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Previewing VCU...

George Mason Basketball: Previewing VCU...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Previewing VCU...

Things don't get any easier for the Patriots as they face the VCU Rams on ESPN 2 this Saturday in Richmond. John Vaughan is out, but would sure like to play if it was up to him. The Patriots almost escaped Boston with a win at Northeastern but now find themselves in a three-way tie for 1st in the CAA. Forget the at-large talk, I just want to see this squad beat a solid team on the road. Beating VCU on the road would really give this team confidence heading into the end of their CAA slate and into the conference tourney in March. Mason had trouble keeping Matt Janning from scoring and now they have the task of taking on the CAA's leading scorer in Eric Maynor and without one of their best defenders. It will be interesting to see what Larranaga does personnel wise with Vaughan being out. Will we see more Andre Cornelius or will he go with a three-forward lineup using more of Ryan Pearson. A three-guard lineup would be more ideal against this very athletic VCU squad, so we could see more Isaiah Tate. In the front court Mason will be busy trying to deal with the Ram's Larry Sanders. The standout sophomore has shown flashes of brilliance on both ends of the court. He picked up five blocks last Wednesday against Georgia State and has been averaging around three per contest. Sander's aggressiveness does get him into foul trouble and the Rams aren't that deep so Mason will have to establish a low post game in order to come out victorious. Maynor is going to score his 20 but limiting him from setting up his teammates all night long will be the task at hand.

From more in-depth analysis I had a little Q&A session from the guys over at the VCU Ram Nation blog:

Eric Maynor is an exciting player to watch and I think he's the best player in the CAA because he makes the guys around him better. How much of that can be attributed to the way young guys Larry Sanders and Joey Rodriguez have progressed this year?

Maynor is an exciting and explosive player more importantly Maynor is a true point guard. There is no doubt that he makes his teammates better. A lot of that comes on the court but Sanders has said that Maynor stays in his ear by telling him that if he goes out and attacks it gives VCU a better chance of walking away with a win. I'd hate to say this because it seems like I'm not giving Rodriguez his credit but having Maynor on the court helps out Rodriguez because Maynor draws a double team a lot of the time which allows Rodriguez to make a play.

Speaking of Larry Sanders, how big of a factor do you think he will have in the game against the Patriots this Saturday?

Now that Sanders understands his role on this team by being our big man and playing aggressively, I think he could possibly be the deciding factor against GMU. Maynor comes as no surprise to any team in the conference. Coaches understand (successful or not) what needs to be done to contain Maynor. Sanders is a little different. Sanders at the start of the season is polar opposite of what we see from him now. If Sanders can play his role and attack the basket on offense and defense VCU stands a strong chance to beat GMU. It's hard to contain that height and that insane wingspan.

What would you say has been the Ram's biggest strength this season?

Larry Sanders. Hands down, Sanders. He is almost averaging a double double. Maynor of course is the team leader but teams are understanding how to defend him. Maynor will still drop 18-30 pts on any given night but what has helped us out as a young team has been the presence in the post by Sanders. Every coach in the post game pressers has made comments on how Sanders has affected their style of play whether its from full court pressure to defending the paint.

The Patriots have been successful this season largely because of their defensive efforts, what do you think the Rams will do to counter that? Three-point shooting? Going inside more? Speed the tempo?

The Rams will counter with their full court pressure. Coach Anthony Grant loves to play 94 feet both ways. I expect for this to be a low scoring game with plenty of defense by both teams. VCU runs hot and cold on any given night when it comes to 3 pt %. Barring any foul trouble, I expect to see a lot of points in the paint by Sanders and our other Forward, Kirill Pishchalnikov.

Who could be an X-factor in this game for the Rams?

Freshman, Bradford Burgess. He is a freshman from the Richmond area that has started every game this season. He has hit big shots when the team has needed them. Coach Grant talks about Burgess' high basketball IQ and it shows every game. Burgess has already notched 2 CAA rookie of the week in his freshman year.

What would the Patriots need to do to win this game?

In order for GMU to take this road game, they need to contain Maynor and keep him from driving to the rim. He has an uncanny knack to do whatever it takes late in the game to get the win. Also, I think Coach L knows that he needs to have a big body with coordination on Sanders. If Maynor drops 22 and Sanders drops 15, GMU doesn't stand a good chance. So the key for the Patriots will be to stop Maynor and Sanders also while limiting Rodriguez and Burgess....that or either bring Gunston back and get him to Richmond on Saturday.



Blogger C Hirsch said...

Maynor is a beast. He definitely has a shot at the NBA.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

The character of this GMU team speaks for itself. I anticipate a strong game from the Patriots as they rally around an injury and a tough loss. If so, then this team has he make-up of an NCAA challenger. If not, then we're NIT bound. Something in the middle...who knows.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that I actually agree with Trent.

Either learn how to win on the road or your NIT or CBI bound "Baby".

Win today plz!!!!!!

11:20 AM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

Blah, too many turnovers today.

Team showed heart without Vaughan and maybe things would have been different had he played.

It's either win 3 in a row in the conference tournament or NIT.

7:06 PM  

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