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Hobbs has the hot hand at George Washington Colonials head to Bona on roll

It seems everyone is predicting the departure of Karl Hobbs from George Washington. The truth in college basketball is that when you're a Hot Young Coach, your name ends up on a lot of short lists for job openings.

That's how it is for the vibrant Hobbs, who has the Colonials (24-1, 14-0 Atlantic 10) off to their best start in the program's 92 seasons and ranked No. 7 in the country, the school's highest ranking since 1955.

"Part of that comes along with success," Hobbs said of all the name dropping. "A lot of it is unfortunate but I can't control that. We're trying to enjoy the season and not let any of the rumors or any of the talk get in the way of us enjoying this journey and enjoying this process."

And it's been quite a ride. The Colonials have won 16 consecutive games -- the nation's longest winning streak -- and could set the school record with a victory at 7 tonight at St. Bonaventure (8-17, 2-12). It will be the final home game for Bona seniors Ahmad Smith, Patrick Lottin and Wade Dunston. Smith and Lottin are the only remaining players recruited by former coach Jan van Breda Kolff.

At the University at Buffalo (17-11, 7-9), Calvin Cage, Mario Jordan and Roderick Middleton will play their final game in Alumni Arena at 7 tonight in the Bulls' Mid-American Conference matchup against Akron (20-7, 13-3). During their careers, the face of Buffalo basketball was altered significantly.

Collectively, these seniors helped deliver UB basketball from the dreary days of 2003 and 2004 to one that came within a heartbeat of a MAC Tournament championship, earned the school's first National Invitation Tournament bid and put some much needed excitement in the arena to which they are about to bid farewell. The Bulls are 62-56 since Cage, Jordan and Middleton arrived on campus. In the four seasons prior to their arrival, UB was 26-89.

"They came in at a time when what we wanted to accomplish and some of the things that we have accomplished had never been accomplished," Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "I'm sure they heard the naysayers say, 'It can't happen there,' and in four years they've been part of the total transformation of the UB men's basketball program."

GW's Hobbs, 43, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for openings at Missouri, Cincinnati and Indiana.

"The only thing I've talked to the team about is us improving, preparing for every game and maintaining a level of focus so we can have the kind of success that we are dreaming about," Hobbs said. "That's our whole focus. When you talk to my players, when you read all of their comments it's almost like they're oblivious to everything around them except for what they're trying to accomplish."

Hobbs may have to decide whether to remain at George Washington, where his program has already been established, or take a higher-paying, more prestigious job. Right now, Hobbs is saying all the right things.

"I work for a great administration, Washington, D.C., is a great city to be in, my wife and kids are extremely happy and I couldn't have a better AD or a better president," he said.

These are indeed good times at GW. Hobbs has a roster loaded with long, active, lithe athletes who cause matchup nightmares and defend all over the floor. And they have the luxury of quality depth.

"He has a team where he can play eight, nine or 10 guys," Temple coach John Chaney said of Hobbs. "I don't have that luxury and I don't know too many teams who have that luxury to be able to do that."

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UB freshman guard Sean Smiley is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL last week during practice in preparation for the Bulls' game at Ohio. Smiley averaged 2.1 points in 15 games.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com

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