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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: February 2010

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Northeastern's Allen uses charity to lift Huskies over Mason



Don't really think I am talking like a blind homer when I say that Northeastern cashed in on some charity in order to avoid overtime and get the 50-48 win over George Mason yesterday. I was sitting right behind the Northeastern radio team on press row and they also did not believe it was a foul on Chaisson Allen in those final seconds. It happened right in front us, maybe a mere 20 feet away or so. Right before that, as you can see in the video, Mike Morrison was looked to be clearly fouled on his put back dunk that would have given Mason the lead. The inconsistent officiating was very questionable and played too a big a part in this one. However, we also witnessed right in front us Matt Janning hitting a dagger three-pointer that was well beyond the NBA three-point line. I don't like to blame referees for a team's loss and I am not, it's just an unfortunate turn of events for the game to end. Also, as a Mason fan you have to be a little discouraged that we are now on a three-game home losing streak for only the second time in Coach L's tenure, of which the last two games were arguably decided by the referees. The game should have went into overtime and everyone knew that.

Aside from what happened late in this game, the Patriots had their chances to win this one. Like for one, why did Luke Hancock handle that last possession? Whether Cam Long or Andre Cornelius are having an off day or not I want the ball in their hands or even Ryan Pearson for that matter. The first half was riddled with turnovers that prevented them from adding to their lead and getting any separation from the Huskies. Northeastern's defense was suffocating at times and guards Andre Cornelius and Cam Long ever got into a rhythm. Both finished with a combined 8 points, while Northeastern's Matt Janning finished with 18, most of which in the 2nd half. Northeastern was keying in on Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison early, clogging up the paint and forcing the Patriots to beat them with outside shots, which they couldn't.

Notice how Mason had the advantage in four factors of winning but let the turnover margin and other intangibles ruin them.



Sherrod Wright looked unstoppable for a stretch in the 1st half, handing down two back to back posterizing dunks on the Huskies' front court, both resulting in 'and one' situations. He helped the Patriots shoot 50% from the field in the second half but I didn't really see the team running screens for him and that's head scratching. Wright probably has the most raw talent at the guard spot for Mason and you have to wonder if Larranaga took enough of an advantage of it this season.

Now Mason finds itself a #4 seed in the CAA tournament next week and after the 1st round bye will play the winner of VCU-Delaware Saturday at 2:30 pm.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Live Blog and Game Day Links: George Mason vs Northeastern



Add your comments to the live blog by using Twitter hashtags: #CAA #gmuhoops

TV: Noon ESPN2, ESPN360

Free Live Video Stream

Radio Stream: 570 AM

Previewing the regular season finale against Northeastern

Live Stats

Game Notes


Statistical Breakdown

Spread: George Mason 2.5 underdog

Senior day for Louis Birdsong

George Mason's Louis Birdsong making the most of his senior season

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Louis Birdsong to be honored Saturday

Louis Birdsong, the lone senior for Mason this season, will be honored tomorrow as he will play his last home game as a Patriot. His was highly touted coming to George Mason in 2006 after he was named the Baltimore Sun's player of the year during a high school season in which his team was ranked nationally #5 by USA Today. I always thought Birdsong could have been so much more of an impact player here but was held back by being a tweener in terms of true position. At 6-6, he often went up against much bigger forwards and struggled to provide interior rebounding and low post scoring. He was athletic enough to defend against guards when he had to and hit the outside shot but you could tell that was never really his game. The coaching staff this season asked him to play a small forward roll and it didn't work out which eventually led him back to front court rotation. His best games this season were when he was playing at the power forward spot.





Despite having a drop off this season he actually will finish at Mason with impressive career stats:

-5th all-time in school history in blocked shots with 97

-5th all-time in school history in career games played at 125

-Shot over 49% from the field for his career



[Photo credit: Flickr Off Wing Opinion]

Previewing the regular season finale against Northeastern

Luckily for Mason, this game won't determine whether or not they get a first round bye in the CAA tournament next week. They have already locked that up and will either be a #3 or #4 seed depending on what happens this Saturday. Was able to get media credentials for this one and I'll be on the sidelines so join in on the chat and live blog if you can. I can already tell that Larranaga isn't going to play his starters as much as we have seen because in the game notes released today the probable starters read: Cam Long, Andre Cornelius, Luke Hancock, and Louis Birdsong. But then again it could be this way because Isaiah Tate has been struggling and Ryan Pearson was still showing a banged up hand against Charleston last Saturday. Let's forget it's senior day for Birdsong and his start is probably just because it's his last home game. Playing for a #3 or #4 seed might not seem like much motivation for these guys but they don't want to end the regular season on a three-game home losing streak. And I think they wouldn't mind keeping Northeastern from the #1 seed after the drubbing they received in Boston earlier this year.

Northeastern has been slipping a little lately much like the Patriots and have lost three of their last four. This will still be another difficult home game for Mason and I hope they come out with more intensity then they did during their 71-46 loss to them back in January. In that game Mason came out flat and could not make a shot while also having no answer for the Huskie's Chaisson Allen, who might be the most underrated player in the CAA. Also in that game the Patriots only got to the foul line for four foul shots, which is amazing compared to how often they have got there all season. To win this game on Saturday Mason will have to get strong guard play, especially from Andre Cornelius. They actually rebound better than the Huskies but they don't necessary shoot the ball better. Turnovers were an issue last time they played and the Patriots haven't been winning the turnover battle in recent games. This is where the guard play is very important as the Huskies protect the ball well. Speaking of guard play, it will be essential for Mason to have strong play from there if they want to win any games in the CAA tournament so if we don't see it tomorrow I doubt we will in Richmond.

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Mason coaching staff in attendance at Jonathan Arledge's big game

Last night Jim Larranaga and his staff were in attendance to watch Mason recruit Jonathan Arledge's KIMA squad take on Friendship Collegiate. KIMA lost in an overtime thriller 81-74, but Arledge's line was 22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.

[Photo credit Washington Post]

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Counting down the Top 50 Plays of the Decade for George Mason Basketball (20-11)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Join us this Saturday, we will be Live Blogging from the sidelines

This Saturday we will be live blogging from the sidelines for Mason vs Northeastern to give you a more in-depth look. Anyone can join in on the live conversation to either cheer on Mason, bash Mason, or simply just make fun of me. If your at the game or not at a computer while watching this Saturday you will be able to follow along in a number of different ways. Coveritlive.com has a great mobile site that will work on any smartphone and there is also an iPhone app for Coveritlive in the app store. You can also join in on the conversation via Twitter by using CAA or Mason related hashtags such as #CAA or #Mason. Contact me with any questions on how to join in or if you want your twitter posts included in the chat/live blogging. Also, I will try to add as many live pictures and video as I can.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

George Mason survives Delaware and gets some help to secure a top 4 seed

Another road game for the Patriots that could have ended ugly but the team had a few bounces go their way and escaped Delaware with a 61-59 win. The win tonight, coupled with losses by William & Mary and Drexel secure the Patriots a top 4 seed and thus avoiding the Friday games in the CAA tournament. Mason can earn the #3 seed with a win over Northeastern this Saturday or with a William & Mary loss. The win over the Blue Hens was ugly and again the Patriots struggled from the free-throw line despite getting many opportunities. They were so bad from there (53%) that they nearly lost their small lead several times late in the second half. The team got what it needed from Cam Long and Andre Cornelius who both started off the game strong. Mike Morrison looked a little rusty while Kevin Foster and Johnny Williams were invisible. Sherrod Wright scored 8 of his 10 points in the second half and gave Mason the late spark it needed. Ryan Pearson's inside game was needed a bit more but he was strong on the boards.

The Patriots nearly gave the game away with numerous early turnovers, fouls, and poor defense on Delaware's best player Jawan Carter. The second half defense on Carter was much better and it allowed Mason to go on a few runs to establish a lead. The on going problem however is the poor free-throw shooting which is still a big concern. How can we expect this team to beat anyone in the conference tournament when they leave this many points on the table? Those missed opportunities have been killing the Patriots' tempo and it keeps allowing weaker opponents to hang around late in the game.

I hate to say Mason was lucky in this game but let's face it, they were. Luck or not they find themselves in a comfortable position after losing 5 of 6 games. Now with Morrison back the team at least has another game to get back into a rhythm before the conference tournament. I still don't think it's crazy to say this team could go on a run and do some damage in the CAA tournament because they been so up and down the whole year it's nearly impossible to predict anymore of their outcomes.

Notice how from the statsheet.com chart how frequently they got to the free-throw line and didn't take advantage:

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Tony Skinn still doing his thing in Italy

Tony Skinn, one of the members of the 2006 Final Four team, is still wooing the crowds with his showtime/NBA Jam type moves. Skinn now plays in Italy for Carmatic Pistoia.


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Game Day links: George Mason at Delaware

TV: None

Free Live Video Stream

Radio Link 570 AM

Live Stats

Game Notes

Spread: George Mason 3.5 favorite

Statistical Breakdown

February hasn't been a good month for Mason, they are 1-5 and are giving up 9 more points per game this month than they did in January in which they went 9-1. They are playing for a chance to still be in the top 4 of the CAA with these next too games. With Northeastern's loss last night to Hofstra they still have a chance to get the #3 seed in the conference tournament by winning these last 2 games and also they would need William & Mary to lose one of their last two. Another scenario would be both Drexel and William & Mary losing their last two, in that instance Mason would only have to win one of these last two, unlikely. Bottom line, Mason can clinch a top 4 seed and a first round bye in the CAA tournament by winning their last two games.

Let's not forget this is still a road game for Mason and despite Delaware having nothing to play for, the Patriots will still have play better than what we have seen recently. Defensively, the Patriots get a break because Delaware this season has been the worst in the conference in field goal percentage. What I worry about is Mason getting into another scoring slump on the road which we have seen recently. Some of the young players have really stepped up in these past few games despite the Patriots falling short. Guys like Kevin Foster and Johnny Williams will need to contribute in this one again but the real question is will Cam Long, Andre Cornelius, and Ryan Pearson do the same? The return of Mike Morrison to the starting lineup will no doubt provide a spark as I am sure he's been itching to help out this struggling squad. Hopefully Morrison's return will also ignite the Patriots back into a more up-tempo style we saw in January. Also, with Rashad Whack now back the Patriots add more depth to their bench would could be a big deal if they get an early lead in this one and want to rest guys for Saturday's home finale showdown against Northeastern.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

George Mason basketball goes as Cam Long goes

The numbers just don't lie. During Mason's seven-game winning streak in January Cam Long was averaging over 19 points a game with a lot of those points coming in the 2nd half. Currently the Patriots are losers of five of their last six and during those five losses Long has averaged 7.4 points a game. The correlation between Long's performances and the losses are not a surprise and it highlights the fact that this team needs stability from the few veterans players it has. Mason is just a better team when Long is the leading scorer and the problem is other teams have discovered this as well. After he overcame the problems with cramps and the switch from the point to a more of a shooting guard role you would that thought he would only be getting better and so would the Patriots. The argument can be made that the Patriots did overachieve earlier this season and that seven-game win streak came against most of the bottom of the CAA but haven't we made enough excuses for this team already? Some great performances by freshmen guys have some hidden the fact that this just might not be a top four team in the CAA currently and they have a ways to go before they are. The current losing cannot be blamed solely on Cam Long and perhaps the pressure and fatigue of often having to shoulder the scoring load has gotten to him. When they have been behind in a games this season they have rarely fought back without Long leading the charge. The team seems to have a more up beat tempo when he's scoring points and lately we have seen a slower paced team struggling with half-court sets on offense. Something needs to change because Mason is limping into the CAA tournament at a time when you hope your team is getting hot.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Replay of the late offensive foul on Pearson, charge or block?

Seem like the refs got the call right:

video

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Mason can't close out Charleston, lose third straight

George Mason has now dropped five of six after last night's 85-83 loss against College of Charleston. The game ended on a bad call against Ryan Pearson after his basket that would have tied the game with a few seconds remaining was disallowed because of an offensive foul. Say what you want to about if it was a bad call or not because it wasn't the reason Mason lost and both coaches believed it was in fact a charge. If you want to find something to blame this loss on you can start with the free-throw shooting where they were 14 of 25 in the 2nd half and at one point missed 7 straight. They got a lot of chances at the foul line but just couldn't capitalize and it killed them late. The Patriots did however defend the perimeter better and didn't allow any of the sharp shooting guards to bury them in the second half. However the missed opportunities at the free throw line and some breakdowns on defense killed Mason late in the game. Rebounding was not an issue for Mason even after losing Pearson for a stretch in the 2nd half due to a rolled ankle. In the end Charleston just had better weapons on offense and more options.

We saw a career night for Johnny Williams who finished with 18 but also saw for a third straight game Cam Long held below his scoring average. The problem for the Patriots was that as they keep getting these types of performances from the freshmen they aren't getting consistent play from their veterans. Freshmen Luke Hancock, Johnny Williams, Kevin Foster and Sherrod Wright combined for 53 points and 21 rebounds. After games like this you can say the future is bright but it still leaves a question of when these guys will finally gel and play well as a team.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gameday Links: George Mason vs College of Charleston

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homecoming, Bracketbusters, and the CAA tournament

I am sure I am not the only one who, from a basketball sense, isn't too excited about Saturday's game against College of Charleston. The homecoming tailgating, drinking for 8 hours and being in a sell-out crowd at the Patriot Center are things I am looking forward to but now after how this season has unfolded we have a basically meaningless game right in the middle of an important stretch run to the conference tournament. Maybe it is just the fact that ESPN Bracketbusters could be so much more, like involving the BCS conferences. Yeah that won't happen. However, I love the fact that the Patriots get another ESPN2 game, that does wonders for recruiting, but how exactly will Mason approach this game? Charleston isn't going to be considered for an at-large either but they are 1st in their conference and want to keep their winning streak going. Will Patriots rest certain guys, like Ryan Pearson with the banged up thumb and probably Rashad Whack who has not returned since dislocated his shoulder? The game notes show Cornelius, Long, Tate, Pearson, and "TBA". Kevin Foster and Louis Birdsong will most likely fill this "TBA" and get a lot of minutes in this one while Luke Hancock will probably also get around 30 minutes. But if they limit guys like Pearson they will not be left with much on the bench and I don't think you want your best guys to not be fresh with two CAA remaining they will determine whether or not they are playing a Friday game in the conference tournament. I am curious to see Larranaga's strategy in this one.

The Patriots enter this game having lost four of their last five while Charleston has won five of their last six. The Cougars are a very similar team to William & Mary, they shoot the ball very well and don't commit many turnovers. At times they can be deadly from behind the three-point line, currently they are ranked third in the nation in three-pointers made. Their star player Andrew Goudelock has been shooting about 40% from there on the year and they have two other players shooting over 38%. As a team they average over 25 three-point attempts a game, so once again the Patriots weak perimeter defense will be put to the test. Mason is a slightly better rebounding team believe it or not and does a better job getting to the free-throw line. If they can take advantage in those two areas and weather the early storm of three-pointers they can win this one.

ESPN broadcasters will gush over the head coaches relationship, they go way back, so be prepared if your watching this one from home.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Larranaga's play basketball with Obama in Presidential pick-up game












Jim Larranaga's sons Jon and Jay got a chance to play some basketball with President Obama at the For McNair this past weekend. Both sons played under their Dad in Divison I, Jon played at George Mason and Jay at Bowling Green. I originally saw a tweet from Bob Larranaga, talking about his nephews and didn't know if it was true until Steven Goff and Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post confirmed it:
"Anyhow, the guys were playing full-court five-on-five, games to 21, by twos and threes. After the first loss, the Larranagas, Obama and friends rattled off four straight wins, with the president hitting a game-winning jumper from just past the free-throw line in the final game. Obama gave all his teammates high fives, made a crack about the losing team and posed for photos with both teams. Jon described the experience as "awesome," and said he absolutely would accept a second invitation."


[picture via @CoachKonkol]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview with recruit Jonathan Arledge and why he committed to play at George Mason

Mason's home dominance against the CAA comes to an end

It was an important game for the Patriots, a win would have locked up a top 4 spot in the conference standings and guarantee them not playing on Friday of the conference tournament. Unfortunately Mason lost 63-60 to the Tribe at home for only the second time this season and had their home winning streak against CAA opponents snapped at 18. This time they weren't battling back from a deficit and had the lead for most of the game. Kevin Foster had a career night, 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks in Mike Morrison's absence but the only problem was he received little help from the rest of the squad. Foster, who by my count has 5 DNPs this season, was aggressive in the front court and helped the Patriots mount an early lead despite not getting much from their top 2 scorers, Cam Long and Ryan Pearson. Long was just plain awful in a high stakes game for Mason as he missed all 6 shots from the field and finished with three points off some late free-throws. Larranaga tries to blame it on late season fatigue:
"There's nothing you can really do when every game is so important: Your best players have to be out there," he said. "They both were less aggressive with the ball than they are normally."
Didn't seem to be much fatigue in the first half when the Patriots were forcing turnovers and getting easy lay-ups off fast breaks. William & Mary however was just a relentless team that never gave up. They were unfazed by the Patriots big plays and answered every move with a strong counter of their own. Local Tribe member Danny Sumner (Fairfax native) was clutch down the stretch and even blocked Cam Long's shot with three seconds remaining. It was a little confusing why the Patriots waited so long to foul when they were down and the seconds were winding down, again you have to question Larranaga's late game strategy. Be that as it may now Mason finds itself holding on to 4th place in the standings with only two conference games remaining.




Here is a video of Kevin Foster's back-to-back alley-oops from Luke Hancock while we wait for Thuc Phan's highlights:


video

Andre Cornelius' thread the needle pass to Sherrod Wright:


video

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Game Day Links: George Mason vs William & Mary

7:00 pm channel: MASN





Game Notes (Birdsong to start in place of suspended Morrison)



The Patriots have their work cut out for them tonight against a very strong William & Mary squad. A win tonight would guarantee the Patriots a top 4 seed in the CAA tournament and thus bypassing a Friday game during that weekend. Say what you want about the two game suspension for Mike Morrison but that fact remains he's out and Mason needs guys like Birdsong, Foster, and Williams to step up tonight. They don't need any of those three to light up the scoreboard but they do need stout defense in the middle and rebounding. The Tribe doesn't turn over the ball much and shoot very well from outside. If they start off hot tonight it could be difficult for the Patriots to mount a comeback like they had to against VCU last week.

Mason can make things easier for themselves by slashing to the basket more and getting to the foul line, while not always settling for the unwarranted three-pointer. Putting up points was an issue for this team last weekend at ODU and they can't afford another series of scoring slumps because the Tribe will make them pay for it just like the Monarchs did. They will need to keep David Schneider and Danny Sumner (Fairfax native) from going off early. While doing this it would also be nice if Cam Long or Ryan Pearson could set the tone early for the Patriots.



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Monday, February 15, 2010

How much of an impact will Morrison's suspension have on this team?





















The Patriots dropped a big one on Saturday in Norfolk and now try to regroup at home against William & Mary on Tuesday. We already know they will be without Mike Morrison after he picked up his 3rd and 4th career technical fouls Saturday but the suspension comes from the CAA per their guidelines, while George Mason University gave him the additional game. Lucky for the Patriots one of the two games is a non-conference game. However it could not have come at a worse time for Mason because after losing to ODU they now need a victory against William & Mary to help ensure they won't be playing a Friday game in the CAA tournament next month.

Morrison brings a fiery and charismatic attitude to the Patriot Center and often feeds off the home crowd. Although he might not always be leading Mason on the stat sheet, his alley-oops and dunks seem to always be a part of the many comebacks we have seen in Fairfax this year. Mason has won many games this season without Mike contributing much so to say this is a huge disadvantage might not be accurate. The issue as I see it is that the team has lacked stability all season long and this is just another speed bump at a bad time. When starters Ryan Pearson and Andre Cornelius were benched by Larranaga for the GW game, we saw no one else really step up when the team needed it. Might that be the resulting effect in this situation? The Patriots cannot afford to let that happen Tuesday night.

Make no mistake though, the Patriots can win without him, especially against a team like William & Mary that doesn't have much of an inside presence. However, Big Mike is great in transition and his ability to run the floor will be greatly missed against a slower Tribe team. Even if Morrison was playing in this one I'd still be saying this game is all about how Long, Tate, and Cornelius defend the Tribe's outside shooting. With or without Morrison another five point performance from Cam Long just isn't going to cut it, the scoring drought on Saturday was just plain awful. Someone else besides Long, Cornelius, and Pearson has to contribute on the scoreboard. The bench play for Mason has been up and down and they need to right the ship in this area if they want to finish in the top 4 of the CAA. Louis Birdsong and Johnny Williams will need to do more than they did against ODU, especially on the boards. The Patriots aren't a great rebounding team to begin with and now they won't have their 2nd leading rebounder against a team that loves to take a lot of outside shots. Perimeter defense will be more of an issue for Mason Tuesday night but they cannot allow the Tribe to get more three-point chances.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Patriots slip to third in CAA after another lackluster road performance
























It's been six years since Mason has won in Norfolk and you knew this year would be just as tough despite the fact that they handled ODU in Fairfax earlier this season. The roller-coaster season for George Mason continued Saturday as we saw the immaturity of this team become exposed. Mason trailed 17-1 right off the bat and needed almost nine minutes to make a field goal while never really getting into a rhythm on offense. Andre Cornelius was the only starter who finished in double figures and how ironic that he finally started to shoot well again when no one else on the floor seemed to be able to. The Patriots missed a lot of open shots but the Monarchs played excellent defense and owned the boards when it mattered. ODU also took advantage of the Patriots inside as Gerald Lee and Ben Finney had their way all day long.

The game was basically over early in the second half at the same time Mike Morrison exploded onto a referee arguing a call and received two technical fouls, ejecting him from the game. Per CAA rules he won't be able to play this Tuesday against William & Mary, nice going big Mike. Emotions have been high all season with this young squad but the immaturity of the sophomore class continues to be a recurring theme. Pearson, Cornelius, and Morrison have all missed games now because of dumb and totally avoidable instances. In a year where this team has lived and died by the play of it's starting line-up, it's unacceptable to have guys miss games for reasons other than injury. Speaking of the starting line-up, Morrison didn't start in this one due to Coach Larranaga's effort to get more leadership out of this sophomore class:
"We want them to take on more responsibility and be more accountable," Larranaga said. "As the season has come near the end, you need great leadership from more than just one or two players. Cam Long, as a leader, has been fantastic, but the other starters have got to chip in. When they don't, I am going to try to send them a message."
I think it's ridiculous the lengths he'd having to go at this point in the season to send these guys a message. You almost can't help but wonder if Coach L is losing control of some of these guys on and off the court. I question the move only because Morrison has been hot recently, going 15 for 18 from the field in the last two games. They needed 25+ minutes from him to have any kind of chance against ODU. Johnny Williams has been improving but the Monarchs just attacked him from the beginning and that led to Mason getting into a large deficit that became too much to overcome.

Although most fans might have expected a loss in Norfolk this Saturday, must of us probably didn't think we'd get this type of disappointing showing. It's really difficult to have faith in this team's ability to close out the season strong and make some noise in the CAA tournament with a breakdown like this. We have seen the extreme highs and lows of this season continue to drag on but predicting how things will go from here on out is next to impossible.


NCAA Basketball Stats

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Missed the game on Tuesday? Watch the last 3 minutes and overtime here

The last three minutes of regulation:



Overtime:



Thanks to everyone that sent this in.

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George Mason vs VCU Video Highlights

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

VCU fans email CAA calling for Hancock suspension. Seriously?

Yeah it's true and man I thought ODU fans were sore losers. Basically Luke Hancock was trying to get a rebound and locked arms with the Ram's Ed Nixon which lead to him inadvertently falling to the ground. So of course usual hot head Larry Sanders didn't take to fondly of that and neither did VCU fans over at Ram Nation forum, who I guess think it's fine Sanders shoved Hancock into the scorer's table. Here's the video clip of the situation, that resulted in Sanders getting T'ed up:


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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

George Mason downs VCU in overtime 82-77




















Wow, that maybe the best CAA game of the season. Patriots looked downright awful in the first half, erratic passes, ill-advised shots, and dumb fouls. Wish I could have heard that half-time talk Larranaga gave these guys because they battled back after being down by 15. Mike Morrison and Cam Long stepped up big time when Mason needed them but it was Louis Birdsong and Luke Hancock were the improbable heroes in this one. Cam Long was the star, but that was expected given it was an important home game. The key to this victory was who was going to step up on the bench given that some players were in foul trouble early. Hancock and Birdsong had some clutch plays to go along with Long's free-throws that sealed the deal. Mike Morrison stepped up big time and wasn't afraid to go right at VCU's Larry Sanders. His toughness inside drew Sanders to foul out and receive a technical before overtime. Please tell how this guy is a 1 st round projected draft pick again?

The win was critical for Mason and helps ensure they will not have to play on Friday during the CAA tournament next month. Since they only play VCU once this year they own the tie-breaker over them in the event of a tie in the standings. Things don't get any easier for the Patriots as they head down to ODU this Saturday in a game that will greatly affect the standings. A win against William & Mary next week could lock up a top 4 seed.

-In the 2nd half Mason held the Rams to 36% shooting after letting them shoot 54% in the 1st.

-Ryan Pearson and Andre Cornelius did not start "because of lack of effort in practice lately," Larranaga said. Cornelius was very disappointing in this one and didn't seem to be trusted with the point guard duties as Long brought the ball up most of the game.

-The Patriots have set a school record of 18 straight wins at home against CAA opponents

-Despite staging a comeback from being down 15, Mason only made 3 three-pointers in the entire game. VCU's Joey Rodriguez made 6.

NCAA Basketball Stats

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Game Day Links: George Mason vs VCU

TV: ESPNU 7 p.m.

Free Video stream: http://channelsurfing.net/watch-george-mason.html

Spread: George Mason 4 point underdog





While the DMV prepares for another blizzard this game in Fairfax tonight is a go no matter what. ESPN cameras coming to town probably have a little something to do with that. As for the game itself that Patriots come into this one struggling while the Rams have been hot, winners of four straight and just recently knocking off ODU. The Patriots get their chance for revenge after falling to the Rams in last year's CAA title game.

While most of the preseason focus for the Rams has been on forward Larry Sanders it's really been Joey Rodriguez who has been the team's most valuable player. Rodriguez leads the CAA in assists (6.1) and steals (2.0) per game and also can easily get to the foul line often. Larry Sanders is exactly the kind of player that can get Mason's front court into early foul trouble, we have seen it happen before between him and Mike Morrison. The front court will have their work cut out for them on defense. As for the guards, Cam Long and Andre Cornelius can't have sub par games tonight or else it will end badly for the Patriots. Not to forget VCU is the best team in the conference when it comes to forcing turnovers and ball protection will be critical as well tonight. Since we never know which Mason team will show up night in night out I don't really know what to expect in this one. The return to the Patriot Center could be a good lift for them and hopefully they will try to force the Rams into playing their game.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Patriots can't slay the Dragons

George Mason fell to Drexel yesterday in Philadelphia 73-60 in a loss that now puts them in 2nd place in the CAA. The Patriots have not looked like they have in their recent winning ways during these last two games. It's becoming evident that when Cam Long and Andre Cornelius start off slow so does the rest of the squad. Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison's inside game is important but during Mason's 7-game winning streak we saw the guards of this team open things up early by knocking down outside shots and lately that just hasn't been happening. Cornelius is still shooting over 40% on the season from three-point land but lately he has not been shooting consistent and most have been ill advised. Now that he has been taking over the point guard ball handling duties his success on offense is becoming more and more important. As for the forwards, it continues to be a game by game mystery who else will contribute outside of Ryan Pearson. Yesterday we saw a lot of Kevin Foster early as he scored 5 points and collected 5 rebounds in the first half but Louis Birdsong went scoreless. Johnny Williams, who I had enjoyed seeing more of recently, played 1 minute. In the first half Larranaga went with a line-up of Long, Cornelius, Pearson, Birdsong, and Foster which we have not seen yet this season. I don't know if Larranaga was trying to shake things up with the change but I don't really understand the move. I'd rather see more guards out there then a line-up like that. The team just seems to flow better on offense and defense with a three or four guard line-up. During this line-up experiment the Dragons went on a 21-2 run in the first half.

-Free-throw shooting could have really helped the Patriots late in this one, but we should be used to this, right?

-What's with the three-point attempts by Ryan Pearson? I know he can hit the occasional one but his shot selection was just dumb in this one.

-Commenter Mooky points out how Mason needs to buckle down on the perimeter defense, I couldn't agree more, the Dragons got way too many open looks in the 2nd half when the Patriots were trying to claw back.

-The Drexel bench outscored the Mason bench 34-5

NCAA Basketball Stats

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Game Day Links: George Mason at Drexel
























Video Streams: DrexelDragons.com ($4.95) heard it's good quality

Also willing to bet this winds up on channelsurfing.net so keep checking there as it gets closer to game time.

Line: George Mason 6-point underdog

Game Notes


Statistical Breakdown

Live Stats

Radio Link 570 AM

Looks like after some rumors of a postponement or cancellation this George Mason-Drexel game is gonna happen as scheduled. Lucky for the Patriots that this is not being delayed a day because they have travel back home through the blizzard to prepare for VCU on Tuesday night. By the looks of this storm now who knows if that game will go as scheduled. Be that as it may the Patriots could really make things easier for themselves by pulling off this win today. Hopefully the DAC won't be packed today because of the storm and this won't feel like a true road. ODU and Northeastern are also on the road today so this could a chance for Mason to separate themselves from the pack in the standings. This will be another tough road challenge for the Patriots and if Cam Long has another game like he did at Georgia State I don't see them coming out of Philly with a win.

Drexel is a much better rebounding team so Mason will have to rely on good outside shooting and getting to the free throw line. This won't be easy for Mason if Drexel has the kind of night they did against Towson on Tuesday where they handed the Tigers one of their worst losses in school history. Drexel freshmen Chris Fouch had 28 in that one with 6-for-7 shooting from three-point territory. The Dragons have a balanced attack on offense like the Patriots and also have a deep bench. It's a shame Rashad Whack is hurt because he would have been needed in this one off the bench. The key for the Patriots is to get Ryan Pearson going early and not resort to jacking up early three-pointers because they won't be able to recover if they start out shooting flat again. I wouldn't mind more of Johnny Williams and Louis Birdsong in the front cout early as well to try to get the inside game going. It's great when the Patriots have a great day from three-point land but I don't think they can rely on that today against this Dragons team.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

George Mason to end regular season on ESPN2 against Northeastern at Noon 2/27

So like most of us had hoped the Patriots will end the regular season in style on ESPN2 against Northeastern on Saturday February 27th at Noon. This announcement comes from Northeastern's athletics twitter page.

Patriots have 7-game win streak snapped at Georgia State

Well the Patriots were brought down to earth last night in Atlanta as the Georgia State Panthers pulled off a 61-57 victory riding the career-night from sophomore guard Jihad Ali and holding Cam Long to 2 points. After the road performances we saw at Tulane, GW, and Radford you knew this team wasn't going streak through the CAA schedule by collecting road wins in February. This team has been overachieving so far and even after this loss is still in a three-way tie for 1st place in the CAA. It would have been nice to get this win against a bottom dwelling CAA before the Patriots run through the gauntlet of Drexel, VCU, ODU, and William & Mary.

You can't blame this loss on Cam Long, although his lackluster performance did cripple the Patriots late in the 2nd half. Despite that, the Panthers Jihad Ali, who averaged 4 PPG coming into this one, dropped 22 last night on the Patriots, including the game-winning three-pointer, for which he was left wide-open. The guy had the hot hand all night and Mason just looked confused on that play by the Panthers, which was ridiculous. That breakdown coupled with no one stepping up late offensively spelled the end for Mason, who were still surprisingly in the game late despite a dreadful first half shooting. The Patriots never really got on a roll, didn't force many turnovers, and didn't push the tempo or create fast break opportunities. Georgia State made Mason play their style and slowed the game down. During the Patriots 7-game win streak they were doing an excellent job of getting to the free-throw line and making opponents pay but in this one they managed to get to the line for only 8 attempts (see Four Factors graphic below).

Although Cam Long is entitled to having an off night, considering he was fueling the teams' winning streak with 20 point performances, the Patriots have got to find a way to win without him. Someone else needed to step up last night, Pearson and Cornelius tried but often too ill advised shots down the stretch. Larranaga's offense has always had a balance attack and never relied on a one guy so I don't think this is going to be an on going problem for the Patriots. However expect to see the Patriots endure a bumpy ride over the next week.


NCAA Basketball Stats

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Game Day Links: George Mason at Georgia State

Free Live stream http://channelsurfing.net/watch-ncaa-college-sports.php?w=7





The Patriots narrowly escaped the Panthers at home last time these two squads got together, now they are looking to keep their winning streak alive on the road and maintain 1st place. Mason got killed on the boards in that game and Georgia State kept Ryan Pearson from being much of an impact. But a lot has changed for the Patriots since that game as they are shooting the ball much better and getting regular scoring efforts from Cam Long after switching to shooting guard. If I am not mistaken that game against Georgia State was when those two guards really started to take over the offense for Mason. Look for the Panthers to try to slow this game down and thwart the Patriots fast paced offense. If Mason doesn't start off shooting well, like when they played JMU at home recently, it could be another close game. This is an important game for the Patriots as they face the CAA's best after this one in a stretch of games that will be a difficult test.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Bobby Cremins and Jim Larranaga go way back














An interesting side story you will hear the announcers on ESPN2 gushing over on February 20 involves the relationship of the two head coaches heading into this year's bracketbuster game for the Patriots. Andy Katz said yesterday it gives the match-up some "national pop". Quote from the Cougars head coach Bobby Cremins yesterday:
"They have a great program year in and year out," said Head Coach Bobby Cremins. "It'll be an honor to go up there and play. Jim [Larranaga] and I go way back. We are both from the Bronx and played basketball in the Catholic School League. We both used to play tennis together on summer recruiting trips."
Here's how the two coaches stack up all-time:



Monday, February 01, 2010

George Mason to host College of Charleston on Homecoming and ESPN Bracketbuster

So my prediction was correct. Patriots will host College of Charleston Saturday February 20th at 8pm on ESPN2. Much better than last year's homecoming time of high Noon. I like the match-up, two teams leading their respective conferences trying to get a marquee win between the end of year conference tournaments. Charleston has an impressive starting five but not much depth on the roster so I like the match-up for the Patriots.

Andy Katz had this to say about the match-up:
"Well, Mason is leading the CAA (10-1) and has a real shot to represent the league. Charleston beat North Carolina and could easily take the Southern Conference tournament. Don't be surprised if both teams are in the field of 65. Seeing Bobby Cremins against Jim Larranaga also adds some national pop."

Injury Update on Whack, Vaughns, and Bennett

Some updates on Rashad Whack, Vertrail Vaughns and Paris Bennett's injuries:

Whack: After slipping in the shower and dislocating his left shoulder he will be out another 10-14 days.

Vaughns: They will ask for medical redshirt, he should get it

Bennett: Larranaga says "we're inquiring" about medical redshirt eligibility. Don't think he will get it because of when his season ending injury occurred, but I'm not 100% on the rules.

These updates come per Michael Litos Twitter and via the CAA coaches weekly teleconference

Bracketbuster Pairings Announced Today

Tonight on ESPNU the Bracketbuster pairings will be announced, however we still won't know the times or dates of the games until February 8. Andy Katz has his predictions for the CAA and the VCU Ram Nation Blog has a nice little chart with all the home and away teams listed with current RPI rankings. In previous years, current RPI rankings have been pretty accurate when trying to predict which teams will be matched together. So looking at the chart from the Ram Nation blog it would seem like College of Charleston (94), Buffalo (101), Wright State (112), and Indiana State (87) are all possible teams likely to be paired with the Patriots. None of these teams seem exciting but it's not like Mason is in the running for an at-large bid. The rules are different in terms of return games this year, they would not be played until the 2011-2012 season. My question, however, is will the Patriots' options be limited because they are planning this game for their homecoming and already have it on the calendar for Saturday February 20th.

I am not sure how likely it would be for Mason to get a TV game on any of th ESPN networks outside of ESPN360, if you consider that TV. The Patriots have done all they can with their conference schedule so far and currently sit alone in 1st place in a conference that is ranked 12th in the country so far. Do they select the Patriots for a TV game with someone else who is currently at the top their conference, someone like Akron or Charleston? You would think they would want a team that is currently rolling to face another hot streaking team but RPI numbers could be a big factor.

My prediction: College of Charleston

What are your predictions?

UPDATE: CAASports.com is reporting Mason, ODU, VCU, and W&M have been chosen for TV games in Bracketbusters.

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