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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: November 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breaking down the loss to Tulane

The Patriots dropped their first road game of the season to Tulane 76-71 Saturday, committing 20 turnovers and despite Cam Long scoring 24 points. Good to see that perhaps the leg cramp issue is behind him, at least for now. Luke Hancock was only other Patriot to reach double figures with 14. Mason had some impressive scoring runs in this game but defensively had way too many break downs. They kept it close but couldn't get the stops when they needed it. Long and Hancock were leaned on towards the end but maybe too much. Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson were noticeably absent for end of the 2nd half and I am not sure why. The Patriots front court defense was less than impressive as Tulane's big men got way too many easy scores. Overall there was just sloppiness everywhere even with guys like Andre Cornelius who in the second half got a steal seemed about a mile ahead of everyone but fumbled the scoring opportunity. You can't blame the atmosphere, anyone watching the stream I posted would say that most of these guys played in front of bigger crowds in high school. Perhaps Larranaga was trying to see what he has in freshmen Wright, Vaughns, and Williams but this game was never out of hand and their miscues were costly. I think a lot of the freshmen saw in this one the meaning of home court advantage by how many calls they didn't get. The fouls and the turnovers devastated the team.

Below is a chart from and it highlights the "Four Factors to Winning at Basketball". If you have never heard of this statistical breakdown before read more about what they mean here. The key stat that stands out is the rate at which each team went to the free-throw line.

NCAA Basketball Stats


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Game Day Links: Mason vs Tulane

Time: 2 pm EST, switched from 3 pm originally

Spread: Mason 2 point underdogs

Free Video Stream:

Radio link

Game Notes

Local Tulane media coverage preview


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

George Mason vs Indiana Video Highlights from Puerto Rico

[Video by Thuc Phan]

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Thoughts on the Patriot's performance in Puerto Rico

I had stated even before last weekend that the Patriots would end up leaving the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament a much improved team. And despite going 1-2 I see plenty of reasons to be confident in this team moving forward. There were times during the tournament, especially Thursday, that you would have never guessed the Patriots were sporting a freshmen and sophomore filled lineup.

-We saw this team nearly beat a top 5 ranked opponent while playing without their best player in the 2nd half.

-To follow that up we then got to witness a young team never quit against a bigger, stronger, more talented squad despite being down by as much as 21 points.

-And to finish up the trip the Patriots then got huge late game three-pointers from their leader and their best man off the bench. Big plays made from guys this team will lean on during conference play, never a bad sign.

After the playing Georgia Tech however, the Patriot's front court defense was widely exposed. And despite Mike Morrison setting a tournament record in blocked shots on Sunday, Larranaga's aggressive defense looked in disarray at times and resulted in easy dunks for the Yellow Jackets on Friday. Not a good sign for when conference play picks up, the CAA's best teams ODU, VCU, and Northeastern all have strong front court players. Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson have looked great at times but both had stretches of getting into foul troubles when the team needed them. Kevin Foster's front court presence could help us forget this as the season goes on. He seemed to be the player that has improved the most since the start of the season.

It will be interesting to see how the Patriots perform in their first real road game of the season this Saturday at Tulane.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Long's clutch three-pointer lifts Mason over Indiana

Both Cam Long and Luke Hancock hit key three-pointers in the closing moments of the game Sunday to help the Patriots avoid leaving Puerto Rico 0-3. In the 69-66 victory over Indiana Mike Morrison set a Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament record with 7 blocks. He also scored 17 points and collected 13 rebounds. Long finished with 18 points and sealed the victory for the Patriots by banking in a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down and what seemed like four hands in his face with about 5 seconds remaining. They needed a big play from their leader and best player and they got it. Luke Hancock continues to show up all over the box score adding 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. How much longer before we see a triple-double from this kid? Andre Cornelius finished with 9 points and played excellent defense for all of his 33 minutes. I really thought our front court would dominate the Hoosiers, but they were actually out-rebounded by them. Ryan Pearson being in foul trouble for most of the game was mostly to blame for this. Kind of thought we would have saw more of Johnny Williams but he seems to remain a situational guy for Larranaga still at this point. The Patriots continue to struggle on hitting clutch free-throws down the stretch and are just leaving too many points on the table. Shooting about 50-60% from the free-throw line is just not gonna cut it this year.

It was obvious from the beginning that both teams were determined to not be the team that left Puerto Rico winless. I'm sure fans will say that the Patriots are continuing to play down to the competition and that this team should have won this game easily. To a point I agree because Indiana's defense was terrible today. Mason was able to get through their zone and create easy shots and dunks. If Ryan Pearson didn't end up fouling out, this game could have went very different. But the fact still remains that with a young team you are going to see a lot inconsistency with plenty of highs and lows. The main thing to take away from this game is that the Patriots fought til the end and pulled out the victory.

NCAA Basketball Stats


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Patriots to play Indiana in final day of Puerto Rico Tip-off

The Patriots will face Indiana in the their final round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m (ESPNU). After falling to two nationally ranked opponents the Patriots will looking to take out their frustration on this young Indiana squad. The Hoosiers program has been in shambles after the coach Kelvin Sampson was caught breaking numerous NCAA rules. As a mid-major fan it's hard to feel sorry for programs like this. Last season they won six games, only one in the Big Ten, and this year they are 2-2 with wins over Howard and South Carolina Upstate. Like Mason they have a roster full of promising but unproven freshmen and sophomores. Mason has the advantage in terms of front court players and should work it inside often. Yesterday the Hoosiers were out rebounded by a smaller Boston squad 46-31. Mason should take this game and leave Puerto Rico as a much better all-around team.

Did you know that the last time George Mason and Indiana played each other was during the Patriots first ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1989? Indiana won 99-85. []


Friday, November 20, 2009

Patriots fall to Georgia Tech in Day 2 of Puerto Rico Tip-Off

The team almost seemed over-matched today against the Yellow Jackets, who were sporting a huge size advantage over the Patriots. The final was 70-62 (post game video below) but it wasn't nearly as close as that score would suggest. Mason didn't come out flat and led 17-8 early but then allowed Georgia Tech to go on a huge 15-0 run to close out the first half with a 27-19 lead. The Yellow Jackets were blocking the Patriots shots down low left and right which led to our guys backing away from the inside shots. Mason shot 35% from the field and Georgia Tech went 47% and actually had more turnovers (17) in the game. The young Patriots played with heart as they did not quit despite being down by as much as 21. In the end they missed on some last minute three pointers that could have put pressure on the Yellow Jackets late. Wouldn't be surprised if the loss to Villanova was still in their heads today.

Kevin Foster was a bright spot for Mason in this one as he finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals and was 2-for-2 from the three-point line. He was aggressive in the front court, something the Patriots have been lacking so far this season. Also, Luke Hancock continues to contribute in big ways as he had 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Cam Long started the game but quickly went back to the bench after only a few minutes, perhaps the coaching staff was saving him as he played almost the whole 2nd half. He didn't contribute much ended with almost as many turnovers (6) as he had points (7). I like that 11 guys played but I still feel like an ideal lineup is yet to be found.

Mason plays 10:30 a.m. on Sunday to the loser of the Indiana-Boston game later today.


Round 2 in Puerto Rico: Georgia Tech

After watching the game again last night, I was able to make rational analysis of what happened at the end. For one, it's tough to close out a game without your two players. Cam Long was hobbled on the sidelines again with leg cramps and Villanova was doing an excellent job keeping Ryan Pearson from scoring. And with what should being said it shouldn't have been a surprise that the young guys in the game late made some costly turnovers. Let's just hope they can learn from this. It's hard for me to believe that the Mason staff and all it's resources haven't sought out more help for this cramp issue with Cam Long, a specialist or something. Some of the blame at the end of the game though has to fall on Larranaga. I mean why did the team suddenly switch to zone on that game-winning three pointer from Armwood? Was that really the play he called to run on the last possession? It's a little head scratching, but I am sure there are some factors I am missing.

Today's game will really show this team's character. Will they be devastated from yesterday's crushing loss or will they come back strong against Georgia Tech. The team seemed unfazed by the #5 Wildcats yesterday and that swagger should carry over to today's game. Unlike the BCS teams in this tourney there is not a whole lot of pressure on the young Patriots for this trip. They got proof yesterday that they are a strong team despite their inexperience and will looking to build on that. Georgia Tech has some all-star freshmen recruits on there squad but didn't look great yesterday turnovering the ball 26 times, leading to 27 points for Dayton. Although the Yellow Jackets did manage to shoot over 50% from the field in that loss, they fell apart defensively to close the game. They have a size and experience advantage over our front court so some strong guard play today will be needed. But how much will Cam Long play today and will Cornelius be able to pick up some of the scoring load and point guard duties? The team needs more consistency out of Dre Junior and will also need guys like Mike Morrison to stay out of foul trouble. Hopefully the refs won't be as whistle happy as they were yesterday. Look for the Patriots to try to run an up-tempo game, something they weren't trying to do yesterday, with good reason.

If the Patriots can force turnovers and create easy scoring opportunities they can win this game today. If we see more sloppy fouls and numerous turnovers of our own they could get into trouble early. A low scoring affair would favor the Patriots today and a lot of their success will be tied to Cam Long's ability to play a decent amount of minutes.

Last 6 minutes of yesterday's game:


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Patriots lose to Villanova in final seconds

They had it, they really had it. No shot off when you have the last possession? I know the Patriots will leave Puerto Rico a much better team but it still hurts. Everyone played tough and they never seemed to back down. The issue with Cam Long's leg cramps are starting to really take notice. If he can't play in the 2nd halves of games what good is he going to be for us this season? The fact that he didn't play in the 2nd half and we nearly pulled off this upset really says something about this team. Morrison being a foul machine to start off the 1st and 2nd halves really put the front court on hold. When the Wildcats started to key in on Pearson they could have used big Mike down low. It seemed the entire Villanova front court had fouled yet still out rebounded the Mason. The Patriots had their chances though, making only about half their free-throws down the stretch. The Patriots were winning the entire game to the #6 team in the country, so really I shouldn't be complaining. Still hurts like a bitch though...


Game Day links: Mason vs Villanova

Video by Thuc Phan

Game Time: 2pm EST ESPNU (read below on how to watch game)

Current Line: Mason +14.5

Radio Link: WTNT 570 AM

Game Notes

Pre-Game photos

Villanova Preview

Tournament Bracket - Mason plays either Dayton or Georgia Tech tomorrow

How to watch the game today, whether your a work or whatever:

  1. Seems like will be streaming it for free, click here and click the "Live events" tab, if it doesn't turn out to be free or if it's just the audio start with step #2 below.

  2. Stream torrent is your best bet, it's easy and safe, I have used it many times. Download the program here

  3. Here is the instructional guide on how to use stream torrent in case you need it.

  4. This is the link to the game, paste the link into stream torrent program or click the link and open with stream torrent:


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video of Patriots traveling to Puerto Rico

Video by Thuc Phan


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Preview: Q&A with a Villanova Blogger

The Patriots have a difficult task of transitioning from playing one of the worst teams in college basketball to one of the best this Thursday in Puerto Rico. To get more incite on what to expect Thursday afternoon, I had a little Q&A session with Chris Lane from the I Bleed Blue and White Villanova hoops blog. My answers to the questions he asked me about the Patriots are posted here.

We all know about Scottie Reynolds, he played high school ball a few miles away from our campus and our coaching staff heavily recruited him, but who else do we need to know about?

As you can imagine, our guards will be the story once again this year. Corey Fisher is coming off a BIG EAST 6th Man of the Year Award and is now starting and he's on fire to start the year. Similarly, Corey Stokes is now a top-flight defender and has added the dribble-drive to his outside game. After sitting out last year Taylor King has looked great so far and freshman PG Maalik Wayns actually led the team in scoring on Monday night against Penn. Antonio Pena is the lone returning presence in the frontcourt. He's quite the enigma. Beyond that you have Dominic Cheek coming off the bench as a freshman and Mouphtaou Yarou in the starting lineup. We'll get to him in a just one second.
How difficult will it be for 'Nova to replace the losses in the front court? And what's you take on stud freshman Mouphtaou Yarou?

Right now the typical 'Nova fan is thinking "Dante Who?" Just kidding actually. We all know it is going to be nearly impossible to duplicate what Cunningham, Shane Clark and Dwayne Anderson brought to the team last year. Antonio Pena is going to be the guy that needs to step up the most and so far he has looked good. But it is always a game-to-game thing with him. I heard the term "one-and-done" a lot before Yarou arrived. I don't think so. He's extremely talented. You can see that. He runs well, he has a good feel for the game and he's got a nice touch around the rim. But he's raw, and prone to fouls as we found out on Monday. He fouled out in just 17 minutes. Beyond those two look for Maurice Sutton to log some minutes here and there and for Taylor King and Corey Stokes to help out the most with rebounding. Reggie Redding can't return from suspension soon enough.
What kind of defensive front can we expect Thursday? A lot of pressing? Man to man? Zone?

We don't play zone, ever. At least not that I can remember. We are strictly a man-to-man team and we'll throw a full-court press in there from time to time when we want to pick up the pace. Our guards are great at getting in the face of the man with the ball and helping out on the backside when the ball gets inside. Right now, our interior defense is an unknown because we've played two terrible teams. There's been plenty of blocks, but who knows if that will continue once the competition gets better.
It wasn't long ago I remember the Wildcats running a four guard lineup, is that something we might expect to see with the lack of front court experience?

After Monday's win I posted that Jay Wright was doing shots of Cuervo on the sidelines and just pointing at 5 guys and telling them to go in. It really felt like it. Any combination of players he put on the floor worked. Some of the lineups we saw we won't see ever again. But I think you will see a little bit of the 4-guard lineup on Thursday. My best guess would be Reynolds, Fisher, Stokes, King and Pena or Reynolds, Fisher, Wayns, Stokes and Pena. Jay loves his guards and we have them in spades this year. I don't want to see it too much because it means the frontcourt isn't getting the job done but it is nice to know we can fall back on that when we have to.
How much of an impact will the Duke transfer Taylor King have this year?

I actually just completed my ode to Taylor King today. He's been fabulous so far. Diving for loose balls. Yelling. Clapping. It's all there. Plus that vaunted shot of his. But the biggest thing has been his defense and rebounding. Those were two huge question marks coming into the season. So far he's been enthusiastic on defense, but we'll see if it holds up when he faces more athletic players. But the rebounding has been spectacular. He's grabbed 7 boards in each of the first two games and seems to be in on every loose ball. He'll be in the running for BIG EAST 6th man of the year for sure.
What will the Patriots have to do in this game to pull off the upset?

Two things. One is slow the 'Nova offense down. We have weapons everywhere so it isn't easy. So far we've been shooting the crap out of the ball. Really, just not missing, especially from beyond the arc. If you can get Villanova into a halfcourt set and deny the guards the outside shot, as well as the dribble-drive, we could have some problems because we haven't really had that classic 'halfcourt game' yet that Pittsburgh gives us every year. The other thing is work Villanova's interior. Yarou is foul-prone, and Pena has been in the past although he's been better this year. There isn't much true-depth there either. That's an area George Mason should look to exploit.

I'm semi-worried about this game. I think Villanova will win, but I expect it to be a dogfight well into the 2nd half. I'd look for the experience of Reynolds, Fisher and Stokes to carry the Cats out in the end though. 84-72 'Nova.

Here is a highlight video of the Wildcats 103-65 rout of Pennsylvania the other night:

Mason will have to play smart but aggressive defense and force turnovers. That's a lot to ask against a team like 'Nova but not something I can't imagine them pulling off. They have a lot of new faces on their squad much like Mason but most are ready to step in right away and be contributors. They lost a lot of their front court, including their leading scorer and I wonder if Larranaga will attack the rim early with Morrison and Pearson. We saw the offense spread out around the three point line and isolate the paint for Pearson a lot against Dartmouth, I really hope they continue to do this. I worry about foul trouble for our front court and of course our guys missing free-throws, Morrison especially. Cam Long and Andre Cornelius will have their work cut out for them defending the Wildcats back court but they are the key to slowing down the game. We all know Mason can run, but they don't want to get into a run and gun with these guys, it just won't end well.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Video Highlights from Dartmouth game

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Patriots get past Dartmouth with big 2nd half

The game started off slow for the Patriots, lots of sloppy passes and fouls. It would difficult for them to get into any kind of rhythm, Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison big second half play gave the team the lift it needed. Mason improves to 2-0 on the year and extended their home court winning streak to 18. Luke Hancock played a big part in the second half surge as well, adding 12 points. Andre Cornelius was awfully quiet considering his scoring roll in the Liberty game and finished with zero points. Cam Long looked to be having some leg cramp problems again as he left the game a couple of times to ride the stationary bike on the sidelines. Without Long the team lacks consistency on offense and often sputters. I don't know if Birdsong was hurt in the game or if Larranaga was just benching him in favor of freshmen but he was also quiet, only playing 10 minutes in the 1st half and none in the 2nd if I'm not mistaken. Free-throw shooting was dreadful as both teams shot under 50%, the Patriots can't continue to leave this many points on the table. Johnny Williams got some minutes today and looked good rebounding and sporting a few post moves. He definitely seems to have a better touch from the free-throw line than Morrison. I think it's going to be difficult for this team to be successful without Cam Long and Andre Cornelius reaching double digits. They are plenty of other scoring options on the roster, as we have seen but these guys need to be consistent and lead the way for the young guys.

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Game Day Links: Dartmouth

Watch the game here free Live stream Video

Point Spread: Mason -21 preview

Radio stream

The Patriots look to extend their Fairfax dominance today and set a record for 18 straight victories at home since becoming a Division I program. They face Dartmouth, who unanimously seems to be the favorite to finish last in the Ivy league this season. The Big Green lost the Ivy's best player to graduation last season and don't have the players currently on the roster to make up for that loss of scoring. They got thrashed a few nights ago at Boston College, where they shot under 40% and allowed their opponent to shoot over 50% from the behind the arch. They were a dreadful 1-10 from the three-point line themselves so it's likely we won't see this team creep back into the game late like Liberty did Friday night. One player from Dartmouth had double digits, barely, in the at game against Boston College, and they don't have anyone who seems like a threat on offense. Mason will still have to play disciplined basketball and connect on their free-throw chances, which could be plentiful. Look for the Patriots defense to really practice that aggressive style Larranaga is hoping to maintain this season. I'll be watching to see if they can do a better job capitalizing off turnovers and creating easy baskets.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Post Game Media from Liberty game

Highlights from the game by Thuc Phan




Patriots fight off Flames to win opener

The young Patriots first game was both exhilarating and sloppy but the team managed to hold it all together in the game's closing moments to come out with a victory. Everyone is probably wondering about Cam Long and him being somewhat absent in the 2nd half. It does not seem to any cause for alarm, Larranaga had stated on the Mike Wise radio show this week that he often suffers from cramps and that's basically what happened last night as it did in the Georgetown scrimmage. He'll be fine but this is kind of interesting to me because I don't remember this being an issue last season when he started every game. But back to the game, Luke Hancock again looked like a polished veteran and hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds to help secure a Patriots win. The kid just looks confident out there and I think he will be a very important part of bridging the gap between the freshmen and the other players. Andre Cornelius led the Patriots with 17 points while Mike Morrison finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks but struggled again from the free-throw line. The box score numbers look almost identical between the two teams and that's a little disheartening to think that Patriots could not dominate the boards. The team's defense didn't do a great job containing the Flame's best scorer Kyle Ohman, who scored the first 9 points for Liberty to open the game. It was very evident how different the team plays without Cam Long in the game. The flow was very different in the second half and Patriots missed some easy lay-ups while the Flame's took advantage of their scoring opportunities to close the gap. Liberty's often four guard lineup kept freshmen big body Johnny Williams on the bench, but trust me we will need this kid later in the season. It's clean that this team might not have it's lock down defender to put on the team's best scorer like we've seen in the past with guys like John Vaughan. Long and Cornelius will have to do a better job against opponents scoring guards. Giving up 45 points in the second half after only allowing 27 in the first is just unacceptable. The aggressive defense scheme didn't yield a whole lot of points but at times looked good and kept the flow of the game in the Mason's favor. I think this game is a good example of the up and down season we might have to endure.


Luke Hancock - Looked confident and almost like a veteran at times, especially in the games closing minutes. Seems like he will become the team's utility do-it-all guy off the bench.

Andre Cornelius - 4 for 6 from behind the arc and powered Mason to an early first half lead that they never relinquished

Ryan Pearson - all around good game with 12 points and 8 rebounds, seems to be doing well at both the small and power forward spots.


Free-throws - as a team it wasn't terrible but Mike Morrison needs to improve in this area. Between the exhibition and this game you almost have to worry that teams will start hacking him at the end of close games. Pearson was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe and needs to get to the line more, he could have slowed this game down and prevented the Flames 2nd half comeback attempt.

Defense - Wasn't terrible but wasn't great. Allowing Kyle Ohman to score the team's first 9 points is just something that you can't let happen for a young unproven squad. Ohman was the only one on that Flames squad that could have kept them in the game in the second half and Patriots just allowed it happen with the absence of Long. They won the turnover battle but didn't connect on a lot of scoring opportunities that resulted from them.

Birdsong and Tate - If this is all we are going to get from the veterans I think it's going to be a long season. A combined 41 minutes and 5 points between the two of them. Birdsong made his few points count at crucial times in the game but we need more from these guys, at least defensively.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Game Day links: Liberty

Well it's finally here, game day. Good to finally have another opener at home, always the best way to start out with a young team. Crowd should be good tonight with most fans expecting a double digit victory. How will the Patriots fare in their season opener tonight?

Game day links:

Liberty Preview

Game Notes (PDF)

Live Stats

Radio stream WWRC 1260 AM

Video Stream with subscription at, will post other free streams here if I found them

Media Guide '09-'10

Learn the new fight song lyrics

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Did you miss Coach Larranaga on the Mike Wise show today? Listen here

Jim Larranaga stopped by the 106.7 radio studio today to sit down with Mike Wise and Bill Rohland (voice of Mason basketball). In case you missed it this morning check the links to listen in to the full broadcast:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jonathan Arledge signs, officially becomes a Patriot in fall of 2010

Jonathan Arledge signed his national letter of intent today and will be officially a Patriot starting in the fall of 2010. Let the hype begin on the 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward from Washington D.C. who is noted as having a "smooth touch" from three-point range while still being ranked the #31 center prospect by ESPN. The key with Arledge is his upside, it's crazy to think this kid played wing at times in high school with the size he is at now. According to his high school coach seems to think he's not done growing yet:
"He has a lot of room to grow," said Brown. "He has a lot of upside. From what we're hearing (from his doctors), he's going to end up about 6'11".
But let's not forget that he will still come to Fairfax as a raw prospect as he has only been playing basketball for four years after making the switch from playing QB for the football team. Should be interesting.

Check out another video to see more of Arledge's game, fast forward to about the 3:32 mark:


Previewing Liberty

First off, Seth Curry, who killed our guys last season, is gone (transferred to Duke) but I will say I would have liked to watch him in person at the Patriot Center this season just as a basketball fan. Not only did the Flames lose their best player and probably the best player in the Big South conference, but they also graduated their best all-around player and lost their head coach to UVA. I've seen the team picked to finish anywhere from 4th to dead last in the conference, so they are difficult to read this early on. New head coach Dale Layer is basically starting out from scratch with this year's team boasting 11 underclassmen and one returning player that averaged double digits in scoring, Kyle Ohman. Ohman started every game last season for the Flames and will look for help on offense from sophomore Jesse Sanders. Three-point shooting and guard play is what they will rely on again this year as they don't have any proven post players. They have some height on their roster with a few guys in the 6'9"-6'11" range but they play more like small forwards and will be no match for our front court.

If the Patriot's attacking defense gets going early it could be very difficult for the young Liberty squad to get anything going offensively. I would expect Pearson and Morrison to have big games and not really be challenged in the front court. Also they don't have anyone who could possibly keep up with Andre Cornelius if he starts running up and d0wn the court. He will be busy with Cam Long defending the perimeter as the Flames will launch a lot of three-pointers and it's an area they can't slack on despite the score. Hopefully we will get a lead and be able to give the freshmen a lot of minutes but don't be surprised if some careless turnovers or assignment miscues keep the Flames in the game early on.

Check out the video below of Flames head coach Dale Layer discussing the up-coming season:


Wednesday Links

In case you missed them on Twitter here is the buzz for the last week or so. Preview for the Liberty game should be up later today or early tomorrow.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Will the Patriots turn up the tempo this season?

For most of Patriot fans recent memories Mason basketball has not been a high flying up-tempo act to watch. Fans remember big guys like Jai Lewis, Darryl Monroe, and Will Thomas and their muscling moves in the paint. Not to say there was a shortage of athletic guards on the squad but with these big slow forwards the Patriots were never able to really run Larranaga's patented scramble defense. The Washington Post's Steven Goff points this out in an article this morning and quotes Larranaga about how this season could be a roller-coaster ride for fans:
"They're going to be saying: 'Whoa, this is terrible! Whoa, this is great! No, it's terrible! No, it's great! What's going on here? Wow!' All in a matter of 10 minutes."
That's probably a good way to sum up what we all might be thinking at certain moments during this season. Goff states that Larranaga is adapting to his team's new talent influx this season and that we will see more up-tempo play, something that will fun and miserable to watch all at the same time. It was evident in the exhibition Thursday night, we saw guys flying around getting steals in the back court but we also saw guys wildly out of position and yielding easy baskets to Virginia State. The key to the season could be how quickly these guys pick up on Larranaga's teachings.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Mason vs Virginia State Highlight Video

Great inside look to the pregame and some highlights from last night.



Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Patriots impressive in debut

It was only an exhibition game but the freshmen class looked good in their debut tonight. Luke Hancock, Sherrod Wright, and Vertrail Vaughns stood out the most. Hancock had 7 points, 8 assists and 4 steals, and showed that the extra year of prep school did him well. He might be this year's sixth man. Wright showed his ability to get to the rim and hit the outside jumper. The starters were as expected with Long, Cornelius, Pearson, Birdsong, and Morrison. Long didn't play much in the 2nd half, rumor was he was a little banged up in practice and missed the Georgetown scrimmage last weekend, but he looked perfectly fine in this one hitting the games first three-pointer. Andre Cornelius stole the show with his speedy moves and netted 22 to lead the Patriots. His growth this season will be huge. Wasn't too impressed with Kevin Foster, who was probably shaking off some rust from sitting out last season but did look good around the rim. In the closing minutes he flat out hammered a Virginia State player going to basket in a senseless and unnecessarily rough foul. Johnny Williams was hard to read in this game, as he looked a little lost at times but it could have been him adjusting to the high tempo. Speaking of the tempo ,you had to be impressed with the way the Patriots pushed the ball on the Trojans. We saw a couple of smaller lineups that constantly ran up and down the court, even when the Trojans were pressing. That along with shooting 60% is a great way to open the season. But I hate to say that free throws are still an issue, was is it about them and this team? Your thoughts?


Watch Mason vs Virginia State Live here

Check back here at 7:00 pm for the live stream

The 2009-2010 Season Introduction Video

Are you ready?


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Certificate of Investment in George Mason Basketball

Kyle Whelliston, mid-major guru, and his have returned for another season of mid-major college basketball. His site is always a good read and I highly recommend it to anyone that reads this blog.

Stop by and use their site to customize your own "certificate of investment" (like the one above) and prove to everyone that you were your loyal to George Mason Basketball before any stunning upset wins occur this season. Man this would have been cool at the start of the '05-'06 season.

The Mid Majority (TMM) explains the purpose of the certificate:

The NCAA Tournament is a time when a lot of folks go "underdog shopping." They're looking for the next best out-of-nowhere story, the team most likely to spring the 15-over-2 upset. They want to know who the "next George Mason" is, and who has the weirdest and most lovable mascot. They want to cherry-pick their way into a big sports experience.

...those come-latelies will never feel the same overwhelming emotions that students, alumni and true fans will. An afternoon of internet research in a cubicle can't possibly measure up to months and years of hoping and wishing; buying a last-minute t-shirt will never replace the investment of sitting through October exhibition games and hanging on every possession.


But now, right here, this is the time to get on the ride.

Because if you don't ride the whole ride, you won't get the full high.


But who's going to believe you five months from now? Don't worry. For the first time ever, TMM has a way for you to prove that you were here, at the beginning. It's fast, fun... and unlike most of the stuff on this site, free. You will be a confirmed and certified fan, with a document as real as anything Price Waterhouse has ever issued.

This document is court-of-law solid...

During the season, your boys might pop up from time to time here on The Mid-Majority...

When March arrives, and it will in four short months, your team's season might end in a conference tourney somewhere. You'll feel the kind of big, yummy heartache that will make you want to come back for more next year. Or maybe, just maybe, those players you've invested your energy and effort will cut down those nets and move on to the Big Dance.

When they do, and when they pull that giant 15-over-2 upset, I want you to hold up that certificate proudly in the Buffalo Wild Wings or the arena or your cubicle. I want you to show the world that you belong among the true believers, because you were there when it all started.

"I was there for the whole thing," you'll say. "My joy is real, and nobody can ever doubt it."


Scouting Virginia State

It's almost game time again, well sort of. The Patriots host Virginia State tomorrow night for their first and only exhibition game. It is difficult to take much away from these games as you can remember the Patriots lost at home last year in an exhibition game against Division III Randolph-Macon, who by the way defeated American last night, and then went on to win 22 games and reach the CAA finals. But anyway the Trojans return their top two scorers from last season, Trey Mines and J.C. Chaney, who has some size at 6'8" 240. Mason does however have a size advantage in most areas, something we should get used this season as it will be luxury we haven't seen in awhile. What I hope to see tomorrow night is lot of playing time for the freshmen but I don't know if we will see that as in last season's exhibition we saw the all the starters play 25+ minutes. However in the closing minutes of that match freshman Andre Cornelius and Ryan Pearson were on the court with the game close. I think they thought they could just run over Randolph-Macon and we saw little defense, especially on the perimeter. I doubt Larranaga will stand for that kind of collapse on defense this time around considering he's most likely in the process of instilling 'defense first' into the minds of some of these young guys.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Season Preview '09-'10

The season is set to begin soon, so let's dive right into this. I'll get the cliches out of the way since you will hear them all year long: 'This team is young but talented'. It's not that I don't agree with that statement, it's just that I feel like it's an excuse for the fans. There will be some growing pains this season, make no mistake, but any long time Mason fan has to feel pretty good about our Patriots being prepared for Richmond this March.

What's different this season for Mason? Last year's team didn't have a whole lot of depth, and I think that might be the biggest change in this year's team. Redshirt freshman Kevin Foster could be playing three different positions this season and is a future starter in the making. He will have to shake off some rust from not playing in games last season but having him this year gives the bench a huge boost. Yes, most of the bench consists of freshmen players, but this year's class is arguably the most talented group to ever walk into Fairfax. Sherrod Wright and Johnny Williams can probably step in right away and provide a spark.

Will leadership be an issue this year? Make no mistake, Cam Long is ready to step up and lead this team. Long spent the summer at Chris Paul's Elite point guard camp and is poised for a big year. Both he and Birdsong played with some serious leaders during their careers at Mason and this year it's there turn. Both are not as outspoken as some this team's past leaders but they lead by example on the court. Pearson, Morrison, and Cornelius instantly become veteran guys this season and will have to be leaders as well to all the new guys. Also, let's not forget Larranaga is and always will be the team's biggest leader.

Biggest question mark? The biggest issue this season could be how this team comes together and if they can find an identity with all the young talent. How will the team respond to growing pains it might face? It will be interesting to see how Larranaga uses all the options on his squad, he will have to experiment a little bit early on. Another issue is if the squad is able to learn Larranaga's scramble defense right away. He has the horses to run it effectively this season but the freshmen could struggle to pick it up.

Class by Class Breakdown:


Vertail Vaughans: The lefty point guard is quick and good in transition. He will need to work on his defense a little better to get minutes this season. Also not as strong a shooter as Whack or Hancock.

Rashad Whack: Larranaga says he's already equipped to help this team out on defense and that will help him earn playing time this year. A very good outside shooter, could remind some of Lamar Butler type player. Very smart and sound all around player.

Paris Bennett: Some think he will crack the starting lineup this year, I'm not gonna go there but he will be an important role player. He's ready to play because of the talent he played with at his high school and that will help his transition into the college level. He could get more playing time because he's really the team's only true small forward. Every team needs an unselfish guy like this, could remind some of Gabe Norwood.

Luke Hancock: Very athletic forward who has good shooting range, an extra year of prep school gives him that basketball savvy Coach L loves. What his role will be on this year's team is uncertain.

Sherrod Wright: A prolific scorer who can slash to the basket and hit the long range jumper. The knock on him is that he got away with some moves in high school that he won't be able to at this level. How will he adjust? I see him as the squad biggest offensive weapon off the bench but worry he could be erratic like Dre Smith was in his early years. But in the end he could be too talented to be kept on the bench for long.

Johnny Williams: Will probably see the most playing time of the freshmen this year. Amazing physique for a freshman, definitely has the bulk to bang with the bigger conference forwards. Plays very physical, something this team lacked last season and will hopefully dominant on the boards. Is a little bit better shooter than Morrison and has some great low post moves.

Kevin Foster (redshirt): The staff redshirting him last year could pay huge dividends down the road. It was a smart move because he was transitioning from the power forward spot to more of a small forward role. He's versatile enough to play three different positions it will be interesting to see where he plays most this year. Rebounds well enough to play in the front court and shoots well enough to play at the small forward or wing spot. He will be an integral part of Larranaga's attacking style of defense, could be very fun to watch and wouldn't be surprised if he cracks the starting lineup at some point in the season.


Jimmy Nolan: Returning walk-on from last season, probably one of the best three-point shooters on the team. A scout team player who will routinely help the 1st team prepare for it's next opponent.

Andre Cornelius: How he develops this season could be huge for the team's success. I really think Larranaga prefer him to run the point so Cam Long can play wing and be more of scoring threat. He had some hiccups last year bringing the ball up but showed flashes of brilliance all season long. Now that he's had a season to adjust to the college game I'm curious to see how he will use his speed this season. Probably the team's best straight up defender now that John Vaughan is gone, because of this he will be on the floor most of the season.

Ryan Pearson: Was the most consistent of the freshmen last season and has great touch around the basket. Looks as if he trimmed down a bit and we will see him more at the small forward spot. Not superb at any one thing but talented in many areas and his rebounding was key in games last season. Plays defense very well and that should keep him the starting lineup.

Mike Morrison: If he's not a fan favorite already he will be very soon. Looked powerful and dominant at certain moments last season. Plays aggressive around the rim after taking some time to adjust to the college game. He will end up being the go to guy inside at some point this season. Needs to work on his free-throw shooting but it still could be a breakout season for him.


Isaiah Tate: Has kind of been a disappoint thus far in my mind. Is one of the best three-point shooters on the team but struggles to create his own shot. Plays defense well enough to get playing time but the new talent that came him could leave him the odd man out in the guard rotation.

Cam Long: Hands down the team's most valuable player. Did it all last season as he led the team in scoring, assists, steals, and three-point percentage. There was a lot of games last season that I thought he should have shot the ball more, especially after watching his 24-point performance against VCU where he even dunked on Larry Sanders. A lot of this year's team success will rest on his shoulders, he will have to take the big shots this season and not hesitate. I would like to see Cornelius bring the ball up and set Long out on the wing but I'm not sure if that's how Larranaga sees it just yet.


Louis Birdsong: The teams lone senior is probably the teams best inside defender. He led the team in blocks and doesn't have trouble guarding bigger forwards. Has a good enough shooting range to play a little outside but won't consistently score from there. Does a lot of scoring inside by using his quickness to get by bigger players. Didn't see any improvement in his rebounding last year and I would have to wonder if his playing time will decrease of that this season. I always felt Birdsong was a bit of a tweener, not tough enough inside to play the power forward and not a good enough shooter to play small forward. Be that as it may Larranaga has said he will move to a perimeter forward role this season. I still think he will start because he's a senior but don't expect him to play more minutes than last year.

Projected Starting Line-up:

Cam Long
Andre Cornelius
Louis Birdsong
Ryan Pearson
Mike Morrison

Sixth Man: Kevin Foster


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