091916mikelonerganref.jpgGeorge Washington coach Mike Lonergan was fired this weekend. USATSI

The decision by the administration of George Washington University over the weekend to relieve Mike Lonergan of his head coaching duties just 13 days prior to the start of practice does more than just dampen the image of this program.

It also dampens any real chance the Colonials had of having a successful season.

It’s hard enough to win in college basketball when outside variables aren’t intervening with everything that’s going on with your program and George Washington’s bizarre parting with Lonergan ensures that there’s a minimal chance of normalcy existing in the Colonials’ immediate future.

Say what you want about Lonergan, but you can’t dispute the notion that he was a heck of a coach.

In the past three years, GW won a combined 74 games, which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament and a Postseason NIT title last March.

George Washington was again set up to be a top-five team in the Atlantic 10 next season, but it’s hard to see any interim head coach excelling under the current working conditions in Foggy Bottom.

Providence’s Bullock will be one of Big East’s top scorers

Kris Dunn is not walking through that door.

In fact, Ben Bentil isn’t either.

What does that mean for Providence in 2016-17?

A bigger piece of the pie for Rodney Bullock.

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 11.4 points on 9.3 shots last season as a redshirt sophomore and now with Dunn and Bentil both in the NBA, Bullock looks primed to become Providence’s alpha dog.

Ed Cooley has always done a tremendous job at getting his best players as many shots as possible and that’s definitely going to happen again with Bullock.

The Friars are a bit of a mystery team heading into next season and it remains to be seen if guys like Kyron Cartwright, Jalen Lindsey and George Mason transfer Isaiah Jackson can step into bigger roles for Providence.

The one certainty though?

Bullock is in position to take a major step forward during his second season of college basketball.

Saint Mary’s schedules tough non-conference teams

Saint Mary’s had to settle for the NIT last March after falling to Gonzaga in the WCC title game despite 29 victories, which included a regular season sweep of the Bulldogs.

Will the same thing happen in 2017 if the Gaels fail to win their conference tournament and earn an automatic bid to the field of 68?

That’s to be determined, but Randy Bennett has clearly put together a non-conference schedule that specifically features several mid-major teams that have a chance to have strong seasons.

Saint Mary’s will host Nevada, UT Arlington, UC Irvine, and Western Kentucky — four teams that have a legitimate chance to win their respective leagues. The Gaels will also play a neutral site game against UAB in Las Vegas and travel to face both Dayton and Stanford.

Another good thing for this team?

The two regular season meetings with Gonzaga should carry more weight statistically because the Bulldogs should be stronger than they were last season.

Saint Mary’s needs to beat the teams it plays early and then needs those same teams to have strong years in their respective leagues.

If that happens then this team should have a chance at an at-large bid next March if it fails to win the WCC Tournament.

This and That

  • I’m hearing more and more that Ohio State freshman big man Micah Potter is going to have a major role for the Buckeyes. Expect Potter to split time at the five with Trevor Thompson as Thad Matta attempts to lead Ohio State back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year hiatus.
  • Prediction: Georgia Tech will not win a single game in the ACC next season. This is the worst roster that Josh Pastner has ever been associated with.
  • Minnesota has lost 17 games in the past two seasons by six points or less. Brutality.
  • My biggest takeaway from the release of the Big East conference schedule last week? Creighton opens up at home with back-to-back games against Seton Hall and Villanova. The Jays can show early that they’re a contender with Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster.
  • Looking for an under-the-radar mid-major team to put on your radar for next season? Try UT Arlington. Scott Cross’ squad returns its top six scorers from last year’s team that won 24 games and beat both Memphis and Ohio State. This could be the team to beat in the Sun Belt.

Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Observations: George Washington an unknown commodity after coach is fired