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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Larranaga receives one-year extension, locking him up through 2016

From Washington Post and D1Scourse:
"George Mason basketball coach Jim Larranaga received a one-year extension today, locking him up at the Fairfax, Va., school through the 2015-16 season."
With the annual coaching carousel going on now in college basketball it's definitely a good feeling if your a Mason fan to see this happen.  Say what you want about how this past season went but the fact remains that Larranaga is still the winningest coach in CAA history and if that's the worst type year we as fans have to endure than I am ok with that. He continues to build something great at George Mason and you have to applaud the University for making sure he sticks around.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Bryon Allen says he's coming to George Mason

Last week I talked about the possibly of a former West Virginia commit and Oak Hill academy point guard Bryon Allen coming to George Mason. Allen announced today from St. Thomas More in Connecticut that he plans on committing to the Patriots in April when the signing period begins. He was also considering Siena, but as you know their head coach Fran McCaffery just fled to Iowa for a big payday. Allen is a local DC area kid who started out at Dematha in Maryland and then transferred to the national powerhouse Oak Hill academy. Once at Oak Hill he was able to make solid contributions on roster stacked with talent. He often went against teammate Brandon Jennings in practice who is currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. This the point where all the BCS school were all over him and he eventually accepted an offer from Bob Huggins and West Virginia.  Right before his senior year however the Mountaineers had to pull the scholarship offer to Allen because Joe Mazzulla was granted a medical redshirt and would be returning for the 2010-2011 season. This prompted him to take his game elsewhere to somewhere that he could prep his point guard skills and stand out more in a starring role. In an interview with he stated that he chose St. Thomas More because the league they played in used a shot clock and that would help him prepare more as a point guard for college basketball.

Let's break down what kind of impact this will have on the Patriots next season:

They lost a forward and now picked up another guard? Some of you might be scratching your head saying how can this team pick up another guard after losing forward Kevin Foster. The abrupt loss of Foster didn't leave the staff with many options if they wanted to fill the scholarship for next season. Most of the forwards they were looking at along with Jonathan Arledge were already committed to other schools. The Patriots were lucky in how this situation unfolded and obviously went after the best player available to them. A player who looks to be one of the most highly rated prospects ever brought in by this staff.  It also doesn't hurt that they have a roster full of shooting guards and no real point guard.  You can argue Cam Long and Andre Cornelius had their moments running the point last season but I don't think the coaching staff has faith in either one of them running the point next season if they bringing in a guy like Allen who can step in right away and play.

What kind of game does Allen have? At 6'3" 215 pounds Bryon Allen is a strong, physical guard who attacks the lane often. He is an excellent passer who also has a smart understanding of the game making him an all-around better player. His hard-nosed play has made him an excellent rebounder for a guard and solid on the ball defender as some scouting websites have mentioned. Here is a quote from ESPN/Scouts Inc. back in the winter of 2008:
"Allen is an extremely strong and physical guard that repeatedly attacks defenders off the dribble. He is a good athlete that can finish above the rim in transition. Allen is a good ball handler and passer as well. He can penetrate draw and kick but his main objective is score at the rim, where he can finish through contact with ease."
Some of you think he sounds like Sherrod Wright coming out of high school but let's not forget Wright didn't run the point in high school and didn't regularly play against the talent that Allen has seen in his high school career.  Also, Wright wasn't a stunning defensive prospect in any scouting report and as you can see from this past season it took him a little to get used to Coach L's system. As Wright is a big offensive threat Allen is more of a polished player and is much stronger and more prepared for college level in my opinion.  Well shall see though.

Will Allen come in and start right away? I think he will have his chance to earn a starting role right from the start because I don't see how he would have committed to playing for Mason if the staff didn't ensure him of this.  With the kind of talent he went against playing at Oak Hill and his senior year of polishing his skills in the New England prep leagues Allen could vary well earn a starting role early in the season.  It's been rare to see a freshmen start from the early goings under Larranaga and how this kid plays defense will be a huge factor in determining that. The question remains who is going to get less minutes on the current rotation if Allen ends up getting a lot of playing time. Isaiah Tate's days in the starting lineup could be numbered which would be a move no one would argue with.  I don't see how a lineup of Cam Long, Andre Cornelius, and Bryon Allen would work and let's not forget Sherrod Wright proved he deserves a bigger role next season. A realistic scenario at some point in the season as I see it would have Allen at the point along with Cam Long at the two and Cornelius coming off the bench. Sherrod Wright and Luke Hancock are possible starters for that third guard/small forward role along with Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison in the front court.

What role do you think he will have next season?

UPDATE: Some quotes from Zagsblog today:

“I felt it was the best program for me,” Allen said. “I felt real comfortable there.”

"Allen said he hopes to come in and battle for time at point guard."

“Coach [Jim Larranaga] said it’s up to me. I have to give it my all and show my leadership and skills and show what I can do,” he said.

Quotes from

"I visited George Mason two weeks ago,” Allen told “I was supposed to visit SMU this past weekend and I decided I was comfortable with my decision and I chose George Mason."

"The thing about George Mason was playing with Isaiah Tate, Rashad Whack and some of the guys I played against in high school … I enjoyed the team. It’s one big family and we can do damage."

"They see me being a point guard. I think I’m ready for that. This whole year I played point guard at St. Thomas More and that was the first time I played the whole year there. I think I did pretty good at it."


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Listen to Coach Larranaga on the Mike Wise show this morning

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coach Larranaga talking Cinderellas on ESPN's First Take today


Saturday, March 20, 2010

George Mason basketball hoping to cash in on President Obama campus visit

Trying to get that stud point guard recruit to sign with your program? Why not invite him for a campus visit when President Obama happens to be there. Not a bad strategy by the Mason coaching staff as they had 2010 point guard prospect Bryon Allen come to Fairfax for a campus visit that also included an opportunity to meet President Obama. Allen posted on his twitter page that it was a great visit and Mason fans should be keeping their fingers crossed on this one because he is exactly what the Patriots need.

Allen initially committed to West Virginia but lost his scholarship opportunity when Joe Mazzulla was granted a medical redshirt. Mazzulla will be back with the Mountaineers in 2010-11. The kid is a 6-3 205-pound guard who is extremely strong and physical. He's a native of the DC metro area and even played two seasons at national powerhouse Oak Hill academy but is spending his senior season playing for Jere Quinn at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn. Allen said he chose St. Thomas More because the New England schools play in a league with a shot clock. We saw what the prep leagues did for Luke Hancock and it would really be beneficial to the program to have another kid coming to campus with polished skills.

With Kevin Foster transferring it's obvious the coaching staff is looking to fill his scholarship with the best player available. The Patriots could definitely use a legit point guard because let's face it they are a team that has a back court full of shooting guards. They also don't quite know what they have in guard Vertrail Vaughns who had more turnovers than points in his limited action before losing the season to injury. Bryon Allen has the skill set to come right in and run the point as a floor general. He has had interest from all over the country but his desire to stay in the DMV could be a huge break for the Patriots.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mason blows 27 point lead to fall to Fairfield in OT

Great day for Mason basketball. The teams' best player was suspended, Foster is transferring, and they blew a 26 point lead at home in a CIT game. Some will say this typical Mason with what we have seen this season and they'd be right. Without starting guard Cam Long, the teams' assist leader, they had more assists through their first few minutes in the 2nd half they had in the last two previous game combined. Just how valuable is Long to this team after what we saw today? For most of the game the offense actually seemed more efficient. Morrison and Cornelius had monster first halves but got no support from the bench on both ends of the court.

The game was meaningless, I know, but wow this just puts more salt on the wound of what this season became. Finishing the season losing 8 of their last 10 is just difficult to stomach. During Coach L's tenure at Mason the Patriots have never dropped four in a row at home until this season. This loss is another late game Larranaga let slip away with poor management. Larranaga chose not to foul which would have prevented the Stags' Mike Evanovich from even having a chance at his miracle shot that sent the game into overtime. Here is his reasoning after the game:
"Had it been five seconds to go and them having to go the length of the court, we would have" fouled, Larranaga said. "But with [19] seconds to go, we didn't have any timeouts remaining at that point. We were in a situation where, if we couldn't inbound the ball [after Fairfield's possession], it would've been a turnover.

"Once it got below four [seconds], they are still out near mid-court, not even looking like they were going to get a good shot."
Why can't he just accept the fact that sometimes he makes bad decisions late in the game. Will he ever put some of the blame on his shoulders?

-ESPN just noted on Sportscenter that Fairfields comeback against Mason was the largest deficit ever overcame by any Division I team in NCAA history in the month of March

-The last time Mason gave up over a 100 points at home was in 1996

-Luke Hancock, the only Patriot to appear in every game this season, finished with 11 assists.

-Speaking of assists, without the teams assist-leader playing (Cam Long), the Patriots dished out 20 last night which is more than they had in their past two games combined

-Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison and Isaiah Tate each set career highs with 28, 25 and 14 points, respectively

I think most of us would agree that we are glad this season is finally over.


Kevin Foster to transfer, Cam Long suspended for tonight's CIT game

Steven Goff, Washington Post reporter who often covers George Mason basketball games when he's not reporting on soccer news just tweeted this:
"George Mason basketball news: Kevin Foster to transfer, Cam Long suspended for tonight's CIT tourney game vs Fairfield"
-The Foster transfer shouldn't be too much of a surprise. His minutes varied all over the place during the season and commenter Christopher says he heard Foster felt like the coaching staff wasn't helping him reach his potential. However I'd be pissed if this turns out like the Vlad Moldoveanu transfer.

-If Cam Long is suspended tonight it will be the fifth time a player has been suspended by Larranaga this year and Luke Hancock will be the only Mason player that played in every game this season.

Game Day Links: George Mason vs Fairfield

Monday, March 15, 2010

Washington Post March Memories Interview with Jim Larranaga


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Patriots to host Fairfield in CIT opening round

"Just got off the phone with Fairfield coach Ed Cooley. The Stags have accepted a big to play in the 2010 College Insider Tournament.
Fairfield (20-10) will play at George Mason (17-14) of the Colonial League on Tuesday night."

The rest of the CIT field, I guess they don't believe in brackets so I have no idea who Mason would play next if they win Tuesday:

Tuesday March 16

South Dakota (22-9) @ Creighton (16-15)

Fairfield (22-10) @ George Mason (17-14)

Wednesday March 17

Harvard (21-7) @ Appalachian State (22-10)

Western Carolina (22-11) @ Marshall (23-9)

Middle Tennessee State (19-13) @ Missouri State (20-12)

Portland (21-10) @ Northern Colorado (24-7)

Pacific (20-11) @ Loyola Marymount (18-14)

Thursday March 18

Southern Mississippi (20-13) @ Louisiana Tech (23-10)

UPDATE: From "There is no set bracket. The CIT uses the old NIT model of determining future round opponents following the conclusion of the previous round."

Also the game will be streamed live on


Selection Sunday has arrived

Not the type of suspense Mason fans had hoped for on this Selection Sunday but nevertheless still an exciting day in college hoops. Even if you think the CIT and CBI tournaments are a joke, consider that playing in these allow the team to continuing practicing by the in-season rules which is about 10 times more the amount than is allowed in the off season. The Patriots find out tonight who they will be hosting Tuesday night in the 1st round of the CIT. We will be there court side live blogging so don't forget to join in, especially since the game won't be televised. We don't know exactly who is in the field for the CIT but a few teams like Mason, have made announcements. Creighton, Appalachian State, and Northern Colorado are hosting 1st round games as well and last year's runner up champion Bradley has decided to stay out of it all together. Another MVC team in the mix is Indiana State which I wouldn't mind seeing in Fairfax but they have showed interest in ponying up the $30,000 to host a 1st round game. Southern Miss is a possible opponent for Mason but might be paired with a more regionally close team. The CIT is set up for mid-majors, so don't expect a middle of the pack Big East team to be traveling to Fairfax this week. Looking at the current RPI standings my wild predictions for Mason's opponent on Tuesday are Rider, Princeton, Buffalo, or maybe Duquesne.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roller coaster Season not over, expect a CIT/CBI bid

As disappointing as this season may be to most Mason fans, I wouldn't turn my nose up to the thought of these guys playing in the CIT or CBI tournaments. For a young team like this any extra games for them to play together is a good thing. Look at it as a glorified scrimmage or extra practice sessions. There are rumors floating around on Facebook and Twitter that Mason will be hosting a College Insider Tournament game on Tuesday March 16th. As long as they don't put a CIT banner in the Patriot Center I don't have a problem with this. I'm still trying to confirm this information so stay tuned. Let the sports betting begin!

UPDATE: Rumor is confirmed via the Washington Post from Eric Prisbell's bracketology blog "The 65"

"George Mason to appear in CIT. Get excited, Fairfax."

"Mason will host first-round game on Tuesday. If it wins, it will hit the road because the circus is coming to Patriot Center."

And now is reporting it as well. Opponent will be announced this Sunday.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mason falls to VCU in quarterfinals

Judging from my poll last week most of us aren't shocked from this loss. Until the 7 minute mark in the 2nd half you would have thought it would have game down to the wire. Brandon Rozzell's three consecutive 3-pointers fueled a late VCU spurt Saturday, while Mason couldn't find anyone late to count on for a basket. Cam Long was awful and it was amazing Mason kept the game so close without his contribution. Ryan Pearson had a monster game but the Patriots lack of a consistent outside shooter really killed them late. The 1st half shooting was drastically better and had a big drop off in the 2nd. That pretty much tells the story because neither Larry Sanders nor Joey Rodriguez killed them yesterday but the Patriots just couldn't score late.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

George Mason Season Highlight Videos

Two new videos today from Thuc Phan to get you pumped:

George Mason Basketball - Season Highlights from Mason Basketball on Vimeo.


Friday, March 05, 2010

George Mason vs VCU Quarterfinal Preview

TV information (in Fairfax Cox Channel 74, also ESPN360)

Video Web Stream
(doubt we will find free stream)

Radio: WWRC 1260 AM

Live Stats will have post game interviews

George Mason finds themselves playing VCU in Richmond Saturday at 2:30 pm. They are looking for a fresh start and will hopefully view this postseason tournament as a clean slate after a season full of ups and downs. Can the Patriots learn from their recent close game losses will be the biggest question mark heading into this match-up. Larranaga always seems to have a few last aces up his sleeve when it comes to the CAA tournament but advancing with this team will probably be one of his toughest challenges. Talent only gets you so far in the conference tournament and while the Patriots aren't short on that they will need to dig deep to find success. Don't think Mason fans have forgotten last year's drubbing the Patriots received from VCU in the CAA tournament finals, an element which only adds to making this the most intriguing quarterfinal game of the weekend. The Patriots don't have to worry about a guy like Eric Maynor going off for 25 points this time but they could have their hands full with Larry Sanders again who collected 20 boards in that game. This year's Rams team might not scare you as much as paper but they can be just as deadly, especially in the Richmond Coliseum with a throng of VCU students.

In the two teams' only meeting this season, Mason pulled out the victory in overtime with big games from Mike Morrison and Cam Long. The Rams' Joey Rodriguez scored 24 on 6-of-11 shooting from behind the arch. Mason can't let that happen again and will need to be stout with their perimeter defense. Larry Sanders, who despite being named Defensive Player of the Year, has been less than dominant this season. In that game against the Patriots in Fairfax he collected only 4 rebounds and fouled out of the game. I'd expect him to have more of an impact in this one but his foul trouble problems are always a factor.

Keys to winning for Mason:

Discipline on defense: The Patriots haven't been consistent enough on offense to think they can overpower anyone in this tournament so they will need to keep up their stout defensive ways. More importantly how well they defend at the guard spot could determine how far they go this weekend. Isaiah Tate and Andre Cornelius have been less then stellar recently, will they be up for the task against Joey Rodriguez and Bradford Burgess? They need to limit Rodriguez's touches, he got way too many open looks in Fairfax earlier this season. The team also can't afford to have more breakdowns from guys like Mike Morrison or Ryan Pearson. If either of them start collecting sloppy fouls and lose their composure it will be a short trip to in Richmond this year.

Which Cam Long will be in Richmond? Will we see the Cam Long from January were he averaged 19.3 ppg when Mason went 9-1 or the the guy we've seen in the last 5 games of the season averaging 7.4 ppg? Long is just too important to this team's success and although he struggled with the added pressure this season he can look at this tournament as a chance to redeem himself. They need to help him create more shots early on and get him hot because he sets the tone for this team.

Protect the ball: This hasn't been an issue all season but it has recently. The Patriots haven't been winning the turnover battle in their last few games and it's been especially a problem in the 1st half of games. They can't afford to let the Rams build up an early lead by giving up easy points due to sloppy ball handling. Luke Hancock has been the biggest culprit and I can't imagine VCU not attacking him early. Cornelius and Long should be the only ones bringing up the ball in this one.

Late game management: Not all of the factors of winning can be pinned on the players. The team might be inexperienced as a whole playing in this tournament but Jim Larranaga sure isn't. However, despite his experience a lot of close game losses this season left us scratching our heads as we watched the teams final possession. Often times the team had a realistic chance of winning and the last "drawn up play" out of a timeout would end in a debacle. Too many times we saw the ball in the hands of a freshman or a final shot never got off. To me that's inexcusable to not at least give your a players an opportunity to make a play. There's a real chance this game could come down to the wire, if so how will Larranaga handle this one?

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thursday Pre-Tournament Links

George Mason Basketball 2009-10 Season Highlight Opening from Mason Basketball on Vimeo. Thuc Phan's opening of the season highlight video he is making.

Keep checking back, this post will be continuously updated


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Beating a dead horse: George Mason's free throw struggles

Seems as if this topic comes up after every loss, George Mason's dreadful free throw shooting. It was painful to watch this season, so much so I had to look into it a little deeper. It may come to no shock to you that historically Larranaga's teams have never been great free throw shooters. See the chart going all the way back to his first year at Mason:

During Larranaga's tenure at George Mason, his teams have averaged 66.6% from the free throw line.

You might already think it's bad but really the impact it had on the team this season is more than you think. The Patriots were ranked 304th in the nation this season in free throw shooting percentage and 11th in the CAA. As a team they went to the free throw line more than anyone else in the CAA this season, leading the conference in attempts. And normally you'd think that would be an advantage in the number of close games they had, but sadly it was pretty much a disadvantage. Look at the team's last three losses, total combined margin: 7 points. In their last win, at Delaware, they went 53% from the line and nearly lost to the CAA's last place team because of their inability to increase they lead late in the game.
I'm not using these stats as an excuse because there are other areas the Patriots could have done better in to close out these games, but this particular area seems to be the most recurring element. You can't blame a loss on free throw shooting but it certainly doesn't make things any easier if your only making half your attempts, especially in late February. People have been emailing me all season basically saying "do they not practice free throws or something!?!" and I can tell you the issue isn't fundamentals. It could be a confidence thing this season as most of the players on the floor don't have much experience in dealing with the pressures of 6,000+ fans watching them try to put their team up with 2.2 seconds remaining.

So after taking a more in-depth look at it, am I making too big a deal of this or was it an area that held the team back all season?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Just what are George Mason's chances this weekend?

Just what do we make of this team after this season and what can we expect in the CAA tournament? For all the streaks and runs of overachieving and underachieving this George Mason team still finds themselves at the #4 seed in the CAA tournament this weekend. Even when the Patriots were in 1st place most knew it was only a matter of time before they slipped up a bit as the tougher part of their schedule neared. Still, they beat who they were supposed to beat with only one real upset within conference play, Georgia State. The rollercoast ride Coach Larranaga talked about to fans and media before the season started could not have been more dead-on. Their were times when the team looked like they could take on anyone (Villanova) and times were looked like a bunch of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores (at Radford). Now the team finds themselves limping into the conference tournament being losers of 6 of their last 8 games. They must regroup and find the motivation to do well in the tournament that will determine if any type of post-season is possible for them. But will they?

The team as a whole just did not play well together collectively for most of the season and Larranaga struggled with lineup changes to right the ship all year long. The team had 9 different starting lineups and minutes from bench players varied drastically. Only Cam Long and Luke Hancock played in every single game this season. The rest of the team missed time due to injury, suspension, or DNPs from the coaching staff. Chemistry is not something that happens overnight and it's difficult to gel with your teammates when they aren't on the court. Inconsistent efforts from the team's few veterans Cam Long, Isaiah Tate, and Louis Birdsong also didn't help.

To win in this tournament the Patriots will have to protect the ball and rebound better. These two areas have been problematic all season and have been glaring weaknesses during the last two weeks of play. I don't mention free-throw shooting because let's face it, they suck at it and it's not going to get better in a few days. When they were on winning streaks earlier this year they overcame bad free-throw shooting anyway. Defensively, they have been playing well. In recent games against William & Mary, College of Charleston, and Northeastern they hung around superior offenses and put themselves in positions to win each time, unfortunately they just couldn't finish. Individual efforts from the guards will be huge this weekend, single digit scoring from Andre Cornelius and Cam Long will probably result in Mason getting bounced early. Teams started to figure out late in the season that denying the front court players the rim drastically changes how the Patriots operate on offense. Sometimes guys like Luke Hancock and Sherrod Wright would attack the rim and have success but at the end of the day you have to hit outside shots and that's where the Patriots have struggled. The Patriots have lost a couple of games this season on the final possession and even with the regular season now over I still couldn't tell you who I'd want to have the ball in their hands with the game on the line. That's a very troubling dilemma to have before entering a single elimination conference tournament.

Ken Pomeroy's prediction formula for the CAA tournament gives George Mason a 0.8% chance of winning the whole thing. Don't know if that magical formula factors in VCU's pseudo home court advantage in Richmond and that's who the Patriots will most likely be facing on Saturday barring a huge upset by Delaware. VCU is probably the most deadly 5th seed in tournament history and will definitely be looking for revenge after a narrow defeat in Fairfax earlier this season. The Patriots have got to be feeling robbed after the way their last game ended last weekend and you have to hope they take out those pissed off feeling out on the Rams. This will basically be a road game for the Mason and because of that I don't like the teams chances of advancing.

[picture via Darren Costa]


How my Preseason Predictions turned out...

Before the season started I did a CAA conference preview for Rush the Court and looking back at my predictions it appears I am good at predicting Mason but not much else in the CAA. I actually had William & Mary dead last, whoops. Here were my predictions on October 11, 2009:

Actual results:


Monday, March 01, 2010

Vote for the Top Play of the Decade for George Mason Basketball

Thuc Phan has a poll going now to let the fans determine the top play of the decade:


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