for GW come 2013-2014.

How much of a step forward they’ll take in terms of consistently executing on the offensive end could prove the difference between frequently coming up a few points short again, or being on the winning side of games decided by single digits.

That’s one thing to watch.

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Editor’s Note: An incorrect version of this article was inadvertently published earlier on 8/15.  The post has since been restored to correct version as of 1:16am on 8/16.  Thanks and our apologies.

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Other schools in the Series so far…

UMass (7.24.13)

St. Bonaventure (7.26.13)

Duquesne (7.29.13)

La Salle (7.30.13)

Dayton (8.6.13)

Saint Joseph’s (8.7.13)

Rhode Island (8.12.13)

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