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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: November 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Previewing the Battle of the Orange Line Part II

I like having fun with the whole "Battle of the Orange Line" slogan the GW marketing department came up with last year but I still think them trying to call this game some sort of rivalry is a stretch.  It's great to have a local rival but I don't think we are quite there yet when you consider the teams have only faced 11 times in Mason's 40 some years of having a basketball team.  And before the game last December, George Mason and George Washington hadn't faced eachother in 11 years. What rivals have that long of a break between games?  It remains to be seen if this becomes an annual affair or if it ends up being a short lived marketing campaign by both schools to get attendance numbers up. Hopefully this becomes a tradition but I'm not going to hold my breath.  

Now on to the actual game tomorrow night.  Considering almost everyone on the roster was in Foggy Bottom for the beating they received last year from the Colonials I'd like to think they take this game seriously. Ryan Pearson and Andre Cornelius were suspended for that game last season and should be motivated to perform well tomorrow.  With GW losing to UNCW the other night it's a little difficult to say they are an improved team from last season.  They were picked to finish tenth in the A10 but so far it looks like even that might be wishful thinking.  The Colonials have been dreadful from the field, shooting about 35% on the the season to date but have had some success from the three-point line. Forward Nemanja Mikic sank 7 3-pointers in their loss to UNCW.  If Mason doesn't protect the perimeter well it's pretty much the only way I see them losing this game.  If they play the kind of team defense they did against Radford and FAU it's very likely GW will have a tough time getting any quality looks at the basket.  

In the front court GW has done well rebounding so this is definitely an area the Patriots cannot slouch in.  Mason won't have a size advantage like they did over FAU but they will have more athletic forwards. But GW forward Nemanja Mikic who I mentioned earlier could create a match-up problem. The 6-8 forward has been shooting over 47% from the three-point line and has been one of the team's most efficient shooters. If someone like Luke Hancock is guarding him it could be an issue.  Hopefully we see another big game from Mike Morrison who had a big second half against FAU on Saturday.

I look for Mason to continue to share the ball well and shoot well in this one.  Their defense should force GW into another one of their bad shooting nights and force them to throw up ill advised three-pointers. If the Patriots play an uptempo game with high scoring I don't think the Colonials will be able to keep up as they just don't have the horses.

Don't forget this is the game they will start giving away bobbleheads! So get their early to get your Folarin Campbell bobblehead.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

George Mason rolls past Florida Atlantic

It was another impressive defensive night for the Patriots as head coach Jim Larranaga picked up his 250th win at George Mason. However this time there was not a barrage of three pointers and they got a lot of points inside from Mike Morrison, who led all scorers in a game for the first time this season. Morrison had scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, a lot of them effortlessly through dunking on the undersized Owls. The Patriots finished the 1st half shooting almost 60% from the field and continued that in the 2nd.   Cam Long (6 assists) and Luke Hancock (7) continue to distribute the ball well and in these last two games the Patriots have been playing much improved 'team' basketball. The box score might show that the rebounding stats where about even but the Patriots weren't getting enough of the meaningful rebounds they should have.  The undersized Florida Atlantic squad got 9 offensive boards while Mason only had 4.  Coming into the game Florida Atlantic got to the free throw line a lot and Mason did a good job staying out of foul trouble and not letting them take advantage at the line.  

Mason didn't get a lot help from their bench in this one.  In the 2nd half they got zero points from their bench players and it seemed like Larranaga still don't trust a reserve heavy lineup in the 2nd half even with a 10 point lead.  Larranaga has criticized the defensive efforts of his 'green team' so far this year and they need to improve in this area before the CAA schedule kicks in.  You can say what you want to about the team's depth being improved over last season but most of the guys, outside of Isaiah Tate, just don't have a lot of experience and it has been showing in their defensive efforts.

Next up for the Patriots is the Battle of the Orange Line Part II this Wednesday.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lights out three point shooting helps Mason roll past Radford

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Last night was exactly the kind of weaker opponent George Mason needed to fine tune their offense and defense last night.  Mason went 13-of-26 from behind the three point line to coast past Radford for their third win of the season.  Although the offense might be the highlight reel material from last night, the Patritots defense cannot go unmentioned.  They got a lot of opportunities because their defense constantly put pressure on the ball all night when it was in the Highlanders' hands. Although Radford was a team these Patriots are expected to beat this year, you can't help but notice the patience and focus of the team who hard a strong bounce back after a disappointing last two games in the Charleston Classic. Hopefully this game shows the Patriots what they capable of when they play strong on both ends of the court.  Because honestly scoring hasn't been the problem in their losses this season but playing a complete game for 40 minutes has been.

It was definitely a padding of the stats kind of game. They finished the game three long-range jumpers shy of tying the school record of 16 set in 1994 against Troy State.  Andre Cornelius reminded us how he shot over 43% from the three point line last season with a 5-of-6 shooting night from their there.  Cam Long stepped up shooting 4-of-6 on his way to his first 20 points performance of the season. While those two were providing the scoring Luke Hancock was setting them up dishing out 10 assists and grabbing 8 rebounds.  This was the first game of the season where Johnny Williams got more playing time then Jonathan Arledge and Paris Bennett.  Ryan Pearson played 18 minutes and had 13 points before spraining his ankle midway through the 2nd half.  

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coaches Corner: Previewing Radford with Chris Caputo

This year's Radford team is no where near what they faced last season in the team's blow out loss to the Highlanders.  If you remember that 80-53 blowout down in Radford, you will remember that big guy they had inside dominating, Artsiom Parakhouski. The 6'11" 260 pound center is now gone and is playing pro ball with the Latvian club VEF Riga after he had a brieft stint on the Boston Celtics summer league team.  This year's Radford Highlander team doesn't resemble much of their squad last season and they certainly do not have that same inside strength.

It's a little difficult to gauge this year's team because they have only played one game against a DI opponent, and that was at the SEC's South Carolina where they got drilled 85-56.  Their only other two games came against Division III opponents one of which they won by a mere three points at home.  So while there isn't much tape on them of note, I think it's safe to say Mason should get back on track in this one. I would expect the Patriots to establish their inside game and force a ton of turnovers in this one.  I would expect to see guys like Jonathan Arledge, Paris Bennett, Vertrail Vaughns, and Bryon Allen get a little bit more playing time as well.

This game is the first of a five game home stand, something we haven't seen Mason have in a long time.  You can argue that they won't be facing tough competition til the end of the December but I think it is important after what we saw in Charleston; for this team to work on some issues they have been having with their game plan. Hopefully these next couple of games will give the Patriots some confidence and help them get back in a rhythm on offense.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

What we learned about George Mason from the Charleston Classic

George Mason started off the Charleston Classic strong with a decisive victory over Charlotte but faltered in the 2nd halves of their losses to NC State and Wofford to finish 4th in the tournament.  The Patriots definitely got some quality experience out of this weekend but time will tell if they learn anything from their mistakes and shortcomings.  Here are some things we learned about this year's team so far:

  • The team has depth but I don't think Larranaga knows fully how to use it just yet.  I say this because their were a ton of different lineup combinations at there this weekend. I know he was trying to get the younger guys some good experience but the substitutions in the 2nd half of the NC State were head scratching.  I think the coaching staff is still figuring out who they trust in late game situations off bench.
  • They need to be more patient.  Coach Larranaga said this in the post game yesterday after the loss to Wofford and it really showed late in the game.  Mason faded in the 2nd half twice over their last two games mostly because they had too many players looking for the quick score one-on-one plays.  They don't have any good one-on-one guys in my opinion, they need all five guys contributing in their motion offense for them to score consistently.  The rushed shot attempts and poor decision making are things that can be corrected if they were more patient late in the games.  This stuck out a lot of some of Luke Hancock's game.  
  • You can't blame the defense and rebounding. Larranaga's bread and butter haven't been the problem so far but what they have been doing after an offensive rebound or a defensive stop has been.  It doesn't matter how good of defense you are playing if you constantly turn over the ball. And as for rebounding, Mason needs to capitalize more on those 2nd chance opportunities, they squandered a whole lot yesterday.   
  • Problems from last year are still carrying over. And with this I mean finishing strong in the 2nd half when they have the lead.  Towards the end of last season the Patriots struggled to close out opponents and the CIT game against Fairfield was an exclamation point on the matter. So far we have seen a little bit of that as the Patriots seem to forget that there are 40 minutes in the game. You could blame it on youth last season but what do you say if it keeps happening this year?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turnovers doom George Mason as they fall to Wofford in OT

                     AP Photo/Mic Smith
The Patriots dominated the boards and shot the ball well in their final game of the Charleston Classic but were doomed by turnovers and then inability to force any of their own for the first time this season. In the end Mason was beat by their own game, points off turnovers. Wofford got an amazing efforts from guards Cameron Rundles (career-high 26 points) and Jamar Diggs (career-high 23) who made the shot to force overtime and then went on to score 11 points in the extra time to seal the victory for the Terriers.  The Patriots were up two with 20 seconds remaining off of Luke Hancock's four straight points but a Diggs lay-up and a sloppy turnover by Hancock on the next play led to overtime.  

Mason started off the game scoring easy in the paint, despite missing second chance points off their many offensive rebounds. It's still hard for me to believe the score was so close at the end of the game despite the Patriots collecting 20 offensive boards in the game and not shooting all that bad from the field.  Morrison and Pearson did their job on the board in this one but no really stepped up and made the shots after the rebounds.  Mason needed someone to step up and match the intensity that the Terriers were getting from Rundles and Diggs.  Hancock and Pearson came on strong late but guys like Long and Cornelius were absent and it hurt the Patriots.  

More on the Four Factors


George Mason basketball team gets visit from actor Bill Murray in Charleston

The Patriots got an interesting pre-game meal guest before their final game in the Charleston Classic.  Bill Murray, who currently resides in Charleston joined Coach Larranaga and the team for a meal together today and most players identified him as that guy from Space Jam and those Ghosterbusters movies.  Hopefully he was sharing with the guards his awesome passing techniques he used in the movie Space Jam with Michael Jordan.

Murray joined Bill Rohland during halftime on Sunday

Looks like he also had some fun with the Green Machine:

Murray was sitting behind the Patriots bench 

[Photo via Twitpic and Charleston Classic Fan Page]

Game Day Links: George Mason vs Wofford: Charleston Classic Third Place Game

Game Time: 5:30 pm



Spread: Wofford by 1

Statistical Breakdown

Radio Link, Smartphone, GoMason Mobile App is also in iTunes App store

What do we want to see out of Mason tonight? After a disappointing 2nd half effort on Friday, I'd like to see the Patriots get back to that whole tenacious defense and balance on offense. It's an important to see how this year's team bounces back overall from a loss. They lost their focus in the 2nd half when they fell behind and too many guys tried to make things happen in one-on-one situations on offense.  Distributing the ball and finding better opportunities is something I'd also like to see and overall just better shot selections. The assist to turnover ratio has been good thus far even despite Friday's loss and I'd like to see another 15+ assist night for the team. Luke Hancock has been a great scorer so far this season but he needs to be dishing out more dimes as defenses begin to key in on him.  He tried to do too much against NC State and looked a little too much like Cam Long of last season. It would also be nice to see a game this season where Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson aren't in early foul trouble and miss most of the 1st half. Wofford hasn't been a great rebounding team so far this year so the Patriots should have the edge there.  They have also been getting to the free throw more than Mason so hopefully they will be more disciplined in that area.  Not that I want to see some sort of blow out victory from Mason, just a more focused team following the game plan and not veering away from what works for them.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mason ditches game plan, falls to NC State in Charleston Classic Semifinals

                             AP Photo/Mic Smith
The Patriots lost to NC State last night in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic, but it wasn't one of those well they ran into a great ACC type of losses.  Mason was playing well int he 1st half despite Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson getting early fouls.  Luke Hancock was again looking like an All-CAA caliber player.  Down 7 at half time you would have expected another strong 2nd half out of the Patriots while making some adjustments during the break.  Unfortunately that didn't quite happen.  Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post puts it best:
"But instead of sticking to the plan, the Patriots veered from it, initiated one-on-one battles and took low-percentage shots. The result wasn't pretty. A two-point lead quickly turned into a 10-point deficit, and eventually a 78-65 defeat in the tournament semifinals Friday at Carolina First Arena.

"We got a little selfish," said senior Cam Long, who scored a team-high 16 points. "In the moment, everybody wants to get their shots. And that's what it came down to. We started to put ourselves in a position where we just let ourselves go. We started not sharing the ball with each other. We played right into the hands of N.C. State."
The one-on-one battles and the ridiculously poor shot selections are what really bothered me.  Larranaga is know for having developed smarter more patient teams.  This game shows me that the players just simply didn't listen to him after the lead from Wolfpack started to swell.  What happened to the whole team unity no-name on the back of the uniforms mentality?  When things get tough his team can't resort to having guys individually doing their own things and trying to win the game themselves.  Luke Hancock was doing a little bit of this, and as you can applaud his efforts it's not Larranaga basketball and it's not George Mason basketball, plain and simple.  Perhaps this why he was benched after the 8 minute mark in the 2nd half.  Hancock was also not playing great defense as a couple of commenters pointed out last night and today.

Another thing that bothered me was the substitutions in the 2nd half.  You can't help but wonder why a lineup of one starter and four bench players (two of which barely had any college minutes under their belts) were on the floor for so long in the beginning of the 2nd half with the game still very much in reach.  I know Larranaga loves to use these tournament games as a way to break in the young players and expose them to good talent, but did he really care about that more than winning this game? It's a long season, I get that, and the goal is to win the CAA but I can't help but scratch my head for not playing certain guys for extended periods of time so guys like Paris Bennett, Johnny Williams, Vertrail Vaughns, and Jonathan Arledge could get more experience.

Now for some positives out of this game. Cam Long and Luke Hancock looked great at certain times in this game showed their are capable of carrying the scoring load on nights Morrison and Pearson are doing so hot. Speaking of Pearson, he looked much better last night than he did in the previous two games and was aggressive on the boards.  Freshman Jonathan Arledge and Bryon Allen continue to look promising and hopefully them playing in this tournament will pay dividends later in the season.  You also have to be liking what you are seeing out of Vertrail Vaughns lately.  I didn't think he would be playing this much so early in the season but hes starting to show flashes of great play out both on offense and defense.

The Patriots will not play Wofford on Sunday at 5:30 pm on ESPNU

As you can see from the stats breakdown the Patriots weren't murdered on the boards nor did they turn the ball over badly in this one.  But their poor shot selection from the field and from the three-point line are what stands out most in this analysis.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Previewing NC State, George Mason's early chance to build the resume

Stream to watch the game if you don't have ESPNU

As you know I always look ahead with games like this one.  With Mason's out of conference schedule lacking marquee teams this rare opportunity they have before them tonight could be an RPI booster.  NC State isn't projected to compete for the ACC title but you can't discount a CAA team beating an ACC, unless it's Wake Forest because man they are dreadful. Even without the RPI implications and brand name victory tags, NC State is still a very talented squad and an excellent early test for the Patriots.  This will be a very athletic team they are facing tonight, much more so than Harvard and Charlotte, so Mason's gambling on defense for steals won't be quite as effective if they slouch any.  On the other hand Mason's defense is the best the Wolfpack will see so far this season. The short time to prepare might benefit Mason in this area as they will need to rely heavily on another tenacious effort on defense.  Another benefit for Mason is the fact that NC State will be without starting forward Tracy Smith, who was injured in yesterday's game against ECU and will miss the rest of the Charleston Classic. Smith led the Wolfpack in scoring and rebounding last season and is arguably the team's only true post player. 

They were able to win easily against ECU without Tracy Smith, but this injury still leaves NC State without their best scorer and rebounder up front.  The team has a lot of athletic wing type forwards but not a whole lot of muscle on the bench.  A strong effort on the boards from Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson might go a long way in this one. I would look for Mason to go strong to the basket as they did last night against Charlotte and continue to feed their post players.  The Wolfpack will rely heavily on forwards Richard Howell, DeShawn Painter, and Jordan Vandenberg in the front court, none of whom are stellar rebounders or have logged many minutes in their careers. Freshman forward C.J. Leslie is very versatile and could create match-up problems for the Patriots, so that is something to keep an eye on.

NC State's backcourt isn't their strength but have been led so far by Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown who possess speed and quickness. Andre Cornelius and Cam Long's defense will be tested here and Cornelius needs to stay out of foul trouble, they can't afford to have him on the bench for long in this one. The NC State blog Pack Insider mentions today that their transition defense hasn't been strong so far. This could be an area where the Patriots can take advantage if they set the pace and push the tempo.  If we continue to see points off turnovers things will be much easier for Mason.  However the Wolfpack, like Mason, have done a decent job holding onto the ball and steals could come at a premium tonight.  

Keys to tonight's game:

Scramble, scramble, scramble: The Patriots' tenacious effort on defense has looked great so far, but the key will be to keep it up against a team that matches their own athletic abilities. I don't expect them to continue to force as many turnovers but they need to turn the ones they do get into points.

Draw first blood:  NC State might be a bit out of sync without one of their starters and senior leader in Tracy Smith and it is important for Mason to again get out to an early lead. They have yet to trail this season in their first two games and early leads are very important in tournaments like this.  The team is confident now and they need to keep that going.

Push the tempo:  I mentioned that transition defense hasn't been the Wolfpack's strong area so look for the Patriots to push the ball up court with Andre Cornelius, Cam Long, and Luke Hancock.  

Rebounding: I'll probably be saying this all season, but they need to keep up on the boards. Morrison and Pearson will be key here and another strong offensive effort on the glass will go a long way in this one.


George Mason routs Charlotte to open the Charleston Classic

AP Photo/Mic Smith
There was not an area of the game last night where Mason didn't out play Charlotte.  Coach Larranaga's bread and butter; defense and rebounding, were just some of the main areas his Patriots excelled in on their way to a 78-56 win in their first game of the Charleston Classic.  The odds would have told you Mason had a slight edge in this one, but those odds must not have taken into account the Patriots' tenacity on defense. However offensively Luke Hancock was the star of the night for Mason scoring a career-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting. 15 of those 18 points came in the 2nd half where the Patriots just took over the Niners.  At one point Hancock had 11 straight points for Mason during a run that took the game out of reach for Charlotte. It's starting to become a recurring theme that the game isn't over until Hancock has an emphatic dunk in the closing minutes. Aside from Hancock's great effort, the Patriots again won the turnover battle by a wide margin (Mason 8, Charlotte 17) and dished our more assists (16) their opponent. Mike Morrison, who Larranaga says in the post game interview was humbled some by cramps, played a solid all around game coming 1 point and 1 rebound shy of a double-double.  Ryan Pearson came on strong in the 2nd half as he and Cam Long helped seal off the victory combining for 21 points.  Long just looks a lot more comfortable this season and is not trying to force as many ill-advised shots.  You can tell he and the other veterans on the team have much more confidence in the players surrounding them.  I believe Andre Cornelius would have had a bigger game if he wasn't whistled for some early ticky-tack fouls.  His aggression on defense though is making the scramble fun to watch as he turned all 3 of his steals into points on the other end.  Cornelius didn't shot as well last night but unlike last season the team can survive without him knocking down threes in the 2nd half.  

The game was similar to last Saturday's win against Harvard. The Patriots had a lead the entire first half but allowed their opponent to creep slowly back into it before the half ended.  However the Patriots were much more disciplined in this one and made very few mistakes. And if not for Charlotte's block party by center Phil Jones the momentum might never have left the Patriots' side. Another difference between this game and that one was the rebounding, the Patriots had the advantage here all night, especially on the offensive glass. The guards for Mason still outrebounded the forwards (Long 6, Tate 8) but Morrison still looked much more aggressive and gave the team a lot more second chance opportunities.

The Patriots get a huge test today at 6 pm as the face the ACC's NC State. The game will be televised on ESPNU and I will also most likely have a stream posted for those that need it on the site later today.

Post Game Interviews with Larranaga, Luke Hancock, and Cam Long:

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Game Day Links: George Mason vs Charlotte (Charleston Classic)

GoMason Blog has a video recap of the team's Wednesday night banquet in Charleston, complete with a motivational/motorcycle safety speech from Jay Williams:

TV/Game Time: 8:30 pm on MASN

Spread: Mason by 4

Free Video Stream: (might update later)

Audio Broadcast: Listen from your computer and from your smartphone

Game Notes

Statistical Breakdown

Previewing the Charleston Classic

Washington Post: Georgetown, George Mason head south for Charleston Classic

SB Nation DC's local hoops preview for tonight

CSNWashington: Hoyas, Mason set for Charleston Classic

Perspective on tonight's game from per TMB

Luke Hancock and Charlotte Niners forward Chris Braswell were teammates at Hargrave Military Academy Live Blog for tonight

Listen to Coach Larranaga on with the Junkies from 106.7 The Fan earlier this week

Commenter Alan on TMB found these video highlights from last Saturday's game against Harvard via Connect2Mason (interesting choice on voice for narration):

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Previewing the Charleston Classic

The Patriots are in Charleston preparing for tomorrow night's game against UNC Charlotte in the opening round of ESPN's Charleston Classic tournament. If the check the bracket, the Patriots will play either East Carolina or NC State on Friday night and still have the possibility of facing Georgetown on Sunday if they are victorious in their first two games or barring an upset. The field for this tournament is pretty good, you got the ACC and Big East represented and also a very solid NCAA tournament team from last season in Wofford. This will be a true early test for the Patriots on Thursday night and they will have to play much better than they did against Harvard.  Charlotte has not been playing at full strength in their first two games this season as forwards Shamari Spears, An'Juan Wildnerness, and Phil Jones have taken turns in suspensions already which left them with only six scholarship players on the court. This will be their first game where they are all playing together and that could mean they will be either out of sync or determined to make a strong comeback.  They have also had some players sidelined with injuries so their depth has taken a hit, something the Patriots can take advantage of with their scrambling defense attacking and pushing a the tempo of the game. But what exactly are the Patriots up against here?

Coaches Corner with Assistant Coach Mike Huger:

Both team are basically opposites when it comes to depth, Charlotte has it in the frontcourt and Patriots in the back court. The athletic Shamari Spears (6-6, 245), Chris Braswell (6-8, 235) and solid rebounder Phil Jones (6-10, 255) could give forwards Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson some trouble as the team has gotten to the free-throw line a lot already in their first two games.  Both Morrison and Pearson looked sloppy on defense last Saturday against Harvard, who basically had only one "big man" doing anything the entire game. Both the 49ers and Patriots have been out-rebounded this season so the edge in this category should mean a lot in the outcome.  The Patriots need to have Pearson and Morrison grabbing 10 rebounds, not Cam Long again.

For the two teams backcourt I'd give the edge to the Patriots if they can force turnovers again like they did last week.  Andre Cornelius was on another level at times and he could the 49er guards a lot of problems.  Meanwhile Cam Long and Luke Hancock will hopefully continue to keep things paced and set up opportunities for others. They will have to key in on shooter Jamar Briscoe who is a scoring threat and very accurate from behind the three-point line.  Both he and point guard Derrio Green will take a lot of shots and Mason's guards can't let them get too many open looks.  This is where I think the scrambling defense we saw a bit of last Saturday could really pay off against a team like Charlotte. Getting turnovers and keeping the ball out of the 49ers forward's hands will be key.

Sharing the ball:  Against Harvard Mason dished out 18 assists and sported another balanced attack on offense.  Last season the team only averaged around 12 assists a game so the improvement in this area speaks to the growth of this team. Cam Long and Luke Hancock need to keep this going.

Arledge and Williams:  Freshman Jonathan Arledge and sophomore Johnny Williams might be called upon again in this game if starters Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson get into early foul trouble again.  I'm not saying they could be x-factors off the bench but they could play an important role on defense on these tough 49er forwards.

Turnovers:  The Patriots forced a lot of turnovers last week but they also had their fair share of them. Ryan Pearson and Cam Long had 8 of them together and you can't have that happen from your leaders. They aren't going to force 24 in this game but let's hope we see the same type of energy on defense for the whole season.

A Charlotte Blogger's Perspective: TheMasonBench had an exchange with a Charlotte 49er hoops blogger who seems wildly optimistic about his teams chances tomorrow night.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Listen to Coach Larranaga on the Junkies 106.7 The Fan today

George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga went on and talked to the Junkies today from 106.7 The Fan DC. He talks about the Charleston Classic, this year's team and the rest of the CAA while the Junkies try to get him to bad mouth Towson head coach Pat Kennedy.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

George Mason's quick defense takes down Harvard

Early on in this game yesterday you could tell it was opening day for both squads.  Turnovers and fouls were abundant and easy lay-ups were just not falling. The Patriots played a much more aggressive 2nd half and used their quick defensive players to secure a 66-53 victory over the Crimson.  Luke Hancock led the Patriots in scoring with 14 while Ryan Pearson had 13, most of which came on the Patriots run in the 2nd half. Cam Long was the game MVP though as he collected 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists.  You can already tell the difference in his confidence between this season and last year. The team had 18 assists including a behind the back pass from Mike Morrison to Vertrail Vaughns late in the 2nd half.  Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson however were limited in the 1st half due to early foul trouble and that forced freshman Jonathan Arledge to play 13 minutes and Johnny Williams to get some action despite still nursing an injured shoulder (still was wearing a shoulder brace).  

The Patriots brought the intensity in the 2nd half and used a 14-0 run to build a lead and never look back. During the run Andre Cornelius had back-to-back steals that he converted into lay-ups with ease. The team also had 7 blocks in the game including Isaiah Tate blocking consecutive three-point attempts and Mike Morrison nearly getting two hands on one of his.  Larranaga did have them using the scramble defense at times and it was obvious with the number of turnovers they were forcing.  Overall they just looked a lot more quick and athletic than the Crimson who didn't really have much offense to speak of outside of forward Keith Wright. The Patriots did a good job protecting the perimeter and not giving Harvard too many open three-point looks.  

Below is the post game from Coach Larranaga. should have the full post game including Luke Hancock and Cam Long.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Game Day Links: George Mason vs Harvard

Friday, November 12, 2010

Coaches Corner: Eric Konkol gives a coach's perspective on tomorrow's game

The voice of the Patriots Bill Rohland sat down with assistant coach Eric Konkol recently. They discuss the game tomorrow against Harvard and how the team played in the exhibition against Bowie St last week. At the end he also talks about freshmen Jonathan Arledge and Bryon Allen and Mason recruits Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray.

[Video from George Mason athletics]

Also, just posted information on how to watch and listen to the game tomorrow.

The GoMason Mobile app itself doesn't appear to be in app stores yet but you can point your smartphone mobile browser to the radio broadcast tomorrow by going to on your iPhone, Blackberry or Android, or any phone with internet access. Not sure if this is just a temporary "webapp" or if this in fact is the official app.

UPDATE: It's available in the Android Market now. Still waiting for it show up in iTunes.


Previewing the season opener against Harvard

Oliver McNally
The season officially gets underway this tomorrow at 4pm as George Mason hosts Harvard. We have talked about this year's George Mason squad in detail already, now it's time to see what they are up against. Harvard was picked to finish 2nd in the Ivy this year despite losing their best player from last season Jeremy Lin (now in the NBA on the Golden State Warriors). Cornell's tournament run last season and then Lin making an NBA roster gives the Ivy league some respect around the NCAA and proves they have teams that can be just as dangerous as other quality mid-majors. The Crimson got a taste for the post season last year in the tournament and will be wanting to build off that.  

However, Harvard won't be at full strength this Saturday against Mason as their reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Kyle Casey is injured with a broken foot. He most likely won't return until December for the Crimson which will leave the team's front court a little thin.  With Casey out the team will be relying heavily on guards Oliver McNally and Brandyn Curry, both of which had a few games last season in which they led in scoring.  Both are also very good three-point shooters so let's hope the Patriots' perimeter defense has improved.  The Crimson's guards are not huge playmakers but they do have the ability to make Mason pay if they get sloppy on defense.

The Crimson's front court is a different story.  The absence of Kyle Casey leaves them with no depth up front leaving junior Andrew Van Nest having to start alongside center Keith Wright.  Wright was hobbled by injuries all last season and Van Nest struggles with his interior defense. Forwards Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson should not have trouble scoring down low. Mason should be able to take advantage enough here to give their guards plenty of open looks.  

I don't think the Patriots will have trouble with the Crimson if they cover the perimeter well. However no lead is safe when a team can stroke the three from four different players on the court at any time.  I don't doubt Mason's ability to score points in this one but I am curious to see if the team's defense has improved over last season.  Not saying we will see the scramble defense in full force but look to see Larranaga be more aggressive since he will have the better athletes on the court.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mike Morrison will be a big factor in George Mason's success this season

Although Cam Long continues to get the preseason press clippings, I feel Mike Morrison will most likely end being just as big of a factor this season for the Patriots. Jake Whitacre of SB Nation will agree with me on this one. It's often difficult for mid-major teams to find tough inside players to battle with the big boys and Morrison's improvement over last season could give the Patriots a much improved inside prescence in the CAA.  Ryan Pearson is a consistent scoring threat at forward but he's still undersized for the position.  Morrison becoming a terror in the middle only helps Pearson's game while also giving plenty of scoring chances for the team's stellar guards.  Larranaga's best teams always had strong forwards/centers, think George Evans, Jesse Young, Jai Lewis, and Will Thomas.  All those guys were coached up by Larranaga into low post machines, except maybe for Evans who was just a flat out beast. But can Morrison get to the same level as those guys? I think so.

Morrison will benefit from being surrounded by a lot of talent this season, talent that also won't be going though as much growing pains. The reason why Morrison's improvement will be so important this season is that it will strengthen a weak area for the Patriots.  While him and Pearson certainly didn't have awful years last season, they did have games where they got abused by better big men in and out of the CAA.  The game against Radford was probably the most telling as the Highlanders scored at will inside all game long.  Larry Sanders (VCU), Gerald Lee (ODU), and Nkem Ojougboh (NU) are just some of the forwards in the CAA that gave the Patriots trouble last year, however they are gone now.  As a whole I don't think the CAA is as deep at the forward position this season,  which opens the door for Morrison. 

Free-throw shooting will probably still be an issue this season for him and he will still need to learn how to stay in games longer by not getting into foul trouble.  This is where it's obvious how important he will be to the team's success frankly because the group just isn't that deep at forward.  If Morrison gets into early foul trouble the team won't have the benefit of subbing in a senior at that position like with Louis Birdsong last year.  While working on those areas, he should be a much improved rebounder and defender this season without a doubt.  His rebounding will play a large part in letting others take more three-point attempts, something Coach Larranaga wants to see.  I think fans will be very pleased by his offseason work ethic and how he will be more aggressive in the middle this year.

[Photo Credit: George Mason Athletics]


Video and Pictures from Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray's Signing Day

Photo via NY Post
Yesterday Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray signed their national letters of intent pledging their commitment officially to George Mason.  The GoMason blog has a great "behind the scenes" look at the recruiting process that took place in order to get these guys to commit to the green and gold. Also, the NY Post also has a story up this morning talking about Corey Edwards and other Christ the King players who signed yesterday. We talked about how Corey Edwards could be the old school type of point guard that Larranaga covets and how Vaughn Gray's versatility will be big asset for the Patriots.

Photo via Rivals
                                                             Vaughn Gray

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

GW already hyping The Battle of the Orange Line Part II

Got to love the marketing machine at George Washington university. They have fired up attention to their whole site again this year and look to take the "rivalry" to new heights. Last season I stirred the pot before that game and I really want to help keep this "Battle of the Orange line" slogan going. Of course as you remember the Patriots didn't quite show up that day and by this I mean literally because Ryan Pearson and Andre Cornelius were suspended. As a result Mason got a beating, and I'd think there is a bit of a revenge factor going into the game this season.

I am wondering if the Mason marketing department will be doing anything like this considering the game is at the Patriot Center this year.  GW did an excellent job last season packing their arena for this game and I think Mason would be missing out big time if they didn't put some marketing dollars into it as well.  Fans at Mason aren't used to having a local rival so why not try to sell the idea as GW has done. If they make the game a true event for students and fans I don't doubt the place will be packed.  

This year we have a Mascot training camp video complete with workout music from Rocky IV:

This is a game I am very much looking forward to as it is against a local foe and will merit getting to hold on to some bragging rights for the season.  It's a shame this game is not on a Saturday but I still believe the Patriot Center will be packed.

Let the trash talk begin.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

2006 Final Four team to be honored with bobbleheads

George Mason released their promotional schedule today and this season they will be honoring the 2006 Final Four team with bobbleheads of the starting five from that season. I think Mason fans have been waiting for something like this as the five year anniversary of this team's memorable run is approaching. Personally I think the Tony Skinn bobblehead is closest in resemblance.    

Here's the dates they will be available:

December 1: Folarin Campbell
December 4: Tony Skinn
January 15: Jai Lewis
February 5: Lamar Butler
February 12: Will Thomas

Update 11/10:

A lot of people have been emailing me asking if the school will be selling the bobbleheads, here is what I found out.

The bobbleheads themselves won't be for sale individually but I've been told by the university that they will have a few complete sets available for auction on later this season.

[Pictures via]

Monday, November 08, 2010

Coach Larranaga's Interview on NBC4

Jim Larranaga had a short interview with NBC4's Hakem Dermish today. Not really all that much to see here but I wanted to post it for people that may have missed it.

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Monday Links

We are less than a week away from the team's home opener against Harvard, so keep an eye out for the GoMason Mobile app due out this week. The school says they were guaranteed it will be ready before Saturday's game.

  • John Feinstein shares his thoughts on the local DC area teams [Washington Post]
  • has a predictions for the NCAA tournament already, they have Mason in one of the play-in games for the #12 seeds in the new format [Yahoo Sports/Rivals]
  • The game against Dayton on December 29th has been picked up by Fox Sports Ohio, which means it will be available to Direct TV subscriber and could be picked up by MASN for local fans here [Dayton Daily News]

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Bowie State Post Game

Post game interviews with Coach Larranaga and Cam Long after last night's 113-76 victory over Bowie State:

Here are some observations I have from last night's game:

  • Mike Morrison looked very aggressive in the post and as Coach L stated in the post game he's added some new "weapons" to his game.  In the early going of this one, it seemed as the team was looking to initially feed him in the post as the first option.
  • Bryon Allen certainly didn't look like a freshman out there, I'm eager to see how he fares against DI players but it's still worth noting the quickness he has for his size. He cut to the basket often while also going 3-for-4 from the three-point line. His passing was more impressive than I had thought, especially when he gets close to the basket.  
  • The whole point guard by committee idea seemed to be in full effect. Cam Long, Andre Cornelius, and Bryon Allen all had times where they were bringing the ball up. However Cam seemed to be handling the duties the most when he was on the floor but also spent a lot of time at the 2-guard position. This is something to keep an eye as during the first few games of the season.
  • Luke Hancock has definitely been working on his three-point shot and while he didn't quite light it up from there he took more early attempts than we are used to seeing from him.  Hancock should be filling that role of consistent outside shooter which the team lacked last year.
  • Just a hunch but Paris Bennett might be used more in the front court this season than most would have thought.  He entered the game last night before Johnny Williams, played more minutes, and did a good job rebounding the ball.  I would have thought the opposite but perhaps there is an issue with Williams we just aren't aware of.  I will say that I noticed last season that Williams is not really all that assertive in the paint and I think the coaching staff would love to see him use his big body to establish himself more. They need rebounding in the front court off the bench and whether they can consistently get that from Bennett and Williams remains to be seen.
  • Jonathan Arledge looked decent out there. Wasn't caught out of position much and only had one foul. He's got good defensive instincts to go along with his long arms which should give the team help in the middle when Morrison is on the bench. 

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

George Mason vs Bowie State Live Blog

The day has finally arrived, George Mason basketball begins again.  For some reason they are charging fans for tonight's game ($16) so I don't expect many to be in attendance besides a few students and season ticket holders. They won't be a video stream available anywhere for this one and since the GoMason Mobile app has been released yet I'm assuming no radio broadcast. However, I'll be live blogging from the sidelines again tonight so check back here at about 6:45 pm to join in on the chat as we dissect this year's squad.

If your at the game or not by a computer to you can also join in on the live blog and chat via twitter by sending me a tweet @gmuhoops or by using the hashtags #gmuhoops, #gmu, or #mason.

What to look for in the Bowie State exhibition tonight

Some notes on tonight:

Starters for tonight: Andre Cornelius, Cam Long, Isaiah Tate, Luke Hancock and Mike Morrison

Ryan Pearson is out with a sprained big toe per GoMason Blog

Also from the GoMason blog, a walk-on has made the team: Thomas Armistead 6'6" freshman from Clover Hill High School. Armistead played center for his high school team.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What to look for in the Bowie St. exhibition tomorrow

Tomorrow night the season get's started, so to speak, with the Patriots holding an exhibition against division II Bowie State. They are a team made up of mostly Baltimore talent and were picked to finish 2nd in their division for this upcoming season so this another strong DII school like Virginia State was last year.  

But who the team is playing really isn't that important, an exhibition like this is set up to get some of that off season rust off, much like the scrimmage against Richmond this past weekend. It's also a time when the coaching staff can get a better look at the young players on the team and see where they are in their development.  In last year's exhibition against Virginia State all but three players got at least 10 minutes of action. Some of the starters will play about 20 minutes or so, with most of those minutes coming in the first half.  

A couple things to look for tomorrow night:
  • Coach Larranaga said Mike Morrison has been working hard this off season and could be the team's most improved player from last season. Look to see if he is more aggressive inside and if the team is involving him more in the offense early on.  And let's not forget free-throw shooting.
  • Who starts off the game running the point? At media day Larranaga made it pretty clear the position was up for grabs and I'm curious to see if Bryon Allen gets some time there early in the 1st half.
  • Will we see the scramble offense return? Before last season started I asked this very same question and despite the young talent on the roster we didn't see Larranaga unleash it last season as Michael Litos reminds us. Putting maximum pressure on the ball-handler and stopping penetration is key for this and is largely why Andre Cornelius was taken out of games last season. Will he get it done this year or will someone else step up?
  • What is Luke Hancock's role for this upcoming season? Last year he was mostly the team's sixth man but started the last three games of the season in place of Isaiah Tate.  Tate is now a senior but I still don't see how Larranaga can not continue to start Hancock, he's just too good and still has room to develop.  With the point guard situation what it is Hancock will continue to get minutes because he can handle the ball well.
  • And lastly let's hope to see the start of Cam Long not trying to do too much as he should get more support this season. And unlike the beginning of last year everyone on the team knows their role and with the identity squared away this will help Cam to be more steady and calm.  


Monday, November 01, 2010

Results from Saturday's scrimmage against Richmond

Jeff Goodman from Fox Sports had a few words about Saturday's scrimmage (so no online betting odds my friends) between George Mason and Richmond:
BEST PLAYER ON THE COURT: Richmond’s Kevin Anderson
- Andre Cornelius made shots for George Mason and freshman Jon Arledge was tough on the glass."
Ok it's not much but both Paris Bennett and Ryan Pearson revealed through social media outlets that the team "won" the scrimmage.  Yeah it's just a scrimmage and they could have been conditions we don't know about but it's nice to hear good things about the freshmen, especially Arledge and his rebounding.  We'll get a much more in depth look at the freshmen and the rest of the team this Wednesday night.

Homecoming game will be February 5th against ODU

Photo by John Tatum
Mason released the date of this year's homecoming game on their single ticket sales page today, February 5th against ODU. Finally the game is not a bracketbuster game and against an actual CAA opponent. Also you have to love this selection because it's against projected CAA champ ODU and the game could very well have implications for the top of the league standings. This game being on homecoming ensures a great crowd and loud atmosphere for what should be an important conference game for the Patriots. Also the 2 pm start is much better than the 8pm tip-off we had at last year's homecoming festivities.  


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