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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Men’s basketball navigates high expectations under Caputo’s leadership

Kimberly Courtney | Photographer
The men’s basketball squad huddles around Head Coach Chris Caputo, the program’s new leader who has sought to restore a culture of winning in the Smith Center.

Men’s basketball is set to begin its first season under Head Coach Chris Caputo, hoping to improve on last year’s 12-18 record and a ninth-place finish in the Atlantic 10 Championship.

GW hired Caputo to lead the program in April after serving as the associate head coach at the University of Miami, where he helped coach the team to the NCAA tournament five times, including an Elite Eight run last season. Officials fired former Head Coach Jamion Christian in March after three straight losing seasons, prompting two of the team’s leading scorers, guards Joe Bamisile and Brayon Freeman, to transfer in April.

In the program’s 109th year, Caputo will take on the challenge of turning around a program that hasn’t seen an NCAA tournament berth since 2014. GW reached the tournament five times in the 1990s and four times between 2005 and 2014 but has slipped into a drought since then.

“It hasn’t been compounded over time to where you can look back and say, well, over 15 or 20 years, we’ve been really good,” Caputo said. “And so I think my job is to try to get us to be a successful program in the short term, but can we build out a program that is sustainable over many, many years?”

Caputo quickly got to work building his program’s infrastructure, compiling his coaching staff and hiring a recruiting and operations director within the first month of his tenure. He also filled the team’s backcourt vacancies with redshirt freshman guard Max Edwards, who transferred from Kansas State after one year, and graduate guard EJ Clark, who spent three years at Alabama State.

Both guards will help fill the gaps left by Bamisile and Freeman and play an influential role in Caputo’s five-out, perimeter-focused offense. Edwards is set to present challenges to opposing defenses with his larger, 6’5” frame and quickness.

“Max is a really talented guy that came from Kansas State, and we looked at him really as a true freshman because he was hurt a lot last year,” Caputo said. “He had never played for Kansas State, but as a true freshman he’s shown a lot of ability and diversity of skill.”

With fresh faces on the court and the sideline, a strong core of returning veterans will anchor the team as it enters the Caputo era. Senior guard James Bishop IV and senior forward Ricky Lindo Jr. will lead the Colonials after logging significant minutes last season.

“I’ve tried to be a leader just with how I come to practice and my energy,” Bishop said. “The underclassmen definitely came in with a lot of energy and all the guys came in ready to learn, ready to listen and ready to be a part of what we got here.”

Lindo enters his fifth year of college and final year of eligibility after leading the squad in double-doubles and ranking second in defensive rebounds in the A-10 last season. Caputo said he hopes to keep the forward out of foul trouble this year after it limited his playing time in some games last year.

Caputo said he expects Lindo to regularly put up strong point and rebound totals, looking to him as a “double-double guy.”

Lindo said he’s taking his role as a veteran this year seriously and hopes to inspire the younger players on the team to build a culture of investment in and commitment to the team.

“I’m one of the most experienced players on his team, so just making sure I’m leading these young guys, even the guys I’ve been with for a few years, leading them, just making sure we’re all cohesive and all together,” Lindo said.

Following the season tipoff Nov. 7, the first month of the schedule will feature exclusively out-of-conference opponents, including a Nov. 30 matchup with South Carolina that will mark the first time the Colonials host a Power Five conference school at the Smith Center since 2017. A-10 Conference play will begin on New Year’s Eve against Loyola Chicago, a game that comes on the heels of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, a three-day invitational tournament played in Honolulu.

Caputo emphasized the warm reception he has received in his introduction as head coach, saying the community has welcomed him with open arms and he looks forward to fan support throughout the season.

“It’s so important that we have student support and I’m really looking forward to that this year,” Caputo said.

The Colonials season will officially tip off Monday night against Virginia State at the Smith Center at 7 p.m.

Nuria Diaz and Jarrod Wardwell contributed reporting.

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