Sports

A Forgettable Season in Local College Hoops

by David Elfin
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(l) Jeff Jones of American University and (r) Paul Hewitt of George Mason University. (credit: Chris Graythem and Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(l) Jeff Jones of American University and (r) Paul Hewitt of George Mason University. (credit: Chris Graythem and Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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While the Georgetown men have been a true surprise en route to earning a No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and the Maryland and Navy women should be congratulated for going dancing again, the fact those three teams are the only ones from the area invited have made it a disappointing year in local college basketball.

American, which went 20-12 last season under long-time coach Jeff Jones, sank to 10-20, its worst finish since his 2000-01 debut on Ward Circle.

George Mason, which reached the second round of the NCAAs in 2011 and went 24-9 in coach Paul Hewitt’s debut in Fairfax last season, slipped to 18-14.

George Washington improved from 10-21 to 13-17 in coach Mike Lonergan’s second season in Foggy Bottom, but that still marked its fourth losing record in six years.

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Howard extended its streak of sub-.500 seasons to 11 in dropping from 10-21 to 7-24 in coach Kevin Nickelberry’s third campaign on the Hilltop.

Maryland improved from 17-15 to 22-12 (pending its performance in the NIT which it opens tonight against visiting Niagara) in coach Mark Turgeon’s second season in College Park. However, the Terps still found themselves on the outside looking in at the NCAAs for a third straight March for the first time since 1989-93.

Navy’s men rose from a program-worst 3-26 in coach Ed DeChellis’s inaugural season in Annapolis to 8-23, but that still meant a 10th losing record in the past 12 years and extended the NCAA-less seasons to 14.

Virginia, which joins Maryland in the NIT, is 21-11 compared to 22-10 last season. However, coach Tony Bennett’s 2012 team advanced to the second round of the NCAAs so this year is already a disappointment in Charlottesville.

Virginia Tech finished 13-19 under new coach James Johnson, its worst record in a decade while running its NCAA-less span to six seasons.

AU’s women, 23-8 a year ago including a perfect 14-0 regular season in the Patriot League, fell to 15-14 in coach Matt Corkery’s fifth year.

In coach Jeri Porter’s fifth season, George Mason’s women dropped from 15-16 last year to 9-21.

The GW women, a powerhouse under coach Joe McKeown in the 1990s and 2000s and who reached the Sweet 16 as recently 2008, went 14-16 under first-year coach Jonathan Tsipis.

Georgetown’s women, 23-9 last year and a Sweet 16 participant in 2011, plunged to 15-16 under rookie coach Keith Brown despite the presence of career scoring leader Sugar Rodgers.

Led by standout senior guard Saadia Doyle, Howard had a fine season, but its 20-11 record in coach Niki Reid Geckeler’s fourth year wasn’t quite as its good as its 24-9 mark from 2011-12. The Bison lost to top-seeded Hampton in the MEAC Tournament final and weren’t awarded a second straight spot in the WNIT.

Virginia, which reached the NCAA women’s tournament for 20 straight years from 1984-2003 and four times in the ensuing six years, slid from 25-11 in coach Jennifer Boyle’s first season to 16-14 while making it three straight years without being invited to the big dance.

Virginia Tech’s 10-20 record in coach Dennis Wolff’s second season was three games better than the Hokies did in his debut but still meant a last-place finish in the ACC.

With just three teams on the big stage, it’s going to take serious runs by ninth-year coach John Thompson III’s Georgetown men (who have won just two tournament games since reaching the 2007 Final Four) and either 11th-year coach Brendea Frese’s fourth-seeded Maryland women (who haven’t gotten back to the Final Four since winning the 2006 national title) or fifth-year coach Stephanie Pemper’s 15th-seeded Navy women (which lost in the first round the past two years in the program’s only NCAA appearances) to redeem what has been a forgettable season in local college hoops.

David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last three Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin

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