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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: June 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Offers on the table

Another busy summer of hitting the recruiting trails continues for Coach L and his assistants. They have been heavily perusing four players from the DC Assault U16 AAU team which has garnered a lot of attention at local and nationwide tournaments. Larranaga is doing what he does best and trying to get after these kids before they start to get more attention from big conference schools. Mason has offered to 2009 prospects Javorn Farrell (Ireton), Rashad Whack (McNamara), and Rodney McGruder (Carroll), as well as 2010 PG Daryl Traynham. McGruder is a my kind of prospect as he is described as the kind of player that is very athletic and known to " punish rims and get up and down the floor". Meanwhile Traynham is a 5'9" floor general and has been talked about as the "best transition guard this area has had in awhile”. It has been very rare to see a rising junior sign with the Patriots this early on but I feel like these days it's a possibility that is starting to look realistic.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lamar takes it to the streets

Lamar Butler, probably the most recognizable Mason basketball alumni, is spending his summer days playing in the Goodman League which is known as "Washington's Premier Streetball League". The games are played at the Barry Farms Dwelling basketball courts located at Firth Sterling Avenue in Southeast Washington, D.C. The league, which has been around since 1975, features current and former NBA players, college players, and participants from various communities. Gilbert Arenas played last summer and you can find a video of it here. To me it seems streetball leagues like this would be more of Tony Skinn's style instead Lamar's, considering I have never seen anyone on the And 1 mixtape tour shot a three-pointer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just watch them play!

The days of evaluating college players by actually watching them play might be numbered. Everywhere you look these days some "analyst" is making a case for some formula or equation they created that can more accurately evaluate talent. It's getting closer to the day when scouts won't even have to step away from their computers to evaluate talent. Soon NBA teams will hire guys like the ones from that show "Numb3rs" on CBS to tell them which players to draft. I think there is a reason guys like John Hollinger works for and not the front office of an NBA franchise; he has no idea what he's talking about. Take a look at his new system for evaluating college talent here. This article is free on ESPN insider this week, my god people pay to see this stuff? He goes on to explain the method to his madness and from reading it I can suffice it to say that I still have no idea how he is calculating this. One thing I noticed is that strength of schedule it not factored in. So basically he's basing some of his evaluation on situations like when Greg Oden grabbed 16 boards against Cleveland State or when Glen Davis scored 26 against Louisiana-Monroe.

It's a long math equation most likely that could probably only be understood by him and maybe Matt Damon's character in "Good Will Hunting". Not a bad idea if you trying to make some waves at ESPN. Make a long, difficult math equation to explain your rankings, its genius, not like anyone would actually go and check your work. No sports fan likes math, so why not use it as backup to justify why you think Mike Conley Jr. is the third best player in this year's draft.

Hollinger isn't the only stat guru out there with too much time on his hands. The Win Score model is something I came across on and I like how it adjusts to the level of competition but I don't see how that can be explained with numbers. The guys over at are even more nuts. At least their website actually has useful information and analysts but trying to understand how they calculate tempo, pace, and efficiency is mind boggling. And they factor in "luck" to their equations, yeah and thats not a typo. Here is Mason's statistic page, you could literally spend hours trying to figure out what some of this means. One stat I do like is the free throw rate. I said all season long that the Patriots needed to get to the line more and heres proof, their free throw rate was ranked #328 in nation, pretty close to dead last.

I know most of these crazy calculations have their purpose but I think some of these guys are taking it to the extreme. Watch the boys play, that is the best way to evaluate talent. Greg Oden can shoot free throws with either hand, wheres the stat that tells you about that? There are just too many other factors besides numbers that tells me what makes a quality basketball player.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Let the smack talk begin

Is it ever really too early to start making preseason rankings for college basketball? never seems to think so and although I constantly write how much preseason rankings are total bullshit I can't help but join in on the hype. I mean what else are preseason rankings good for in college basketball other than to be the source of smack talk? And maybe this website looks like a jumbled myspace page but they have some great analysis and reviews. The website's creator Shawn Siegel (who claims to be the hardest working man on the internet) has put out an updated Top 50 preseason ranking list and he has Mason listed at #44. I can't say that I disagree with this ranking and I'm not afraid to say it could even be higher considering we return almost our entire starting lineup. Also, every summer this site ranks the Top 144 teams in the nation and they do an analysis on each of the teams. Last summer they had Mason at #80 which turned out to be quite generous and they definitely pointed out some flaws that came true for us last season.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thick Skinn

Last season I would have to say the player I missed watching the most was Tony Skinn. Seemed like no one could slash and drive to basket, get to the foul line and make plays. It was an element the Patriots were missing last year that led to some of their struggles. But at least Skinn's skills are continuing to be showcased as the once France baller has now been given a shot on the Orlando Magic summer league team. Starting next month Skinn will get his chance to showcase his skills in front of NBA GMs and play his way into a full contract with a team. Although the league is mostly of NBA rookies and bench players, Skinn will still be going up against some good talent. I'm sure he'd love to show up Joakim Noah or Corey Brewer, but he might have to settle for Lee Humphrey. Former CAA POY Jose Juan Barea used a solid summer league showing to earn a spot on the Dallas Mavericks bench and was also on their playoff roster. Tony doesn't quite have Barea's superb passing skills but he can flat out score and knock down outside shots. We already know from the UConn game that he can talk trash pretty well but his flashy game can also speak for himself; that's already half of what being an NBA player is all about. But truth be told things never came easy for Tony and this article from gives some interesting insight about his past.

I am hoping they broadcast some of the games on NBA TV, which I think my overpriced Cox cable plan carries. If not I will have to rely on YouTubes of Tony such as this one that can found on the website for his camp. Keep the highlights coming Tony.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Recruit the Babies

USC head coach Tim Floyd recently received a verbal commitment from an eighth-grader, and you might think that is weird but its actually the second straight year he has done this. With all the strange recruiting rules the NCAA has its amazing to me how they don't seem to care about college coaches hanging around middle school gyms scouting 13 and 14 year old boys. There's limitations on text messaging and phone calls but not an age limit to when you can start stalking these kids? Has the PAC-10 really got that competitive that coaches have now resorted to signing kids to scholarships that have never played in a high school game?

Frankly I don't see how watching any phenom prospect dominate eighth grade level competition can give you any insight as to what kind of player he will be like 5 years down the road; especially before he is even out of puberty. I for one would never want to commit to a college at age 14, how do you even know what to look for in a college when your 14? That would tell me that your parents are pulling all the strings and I don't know about you but I would not be happy with that. Especially at the ripe old age of 14 when disobeying your parents is more fun than Xbox. And who wants the pressure before you even enter high school of knowing that a university has already invested that much in you. Every other kid out there would literally be gunning for you game after game; who wouldn't want to show up the kid who got a scholarship offer in eighth grade? Recruiting moves like this will make Floyd either a genius or one of those guys from Dateline's "Catch a Predator". But I guess when your coaching at USC you can take more risks when guys like OJ Mayo recruit themselves to your school.

Patriots to Face GW in BB&T Classic

All I can say is its about time we get a chance to play local rival George Washington, even if it will be a watered down product from previous years. They have dodged us for awhile now and like Maryland have been scared to travel down the beltway to take us on in the Patriot Center. God forbid they could give up their 10th home game in the row in December. Thanks to the BB&T classic we have got chances to take on local teams such as Maryland, GW, and Bucknell. I would rather we have a home and home type deal set-up with GW but we will see what happens as I believe this is the last year we are locked in to playing in the BB&T. GW has lost some quality guys but do return their leading scorer, Rice, from last years squad that was blown out by Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Definitely a winnable game for the Patriots and a good early season test against a well coached team.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Weekend Bullets

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Suitable Replacement

When former Mason assistant coach James Johnson bolted from Fairfax to Hokie land in April he left a big void in the coaching staff. As if its not bad enough we lose recruits to a school that hasn't won consecutive NCAA tournament games since 1967 but now they get our coaches too? But hey yeah good for them, they need our help because Johnson is an excellent DC/Metro area recruiter and a defensive specialists. Although he was only at Mason for two seasons his efforts were no doubt a part of the Patriot's recent success. I can't confirm it yet but rumor has it that Larranaga is bringing in a former player he coached from his days at Bowling Green, Michael Huger to fill this last assistant position. Huger has spent the last two years as an assistant at Longwood, which might not sound like much but he was responsible for recruiting a lot of DC/Metro area players that made Longwood a respectable squad despite just recently joining the Division I ranks. Apparently Huger was at this past weekends "elite camp" at Mason which I mentioned in an early post is where a couple local prospects were brought in to be evaluated. Huger coming to Fairfax is good news and maybe Johnson going to VA Tech means maybe we can schedule a game with them in Fairfax this upcoming season! Hahaha yeah I know.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weekend Update

As summer recruiting heats up, Mason had a visit this weekend from a rising local prospect. Chris Cooper from Woodbridge, VA had Mason as his first stop along with Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Pittsburgh, according to He is listed as a three-star recruit with an excellent low post game and rebounding. The 6'8", 215-pound Forest Park recruit would fill a huge hole that Will Thomas will be leaving after the 2007-2008 season. I know what your thinking, finally a low-post player taller than 6'7"! Let's all keep our fingers crossed. He has started to get more attention from some high major programs after the Southern Invitational Tournament he participated in with his AAU team. In that tournament he showed off his low post scoring, which is a difficult commodity for mid-major teams to come by. He has already received offers from Marist, Delaware, and Richmond but look for Coach L to enter the mix soon as he has not put out many offers to big men.


On an unrelated note, how is Mason's Final Four run not on this list?

Friday, June 08, 2007

On the Recruiting Trails

Coach Larranaga has had success recruiting in his own backyard but every once in awhile he will push hard to bring in an out of state kid. His latest 2008 prospect, Stacey Waters, hails from Michigan and is a 6'4" shooting guard with an excellent perimeter game. All of Larranaga's 2007 recruits have a great shooting touch so its obvious to see what caught his eye in this kid's game. He seems to be the same mold as John Vaughan and incoming freshman Cameron Long. Waters is viewed as a late bloomer that has just recently started to get offers from VCU and Central Michigan. A good mid-major coach has to be able to spot kids like this right from the start and get to him before the major teams start to notice him. Waters speaks of George Mason in an interview on
"I heard from George Mason not too long ago," he began. "They said they are in a good position to offer me a scholarship with one of their guys at my position leaving."
The guy at his position that will be leaving after next season is Folarin Campbell and it will not be easy to fill those shoes. Hopefully Coach L will offer to Waters before his stock continues to rise even more this summer in his AAU league. Here's a quote from an article talking about his AAU team:
Stacey Waters from Detroit Renaissance is playing the best basketball of any perimeter player in the state of Michigan at this point. He's a mid D-1 player now for certain, trying to produce his way to high D-1 status by the end of July.
Larranaga might have to use some recruiting magic and hope for a little luck in order to bring this kid to Fairfax but then again I never thought 'Dre Smith would commit to Mason.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Spice up the Schedule

Early season tournaments have always given a preview of which teams could be dark horses in March. The pre-season NIT did wonders for Butler last year, giving them a chance to knock off some power house programs and ride the wave of success all year into the NCAA tournament. Mason could have really used a pre-season tournament to help with chemistry last year and this year they will get their chance to prove themselves early. The field was just announced for the Old Spice Classic which has the Patriots squaring off against Kansas State thanksgiving night on ESPN2. The tournament also features Penn State, South Carolina, Villanova, NC State, Rider and UCF. The casual college hoops fan might not think much of this Big 12 Kansas State team but there's nothing about them this year that should be overlooked as they have arguably the best recruiting class of 2007. Before Bob Huggins bolted for West Virginia he was able to sign Michael Beasley (ranked #1 on and Bill Walker (ranked #2). Why those two have chosen to stay at Kansas State without Huggins is beyond me. Let's just hope they have not bought into 1st year head coach Frank Martin's system yet, who coached at Northeastern from 2000-2004 by the way. But serious match-up problems aside this is a great opportunity for the Patriots and give me another reason to ignore my family thanksgiving night.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Goodbye Triple X

Wow it sure was fun to have an ESPN radio station cover all of Mason's games last season but it looks like we have already been dropped. Last week Triple X ESPN radio announced that they had struck a partnership with Virginia Tech to cover their football and basketball games. At first it was thought that this wasn't necessarily the end of the their relationship with the Patriots; until reading Dave Preston's blog. In this blog entry, Preston (an anchor for the station) writes about the new partnership and in the comment section a fan asks if this means the end of Triple X covering Mason games. Preston's response is:
Regretfully yes, after an exciting season of GMU basketball we have decided to make the change to VT Football and Basketball. We only wish we could carry both basketball programs. We will continue to carry the latest info on Patriots basketball in our DC SPortsCenters so keep turnin' us on!
I don't understand why they still can't carry Mason games considering the two teams are in different conferences and don't usually play on the same nights. This is a DC and Northern Virginia based radio station and they give up on the Patriots already? I know there is a lot VA Tech alum in this area but they have not had the most stellar of athletic season recently to merit full time coverage in this area. It basically comes down to the point that the Hokies have football and Mason doesn't. It's a big loss in terms of local coverage and promotion for the Patriots if they are not picked up by a decent local station (possibly WJFK-106.7 ).

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