The Capital City Go-Go began their second season of existence on Saturday night with a 109-98 victory over the Grand Rapids Drive. In head coach Ryan Richman’s first game in charge, he came out victorious thanks to strong performances from his starters. The 30-year old admitted he had some butterflies, but heeded the advice of Scott Brooks, David Adkins, Mark Turgeon, and Brenda Freese to trust his gut. Although it is always nice to get wins, the Go-Go’s main priority remains to develop talent for the Washington Wizards. Currently, that means second-round pick Admiral Schofield and undrafted free agent and Justin Robinson.
“We know our priorities and we understand our priorities are developing the Wizards’ players and developing everyone in our locker room. For us the wins and losses will take care of itself,” Richman said pre-game. “We’ve been harping on them [Schofield and Robinson] to set the tone. It will be interesting to see. I have all the confidence in the world in all of them. Control what you can control, play with energy, play with effort, be a great teammate and everything takes care of itself.”
Schofield, 22, had 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 12 rebounds, and three assists in 38 minutes of play. The Tennessee native flexed his muscle to rip rebounds away from his matchups. On one play I thought he might break a Drive player’s arm because it got caught in Schofield’s grasp when he secured a board.
“Rebounding, showing my versatility guarding the ball, guarding different guards, being able to switch on bigs in the post, just showing my value,” Schofield explained what he is looking to improve on when with the Go-Go. “Trying to be a positive guy in the plus/minus, grab a lot of boards, shooting is shooting, not trying to play outside of my game.”
“High energy, he always lightens the room up,” Schofield’s former Tennessee teammate and Grand Rapids opponent Jordan Bone said. “He’s a guy that you want on your team. He’s going to do something well, he’s going to impact your team in a positive way and that’s my guy. I love him to death.”
Robinson, 22, had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, six assists, and four rebounds in 37 minutes. The point guard would have had a lot more points if he was not 1-for-6 from the free throw line where in the G League you have one attempt for two (or three) points. Grand Rapids’ defenders simply could not stay in front of the Virginia Tech product.
“They were great,” Richman said about Schofield and Robinson. “Admiral led us in rebounds and I thought he was just a calming force. Defensively is what we really talked about and I thought he did a really good job defensively. Justin played with speed, played downhill. I thought he was great getting to the rim, making plays.
Pretty much the entire Wizards coaching staff was in attendance to watch Schofield and Robinson. Scott Brooks, Tony Brown, Robert Pack, Mike Longabardi, David Adkins, Mike Terpstra, Jarell Christian, Kristi Toliver, Kamran Sufi, and Landon Tatum were all attentively watching the long 2 hours and 39-minute game.
Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard was also in attendance and has previously explained that he wants his rookies to play 1,500 minutes this season. For someone like Rui Hachimura that will come with the Wizards, but for Schofield and Robinson, the bulk of that will come with the Go-Go. The season-opener was a good start for the duo as they look to develop into NBA rotation players.