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Scouting Creighton

George Mason Basketball: Scouting Creighton

Friday, December 11, 2009

Scouting Creighton

The Patriots try to bounce back at home Saturday afternoon against Creighton, who they are 0-3 against all-time. If you remember, Creighton was only team to beat Mason at home during the 2005-2006 season, but things worked out pretty well regardless. This season the Bluejays are led by big man Kenny Lawson Jr. (pictured above) which is different then what we have normally seen from this team. Traditionally Creighton has always been a three-point shooting group of snipers and last season Booker Woodfox went 5-for-6 from behind the arch on his way to 22 points and a 76-63 Creighton victory. Thankfully Woodfox is gone and Patriots face a struggling Creighton squad that are also trying to work a few kinks out. They still have some great outside shooters, so Mason's perimeter defense will be put to the test and I would expect to see more man-to-man defense.

The Bluejays do not have much size outside of Lawson, who has only been averaging around 23 minutes a game despite never being in foul trouble. Mason should be able to capitalize in this area, especially with Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison. Rebounding has been awful for the Patriots so far, but if they can't get the edge against this team that's a really bad sign going forward. Isaiah Tate is listed again as the probable starter but expect to see Sherrod Wright get a lot of playing time after his performance on Tuesday night. Strong defensive performances from Andre Cornelius and Cam Long will be needed and one of them has to get into a good scoring rhythm early to prevent another first half like we saw against Dayton. I would expect to see much better ball protection from the Patriots in this one and hopefully force more of then own than they have been lately.

For further analysis I had a Q & A session with the bloggers from the White and Blue Review.

Q: Creighton has always seemed like a heavy three-point shooting team and I noticed Creighton legend Kyle Korver has a brother on the squad so am I right in expecting the same this season or does the offense run more through Kenny Lawson Jr?

A: Actually, Creighton is looking at several different players to score for them this season, and just started finding Kenny Lawson. Lawson has come on quite strong as of late. Lawson has been steadily improving in the early start this season hovering around a double-double, and in the last two games has led the team in scoring averaging almost 22 points and 8 rebounds a game.

Q: The Bluejays didn't fare too well in the Old Spice Classic and already have four losses on the season. Some experts picked Creighton to be #1 in the MVC, so what do you think have been the problems for this team so far?

A: The problems for this team so far has been lack of defensiveintensity. There are enough scorers on this team that they could score easily, but it has been the lack of defense and turnovers that has plagued this team. In four of Creighton's seven games, they have had 18 or more turnovers with a lot of those turnovers turning into points for the other team. That will not help you win games.

The other issue is Coach Altman establishing a rotation of players that are the right combinations on the court. Chad Millard, Justin Carter, Casey Harriman, and Antoine Young have all experienced injuries and illnesses that have kept them out of games as well as some back spasms for Wayne Runnels and some minor injuries to P'Allen Stinnett. There seemed to be a more established rotation in the last game against Nebraska. It will be interesting if that stays the same against George Mason.

Q: I really thought Creighton was robbed by the selection committee last year, do you think the players feel like they have something to prove this season and has that changed expectations?

A: A lot of the players told us in interviews before the season started that they were focused on getting Creighton back to the NCAA Tournament after a three year drought. With the schedule that was setup for this season, it was definitely a lot tougher than most seasons and I think the coaching staff was expecting this team to do some big things and also the opportunity to get some key wins early in the season so they would not have to depend on winning the MVC. Some
of that pressure on the players is spilling over to the court.

Q: Will we see a fast tempo from the Bluejays or do they operate more out of half court sets this year?

A: Creighton still likes to run and play more up tempo and are known for shooting the three-pointer. Antoine Young is a really fast point guard who can get the ball up the court quickly. Several other players like Darryl Ashford, P'Allen Stinnett or even Justin Carter can start the break. Creighton also has a history of having some sort of press throughout the game to cause turnovers.

Q: Both Mason and Creighton often sport smaller line-ups with Mason having a slight edge in size. Has the lack of size been an issue this season for the Bluejays or does it suit their style of play?

A: Creighton is really a guard oriented team with a solid middle player. Lack of size for Creighton hasn't been because they haven't tried, but they do not have the typical center player outside of Lawson. Last year's backup Kenton Walker transferred over the summer which really
hurt. However, Wayne Runnels is a solid JUCO transfer that is playing some good minutes in the low post mainly to get rebounds, but can score. Ethan Wragge is a freshman that can will play the PF or even C, but defenders betware--He shoot it quickly and from quite a distance.

Q: What does Mason have to do to come out of this game with a victory?

A: I think the big thing Georg Mason has to do to come out with a victory is to cause Creighton to turn the ball over and then capitalize on those turnovers. The other thing is rebounding. It has been talked about over and over about how Creighton needs to outrebound their opponent. They have been doing a good job this year of handling that, but it could always rear it's ugly head again especially on the road. Mason's home crowd could be a factor, but Creighton plays in front of 16,000 nightly at home. In the end, Mason still has a young team and Creighton has some confidence back.



Blogger variaban said...

I know Mason is young this year but if they can't win this game, we're gonna be in a world of hurt for the remainder of the season.

Here's hoping we give Creighton a good ass-beating tomorrow.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

What a great comeback win for Mason..that dunk at the end by Hancock was awesome! A coach should never get a technical at the end of the game like that no matter how bad of a call..not very smart on Altman's part.

3:28 PM  

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