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Just what are George Mason's chances this weekend?

George Mason Basketball: Just what are George Mason's chances this weekend?

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]



Blogger Brock said...

Unfortunately, I have to agree. Do they have the talent? Absolutely. However, I can't see this team putting together the 40 minutes each game that is needed to make some noise. Besides, VCU is dangerous - at home and they have scores to settle with us & ODU. Nonetheless, I'll be there Saturday at 2:30 ready to take down the Rams.

3:51 PM  
Blogger What Not said...

NU-Mason in the final. GMU wins CAA.
They are a longshot, but if GMU plays with abandon and intensity they can beat anybody in the league.

Do I feel good about this pick? No, but I'm loyal. Go Pats.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Given what we saw with GMU in 2007, W&M in 2008, and Towson last year, I have to think that a key upset or two could swing things in our favor. I think if we beat VCU, that momentum could carry us at least as far as the championship game, but there's just no way to predict what this team will bring with them. I hope we'll see the sort of start that we rode to victory at JMU, not the sort of start we saw at ODU.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Ken Pomeroy got something like 8 of our games in a row wrong earlier in the year so I'm not sure I think he's a credible predictor of GMU's future.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I think if one thing has held true for us since the Final Four run, it has been our appetite for tourneys. We have made good runs in the CAA tourneys ever since, we won 2 of 3 at the Old Spice, we had Nova dead to rights in Puerto Rico, ditto for Penn State, the eventual champ in last year's NIT. The only chink was the Madness loss to a Notre Dame team 2 years ago that did everything right themselves in that game. And, as for revenge in the matchup with VCU, I think that is OUR tagline, not theirs, given what they have done to us in recent tourney history. The home court thing truly sucks, and should be changed, but I think if we can get a spark going...

10:22 AM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

Why do people cite Ken Pomeroy? Who the hell is he?

1:25 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Created a formula using stats and other factors that predicts winners.

Also has ranking system here:

Some press on him here:

1:35 PM  

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