Foggy Bottom Notebook #2

Photo credit: Peyton Stoike

By: Abe Rothstein (@RothsteinAbe)

A strong start in Foggy Bottom has eyes turning to the 2023-2024 George Washington Revolutionaries (3-0). Coming off previous seasons with brutal out of conference losses in the early window, such as poor performances against UMass Lowell, and UC-San Diego, the hope is that this season is different. I’ve got everything from the blueprint to how the out of conference schedule should turn out, to notes from the recruiting trail, the Caputo contract extension, and more in Volume Two of the Foggy Bottom Notebook. 

The Fordham Blueprint

The Fordham blueprint is how this GW team wants to compete. Here’s what that means. Going into the 2022-23 season, Fordham had the 363 ranked strength of schedule in out of conference play. That allowed for the Rams to start the season 12-1 headed into conference play. The early season wins, which did feature a quality win against Tulane on the road, helped propel the students, and an overall large fanbase to turn out at Rose Hill Gymnasium. Finding early season momentum is key, especially in the day of NET rankings, and heavy usage of analytics. 

Going on the road and playing against a team such as Kentucky or another major contender on the road simply does not make sense in the modern landscape of college basketball. Rather, having strong starts in the out of conference schedule can do a lot to boost the morale of the team and fanbases. Fordham for example, saw their KenPom ranking rise from 229 at the beginning of their season, all the way to 164 at the conclusion of the out of conference schedule. 

The Rams would finish the season 25-8 and had a major run in the Atlantic 10 tournament, where they eventually lost to Dayton in a thrilling semifinal. The Revolutionaries have a similar schedule to what the Rams had last year, with an overall strength of schedule sitting at 328.

“One of the things you have to be able to do in the non conference is win home games, you know, play well, win home games. And so for me it’s, look, we’re three games in, it’s very early,” said GW head coach Chris Caputo. “We’ve been able to take care of business at home, I think against pretty good quality opponents, you know, relative to the non conference and doing it with a lot of guys who, it’s their first time playing college basketball.”

Two major challenges lie ahead for GW with a strong Ohio team on the schedule as a part of the Baha Mar Hoops Nassau Championship next week, and an SEC foe waiting for revenge when they visit South Carolina on December 1. Winning the easy ones will be the key for the Revs as they look to propel early season momentum into conference play. 

Ty Bevins and recruiting strategy

Following a recruiting cycle in which the Revolutionaries brought in three freshmen in the early signing window, a international freshman after the conclusion of the season, and three transfers with over three years of eligibility, the way the staff will recruit will likely shift. 

The transfer portal has changed the way coaching staffs look at bringing in new players. Instead of recruiting freshmen with the hope they will stay within the program for four years, the potential for a transfer has shifted the approach for the coaching staff. 

Notably, the Revolutionaries announced only one signing of a high school recruit in the 2024 class. Ty Bevins, a three star guard from Brandywine, MD officially signed his NLI last week and the staff thinks highly of the combo guard. 

“[Ty Bevins] a bigger guard who can guard multiple positions. Ty can handle it in pick and roll, can score in different ways,” said Director of Recruiting Matt Colpoys. “So we really like his versatility, which is something that as a team we’re really trying to do.”

Bevins, who stands at 6-foot-5, brings a lot of size in the backcourt for the Revolutionaries, and his DMV roots are important to this coaching staff. 

[Ty Bevins] will be 17 his whole senior year, basically until about April. He has positional size for guard, he’s got an opportunity to play a number of different guard positions. He comes from a basketball family,” said Caputo. “We’re happy with his signing and he’s one of the best players in the area this year.”

Expanding on the DMV in terms of recruiting will continue to be a focal point for the coaching staff. 

“I think the fact that we want to recruit local guys, a lot of our guys now are local. There’s so much good talent in the DMV,” Colpoys continued. “We want some of the best players out of the DMV and he’s one of the best players in the DMV. So it’s great to get a local kid.”

Being local was important for the staff, in addition to the high character they see from Bevins. Both of his parents are heavily involved in his game. His mom was one of his high school coaches, while his dad is his trainer. Colpoys said that being a part of a basketball family was something that drew the staff towards Bevins. Recent recruits such as Trey Autry come from basketball families, and this is clearly an important factor for the Revs coaching staff. 

“[Ty] loves ball and those are people that want to win, with guys that love to be in the gym and that want to be a part of it. And then from the fit standpoint, basketball wise, he’s a guy that can do a lot of different things,” Colpoys concluded. 

Adding Bevins was a great get for this Revolutionaries staff, but do not expect too many more high school recruits this cycle. With players already entrenched in Foggy Bottom who cannot transfer again such as Max Edwards (3 years eligibility), Benny Schröder (3 years), Garrett Johnson (4 years), and Darren Buchanan Jr. (4 years), there are seemingly less open roster spots moving forward, but gives the opportunity to create familiarity, something in which the team has not had in years. 

“[Darren] Buchanan, Benny Schröder, Garrett Johnson, Max Edwards are all kind of in that situation where they went somewhere for a year, come back to DC, a lot of eligibility. So it allows us to build continuity from year over year,” Colpoys said. 

This shift in recruiting strategy from the coaching staff will likely signal less freshman recruits moving forward, as the coaching staff will try to find a healthy balance between the transfer portal and the high school ranks. 

“We’re not gonna forget about somebody who’s a really good high school player. We’re gonna try, we feel like we have some really good high school players on the roster,” said Caputo. “And you have to be thoughtful about your roster management thinking about how many guys on your team are younger?”

The coaching staff realizes the changes within the recruiting system, and there are many other aspects rather than specifically basketball that drive players towards Foggy Bottom. 

“There are some schools that will only take transfers now, like with the academic institution that this place is in the top 60 schools in the country,” Colpoys explained. “We think that people will come here and want to stay like there’s a reason to stay beyond just [basketball].”

Having that healthy balance between young players and those with experience is crucial in the modern landscape of college basketball.

“We have to recruit transfers too, that’s the lay of the land now. And a mix of transfers, which is what you see with our roster. Some older guys like [Babatunde Akingbola] want to come in and have an impact, guys that have been around in college, to try to help us be more consistent throughout the year,” Colpoys concluded. 

Expect the NLI signing period to look different all around college basketball, especially here in Foggy Bottom. Transfers with eligibility is an area that GW has excelled in over the course of the Caputo administration, starting with Maximus Edwards and continuing with main contributors Buchanan and Johnson this year. 

Caputo Extension

George Washington University released a statement on November 9, stating that women’s basketball coach Caroline McCombs and men’s coach Chris Caputo were signed to contract extensions. 

Specific terms of the contract extension are undisclosed, but Chris Caputo tells me that the deal is “long term”.

GW fans should not worry about whether or not Caputo would be leaving the program within the next few years. Caputo is bought into Foggy Bottom and building a sustainable program and this new contract extension gives the staff the ability to pitch recruits on long term plans. 

“It allows me to tell recruits ‘hey, listen, I’m not going anywhere.’ It allows our staff the idea that hey, we have the ability to take the long view here because that’s what we’re trying to do, which is to build a sustainable, successful program both on and off the court to build out the infrastructure,” Caputo said. 

Caputo leaving should not be a worry for Revolutionary fans, what he wants to put together goes along with his long term vision. 

“We want to do a number of different things that position our program to be successful over time, rather than, you know, just, you know, put one good team together.” Caputo said.

Starting out this season at 3-0 surely marks a good start for Caputo and his staff in their second year at the helm. It’s not only Caputo that wants to be successful, but the team finally has the backing of the administration. 

“Everyone here has been so supportive of our vision to build the program. I think it’s also the way that institutionally President Granberg, our administration, our board of trustees, I think it’s a vision that is shared by everyone here,” Caputo concluded. 

As friction with administration had cost GW much success in the previous years, the school is now on the same page with the coaching staff. There are many reasons for fans to be optimistic, and only time will tell if the vision will be successful. 

Notes and tidbits: 

  1. This video from Coach Caputo to students is hysterical.
  2. The coaching staff all watched Babatunde Akingbola interview with Byron Kerr following the Hofstra game and are delighted that he is now receiving his share of the spotlight.
  3. New 2024 recruit Ty Bevins was at the Smith Center for the Revolutionaries victory over William and Mary.
  4. GW is currently 11th in the nation in tempo, according to KenPom
  5. The staff has been wowed by the development of Trey Autry, describing him as “another coach on the court.”
  6. I overheard Max Edwards saying he would be playing with the Raptors on 2K… an interesting selection. 
  7. GW started the year ranked 217 on the KenPom, they now find themselves at 173.

One response

  1. Byron Thomas Avatar
    Byron Thomas

    From an Alum, Thank you Abe and WRGW for great insight and RevPride. I especially like the Notes and Tidbits.

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