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

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

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.



Anonymous Kyle said...

I see you and I are on the same page. Not mentioning free throw shooting. While I think FT's could very easily make the difference in a game like this, I can't expect Mason to benefit from that.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I'm at the point now where I am accepting the fact that they probably just aren't going to improve much in that area Kyle. It never really got better last season.

1:51 PM  
Blogger C Hirsch said...

We haven't been good at free throws since I started closely following the team as a Freshman in 2001.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

Thats exactly what I'm saying, Ryan. Oh well, every team has their strengths and weaknesses.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the problem with free throws is that several of the players (especially Ryan Pearson & Mike Morrisson) don't have a very fluid shooting stroke. It's almost like you're surprised they go in at all. Their trajectory is flat and they have little spin or softness on their shot and if you look closely they also don't really hold their follow-through (especially Isaiah Tate). Some of this could definitely be worked on.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

larranaga did a terrible job with subs in the 2nd half. the starters were playing so well. and then he takes out long and hancock, then he refuses to play mike mo. boom, all of a sudden the game is out of reach.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vaughs, Alderage and Allen all played like crap today against a talented squad and that's why we lost. Period.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

For the past two seasons, I have watched Larranaga take out players who were playing well or bench starters for no apparent reason to then watch the game fall apart. Very frustrating...

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hancock's defense was terrible even in the zone. Cam needed a rest. Unfortunately, not as long a rest as Larranaga gave him. Ryan and Mike should have played more in 1st and 2nd half. Larranaga plays it MUCH TOO SAFE consequently, there is no fire in the bellies of these players

10:38 AM  

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