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Mason blows 27 point lead to fall to Fairfield in OT

George Mason Basketball: Mason blows 27 point lead to fall to Fairfield in OT

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.



Blogger Rick said...

Listened to game on Fairfield radio. They said it was a 27 point lead with less than 16 mins left, for whatever that's worth. I have to say, they were fairly complimentary of our team and classy, while we built our big lead. Then, when they started coming back, they started taking exception to some of the calls, then accused some of our guys of dirty play, Hancock and Pearson specifically. And one guy called Hancock the filthiest player he had ever seen. Not being able to see the game, I hope that was just their excitement over the comeback talking, and not reality.
Whatever the deal with Long, I can only hope this game taught the team something, or gives them something to gnaw on during the offseason. I know for me, that's about the sourest note I can think of to end on. Though I can still chalk up the inability to close the Stags out to our youth factor.

Thanks Ryan yet again for a great job of bringing us Patriot news all through the season! You've been such a valuable "go-to" resource. I look forward to whatever you can bring us as we reset for next year!

9:40 PM  
Blogger greenandgold said...

I really thought Mason had this one. Statistically, they prevailed in every category. It's obvious that everyone on this team can score but do they have the mental toughness? And where was the defense? Oh yeah, this was a post-scrimmage There is no defense. So who is to blame for this loss? Come on guys I know there must be someone( who actually played) you can point the finger at!

9:42 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Thanks for reading Rick and the correct score update.

9:43 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Wow - can a loss get any more embarassing? I watched the game on the computer and heard the post game interview w/ Chris Caputo. He blamed the miserable defense in the 2nd half and I agree.
How can the coaching staff though
- when presented with the same situation they had last year against Penn State, fail to instruct players to
foul in order to prevent the three. That dude from Fairfield was on fire! I'm a Coach Larranaga fan, but he's getting paid a lot of money to make the same mistake in consecutive post-seasons.

10:14 PM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

Jim took the words out of my mouth. Awful coaching at the end not having us foul, especially when that guy hitting 3s was the sole reason they came back.

Hancock was playing pretty aggressively and getting away with some egregious fouls but whatever.

Thank God this season is over.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Essay said...

I couldn't make it to the game unfortunately but I guess after reading about what happened I'm glad I wasn't there. I would have lost my voice all for nothing. After all Mason nation has been through this season it can't get any lower next season. The only place for us to go is up. Bring it on!!

10:53 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Evanovich single-handedly destroyed us. There's no other way to put it. But our coaches should have known about his potential... he had 8-11 from three against Rider earlier in the year. We've got to solve our perimeter defense problems for next year.

Our guys played their hearts out. If I only look at our half of the box score, it's amazing. Hancock had 11 assist??

Somehow this loss just wasn't as crushing as the last few. I guess, if seen as the first game of 2010-11, this was a very good game.

12:25 AM  
Blogger's good for you. said...

Horrible performance. Horrible way to end a season, again. Horrible coaching job (Hey, Coach L...when your players have their hands on their knees, maybe you're overusing them and they could use a breather at the end of a game?). I hoped Long could end the season with a good performance to build confidence going into next year...nope. Suspended. Maybe Foster can finally get some more minutes, since he was used inconsistently by the head coach all season? Nope. Gone.

Pathetic. Pathetic. Pathetic.

I agree with C Hirsch...THANK GOD THIS SEASON IS OVER.

But, my hope for the future is shot. This team doesn't have what to takes to be a cohesive winning unit right now.

Maybe it's time to think locally again in terms of recruiting, Coach L.? Your players from around the U.S. aren't working out...

5:08 AM  
Blogger jim said...

Just read the Wash. Post article on the game. Coach L stated the team didn't foul because there were no time outs and feared a turnover if they could't get the ball in. OK I get this w/ 19 secs left, but w/ just a few? The tying shot was hit w/ .9 seconds left. Foul and heave it down court if you can't get it in.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Gary Rodriguez said...

I'm very disappointed with the way the season ended. I agree with the horrible coaching. I'm sorry but Coach L needs to go. He's done so much for this organization but now is the time to leave. Of course, you can't leave the blame on the coach only. This is a team sport, after all. To blow a 27-point lead is absolutely embarrassing. That rarely ever happens. Having our guys getting into too much trouble this season cost us dearly. And the thing is, we will still have the same starters/team for next year. I really hope changes are made for the better. We will miss Foster but damn, good for him. He deserves more playing time. I'm very glad the season is done. Now it's time to fill out my brackets and enjoy the NCAA tourney.

10:15 AM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

Larranaga's explanation makes no sense.

If you are up 3 late in a game, you foul so the other team doesn't even have a chance at a 3. It's logical and it makes sense. Sure, they could make 1, then miss on purpose and try to get a put back, but the odds of that are far less than just letting a guy who has torched us all game shooting a three.

10:20 AM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

Alan, blowing a 27 point lead at home with 16 minutes to go is a good game?

I am jealous of your impossibly positive outlook on things.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Yeah I just don't understand Coach L's comments about why they didn't foul. So basically he's saying he needs a timeout so that he can tell his guys when to foul? Why do you need to tell them don't they practice game situations like this???

10:29 AM  
Blogger Reston Irregular said...

Let's not all jump off the bridge! To a large extent, GMU played the percentages last night and, this one time, they didn't work out. When you are ahead by 27 in the second half, it's not likely that someone, a reserve at that, is going to hit 8 or 9 three-pointers and you're going to struggle to score. A perfect basketball storm.
Not that there are reasons for concern, but they are the same problems areas we saw against VCU. GMU's perimeter defense is poor. Partly it's a lack of quickness and anticipation on the outside and partly it's lack of coordination around screens and picks -- a matter of team work.
GMU's half court offense is also weak. While Cornelius was hitting from the outside, GMU looked okay. But once Fairfield put more pressure on the guards, the whole offense ground to a halt. Hancock driving to the basket amidst three or four defenders does not an offense make. Either GMU's finds some outside shooting (and beyond Cornelius, it would seem that Vaughans and Whack are the only real possibilities, since we know the others can not score from long range) or shifts to some more patterned half court offense. Perhaps Foster's departure will allow GMU to recruit a guard who can play defense and shoot from outside.
If I had a bone to pick with Coach L, it would be about his use of Williams and Whack. Neither has looked like a world beater on a regular basis, but both seem to have some potential. In the second half, I think both could have contributed more, but they might as well have brought a book with them. Williams struggled against Johnson last night, but I still think he has considerable potential at both ends of the court. Morrison had a lot of points last night, but against a good CAA team he would have had hardly any -- since they would have denied him the dunks. In a set offense, I think Williams could offer more and his defense will improve. After all Morrison is not great shakes defending one on one.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Fourth largest comeback in Div I college basketball history. The largest comeback ever in the month of March. And I repeat, IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL! Pathetic.

10:56 AM  
Blogger variaban said...

Well, at least our baseball won.

11:25 AM  
Blogger FaithWithLogic said...

I don't want to be one of those people who call for Larranaga's head especially after he put the team on the map with 4 NCAA appearences and a Final Four!

But come on! After 2006, this school had EVERY opportunity to get some real superstars into this team and Coach L's recruiting just hasn't panned out. VCU embarrasses us year in and year out and instead of being a top 4 CAA team, we should be a consistent at-large threat. We should be Gonzaga.

We all know that 2006 was somewhat of a fluke and maybe it's time that Mason started looking at some assistant coaches from the ACC or Big East.

12:09 PM  
Blogger greenandgold said...

As I stated during pre-season. You can have all of the "highly recruited" players you want. It doesn't matter if there is no chemistry. The coaches do not mesh well with the players and the players do not mesh well with each other. Consequently, there were problems on and off the court. This has truly been a "rollercoaster" season.

It is obvious from Larranaga's comment-he has no confidence in his team. Now that's a pretty sad commentary after coaching these guys for 32+ games.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

I never liked Mason even accepting this game. I called it a glorified scrimmage... looks like it was. That "tourney" is a joke. It was time to end the season before this game. Perplexed. Disappointed. You may see more transfers away from GMU. It was a $40,000 embarrassment. I love the team and support them... but... time to reevaluate this team.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Benti said...

Poor management? Poor coaching? This all sounds familiar...

Oh wait, I talked about this a month and a half ago.

The only reason he's still around because he get's the benefit of the doubt because of the Final Four Run.

Thanks for the massive amount of angry views that day Ryan. It was fun.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...


Larranaga had some questionable coaching moves this season no doubt. Don't know what your expectations where this year but mine were not winning the CAA or going to the NCAA tournament.

So I'm guessing by your logic Mason should fire it's winningest coach in team and CAA conference history because he produced a 3rd place team during a rebuilding season?

Once again, take off the Final Four blinders, we aren't going to challenge for a NCAA tournament bid every season, especially with no seniors. And just because Coach L isn't fired after a subpar year doesn't mean he's getting a free pass because of 2006. He got this program out of the basement of the CAA and is going to be here awhile so get used to it.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

Coach L. is good. He probably (obviously) has gotten more out of his teams than other coaches would have gotten. I can't question him. That final four probably did cause some folks to expect more than possible. That 06 run was a miracle! I still think this team has a lot of talent and can do well next year in the CAA. I am kinda ticked that most all of these "blue chippers" have to choose the biggest bball schools. It does not serve them well, many times, as they get planted on the bench and can never show what they can do. Anyhow... where are the signings for next year? One, to date. Is that it? Really good players should be signed by now. Slim pickings as time goes on. Guess the frosh of this year have to really get out and show what they can do next year... hopefully.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

Coach L. is good. He probably (obviously) has gotten more out of his teams than other coaches would have gotten. I can't question him. That final four probably did cause some folks to expect more than possible. That 06 run was a miracle! I still think this team has a lot of talent and can do well next year in the CAA. I am kinda ticked that most all of these "blue chippers" have to choose the biggest bball schools. It does not serve them well, many times, as they get planted on the bench and can never show what they can do. Anyhow... where are the signings for next year? One, to date. Is that it? Really good players should be signed by now. Slim pickings as time goes on. Guess the frosh of this year have to really get out and show what they can do next year... hopefully.

5:14 PM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

Another 17-15 season next year will be unacceptable. Until then, I give Coach L a free pass.

I mean think about it, when was the last time Mason had a losing season? We do have it pretty good here, all things considered.

5:19 PM  
Blogger variaban said...

I was thinking the same thing Hirsch, when it all comes down to it, we are bantering about a team that didn't finish with a winning record that we have become accustomed to at GMU but it's still a winning record. The last time their record looked similar to this was 6 years ago, a true rebuilding year for a mid-major that was one year removed from their first post season win, which happend to be in the NIT.

9:42 AM  
Blogger FaithWithLogic said...

I'm not saying that Larranaga is a bad coach. He did build the program here and we are grateful but come on. Success is about taking the opportunities life gives you. We went to the Final Four! That was an opportunity to bring this program to heights never seen before and to be the Gonzaga of the CAA. It hasn't panned out that way.

This school is very up and coming with great academic programs, a 10,000 set arena, a gorgeous campus and 20 minutes from the Nation's Capital. There should not be problems recruiting better players. Or maybe it is the coaching after all.

11:36 AM  
Blogger FaithWithLogic said...

Also I want to mention that Coach L does know basketball but let's face it. His players are not mentally tough enough.

They can't win on the road (even against crap like GA State) and can't shoot free throws.

That's the product of mental preparation.

11:37 AM  
Blogger What Not said...

I believe that Coach L lost control of this team early in the season.

The only beef I've ever had with Coach L is that he's too nice. They slack off and mouth off and then he suspends them. He's reacting to their acting out versus proactively asserting and keeping control of them through an absolute no nonsense approach. He's trying to hard to keep them happy, it appears. And maybe Coach L has gotten a little complacent himself, with his nice contract and notoriety?

He has done his best coaching with role players and work horses, not guys who since junior high are used to being treated like they're all world. He won with pressure defense and discipline and fundamentals and guys like Will Thomas who (despite being Baltimore high school player of the year I think), just worked and worked and worked.

These guys don't display much of any of that ethic and my theory is that they've never had to. Over the last couple of seasons I've seen many teams come into our arena and simply outwork us, out defend, beat us to loose balls. They wanted it more and that's disturbing. VCU, W&M, ODU all came with more intensity. They acted like they were invested in winning. Our guys? It came and went.

I am still looking forward to a more mature and focused team next year that will play with purpose and desire.

Ryan, thanks for running this discussion. Should be an interesting off season.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

At the beginning of the season, I had thought too that maybe Coach L had lost some control over these guys. Now that the season is over and having seen a few more suspensions I almost think he's just being a hard ass this year to set the tone with these new guys for the future. I could be off and maybe these guys are just a lot more immature than previous players in this program. Will this season of Larranaga being hard on these guys pay off down the road?

3:46 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Coach L has been around a long time, but that doesn't mean he has encountered, much less mastered, every situation. The Final Four run was a tremendous blessing but nonetheless one with an aftermath that one might call unique for a Mid Major! That Coach hasn't parlayed this into a repeat run isn't such a failure.
Gonzaga has been mentioned here. That is my wife's alma mater, and we have followed them going all the way back as well. I can tell you all about the Zags, but suffice to say they had a lot of things go right for them early on in order to establish themselves the way they have. Mason's success is no automatic ticket for continued success, but it is a great opportunity that I hope we capitalize on. We've been in the hunt every year, and our young team I think may even surprise us next year. Life is still good in Mason Nation, and I look forward to next year.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

The one thing that is being overlooked here is Coach L's health. He had an episode with a heart arrhythmia mid-way through the season. Almost the same time the team started to swoon. He simply may not be feeling well and/or adjusting to lifestyle changes that could affect the way he coaches. Just saying...we shouldn't overlook the fact that personal matters can often intrude into your professional life.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

P.S. I fell prey to an initial reactionary comment about Coach L's substitution rotation. I realized that it was just that... a reaction. I hope he coaches at GMU for a long, long while yet. We have one of the best! Many other larger programs would love to have him!

1:58 AM  
Blogger DHouck said...

Hands down, and im sorry to say it, but that loss is 100% on Coach L. If this game didn't mean anything then why did we play in it? Personally, Coach L does not need to go, but he needs to start getting fired up. I understand that he can't keep all these players from getting in trouble, but he can keep them from playing without any structure in the 2nd half of the game. This team has no identity. Cam Long is the best player on the team without a doubt but does his style of play fit the others? The 1st half of the Fairfield game we seemed to have a rhythm that I really had not seen all year long. We aren't aggressive enough. Our offense doesn't have a lot of motion. We set picks but don't really penetrate. Pearson gets to the rim and finishes better than anyone on the team. Nobody else ever really goes tot he rim hard. We don't really have a 3 point shooter other than Andre and he can be streaky. He is at his beat when he is in control and can push the pace of the game, Cam is more of a half court set point guard. It's tough to keep them out there at the same time. Morrison, Pearson, and Hancock can fit into any system, but Morrison runs the floor too well to not push it. We need to become a lot more aggressive. We need to find a role for Whack and need to to give Wright some more room to drive to the basket as a 2 guard. Nobody really knows what Paris or Vertrail are going to be able to bring to the team next year yet because nobody has really seen them play. Hopefully there's a 3 point shot in one of their arsenals. Morrison has the tools to be completely dominant inside. Pearson is an athletic mismatch for pretty much every power forward in the CAA. Hancock has a basketball IQ beyond his years and can really WOW you when he decides to show his athletic ability. But as far as recruiting goes. Coach L needs to go out and find himself a 3 point threat so we can spread the floor because thats why we played so well in the first half against Fairfield. I think the reason we didn't have an efficient offense is because Coach L was trying to figure out what this team can do and what they can't, but regardless, blowing that kind of a lead can only be put on one person, the coach.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

You can't just put it on the coach for losing that lead. Like I said, GMU is fortunate to have a coach as good as Coach L. This group simply needs to "re-group." They do need a three point threat and better perimeter defense. Players play. Coaches can only do so much. I did not watch or follow the Fairfield game.... so I don't know how they folded. The players best learn from it and continue to work hard in the off season. We will know a bunch more by five games into next season.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

"we will know much more by 5 games into the season"

We might know a little more, but if you look at GMU after the first half of this past season you would have been thinking they would win the CAA easy and their future couldn't be brighter.

Half way through the season, we "should have beat Villanova" a top 5 team in the COUNTRY. We lost some close ones and had one blowout, okay two, but then we won like 8 straight and Cam Long and Andre seemed to be on the same page running the offense.

When we were on that winning streak Cam was playing AMAZING and our young guys were starting to step up. We had a favorable schedule down the stretch and were tied for first place. I could not have been more optimistic.

THEN it all fell apart. I think that is why so many of us are so frustrated and down. We were starting to play so well and had our stud (Cam) playing his best. It hurt so bad when the team fell apart and our inexperience led to our downfall.

This team still has tons of talent and an off season for each guy to evaluate himself and gain the mentality of a team player could be what we need to win the division next year. Here's to hoping!

9:34 AM  
Blogger True said...

I'm not an ageist but I think a little young coaching energy could go a long way on this team. Larranga not only seems to lack chemistry but I'm not sure he is willing to face up the talent deficits on the team. Yes, the freshmen are evolving, but we can't allow Cam Long to be at the front of the squad anymore. He's great and we love him and all that but he's got some consistency issues. Yes, basketball should be a team sport but it also needs to rely for more than average support from its key players...that clearly isn't Cam Long. We can't keep getting 2 and 3 points a game from our "star" player. And I'm not sure Larranga did develop the young talent on this team, so I can't say if that was an issue in why Kevin left. We could all live with freshmen talent that needs to get better but if that were the issue, we'd start to see improvement. Let's cross our fingers that new talent keeps developing on this team next year and if Larranaga will face reality about Cam Long (I doubt it). As far as the hot new recruit they are hoping to get, yeah, good luck. If I were a promising young player, I couldn't wait to join this train wreck. Sorry people, I love George Mason and George Mason Basketball but I am Irish and I have to say it..sometimes the truth hurts and it needs to be said...and yes, Larranga's loss could be a good thing for Mason. As one article pointed out recently, if we got a younger coach with ties to better schools that might be the door to getting better recruits. Larranga's Upstanding Religious Approach to Life is getting tiresome and is alienating players...not only does he manage to not coach well but he suspends the few players who have a chance of helping. I am not hopeful about next year, but I will light a candle and hope for the best. Go Mason!

9:35 PM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

I think.. my opinion only... that if these upcoming sophs (other than Luke.. he played effectively)don't show more improvement or maturation, then the team is in trouble. Freshemen are so unpredicatable. However, after this first year, I would not be encouraged if the sophs don't step it up after five games through next season. Go GMU! They will need our support.

12:36 AM  
Blogger True said...

Beach, I agree the sophomores are an issue. SOmeone somewhere on this team is going to step up. Okay, so ended up 4th this year which wasn't more than I expected us to do. But I didn't expect that Cam Long would still be going AWOL every other game, and you can't blame that all on the freshmen. Lots of teams with mostly freshman managed to keep some high scorers around. Also, lots of young teams improved this season. Ours went from lukewarm to hot to freezing cold and not just for an instant. I don't think the sophomores are terribly talented...I definitely think Cam Long CANNOT be consistent (probably a mental thing...but handling pressure if part of a player's talent quotient) and I don't know what to think about the freshmen in that Larranaga did not always play them that much. I want to support this team but I am also deeply disappointed as a GMU basketball fan and I think there's a fine line between supporting a team and enabling a dysfuctional team with questionable management. And then this morning I see Larranaga running his mouth in all types of papers about how midmajors should do well in this league..I really wish he'd try to focus on his serious problem at hand and get over his love of being in the media. I think part of the problem is Larranga is more interested in Final Four Glory Days than living in the less glamorous now. ANd I see no chemistry there and I think he is part of the problem and as a member of GMU who is passionate about the school and the basketball sport, I think we have to voice our discontent.

8:28 AM  
Blogger True said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Beach Dreams said...

You are correct in that some of the frosh did not play like fans thought they may have. It was a team effort. I agree re: Cam. I really did not know from game to game which Cam we would see. There could be a myriad of factors involved that we would never know about. He has played very well/great on a number of occasions. Maybe we expect too much. I don't know. Coach L. has to stay out there and be in the media.... you never know how you might catch a recruit. I can't see any problems with Coach L. This is mid majors... so you won't have guys leaving for the NBA. They are not the four and five star players, but they can be together for four years. They can definitely improve as a unit. Remember this, however: GMU was the 312th youngest team in Div 1 this year (out of a total of 323 Div 1 teams.) Everyone on the team can improve, and they must... or they will stay around the .500 win/loss mark for several years. Hopefully, they will stay together and we won't get more transfers out. Need the unity and playing time together.

1:31 PM  

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