Kethan Savage’s Injury Hurts George WashingtonPosted by Adam Stillman on January 22nd, 2014
George Washington is in the midst of an outstanding season. The Colonials are certainly one of the best turnaround stories in college basketball, if not at the top of the list. The darlings of the Atlantic 10 are on track to reach their first NCAA Tournament since making three straight appearances from 2005-07. And then the bad news hit. Second-leading scorer Kethan Savage will miss 6-8 weeks with a fractured metatarsal in his left foot, a huge blow to GW’s at-large aspirations.
Savage, a sophomore guard, has come out of nowhere to help anchor a strong backcourt alongside Indiana transfer Maurice Creek. After tallying just 3.1 points per game in limited action as a freshman, Savage has been a revelation as a sophomore. The 6’3″ Fairfax, Virginia, native has been averaging 13.4 points per game, hitting 52 percent of his field goals, grabbing 4.6 rebounds, dishing 2.7 assists and nabbing two steals per game.
“It’s disappointing for Kethan to have this happen in the middle of his breakout sophomore season, but as a team we’ve dealt with injuries before and have emerged stronger as a unit,” George Washington head coach Mike Lonergan said in a statement. “We’ll look forward to his return to action, but I have every bit of confidence that we’ll overcome Kethan’s absence. In the meantime, this is a great opportunity for all his teammates to step up at this time. That is a mark of a great team. We are all very excited for the rest of the season ahead.”
The injury puts the onus now on Creek, a senior guard who already pours in 14.5 points per game, and sixth man Patricio Garino. The latter, a sophomore wing, has emerged in the last few weeks. He has reached double figures in four of the last five games (12 against Georgia, 15 against La Salle, 14 against Rhode Island, and 25 against VCU), boosting his scoring average up to 9.5 points per game. All but the La Salle contest were wins. The frontcourt is still in fine shape thanks to Villanova transfer Isaiah Armwood’s 10.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, along with Kevin Larsen’s 11.4 and 6.3 averages.
So what does this mean for George Washington’s NCAA Tournament chances? The Colonials (15-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10) currently boast an impressive RPI of #22, as well as a marquee win against Creighton. Additional victories against VCU, Maryland and Boston University aren’t too shabby either. Their three losses are to Marquette, Kansas State and La Salle, so nothing egregious. Savage’s return should come some time around the Atlantic 10 Tournament (March 12-16) or in the part of the NCAA Tournament (beginning March 18). Can GW tread water and maintain a solid resume until Savage’s return? As of today, Ken Pomeroy projects the Colonials to go 8-4 the rest of the way, which would give them a 23-7 overall record. That should certainly be NCAA Tournament-worthy, but those projections could also change without Savage in the fold.
The upcoming schedule should give George Washington some time to figure things out. An away game at George Mason comes Saturday before a home game against La Salle and road game at Dayton. After that comes league cellar-dwellers in Duquesne and Fordham. All of those — with maybe the exception of Dayton — should be winnable. Then comes what may prove to be the make-or-break portion of the schedule — games against VCU, Massachusetts, Richmond and Saint Louis. Let’s see if George Washington’s fun story this season can continue.