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Patriots need to slay the Dragons

George Mason Basketball: Patriots need to slay the Dragons

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Patriots need to slay the Dragons

There have been a lot of ups and downs in this young season so far. The Patriots have started to show some consistency of late and it could not have come at a better time. The team will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on Drexel who have been knocking over big name schools. The Dragons are on a six game winning streak in which they have beaten two Big East schools, Syracuse and Villanova, on the road. In November they beat a strong Vermont team by 13 points in a game where none of their starters scored in double digits. Drexel is very balanced, much like last years Mason squad; and they are beating more talented teams by playing better as a team. Their RPI is up to #7 right now, making this conference game very important to Mason. Mason's RPI is #103 and beating Drexel on the road would lower that number a lot.

Can Mason slay the Dragons or are they too hot right now? Although Drexel has been playing well as of late theres nothing like having your first conference game to bring you back to reality. Syracuse and Villnova overlooked the Dragons and didn't show them much respect. The Patriots play Drexel to the wire annually and know that they have to contain guys like Bashir Mason and Frank Elegar. I'm not trying to say Mason is a better team than Drexel because they aren't right now. But I will say that Drexel looked like this last season when they gave Duke a huge scare and lost to UCLA by a point in the pre-season NIT. And look what happened, they finished with a losing record and won only eight conference games. My point is the best time for your team to come together is at the end of the season during conference play not in the beginning when your hot streak could cool off after some rivalry games.

Mason matches up with Drexel pretty well except they do not have as much depth. The important match-up to watch will be Will Thomas against Frank Elegar. Thomas has struggled with double teams this year and managed only three points against Holy Cross. Look for Thomas to bounce back and for Coach L to get him more involved in the offense. The Dragons have been playing good defense and kept their opponents shooting percentage under .400. Mason's defense has been improving but they will need to step it up to win this game. Turnovers have been a problem for the Patriots and they will have to protect the ball against the Dragons who currently have a turnover margin of +2.9. Mason will also need strong play from their bench; Birdsong and Smith have been playing well lately with their increased minutes, they need to keep this up. If the Patriots play like they did as against Holy Cross I think they will have a chance to knock Drexel off its high horse and jump start their season.


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