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Mason can't close out Charleston, lose third straight

George Mason Basketball: Mason can't close out Charleston, lose third straight

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mason can't close out Charleston, lose third straight

George Mason has now dropped five of six after last night's 85-83 loss against College of Charleston. The game ended on a bad call against Ryan Pearson after his basket that would have tied the game with a few seconds remaining was disallowed because of an offensive foul. Say what you want to about if it was a bad call or not because it wasn't the reason Mason lost and both coaches believed it was in fact a charge. If you want to find something to blame this loss on you can start with the free-throw shooting where they were 14 of 25 in the 2nd half and at one point missed 7 straight. They got a lot of chances at the foul line but just couldn't capitalize and it killed them late. The Patriots did however defend the perimeter better and didn't allow any of the sharp shooting guards to bury them in the second half. However the missed opportunities at the free throw line and some breakdowns on defense killed Mason late in the game. Rebounding was not an issue for Mason even after losing Pearson for a stretch in the 2nd half due to a rolled ankle. In the end Charleston just had better weapons on offense and more options.

We saw a career night for Johnny Williams who finished with 18 but also saw for a third straight game Cam Long held below his scoring average. The problem for the Patriots was that as they keep getting these types of performances from the freshmen they aren't getting consistent play from their veterans. Freshmen Luke Hancock, Johnny Williams, Kevin Foster and Sherrod Wright combined for 53 points and 21 rebounds. After games like this you can say the future is bright but it still leaves a question of when these guys will finally gel and play well as a team.



Blogger Brock said...

Question for anyone who watches the games closely - is Cam struggling or have teams found out how to guard him? I havent been able to really sit down and watch the games lately, so forgive me if this next comment is way off, but with guys (like Williams, Foster, Birdsong, etc.) stepping up out of nowhere, have teams just decided to shut down Cam and force someone else to beat them?

2:44 PM  
Blogger greenandgold said...

I have watched most of Mason's games of late and I see Cam's shooting slump as a combination of both. However, missing free throws has nothing to do with teams shutting him down. It's now becoming a mental thing. But in any event, I am not going to just point out one guy's struggles and not identify other issues I saw in this game.

2:57 PM  
Blogger greenandgold said...

WHY WHY WHY???? Would you sit Tate for most of the game(as is often the case) and leave Hancock in when Tate's defense and shooting is much better? Why would you sit Williams down for most of the second half when he is your top scorer and playing with the most enthusiasm? Why would you leave Cornelius on the bench when he is a much better defender and shooter than Wright? Why would you leave Pearson in the game playing injured thus poorly defending the inside Why would you stay in a zone when you are getting scorched from 3 pt land? Why with 5 secs left on the clock would the last play of the game be Hancock(the slowest guard or whatever he is on the court) taking the ball full court for a layup when there are much quicker guys on the court, rather than a full court pass and the clock begins when touched? Where was Birdsong-a good defender and offensive contributor of late?

The only offensive threat Mason had was Johhny Williams and he gets little playing time second half! Personally, I think if Tate and Cornelius played more, Mason could have established and inside/outside attack.

I know most of you will defend Larranaga and try to justify these ridiculous coaching decisions, but again Larranaga got out-coached. We can all point the finger at individual performances and the free throw shooting but it is the responsibility of the coach to put the team in a winning position. Larranaga failed to do that yet again!

3:01 PM  
Blogger What Not said...

Yes to Brock. Teams have learned that if you stop Cam, you stop Mason. The reason is that if Long is having a good night he not only scores but he scores in and out and assists as well. I don't think he's slumping, I think he's getting shut down for the most part. (I don't know why Mason doesn't clear out for him more often.) They clearly want him to attack and, in several spots last night he did- with good results.
Mason needs a point guard. Seeing Bob Cremins last night I thought, "Mark Price would be nice." Without a consistent point guard that can run the break (even if only to half court to pressure the defense)and initiate the offense. The front court is getting open and can work their man, but the entry passes, the perimeter movement is sketchy. Cornelius is killing us. I know he's trying but he has to improve. Too many turnovers and he is too easy to trap and defend.
Missing free throws last night looked like dead legs to me, but also youth. Veteran teams focus, relax and knock those down. I think Cam is pressing. He's the "veteran" go to guy especially at the end of every game- and he should be. He almost did it again last night.
Bright spot- J Williams. Love that guy. He's big, not just tall, and can play with his back to the basket. And I thought Hancock had a good game. Play of the night was his hustle foul/block on White Jr's. easy layup. Showed heart. He played D and came up with the ball a lot. He has good court sense and desire. I've dissed him but he helps, no doubt.
Mason played hard. If they play just a little better D on White Jr, they win. Bottom line for me is that Charleston shot lights out.
And the refs did have a bad game, though as much as I'd like to think otherwise, Pearson charged. Nice play by Charleston.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...


I am really starting to think teams are keying in on him a little bit more lately because the stats show we aren't the same team with him scoring below his average.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

GreenandGold: Not completely positive on this but I am assuming Tate never played the 2nd half because of a 3 he forced up early in the shot clock from pretty deep early in the 1st half.

And don't get me wrong on this because I think Foster is a good player but I feel like everytime he touches the ball he has to shoot it. I know a lot of times we want to go to him but I saw many times last night where he would get double teamed and he could have easily kicked it out for a 3 but still forced a bad shot.

4:14 PM  
Blogger MagNum said...

greenandgold: COuln't of said it better.

What Not: You "MustNot" know what D is.

6:08 PM  
Blogger greenandgold said...

GMU doesn't need a point guard. They need another point guard and the rest of the TEAM dedicated to just one thing-Winning (i.e.Cam Long) Most of these guys are into their individual stats. You recruit shooters you coach shooter mentalities. Foster is not the only culprit. Let me just point out one thing, when the ball goes into Pearson, he never looks to pass out. So what if Tate took a 3He is a 3 point shooter. The guy needs to shoot in order to score. He rarely turns the ball over and plays great defense. The one thing that I have noticed since Tate started, it doesn't matter what he does, Luke is coming in no later than the 13 minute mark of the game. Cam needs to shoot more than 9 shots/game (last 3 games). Oh that's right, he is an unselfish player-perhaps to a fault.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

So I know many of you were at the game, but I watched it on ESPN 2. Mid-way through the second half, when Cam was still struggling, one of the announcers said he spoke to Cam about his recent struggles and if I heard it correctly, Cam told him his heart has not been in it. Did anyone else hear this? The announcer then said Cam told him he went back to his high school tapes to find some inspiration or something like that.

That seems strange to me. Cam's heart not in it? Whats the deal with that?

I don't know whats up with Cam, but man is it disapointing. My take is that it's a little of both, but there is no doubt Cam is missing shots he usually makes. He can carry this team on his shoulders, but lately, he's missing shots, layups, and seems to be shying away from the ball.

That Charleston team started ALL juniors and seniors, so I give our young guys credit. I think Williams and Wright need to get more and more minutes. They are going to dominate in a few years.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

Also, what was that about us defending the perimeter well in the second half? It was the absolute opposite. They made 6 of their 9 three pointers in the second half, and that is what got them the big lead and eventually put us away.

I don't know how year after year we struggle to defend the 3. I question Larranaga a lot too.....

9:32 PM  
Blogger What Not said...

It always comes down to who defends and rebounds. And these young uns are inconsistent at best. Lots of guys can score.
Just chucking this out there: Why doesn't Coach L just start pressing and scrambling the way they used to? Is it personnel? Are these kids not quick enough? I mean what do they have to lose and as sophs and freshman they have a lot to gain later if learn to up the defensive intensity, become more proficient at pressing. And pressing off the made shot will change the offensive tempo of the game, force the action. So what if the game becomes helter skelter. These guys seem to run well, so let them run. Waling it up and slogging away at the half court sets isn't getting it done.
Just sayin'.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Mark! said...

The consensus from the cheap seats was that our free throw shooting was embarrassing and that Charleston was passing better and filling it up from downtown and there was nothing GMU could do about it. Maybe because they're so young, but this team seems to loose heart very quickly when they get down. Then Coach L has to call a time out and settle them down. They always play hard coming out of halftime or a timeout, I just wish they could do that all the time.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Why did C of C have such success at the 3 in the second half, and why do we have problems defending the 3? Well, first C of C is good at the 3, give them that. At times they were a few feet behind the nba 3 line, firing away, and actually some late misses gave us a chance to come back (free throws, ugh!). But even more important, they were charging the lane on us effectively, making those kind of unbalanced shots in the paint that make you say, "no way can they keep that up." But they did, it seemed. And that of course opens up the 3. So a large part of that was them working the offensive game plan well. That said, the stat sheet will show us holding them under their average from the 3. With the scores in the 80's you'd have to say they were able to dictate the pace of the game.

Some have bashed Luke for various faults, but he is a rook, which is easy to forget watching him play. Of all the players, even Cam I have to say, Luke is the one best able to drive the lane and make something happen. He makes shots or he dishes, and does them both with confidence. He is going to be so valuable the next 3 years, especially if he can improve his ball handling and learn to shoot from behind the 3 (where those pump fakes have gotten old).

Much of what Green and Gold said has to do with who Coach has on the floor at a given time. I side with Coach on much of his decisions because 1) He gets it that what matters most to this team is that the frosh get floor experience, for the long range goals; 2) he rewards those who show motivation in practice; 3) he rests those who show fatigue, not just game wise but season wise, and we have important games coming up; and 4) speaking of gamewise, we had 69 minutes from our bench, they had 36 (but I admit some more pressing defense could have capitalized on this better).

I think the Cam comment was more about him not having "fun" on the floor, that instead he is feeling the pressure of having to carry the team. It is concerning still, but I like his candor about it and that he is trying to do something about it. I do see other teams putting the lid on him, but he has still been getting open looks. They're just not falling... It'll pick up. As long as it's nothing physical (shudder to think).

As everyone knows, this was going to be a rebuilding year, and still we are in the hunt. While I don't want to see us mortgage this year for the next, I can't help but think how next year could be with our freshman having had a year under their belts and developing more chemistry. My concern is with our 3 current sophs... they have got to put away their attitudes and their egos and put the team first.

Being realistic, our chances of making the NCAA are slim, especially so if we can't stay in the top 4, which is a real possibility. Assuming we beat Delaware, we have to treat the home closer against Northeastern as game 1 of the tourney. Especially with our recent losses, we will need a deep tourney run to garner NIT consideration. And that is a worthy goal, since the more experience our kids get, the better off we'll be.

11:04 AM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

CBI here we come!

At least we should get some more home games out of it.

1:43 PM  
Blogger mooky_l3d said...

I don't think there is a CBI this year.

Just look at things this way we aren't as bad as Towson. Another thing that really bothers me is that most people commenting on this blog are thinking that we are the only young team in the CAA. There are a number of teams that will be just as good as this year or better because of what they have. JMU, ODU, VCU are just some. I try to look at the rosters and the CAA in general is a young conference. So yes we will be bringing some talent back next year, but I think something will have to change in the way we are playing now to get what we can this year.

Anyway potential and talent don't equal wins if they aren't put to use. Kwame Brown had potential and talent, not the superstar that MJ thought he would be. Coach L is a good coach but a great coach looks at what he has and uses it to the fullest. I don't think that is happening. Finally two games of the reg. season will be important. Regardless I will be at the tournement and cheering for everyone to lose except Mason. Go MASON!!!!!!!

8:41 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

I do think JMU will be much better next year and possibly a top 4 team, but ODU and VCU??? ODU looses their team mvp in Lee who even if he doesn't put up big numbers, is a very tough matchup with his 6'9 size and skills. He makes everyone better. With VCU, if Sanders is gone (which is looking less likely if you ask me) they are a mid range to bottom of the league team. Northeastern will still have Jannings, but Adako is gone and he is their big man and emotional leader.

8:59 PM  
Blogger greenandgold said...

I am in total agreement with Mooky.

10:26 PM  
Blogger mooky_l3d said...

Janning is a senior. ODU will bring back 9 upperclassmen. VCU will have 8 and 5 of those are starters or get big minutes (minus Sanders if he leaves). JMU will have 7 with Seminov, and Moore back they will be something to worry about. Northeastern will have the biggest drop off of leadership. Although still dangerous as long as Chase Allen is there jackin' threes.

Like I said we will be bring back some good stuff but we aren't the only ones.

12:09 AM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

CBI still exists.

12:44 PM  

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