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The 5 things I’ve learned through 10 games of the 2009-10 season

George Mason Basketball: The 5 things I’ve learned through 10 games of the 2009-10 season

Friday, December 18, 2009

The 5 things I’ve learned through 10 games of the 2009-10 season

The following is a guest post from Mike Isibel, Mason alum who has been following the program for years. He also has a radio podcast over at We're Just Sayin Radio with two other Mason alumni.

1. Aside from Luke Hancock, the freshman will continue to struggle

Let’s face it, Luke Hancock has been playing exceptionally well some would even call his play “amazing.” I won’t go that far, but he has been an unexpected bright spot throughout the year. We’ve seen him attack the basket, rebound effectively and knock down some big shots. He has been a leader on a sometime leaderless team. Unfortunately, the same can not be said about the rest of the freshman class. Sherrod Wright, Rashaad Whack, Johnnie Williams, Vertrail Vaughns and Paris Bennett -- I won’t include Foster since he has technically been here for 1 year already -- have shown they are all projects and will take time to develop. Wright displayed his potential in a big game against Dayton, but has played terribly in the rest of the games shooting 26.7% from the field this season. Williams hasn’t shown the inside dominance we were expecting when the 6’8” 250 pounder showed up in Fairfax, but the potential is there. Vaughns is averaging a turnover every 4 minutes of play. Whack along with Bennett really haven’t had the opportunities to perform with both averaging less than 6 minutes per game. Bottom-line, they are freshman and they will get better, but we can’t expect them to lead this team this season.

2. Cam Long’s play will dictate wins or losses throughout the year

In my opinion, the junior guard is the best player on the Mason team this year and his leadership and play will decide the young Patriots’ success. You can’t argue too much with the stats, in the Patriots 5 wins Cam is shooting 44.6% from the field averaging close to 14 PPG and has 18 rebounds. Conversely, in Mason’s 5 losses Cam is shooting just 34.0%, still getting points with 12 PPG but only 10 rebounds. But the biggest factor is his assist to turnover ratio; 1.6 in the wins and 0.7 in the losses. As our primary ball handler, Cam’s ability to take care of the ball directly results in the Patriot’s chances of winning. Cam’s capacity to knock down the midrange jumper is crucial, in that aspect he reminds me a lot of Folarin Campbell. Let’s just hope the cramp problem doesn’t resurface.

3. Mike Morrison & Ryan Pearson need to develop more low post moves

For the past five years, the Patriots have had a low post scorer who could dominate inside the lane. From Jai Lewis to Will Thomas to Darryl Monroe and the torch has been passed to Morrison and Pearson, or at least we’d hope so. These sophomore forwards need to make considerable strides with their low post moves if they want to have a dominate inside presence. Every time I see Pearson get the ball down low he does a spin move into the lane and puts up a 5 to 8 foot jumper. With Morrison it is much the same and he goes up with a left-handed hook shot. In time I think both will be reliable scorers, but they need to add some new moves to their repertoire to succeed.

4. Louis Birdsong’s senior season can be considered a disaster

This has become a sad state of affairs for the lone senior on the 2009-10 team. Birdsong’s stat line reads like a struggling freshman; 22% from the field, 1.6 PPG, 1.1 RPG and the one category he typically dominates, blocks, he only has 3 all year. Birdsong’s struggles have culminated to him losing his starting role and I don’t see how he can get out of the funk when he is losing playing time to Luke Hancock and Kevin Foster. I hope for Birdsong’s sake he can turn things around once conference play begins, but at this point in time his fall from grace is truly disappointing.

5. The 2009-10 George Mason Patriots team will finish the season as…

…conference spoilers. The rollercoaster ride the season has already been through 10 games will only continue throughout the year. The ultimate high of the season was a heartbreaking 1 point loss to the nationally ranked Villanova Wildcats. A team the Patriots had no business contending with let alone almost beating. This was the type of game Coach Larranaga dreams of having; everyone contributing offensively, solid defense and few turnovers. And the nadir of the season, so far, was the humiliating defeat against our new “rival” (at least in their mind) against George Washington. The team looked confused, not confident and lost. Hopefully something was learned in that horrendous performance. As we creep closer to conference play, I don’t see the Patriots holding one of the top spots as the season wraps up. The emergence of William & Mary as well as the continued solid play from VCU, Old Dominion and Hofstra makes the conference more difficult to dominate than in years past. Realistically, I don’t see this Mason team going better than .500 in the conference and continuing to struggle on the road. I think they’ll enter the conference tournament as a 5 or 6 seed and hope to ruin some of the better team’s chances for a NCAA tournament bid. But keep in mind, from the outset this was intended to be a rebuilding year and as long as experience is gained and the freshman continue to develop, 2010-11 will be a season to remember.


Blogger's good for you. said...

Good post. I'm in agreement with most of what's written...even though I hope we still finish somehow as a top-4 seed in the regular season standings. But, the spoiler role seems feasible. We need to win two winnable games vs. VMI and Radford, before a very tough trio vs. ODU, Hofstra, and Northeastern. Ouch. We could be 1-3 quickly in the CAA standings. Or, not. As for Birdsong, I am often too tough on the big guy, but he is a Mason, I want him to succeed. But, I don't think it's in our hands. Similar to the loss of playing time for Jordan Carter a couple years ago, Larranaga appears done with him and moving on to the players of the future. And based on talent, I don't even seeing Birdsong getting a gig in Europe. I hope he has a good degree (art and visual techology...maybe).

4:45 PM  
Blogger variaban said...

It would be nice to head into CAA play with a winning record, I'll take 7-5.

9:43 AM  

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