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

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

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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a good defensive effort. Against superior athletes, the swarming defense we saw against Harvard disappeared. Only Vaughans, maybe, is a decent defender on the perimeter. Pearson and Morrison are not effective defensive rebounders.

Without the easy baskets generated by the defense and forced to play in the half court, Mason looked poorly coached. No movement, no patience. Of course, the absence of a poised point guard doesn't help. Will Allen be the man? Vaughans?

Pearson and Morrison have yet to master simple, effective moves around the basket. Not enough time working on their positioning and footwork. Given a chance to play, you have to wonder whether Williams or Arledge would do better. Williams is not playing with much confidence and is not nearly as quick as Morrison, but his basketball instincts are much better. He knows what he can do and can't do.

Part of the problem against good teams is that Mason lacks balance in the starting lineup. Long and Cornelius are the same player -- shooting guards better on offense than on defense. Similarly Pearson and Morrison are the same player -- big forwards, with good offensive moves and not much else. You have to wonder whether inserting Williams or Arledge in the front court and Allen or Vaughans in the backcourt would be an improvement. We shall see.

12:23 PM  
Blogger's good for you. said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for mentioning the substitutions in the 2nd half. I was yelling at the TV during that N.C. State run, wondering why Larranaga wasn't getting the regulars back into the game. We lost a big opportunity for a major non-conference win last night.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe someday we will realize that the Final Four run was a fluke and that Larranaga is not all that great of a coach. I do not want to see another season of him battling his players with game suspensions and benching. There has to be a better way to motivate and teach.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People tend to look at this game as potential ticket to an at large bid, the truth is this game will mean nothing if we dont do well in Conference games. The only way to guarantee a spot in the NCAA tournament is winning the CAA tournament. I totally support what Larranaga is doing which is preparing and developing the young guys for big games comes the CAA tournament. I'm not trying to discredit the quality of our CAA teams, but let's face it, the chances of a conference like CAA getting multiple bids year in and year out is not and has not been very good.

9:48 PM  
Blogger mooky_l3d said...

I enjoyed the game with the Patriots fighting back, taking the lead only to see them lose it again. This game was truly a roller coaster game that Coach L talked about so much last year(most of those were straight down hill). I really wasn't expecting any fight when things weren't going Mason's way. Hancock and Cam were impressive. I was dissappointed by the lack of everything in the 2nd half. This should have and could have been a big win for Mason. Has to get better than this and play as a team!!!

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im sick of watching this team play and its only 4 games into the season. I love the players but can't stand watching a Larranaga coached team anymore. He has no clue how to make changes during the course of a game and is constantly outcoached. The Final 4 run was great..but had nothing to do with Larranaga, we just made shots at clutch moments. He is soo hard headed and will not let the team play the style they like. Our glory days will be behind us if O'Conner doesn't make a coaching change. Kids will not want to come play for Larranaga. We can have someone come off the bench and play well..he takes him out and doesn't let him back in the rest of the game. Just look back to last year..Kevin Foster gets a start because Morrison is suspended and plays well, then barely sees the court the next game and then he Transfers. I can guarentee you that Johnny Williams will transfer after this semester or season and wherever he goes will light it up. It is so frustrating to watch us bring in soo much talent and it goes to waiste because these kids don't have a coach.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Williams isn't playing much because he's still nursing a shoulder injury. Geez.

8:52 PM  

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