Men's Basketball Alumni Weekend Reunites Past Colonials
Seven decades of Colonials gathered last weekend in the Smith Center
WASHINGTON -- Last weekend in the Charles E. Smith Center, Colonial greats from past and present gathered to rekindle old bonds and forge new ones at the first GW Men's Basketball Alumni Weekend of its kind.
More than 40 former student-athletes, representing seven different decades, were on hand for a Friday night reception and Saturday afternoon alumni game. While many in attendance hadn't been on campus in years -- or decades -- it didn't take long for them to feel right at home.
"It was amazing seeing so many different eras come together," said Pops Mensah-Bonsu '06. "I use to hear folk stories of Yinka Dare and Shawnta Rogers before I got here, but I never knew the magnitude of some of the things they were able to do until you get around them and share stories, and vice versa for what we did. You get some competitiveness too about which teams could do what, but most of all camaraderie with all these guys coming together."
The gathering had been in the works for months, a priority of head coach Maurice Joseph's since April, with the plan to make it an annual event that continues to grow in scope and attendance.
"I really want to build on the tradition and history of this program," said Joseph. "With all the great players that have come through here, I think it's important, not just for us but the entire university, to build off what those guys have done. They came in and left the program better than it was, and it's important for our guys to know the people that paved the path for them. I want them to always feel like a part of our family."
At Friday night's reception in the Colonials Club, Joseph announced the creation of five new awards, which will be given annually to the current student-athlete who best exemplifies the traits of the person each award is named after.
The MVP Award will be named in honor of Mike Brown '85, a GW Athletic Hall of Famer who finished second all-time in school history in rebounding, third in scoring, and was named first or second team All-Atlantic 10 all four years of his career. The 1982 A-10 Rookie of the Year went on to an 11-year NBA career.
Patricio Garino '16, a three-time A-10 All-Defensive Team selection who is third in school history in steals, will have his name on the Defensive Award. The Hustle (Grit and Glue) Award will be named for Shawnta Rogers `99, another GW Athletic Hall of Famer who was a four-time All-A-10 selection and also earned strong consideration for the MVP and Defensive Awards. Rogers, who is GW's all-time leader in assists and steals, was on hand to hear the award will be named after him.
"Anytime you have people recognize what you do is a blessing," said Rogers. "I want to thank Maurice and everyone that came up with it. This is like a family to me, and I take pride in coming back to be a part of it."
The Student-Athlete Award will be named after Pat Tallent '77, a first team Academic All-American who is fourth all-time in scoring at GW. Finally, the Community-Building Award, which will recognize student-athletes who connect the community to GW men's basketball, will be named after Red Auerbach.
Following Friday night's reception, alums returned to the Smith Center on Saturday for a tour of the facilities and then the main event, an alumni game that included some of GW's all-time greats among the 24 who played.
Recent graduate Tyler Cavanaugh and A-10 Legend Bob Tallent '69 served as coaches while current student-athletes Arnaldo Toro, Jair Bolden and DJ Williams tried their hands as referees. Season-ticket holders in attendance were treated to a close and competitive contest, with neither the Buff or Blue team getting more than a single-digit lead throughout.
In fitting fashion, the game came down to the wire, with the Blue squad trailing by three in the waning seconds of regulation, when Carl Elliott '07 drew back on his history of making big shot after big shot for GW to can a corner three and send it into overtime. In the first OT, SirValiant Brown hit a jumper to put his Buff squad up by two, but Elliott again came through with heroics. The all-time winningest player in GW history calmly took the ball to the other end, and sunk a turn-around, fade-away jumper at the buzzer to force a second extra period.
In the second OT, the Blue team was able to put the game away, hanging on for a 101-98 victory as Elliott was named MVP.
"To play with Shawnta Rogers, who is a legend, and be back with my old teammates was great," said Elliott. "It was an honor to be here and I had a lot of fun."
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