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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Patriots remain undefeated at home, earn #2 seed

Patriots took down Towson to complete an undefeated record at the Patriot Center for the first time ever. It was a sell-out tonight and the crowd was really intense. Mason has earned the #2 seed in the conference tournament and will face the winner of the JMU/W&M game. Darryl Monroe, despite looking sluggish at times, finished with 13 and 9 to lead Mason. Patriots won with solid defensive effort and smart shot selection down the stretch. Everyone seemed to be shooting the ball better and Dre Smith was cutting to the lane more. Ryan Pearson did not suit up for the game, and his right hand (non-shooting hand) was bandaged up. More details to follow on his injury. Birdsong got more minutes in Pearson's absence and he stepped up adding 10 points. Chris Fleming looked a little rusty in extened action but got an ovation late in the game from the crowd to come in one last time. Gotta love that kid. Free-throws were still an issue, especially after a Pat Kennedy technical were JV missed two alone on the foul line. Despite that Mason played great defense in the second half mixing up full-court press with the scramble defense and creating turnovers. Mason had to face a pressing Towson squad and broke through it on a Mike Morrison alley-oop that was pretty damn sick for those who witnessed. Haven't seen many of those since Gabe Norwood left. The three-point shooting was much improved in this one and I say that because there was a lot less erratic shots from long range. Dre Smith wasn't firing up too many funballs and rest of the Mason squad was patient from behind the arch. Have they finally learned? Mason ended up shooting over 50% from the field and held their opponents to under 40%. The Patriots rebounding was so-so at times and the prescence of Pearson in the middle was definitely missed on both ends. There was a lot of uncontested three-pointers from the Tigers, that allowed them to keep in the close. Mason was able to get an important win and their reward will be not having to worry about facing VCU until the championship game. It could be a whacky tournament and I think upsets across the board are a given this season. The difference between the #5-8 seeds is minimal and all are capable of stringing together victories against the top 4.


More on Pearson's injury, word is he will be back for the CAA tournament.
"Pearson sat out the game with his right ring and pinky fingers wrapped to the wrist after aggravating a hand injury in practice. Pearson was expected to see doctors in the next few days."


Mason looks to complete home dominance

As the Patriots finish up their regular season tonight hosting Towson, they are attempting to complete the first unbeaten season at the Patriot Center. It is not the first time Mason has been undefeated at home during a season but it would be the first time at the Patriot Center. This game also marks the last senior night of any player that was on the 2006 Final Four squad. Chris Fleming and John Vaughan sure have a lot of memories and despite neither of them playing in the 2006 NCAA tournament their leadership from being on that squad will certainly be missed. Towson would like nothing else than to come into Fairfax and ruin this for Mason. Although the Patriots have secured a first round bye in the conference tourney they are looking for some stability and momentum, while still in the running for the #2 seed. Consistency has been a problem for Mason this year and so has winning outside of the Patriot Center. One thing the Patriots have been consistent on is poor free-throw shooting, which is something to keep an eye on in this one. They need to right the ship in this area or they will not have much success next week in Richmond.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

CAA tiebreakers explained

The and Lito's blog have mapped out all the CAA tournament seeding scenarios. To summarize for Mason with respect to this upcoming Saturday's home finale with Towson:

Mason has clinched a top 4 seed, and thus a first round bye

Mason will finish 2nd if they win and Northeastern loses

Mason will finish 3rd regardless of winning if Northeastern wins

Mason will finish 4th if they lose and ODU wins


JV's late basket helps Mason revail at Trask

John Vaughan had a reverse lay-up in the closing seconds at Trask Coliseum to help Mason escape with a win there for the first time in 5 years. The six-game road losing streak has finally come to an end. JV also ended the game with his highest rebounding total of his career (11) and posters at are saying he was also coaching in the second half. Perhaps Larranaga was unhappy to see his team on the verge of unfolding on the road yet again and tried to teach them something by taking a seat in the 2nd half. Hopefully it's the kind of spark this young squad needs to get before the conference tournament. Mason still made many mistakes in this one that they had previously been making in other road games this season. Granted UNCW was making threes at a ridiculous rate late in this one, but the Patriots should have saw that coming with the clock winding down. With no inside game, where did you think they were going to go? The fact that no Mason forward got more than 10 points in this one is a little disheartening, but Morrison finished with another strong game. Although Dre Smith led the Patriots with 13, he still took a some very questionable long range shots......again. Smith got most of his points off lay-ups via driving to the lane, something we don't see him do enough. Cam Long started off 3-for-3 from the 3-point line and then went 0-for-6 throwing up some erratic shots when the Patriots didn't need a three. A win is a win, and with VCU and Northeastern victorious the Patriots needed to it to keep pace in the first-round bye field.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Patriots look to end losing at Trask

Road trips have not been kind to Mason this season and isn't almost fitting that they end CAA road slate with a trip to UNCW. Patriots have not won at Wilmington since January of 2004, and with the Seahawks currently holding down last place in the conference it seems like a good year to end that streak. So you would think. At this point no Mason fan is writing off any road game early, no matter who it's against. Earlier this month UNCW took down VCU on their homecourt, so you can see there's still some fight in them. Granted we watched the Patriots dismantle this squad at the Patriot Center earlier in the year, scoring over 100 points, but it's hard to say that's a good barometer for measuring how this time will far in a road game. These last two games do matter in terms of seeding for the conference tournament and will some help the Patriots could still move up from their current location. UNCW has been letting teams score on them at will, letting opposing teams score over 100 five times this season. That means the Patriots just need to take decent shots and do what they do inside to put this game away early. They should not be concentrating on the long ball, but they almost undoubtedly will. Patriots can only lose this one if they beat themselves by not taking care of the ball and settling for tough outside shooting.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


Mason failed to upset Creighton late last night in Omaha to add their first double digit loss and another road stumble to their record. Mason's formula of poor free-throw shooting and turnovers let to another demise, although at certain points they looked as if they were capable of stealing the game. Make no mistake though, the Bluejays were pretty hot last night and Booker Woodfox made John Vaughan look like a high school freshman. Some of Woodfox's shots were contested and he still drained them but he was also given way too much space for a guy who leads the nation in long range shooting. Speaking of long range shooting, Dre Smith had another horrid night shooting the ball and would have been scoreless without one garbage time basket late. It's getting real tiring to watch Dre Smith launch up these miss fires and it's almost getting to the point where you have to question the amount of minutes he is still getting. Yesterday the Washington Post pointed out that before the game Dre was currently on an 0-for-23 streak from three-point land. Say what you want to about his defensive prescence the guy is still just not getting it done out there. Cam Long, who started off the night fairly hot, cooled off to start the second half and then started to get with it when it was too late. At this point you would think Long was stop being so unselfish and take the ball to the hole more. The offense again was looking to get Darryl Monroe going early and he had some mild success in the first half but was better in this one setting up his teammates as he finished with 6 assists. The freshmen had trouble with fouls early in front of a crowd of over 17,000 and Ryan Pearson again failed to reach double figures. The front court was not a factor in this one and they let Blue Jay center Kenny Lawson Jr. get way too many uncontested baskets. Overall the depth of Creighton drained Mason in the 2nd half while they were attempting a late comeback.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Watch Mason vs. Creighton here

Friday, February 20, 2009

Previewing Creighton...


Although it may be difficult to get excited about this game for most fans, bear in mind the result of this match-up could tell us a lot about how Mason will fair in March. The whole ESPN BracketBuster mania is by no means perfect, but the Patriots were dealt one of the best teams from the pool. Did they deserve it? Who cares? It will be another tough road test for the Patriots and we haven't seen this team step up to that kind of challenge yet. Wouldn't be a bad time to break that streak against a Creighton squad that is winners of 7 straight and currently at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. This is also a team that smashed Dayton earlier in the year. The Bluejays are led by guard Booker Woodfox (yes that's his real name) who leads the nation in 3-pt shooting (50.0%) and have no trouble putting points on the board. It's no surprise that the Patriots will need to rely on their defense to pull off this upset. Front court play will also be key for Mason as Creighton sports a guard heavy line-up often. Can Monroe and Morrison continue the recent success they have been having? If they can get to the free-throw line and actually convert, and that's a big IF, the Patriots could find themselves still in the game late in the 2nd half. I say this because I don't expect John Vaughan and Dre Smith to be lighting it up from behind the arch, Creighton is just too good to allow either of those two to get going early. Vaughan, Long, and Dre can all drive to the basket and make things happen and if they do that in this game they make things a lot easier for themselves. Mason will also have to take care of the ball as Creighton's turnover margin is +3.8, yikes. Running up and down the court and trading baskets is not the kind of tempo that will favor the Patriots in this one. If Mason can slow down the game and serve a heavy dosage of Monroe, Morrison, and Pearson a victory is not out of the question.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mason grinds out win over Drexel

Patriots defended their home court again last night to remain unbeaten at the Patriot Center and get closer to securing a first round bye in the CAA tourney. Poor free throw shooting almost doomed Mason but Darryl Monroe, who had 15 points, hit some keys ones to secure the victory. The game was sloppy and niether team really was able to find rhythmn on offense. We saw Michael Morrison have another good showing but his inability to hit any free throws made him a liability in the 2nd half. Kind of disturbing to see the Patriots struggle so much from the charity stripe with the CAA tournament being right around the corner. Although the game was ugly at times the end of the first half was encouraging if your a Mason fan when you saw guys flying all over the place and bodies on the floor fighting for loose balls. That kind of grit and determination is something that has been missing at times this season. They grinded out this win which was impressive but the offensive output or lack of it was a little scary at times. Dre Smith fired off a lot misses and Ryan Pearson was not much of a factor again (foul trouble). It also wasn't too encouraging that we didn't see Isaiah Tate again, who I believe is suffering from some kind of wrist injury.

Although Northeastern lost last night, Patriots would still have the #3 spot as the Huskies own the tie-breaker but the top of the CAA standings could still be a log-jam before everything is said and done.

Player Post Game

Coach L

Game Winning Shot

Videos from

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slay the Dragons

Patriots have a chance to make things a lot easier for themselves if they win tonight against Drexel (watch game here if you don't have Fios). Fans are probably praising the fact that this is a home game and they should because with a win Mason can just about lock up a 1st round bye in the CAA tourney. Keep in mind though that the Patriots still have to travel the Trask, where they haven't won in years. That makes tonight's game and the final home game against Towson ever more important. CAA teams have been beating each other up all season and the conference tourney should be no except making seeding a key issue. Who wants to play an extra game against JMU, Drexel, Hofstra or ODU? Litos has a good breakdown of the tie-breakers and such on his blog. Unfortunately for Mason these aren't the same Dragons that they faced Philly back in early December and narrowly escaping. Drexel, predicted to finish dead last in the CAA is now currently tied with Mason for third place after starting off 2-6. Since then they are 12-4 and have been the best road team in CAA action (5-2) this season. I smell a close one and with the Patriots shooting so poorly from the charity stripe it really makes you wonder how this one will go. They did defend the perimeter much better against Northeastern and Drexel is last in the CAA in 3-pt shooting percentage, making inside play a key factor tonight. Expect Mason to go inside early as they did against the Huskies, using more of Morrison, Pearson, and Monroe.


Monday, February 16, 2009

More Northeastern Post Game Media

Post Game Interviews from

Coach L:

Cam Long and John Vaughan:

Photos from


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Homecoming Video

Larranaga Mic'd Up:

Post-Game Interview:

Cam Long and John Vaughan Post-Game:

Videos from Comcast Sportsnet


Patriots stand strong at home

Mason took down 1st place Northeastern Saturday to remain unbeaten at home. The game was ugly to start off with both team's enduring a sloppy 1st half. The Patriot's defense was on point and held the Huskies to 34% shooting and Matt Janning to only 13 points. Neither team shot well from behind the arc as we only saw six three-pointers the entire game and we didn't see Northeastern get any open looks from long distance, which had been a problem recently for Mason. John Vaughan led Mason, getting most of his points in the 2nd half but real difference maker was Michael Morrison. Coach L referred to him as the x-factor in the post-game interview and he really looked authoritative in the front court. He left some points on the floor by missing some free-throws but the point was he was getting to the line and showing aggression. As a whole the free-throw shooting was pretty terrible, which isn't a great thing to see with the tournament looming. Cam Long had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Darryl Monroe finished with 10. In the first half it looked like Mason was trying to get Monroe involved and went to him often. I think most of us would have to agree that we would much rather see that then watch Dre Smith go 0-for-5 from long range again. Not only did Smith have poor long range shooting he was 1-8 from the field. His inconsistency and sometimes wild shooting is getting tiresome. His efforts on the defensive end justify his minutes but it holds back the offense so much when he's misfiring. Mason ran a lineup yesterday that features Monroe, Birdsong and Pearson which is something I would like to see more of. Add Morrison into that mix often and I think the offense would be a lot more difficult for any CAA to defend. I don't know what's more puzzling about this Mason squad; the fact that they play so poorly on the road or the fact that they follow up those road losses with such impressive games at home?

pictures from


Friday, February 13, 2009

Definitely no swagger

It's appropriate that this year's homecoming theme is "No one has swagger like us", because to me that is just what Mason seems to be missing this year. I'm talking about the kind of "swagger" that draws up killer instinct with heart and determination. I say they are missing this because I just don't see what else in the equation can explain this rollercoaster of a season. Talent wise the Patriots can play with any team in the CAA and the excuses about the youth and chemistry can only go so far. We have beaten this topic to death here and now Mason sits on the cusp of potentially not even getting a first round bye in the CAA tourney. Most of us earlier in the season thought this homecoming match-up could maybe decide 1st place in the conference and now most fans are more worried about what kind of alcohol will be needed Saturday to enjoy themselves. What's even more disappointing is the fact that 1st place Northeastern has dropped two straight and a victory last night for Mason, despite everything that's happened, still would have made this game more interesting. Patriots have bounced back at home after road losses all season so I'm not saying this going to be a boring game but you can't help but wonder what's going to happen after this game even if Mason comes out with a victory? Will Mason's road woes continue for the rest of the season and into the CAA tourney? What kind of Mason squad will we see on a neutral court in Richmond? The home Patriots or the road Patriots?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another road trip, another loss

Every road game seems to go exactly the same. Mason is down big early, battles back in the second, maybe takes the lead for a while but eventually loses. Usually by missed free-throws or a sloppy defensive effort late in the game. This one may have been different for Mason if they could hit ANY free-throws. Mason shot the ball better and out-rebounded Delaware, while also scoring numerous points off turnovers. Yet it's the little things that killed them. Monroe had a monster game scoring a career-high 27 and grabbing 11 boards but again, missed some huge free-throws. John Vaughan being scoreless in the first half didn't help the situation and Cam Long was quiet til late as well. Mason was 0-for-9 from behind the arch. Really? The Blue Hens nailed 11 threes while shooting over 40% from there. Ryan Pearson playing only 6 minutes is bad news for Mason. What happened there? If your a fan it's hard to even get mad after another loss like this. The way they are lossing on the road is no longer shocking because they keep doing the same things wrong. What's different about this loss though is that it may very well keep the Patriots from having a first round bye in the CAA tournament. Ouch. Anyone excited for Saturday?


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Patriots search for answers

Many fans have been asking "what's wrong" during this recent six game stretch where the Patriots have gone 2-4, losing all four on the road. Sure many have been close (average margin of losses on the road is 3.3) and we have seen the these guys put on some impressive runs but they just can't seem to bring it all together for a full 40 minutes. Losing close games can really hurt the spirits of a young squad. And these are young when you really think about it. Vaughan is the only senior who has been under Coach L's teachings for 4, ok 5 years. Monroe has had only had one other season of playing time before this year. Dre Smith is in his third year here but when you see the difference some Mason players of the past made in their fourth year you will know what I'm talking about. Dre wasn't slowly brought on as a freshman, he was kinda thrown into things as a sophomore playing a Mason squad trying to live up to the post Final Four hype running through Fairfax. These aren't your typical Jai Lewis, Will Thomas, Folarin Campbell type seniors and I'm not saying that it's a difference in talent level. But this isn't the only thing causing Mason to be in this funk.

Many people have been saying to me that this Mason squad lacks a "clutch" or "go-to" player. That may be true in a sense but wouldn't you rather not be in that position late in the second half where the last few possession decide the game and a lucky hail mary shot can send you home? Wouldn't you rather have a lock-down defense that shuts down the other team and avoid that situation? Maybe that's just me but I feel like that's the kind of ball Larranaga likes to play. A balanced attack has always been his approach, on offense and on defense. Even with last year's squad featuring two of some of the best Patriot players ever you wouldn't really call just one guy THE go-to player. The downside to this is that if even one or two guys isn't pulling his weight the whole team suffers and that's what I think has been happening recently. Sure it's great to have a guy like Eric Maynor on your team but when the Rams play their worst it's been when the team fell back a little too much on his shoulders.

The Washington Post suggests that these Patriots lack a fiery leader. John Vaughan has admitted that he is not very vocal guy on the court and that may be hurting some of the younger guys. Over the last three seasons Mason has had some very vibrant characters who would constantly push guys. You can see at times this year that it's basically only Larranaga doing the pushing. Some players, especially freshmen, respond better to teammates trying to motivate them. Just another thing a basketball team can't fix overnight. But to say this season is a disappointment so far is little far fetched. If I had asked most of you what your expectations for this season were at the beginning I'd bet most of you would have been pretty happy with third place, a 1st round bye in the CAA tourney, and our freshmen showing good progression.

Interesting fact of the day: Did you know that Doyle Brunson, the man whose name is pretty much synonymous with the game of Texas hold’em, started his career as a basketball player? He was named one of the top five basketball players in the state of Texas, and received many college offers before a knee injury prevented him from further competitive play. After studying the poker rules, he noticed that he was making more money playing poker than he was on a regular job. And from that point he never looked back. If you want to give poker a go, you can find free play poker sites or you can give it a shot at the real money tables.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Late night for Patriots

I know you are as excited as I am about the 9:30pm tip-off time for the bracketbuster game against Creighton. But you will be even more enthused when you hear the reason why:
Because the Nebraska School Activities Association will be holding its high school state wrestling finals at Qwest Center in Omaha on Feb. 21, the ESPN BracketBuster game between George Mason and Creighton won't tip off until 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The network announced on Monday that the game will be shown on ESPNU.
Well it's just been that kind of season hasn't it?

Monday, February 09, 2009

CAAZone Problems

CAAZone has been experiencing some technical issues. They have asked me to post this statement for all of you guys that post over there:
"Sometime early on Saturday morning, our hosting company Myriad Networks ( changed its primary DNS nameserver and "migrated" our website to a new server. They did this without giving us any notice. Not only has the website not come back up, their support has been unresponsive. Their phone numbers located in Sterling have been disconnected. We are furious, as you can imagine and we have spent much of the past three days working on this.

With the help of our good friends at SportsWar (, and, who also co-locate their servers at Myriad but were unaffected, we are slowly getting through to some of the people at Myriad who can help us. Our objectives are to:

1) Restore service
2) Get answers
3) Research our options for legal action (any pro-bono volunteers?)
4) Plan for the eventual move of the website to another hosting company

With any luck,'s original site will be restored in short order - but there is a possibility that this could be a longer term struggle. We will continue to email out updates to our friends, and Twitter under "caazone". The domain "" will probably point to a status page until all of this is worked out. Look for that later tonight.

Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your support.

Chris Metsala, ZoneAdmin
David Pierpont, ZoneManager"

Bracketbuster times announced

Looks as if the Patriots will be facing Creighton on ESPNU at 9:30 pm EST. Buffalo at Vermont on ESPN2? Really? Here is the full schedule run down:

Fri., Feb 20: 7 p.m. Illinois State at Niagara ESPN2 /

9 p.m. Virginia Commonwealth at Nevada ESPNU

Sat., Feb 21: 11 a.m. Northeastern at Wright State ESPN2 /

11 a.m. Liberty at Old Dominion ESPNU

Noon #15 Butler at Davidson ESPN /

1 p.m. Buffalo at Vermont ESPN2 /

3 p.m. Northern Iowa at Siena ESPN2 /

3:30 p.m. Miami (OH) at Evansville ESPNU

5 p.m. #17 Utah State at Saint Mary’s ESPN2 /

5:30 p.m. Green Bay at Long Beach State ESPNU

7 p.m. Hofstra at Fairfield

7:30 p.m. Boise State at Portland State ESPNU

9:30 p.m. George Mason at Creighton ESPNU

Thanks to everyone that sent this in.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mason falls to JMU for first time in 5 years

Although it's not shocking, the Patriots fell to the Dukes this afternoon and final score doesn't show how badly they played. Not only did Mason lose to Madison for the first time in 10 meetings but they did so with them not having their leading scorer in the line-up. Mason did not come out as flat as they usually do on the road but I feel like they were settling for too many three-point attempts in the first half. They tried to get Monroe and Birdsong started but instead they just kept the ball out of Cam Long hands. Long was almost invisible in the first half. Huh? Did I not say yesterday that JMU could give us serious trouble if Kyle Swanston was hitting threes all afternoon? Well he did and granted he played an exceptional game Mason should have known he would be taking more looks, especially without Juwann James playing. They sent Madison (the best free-throw shooting team in the CAA) to line countless times at the end of the second half while struggling to keep a small lead. Discipline. Where was it? Another thing missing was any kind of consistent outside shooting. Dre Smith and Cam Long struggled to find the range and it really kept Mason taking control. Ryan Pearson got going in the second and seemed to draw contact almost every time. A lot of Madison players were in foul trouble, but it means nothing when you can't hit late game free-throws. Probably the most disappointing thing in this game for the Patriots was the fact that Dazz Thornton was a factor late in the game. I'm talking about a 275+ pound guy who struggles to play 15 minutes even with Juwann James sharing the front court. You have three forwards at your deposal who are all vastly more athletic and let this guy who was basically their only inside player available have a career day? Usually when a team gets as many points off turnovers in a game as Mason did, it's a lopsided ordeal. Not the case and the Patriots themselves commited only 8 turnovers. What's most distouraging about Mason's recent road loses have been that they don't seem to make any significant changes at half-time. Swanston was killing it, yet it didn't seem like they were changing their defensive schemes much to thwart him. It's head scratching.

Why do you think Mason has so much trouble on the road?


Friday, February 06, 2009

The road ahead...

Mason travels down to Harrisonburg Saturday and is looking to extend it's 10-game winning streak over JMU. The record in the GMU-JMU series for longest winnest streak is 11 by JMU, set back in the 70s. And people say this isn't a real rivalry? Mason has not had trouble in Harrisonburg and really it's been the only place they seem to consistently win on the road. Just last year Dre Smith put an exclaimation point on that statement. Watching Dre put on that show last season makes me want to bet on sports again. After all it was march madness betting on Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2007 that helped me survive financially during my last few years at Mason. Back to the matter at hand, JMU has not come within 18 points of beating Mason since 2004, let that sink in for a second. Yet you still can't take any team lightly in the up and down CAA this year, especially after we have seen first place Northeastern lose to last place UNCW. The Dukes can put up points (16 three-pointers against GSU on Wednesday) but it's their defense that has been holding them back this year. They especially lack control on defense in the front court so you would have to think we will see some heavy doses of Darryl Monroe, Ryan Pearson and Louis Birdsong. Pearson and Birdsong led the Patriots in scoring last time against the Dukes and they will need to get going early to prevent JMU from getting an early lead. What scares me is Kyle Swanston nailing open look threes all day and Juwann James getting it done inside to keep the game close late. If the Patriots play defense like they did Tuesday against Hofstra they should have no trouble, but that's a big IF when this team has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to home games versus road games. With what happened in the CAA this week you would have to think the Patriots will be even more hungry to jump at the chance to possibly move up into the standings closer to a top 2 spot.

Mason's athletic website gets a facelift

Mason athletics updated the look of their website last night, something that has been long overdue. The content looks relatively the same but it seems that they are adding some addition al features and trying to make the site more of an experience to the fans.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Interesting Night...

Well the CAA just got a little more interesting. VCU and Northeastern both fell last night to make the top of the standings a bit more crowded. Mason doesn't have an edge in the tie-breaker scenarios, but there is a still a lot of games left to play and let's be grateful the most important one is at the Patriot Center. I'm saying all this because I really feel like the seedings in the CAA tournament will be ever so important this year. Avoiding VCU in the CAA tournament is pretty much what every team hopes for and with Eric Maynor being a senior this year is no exception. You can whine and complain about the advantage the Rams have playing in their backyard every year but that's just the way it is. Northeastern has little to no post-season experience on their roster and would be the lesser of two evils Mason would want to face before the championship game, should they reach it. Larranaga's always seems to get his team ready for the CAA tourney despite the kind of year they are have. Remember what they did with a #5 seed just two years ago?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday Links

Thanks to everyone who sent these in.

Back to business

Patriots maintained their home court dominance in a big win over Hofstra last night. Mason was never threatened in this one and we saw a much improved defensive effort, holding the Pride to under 30% on the night. John Vaughan and Ryan Pearson each finished with 16 points as the Patriots shot 49%. And anyone who said Vaughan missing from the VCU and Old Dominion games didn't have a big impact should have taken notice of how Mason was able to break the full-court press by Hofstra with ease when in-bounding to the ball to him. Mason as a whole did a great job creating fast break opportunities and spreading the ball around for open shots. Cam Long had a quiet night as his big play ability wasn't needed with Mason coasting most of the 2nd half. Getting to the free-throw line was a big key in this one as the Patriots got 24 points from there. Pearson and Cornelius got to the line fairly easily and I would hope to see more of that in the future. The CAA's second leading scorer, Charles Jenkins, was held below his average as the Patriots did not let anyone on the Pride's offense get going. The only downside for the Patriots last night was that Hofstra was able to get 23 offensive rebounds and you have to wonder how much more the margin would have been on the scoreboard if they didn't get all those second chance points. It's always good to see the youth of this team shine in conference play and progression of freshmen is really starting to show. Mike Morrison set a pick that leveled a Hofstra player and had a thunderous dunk to follow it up. Monroe, Pearson and Morrison held their own in the front court; something I really hope to see February 14th when Northeastern comes to town.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Previewing Hofstra...

The road has not been the Patriot's friend this season; but the Patriot Center certainly has. Mason hosts Hofstra tonight, televised on ESPNU or you can just watch it here. Can the Patriots extend their home court dominance to 11 games this season? They will have to if they want to remain near the top of the CAA standings. points out that is a match-up of the league's most efficient offense against the league's toughest defense. Hofstra has been keeping opponents under 40% shooting all season long; they are big and can be very aggressive. Michael Litos mentions on his blog that this is not exactly the kind of team Mason needs to be facing right now and I agree. Charles Jenkins leads Hofstra scoring about 18 a game and the Patriots cannot let him go off like Matt Janning, Eric Maynor and Gerald Lee did. Larranaga isn't happy with the team's recent defensive efforts and who could blame him. The Patriots went from holding their first six CAA opponents to under 39% shooting to allowing three of their last four to shoot over 40% with ODU shooting 59%. Yikes. What happened? Holes seem to be popping up all over the place on the team's defense and you would almost have to wonder if some of the younger guys have gotten a little lax after such a good start to the season. They don't seem to be playing with enough intensity for the full 40 minutes lately. We have seen slow first halves matched with very aggressive second halves and that just isn't always going to yield victories.


Monday, February 02, 2009

ESPN Bracketbusters announced tonight

Tonight ESPNU will be broadcasting the pairings for this year's annual bracketbuster event at 6:30pm. Judging by the RPI numbers and other stats it looks like Mason will most likely be playing either Evansville, Creighton, Niagra, or Fairfield. Evansville and Creighton are from the Missouri Valley conference and I would much rather get one of them because of the possibility of having a quality out-of-conference opponent come to the Patriots Center next season.

UPDATE: Creighton it is. Glad we got a MVC team. I'm hoping for an ESPN2 spot but I think we might have to settle for ESPNU. Creighton was the only team to beat Mason at home during the 2005-2006 season and I definitely don't mind having them on the schedule for the 2009-10 season.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Road woes continue for the Patriots

Mason just can't seem to get it done on the road this year in the CAA. Last night we saw the Patriots again fumble one away on the road in what was essentially a winnable match. Mason has lost three CAA road games by a combined total of 8 points. Yes, that's right 8 points TOTAL. Some would say this team doesn't have a clutch go-to guy like an Eric Maynor, but really I think it's poor decision making on Mason's part. They fail to get the ball into the hands of whoever is shooting well that night. As the game came down to the finals seconds and Mason had the ball with a chance to win it due to the Monarchs missing some free throws, Cam Long took it up court and got off a decent shot but it fell short. They had no timeouts so he had to do it but wouldn't it have been better to see a play to Ryan Pearson (career-high 18 points) who at certain points last night seemed unstoppable in the front court.

What was disappointing in this game was the defensive effort by the Patriots. They let the Monarchs get off way too many easy shots the entire game. Gerald Lee had so many uncontested lay-ups I wanted to vomit. Just like against Northeastern and VCU the Patriots let the other team's "star" get going way too often, and essentially it was a huge difference maker in the outcome. Rebounding and turnovers were able even for both sides and the shooting was off the charts. Old Dominion started off hot and didn't seem to miss a shot for about 10 minutes while believe it or not Mason shot better overall going over 58% for the field. I would be interested to see the history of the Patriots losing when shooting that good from the field. Honestly it seems like it would be difficult to lose when you shooting that well and don't commit more than 8 turnovers. John Vaughan started the game and looked good aggressive picking up 7 rebounds and 2 steals. Today in the WaPo John Feinstein has a nice little piece on him. Dre Smith also looked good creating a lot of fast break points for Mason and hitting some threes. Andre Cornelius and Isaiah Tate were non-factors after playing well against Delaware, both did not get many minutes with Vaughan's return.


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