This page has moved to a new address.

George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

George Mason travel to Northern Iowa for ESPN Bracketbusters

The Patriots were selected to play Northern Iowa of the MVC on Saturday February 19th at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Northern Iowa has an RPI of 52 right now so not a selection you can complain about for George Mason. However I'm sure most fans wanted a higher RPI team but keep in mind how good the MVC is and UNI's really has a chance to improve as are on a 7-game winning streak right now. They have also already beaten Wichita St. once and still play them again before the regular season is over.

Here is  ESPN's Andy Katz's take:
"GMU assistant coach Chris Caputo called me out for not having Mason in my original televised game list. Since then, the Patriots have come on strong and look like a real challenger for the CAA title. They also have a top-35 RPI. Northern Iowa has also been on a tear of late, winning seven in a row (including at Missouri State) to make it clear the Panthers are not going away in the Valley race. This matches two Cinderella teams from the past few tournaments with the Panthers having beaten top-ranked Kansas in the second round during the previous season and Mason reaching the 2006 Final Four. This game should be a headline affair because both teams have created solid name recognition lately. "
From Yahoo's The Dagger:
"Neither Northern Iowa nor George Mason accomplished enough in non-league play to truly contend for an NCAA tournament berth, so this matchup of traditionally strong mid-majors isn't as good as it could be. The winner could still have a glimmer of at-large hope, while the loser will have to win its conference tournament."
Here is the video of the selection show in case you missed it.

Lamar Butler will be on this week's Lunch with Lindsay on NBC4

The school just announced that former Patriot Lamar Butler and his father will be on this week's Lunch with Lindsay segment on NBC4 tomorrow at 5 pm.  If you remember Coach Larranaga had lunch with Lindsay in November of 2009. Set those DVRs.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

George Mason takes down William & Mary for 7th straight win

The Patriots strong play in the CAA continued with a 85-69 win yesterday over William & Mary.  They now have moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the conference with this being their 7th straight victory.  They shot 53.6% from the field and 86.4% from the free-throw line which continues to improve.  The Patriots look like they are firing on all cylinders lately and continue to tear apart the bottom of the CAA rankings. They have some tough test coming up this week against Hofstra and ODU at home.  Mason's big three got it done again including this in-bounds-off-the-back-of-a-defender-dunk from Luke Hancock as he uses his "sneaky athleticism":

Now that was sneaky!

The only thing I think this team is currently lacking is consistent production from the bench.  Even during their current run of blow outs there have been very few contributions from the reserve players outside of Isaiah Tate.  We still don't know who is the team's best reserve forward at this point.  Jonathan Arledge looked like he was being groomed to play that role but we haven't seen much of him lately. Meanwhile Paris Bennett and Johnny Williams continue to give uneven production.  In the end it is probably not that big of an issue because it's hard to agrue with the team's results. However at this point we are all thinking big picture and wanting to see this team do well in the CAA tournament and the post season and you have to wonder if they can do that with just a six-man rotation.

Some highlights from the game:

Remember the Bracketbuster pairings are announced tomorrow, take a look at my updated chart from last week to see possible match-ups.


Friday, January 28, 2011

George Mason hammers Towson, continues to blow out bottom of CAA

Photo via TBD
So far this season George Mason has played 5 of the bottom 6 teams in the CAA and so far they have beaten them by an average of 23.8 points. The latest of these blow outs came last night against Towson in an 84-58 victory. Towson who was publicly reprimanded by the CAA for their poor travel planning efforts on Wednesday looked like a team that was probably on a bus for 12 hours the previous day. The Patriots used runs of 23-0 and 17-0 sparked by Luke Hancock (19 points) and Andre Cornelius (15 points). Cornelius ended up with five three-pointers and Cam Long recorded five steals on the night. Towson has never beaten George Mason since joining the CAA in 2001-02.  It was one of those games where the whole bench got minutes, even walk-on Thomas Armistead.

The Patriots remained unbeaten at home and won their sixth straight game.  They are now tied for 2nd place in the CAA with Hofstra, who they play at home against on February 2nd.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

George Mason vs Towson will now be today at 4 pm because for some reason they left Baltimore at 3 pm yesterday

I'll admit that the weather predictions for yesterday weren't exactly spot on and but Towson leaving Baltimore at 3 p.m. for a 7 p.m. tip with a possible snow storm on the horizon is just dumb. So today the game will be played at 4 p.m. and will be free admission to all. Also if you can't make it or don't want to venture on the dumpster fire parking lots at Mason right now the game will be streamed free on  Shout out to best pep band in the country, the Green Machine, who gave the few hundred fans that were there a show despite the games postponement.

UPDATE: The CAA has issued a public reprimand for Towson:

RICHMOND, Va. (January 27, 2011) – Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner Tom Yeager has issued a public reprimand to Towson University for its failure to adequately plan and adjust its travel plans due to inclement weather, causing the postponement of the Tigers’ men’s basketball game at George Mason University on January 26.

“While everyone understands travel complications with winter storms, there is no evidence that any consideration was made by Towson to adjust their normal travel plans to account for the anticipated problems,” Yeager said.

Rob Washburn
Assoc. Commissioner/Communications
Colonial Athletic Association

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Who will George Mason face in their ESPN BracketBuster game?

The Patriots still have work to do in the CAA as they will face Hofstra and ODU at home and VCU on the road next month. How they fare in those games could be the difference between whether or not we can talk about any "at-large" hopes. Tonight they take on Towson at home, hopefully the snow won't cause any issues as they are currently 20-point favorites. Mason hasn't lost to Towson since 1993 and the Tigers have never won at the Patriot Center. So far Towson is yet to win a CAA this season.

I still believe and others seems to agree that even with a good bracketbuster win the Patriots still wouldn't have enough good wins (top RPI 50) to be considered. However who could forget that every single expert said the same thing in 2006 and look what happened, so you never know.  It's always fun to speculate and George Mason seems primed for one of the best road game spots in this year's ESPN BracketBuster event, which is being touted as the largest pool in the event's short history. The Patriots seem like they will definitely be on ESPN2 on Saturday February 19th for one of the night games.  The only question is who they will be facing?  The pairings will be announced January 31st and historically ESPN seems to match teams based on RPI and we were able to guess who pretty easily last season.

Below is a chart to help us see who the Patriots might be matched up against, all RPI numbers are current as of January 26:

Updated: 1/31 (Announcement tonight at 6:30pm on ESPNU)

So looking at the chart, which I will update daily, it would appear Mason could have a 2006 rematch/showdown again at Wichita State. Since the Patriots and Shockers already have a story line going and this is an ESPN made-for-TV event, I don't think they could pass this up. I would not think Saint Mary's is an option because they are on the west coast and I don't think in the past they have made teams travel that far while still in the middle of their conference schedule. Geographically Valparaiso is closer to Mason than Wichita St. so they are also in the mix. Also keep in mind that George Mason's RPI will take a hit win or lose just by playing Towson (#264) and William & Mary (#255).

Who do you want George Mason to face in this year's BracketBuster event?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Highlights from George Mason vs Delaware

Some highlights from last night's rout of Delaware. Luke Hancock's alley-oop lay-up off the in-bounds is a thing of beauty.


George Mason blows out Delaware, takes sole possession of 3rd place in CAA

The Patriots had another explosive 2nd half last night en route their 7th conference win and fifth in a row.  They now are in sole possession of third place in the CAA only one game behind VCU and Hofstra, both of whom had close calls last night. This game almost seemed like it had potential to go down to the wire as Mason led by only 3 with 3:35 remaining before halftime. But then Mason went on a 9-0 run to close out the half and dominated Delaware in the 2nd half on both ends. That 9 point run turned into a 23-3 run after the start of the 2nd half and Mason never looked back. Both teams didn't have great shooting nights and some of that was a credit to Mason's defense that held the Blue Hens to a season-low 30.4% from the field. The Patriots also held Jawan Carter, the CAA's 4th leading scorer to zero points.  Cam Long followed up his 30 point performance against JMU with 20 points last night and has been shooting the ball extremely well. 

It was a total team effort once again from the Patriots as Ryan Pearson had 13 points and Luke Hancock added 12. Mike Morrison was aggressive on the glass and finished with 8 rebounds. Mason also dominated the paint in this one scoring 34 of their 69 points from there compared to the Blue Hens only scoring 12. They continue to get to the free-throw and have been improving on their shooting from there, which has prevented a lot of teams from storming back against them in the 2nd half.

The Patriots winning ways recently have been doing wonders for their RPI. Just this morning they are at #28, that's good for best in the CAA. While it's impressive to be ahead of a lot of BCS team it also will position them to get a solid road game Bracket Buster opponent.  The pairings for that will be announced Monday January 31st and it's looking like the Patriots will face either Wichita State, Saint Mary's or Valparaiso in a nationally televised game February 19th.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 24, 2011

New commenting system

In an effort to make discussions and commenting here easier and reduce how much spam I have to sift through, I have implemented a new system using Disqus. You can now reply to other users comments and post media (e.g. a YouTube link).  Also you can login to make comments using your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  The goal here is urge more discussions and move to a more powerful system. Email me any questions or concerns you may have.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Highlights from George Mason vs James Madison

Saturday, January 22, 2011

George Mason escapes Harrisonburg with the win off Cam Long's career day

Cam Long set a new career-high for points with 30 against JMU today as the Patriots won a tough one on the road 75-73 in Harrisonburg.  JMU's Denzel Bowles gave Mason all they could handle with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks but they were again able to capitalize off another whistle happy game at the free-throw line.  Isaiah Tate was huge in the 2nd half scoring 7 straight points for Mason on their 12-0 run that dictated the pace for the rest of the game. JMU battled back making shot after shot and hitting the offensive boards but in the end they had no answer for Cam Long.  Prior to Mason's big run in the 2nd half Larranaga gambled on putting in Mike Morrison back in the game with 4 fouls.  Morrison rewarded the Coach for his trust in him by helping Mason grab back the momentum off a big alley-oop dunk. Even though Morrison did end up fouling out late he kept his composure in a game with many fouls called and was still able to be a factor despite only scoring 4 points. They were some moments in the game in the mist of all the fouls being called that you might have thought the Patriots would lose their composure but Cam Long kept his team in order and calmly kept making plays.  That is a true sign of a leader there.  

The Patriots victory puts them in good position in the CAA standing at 6-2 as they face Delaware, Towson and William & Mary next week.  


Friday, January 21, 2011

George Mason heads down to Harrisonburg for showdown with James Madison

Mason travels to Harrisonburg for a Saturday morning ESPNU game against JMU at the ripe ol hour of 11 a.m. JMU, like Mason, is undefeated at home this year and has been averaging 79 points there in their CAA wins.  The Dukes pose a different type of challenge for the Patriots, they can be very tough up front with Denzel Bowles (6-10, 250) and Rayshawn Goins (6-6, 250) but they also shoot the ball very well from the outside as they are 2nd in the CAA in field goal and three-point percentage. Mason doesn't have the usual big advantage in the shooting department here and they are also undersized.  Statistically JMU isn't really much better in rebounding but Denzel Bowles almost averages as many a contest as Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson do combined.  In JMU's loss to ODU on Wednesday they had 30 points in the paint most of them coming from Bowles.  Last time these two teams faced had 20 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort for the Dukes at the Patriots Center.  I'm giving JMU's front court a lot of attention and I can't forget to mention how well guards Devon Moore and Julius Wells are doing this season. No doubt they are benefiting this year from the things Bowles and Goins are doing up front.  Both Moore and Wells are shooting over 37% from behind the three-point line.

The Dukes are not a deep team and this is where Mason has the advantage.  Often JMU goes only about 8 deep with sometimes only Andrey Semenov getting any real minutes.  Patriots can take advantage of this is they push the tempo like they did against Drexel in the 2nd half.  A run and gun type of game could favor Mason as the Dukes are by no means a fast team.  Mason has also done a good job lately of getting to the free-throw line which tells me they might be attacking the rim more considering JMU's lack of overall depth. On offense Ryan Pearson averaged 19.7 points a game in Mason's last three road games so I think it's in their best interest to get him going early and not wait for more second half heroics.  


Friday Links

Couple of George Mason basketball stories circling around the interwebs this week:
  • Is George Mason D.C.'s best hope for an NCAA Tournament run? [TBD]
  • CAA Basketball's formula for "smart scheduling" [Daily Press]
  • If you know Mason men's basketball, you should know these three names [GoMason]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Highlights from George Mason vs Drexel


George Mason's big second half overwhelms Drexel 71-47

It was an ugly game at certain points of the night with 51 fouls being called and three Drexel players fouling out but George Mason just overpowered the struggling Dragons. With all the fouls being called the Patriots attempted more free-throws (21) than field goals (20) in the 2nd half.  Luke Hancock led all scorers with 16 but it was Mason's defense holding Drexel to a season low 47 points that was the real story. In the 2nd half the Dragons went 5-for-27 from the field after halftime and came out so flat on offense it was practically game over with 10 minutes remaining. On offense the Patriots excelled in transition and the Dragons had no answer for that as they were unable to slow down the game. Drexel by the way hasn't topped 50 points at the Patriot Center in four years which must have Bruiser Flint thrilled.  Mason pounced on the opportunity given with all the Drexel players in foul trouble and had another solid game from the free-throw line.  They made the effort on the boards all game long which has to have Larranaga pleased. The team also did a nice job keeping Samme Givens off his game and not letting him dominant on the boards.  Credit Mike Morrison for staying out of foul trouble in this whistle happy game and being a force in the middle with 7 rebounds.

After the victory the Patriots are now in a three-way tie for third place one game behind VCU and Hofstra in the CAA standings. On Saturday they go back on the road to face JMU, who is 9-0 at home this season but lost last night to ODU.  Mason now has an RPI of 42 so I'm sure I'll be hearing the at-large talk again despite the team still not having any "good" wins outside of the Patriots Center.  I'll save that conversation til after we play ODU and Hoftra again and travel down to VCU in February.  

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Listen to Ryan Pearson on the CAA Basketball Radio show

CAA Player of the Week Ryan Pearson was on the CAA Basketball radio show down in Richmond yesterday with's Michael Litos:


Previewing George Mason vs Drexel

The Patriots return to action tonight at 9 p.m. against the Drexel Dragons looking to win their 3rd straight CAA match. I know the game is at 9 p.m. because of the TV deal with MASN but it's still going to suck for attendance coupled with the fact that students do not return from winter break until the 24th. Home games in the CAA are an important advantage as the Patriots haven't lost many of them in the past couple of years. Drexel is a strong team despite some ups and downs and Mason needs this victory heading into a tough match-up at JMU this Saturday.  I think the big question is can Cam Long and Ryan Pearson continue to keep rolling like they have been on offense lately.  

Drexel is had an interesting season already, they beat a ranked Louisville squad in an ugly game back in December, have already beaten ODU and then lost to William & Mary last weekend by 14.  They are one of the best defensive teams in the CAA this year and are #1 in three-point shooting defense allowing their opponents to average only 25.9% from behind the arch.  That's an interesting factor heading into this game considering how dominant the Patriots can be shooting from there at home.  If the Dragons limit the Patriots three-point shooting attack it could thwart their high scoring act.  Drexel's defense along with good rebounding forcing teams into a gritty low scoring game, which would favor them.  If they make the game a battle in the front court Mason could struggle as Drexel has three forwards averaging six or more rebounds a game, including Samme Givens who leads the CAA with 10.5 a game. No player on Mason's roster is averaging more than five rebounds a game currently.

Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint thinks this is going to be a "physical, defensive-minded game" with both teams trying to grind it out. That's not really the Patriots game and I would hope they would attempt to veer away from a game like that with strong play from their guards.  Ryan Pearson has been a warrior in the front court lately and Mike Morrison has been improving but what let ODU beat them could be how Drexel makes this game interesting tonight.  In the end however I think the Patriots ability to put points on the board, especially at home, will be too much for the Dragons. Chris Fouch can score in bunches but the higher the score the better for Mason as they just have more weapons on offense.  


Monday, January 17, 2011

Listen to Coach Larranaga's weekly teleconference audio

Watch future Patriot Corey Edwards today on ESPNU at 11 a.m.

TheMasonBench posted this a few days ago and just wanted to make sure others knew that Corey Edwards of Jim Larranaga's 2011 recruiting class, will be playing on ESPNU today at 11 a.m. Edward's Christ the King high school team will be taking on Bishop Gorman from Nevada in the Spalding Hoophall Classic.

UPDATE: Well looks like he is not playing today due to an illness. Too bad.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

George Mason uses good free-throw shooting to defeat Georgia State, really

It's amazing how many different ways George Mason has won games this season. They have not had a secret recipe they use for each match up.  It might be smothering defense, it might be lights out three-point shooting, it might be fast break points off turnovers you just don't know.  Yesterday afternoon's 66-51 victory over Georgia State added another method of winning for the Patriots, dominating at the free-throw line. I've been complaining about this team's free-throw shooting for some time, most notably last season, so a game like this really makes me happy. The statsheet chart at the bottom of this post really drives home how effectively Mason got to the free-throw line and made the Panthers pay. Towards the end of this game the difference in points at the free-throw was what was keeping them ahead.  Getting to the line and playing solid defense is an easy way to win a basketball game and Mason proved they don't have to shoot 50% from the field or drain 10 three-pointers in order to win games. The Patriots are now 7-1 when their opponents turn over the ball more than 15 times in a game, Georgia State had 19 in this one.

It was an important win for Mason because they face a very good Drexel team at home this Wednesday and then travel to Harrisonburg to face JMU who are currently 5-1 in CAA play.  

Labels: ,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Patriots look to get back on track in the CAA this weekend against Georgia State

Mason looks to get back on track in the CAA this weekend at home against Georgia State.  The Patriots are coming off a dominating performance against under-matched Northeastern and the Panthers lost to JMU last night by 12. Georgia State seems to be a much improved team over last season as they have already beaten JMU and VCU earlier this season. In some ways they are very similar to Mason as they shoot the ball well and don't have a lot of size up front, also they are terrible at free-throws. The Panthers are also sharp on defense and currently are 2nd in the CAA in FG defense allowing teams to only average around 40% from the field on the season.  I don't think there is any way they can keep the Patriots from shooting under that percentage in the Patriot Center however.  The Panthers are more prone to turning over the ball and committing fouls which Mason can take advantage of as they have gone 6-1 this season when their opponent has 15 or more turnovers (GSU averaging 14.7 TOs a game).

Defense and rebounding is something they didn't really get tested on while playing Northeastern on Wednesday. The Huskies are one of the worst rebounding teams in all Division I as a commenting pointed out to me yesterday so them getting the edge in that category wasn't much of a victory.  To start moving up in the CAA standings the Patriots will have to make a better effort in preventing the other team from grabbing offensive rebounds. It killed them in the 2nd half against ODU and it will kill them against teams like Drexel and JMU if guys like Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison don't become more assertive.  

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

George Mason dominates Northeastern in 86-60 win

George Mason ended their three-game road trip with a win last night in snowy Boston over Northeastern 86-60.  The Patriots dominated the Huskies right from the start shooting nearly 70% from the field in the 1st half. Ryan Pearson had a career night scoring 24 points and started things off with a three pointer to open the game and then quickly picked up a technical for saying something to the NU bench. All this happened in about 40 seconds and I'm sure Pearson wasn't asking them "how about this snow huh?". Bone-headed and unnecessary but I'm sure most fans won't think much of it because of the blow out victory that followed. Up front the Patriots dominated the Huskies' post players and for the first time this season we saw them dominate on the boards. Mason set season-highs for points, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage in this win and really just took advantage of Northeastern's poor defensive effort. Cam Long flexed his offensive muscle last night as well adding 20 points and towards the end of the game he and Pearson combined for nearly the same amount Northeastern had on the scoreboard.  Luke Hancock contributed with 10 assists and nearly missed a double-double with 8 points.

The Patriots really needed to win at least two of games during that three-game road trip as the CAA looks to be as competitive as ever. It was good to see them have their way in the front court which is something we really haven't seen this season yet. They have the task of taking on Georgia State, who has already beaten VCU, and then Drexel back-to-back at home. After that they head to Harrisonburg to face a much improved JMU squad.  I think they will be back on track in the standings if they can win two of those next three as the CAA grinder will even out some of separation in the standings next week.  


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Listen to Coach Larranaga's Weekly Teleconference


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Old Dominion out-muscles George Mason

The Patriots were undersized in this one and I thought it was going to doom them all game long. But Mason didn't back down after ODU's relentless inside game was thriving early. They would counter the Monarchs tough inside possessions by hitting a three-pointer or driving to the basket.  In the end the difference was really ODU's ability to grab an offensive rebound with ease that led to enough second chance points to put away the game late and sealed the 69-65 win. The Monarchs finished with 23 second chance points, had to win when you give up that on the defensive end. The Patriots also had no answer for Frank Hassell who really hurt them in the 2nd half.  Cam Long and Luke Hancock paced Mason in the first half and saw Ryan Pearson score all of his 13 points in the 2nd giving Mason the lead for a stretch. As a whole the team was hitting outside shots but the Monarchs had an answer for every one of Mason's moves.  The size advantage for ODU forced Larranaga to change his usual gameplan which was evidenced by the fact that Vertrail Vaughns didn't even enter the game.  As a result Johnny Williams got more minutes and had two baskets that I am sure has fans asking why he isn't playing more. 

What to take from this game is that Mason can hang with just about any team they have to face. A guard heavy shooting team or a big front court team the Patriots appear ready for the challenge.  It was good to see the fight in them after that lackluster performance we saw at Hofstra.  They continue to shoot the ball well but sometimes it just isn't enough against fundamentally better teams.  There isn't another team in the CAA that could beat Mason the way ODU did. Sure JMU has a solid front court but not nearly as many big bodies as ODU has.  You have to hope they recognize how important rebounding can be on both ends of the court. Even though they lost that battle in this one they were definitely more aggressive on the boards then what we have seen.


Friday, January 07, 2011

George Mason heads to ODU for their toughest test of the season

Photo by John Tatum
I'm sure it's not ideal for any coaching staff to suffer your worst loss of the season right before your facing the conference's best team on the road but that's where this George Mason team is right now.  Historically  Jim Larranaga's teams have faired pretty well after suffering a conference loss. However I doubt many Mason fans are confident in this team's ability to go into Norfolk and take down the Monarchs considering they have not done so since 2004. Perhaps the loss at Hofstra was a result of the team's soft out of conference schedule that didn't feature much of any road challenges outside of playing in Dayton.  The loss on Wednesday night should be a wake up call that they can't always pull out a victory with their hot shooting ability.  If the whole team doesn't put defense first the result is what happened at Hofstra and I don't think the players want to remember that feeling again this weekend. I think what went wrong had to be obvious to the team and they should be hungry to rebound.  This game could have big implications for the CAA standings, (doesn't it always seem that way?) as both teams are expected to be near the top in late February.  Last year the two teams split the series with each team blowing out the other.

ODU hasn't looked dominant lately and you can even argue they might no longer be considered a lock as the CAA's best team this year when all is said and done.  They lost their first CAA game of the year at Delaware, who from what we saw from them against Mason they are much better squad than last year but still Delaware. In their last two games against Towson and Northeastern they have scored a combined 100 points as Michael Litos points out.  You can argue they played great defense but Towson is just bad and Northeastern was missing their best player in Chaisson Allen.  The fact that they could not muster much of an offensive attack has to music to Mason's ears. On the season the Monarchs haven't been scoring that much as they are currently 8th in the CAA averaging 66.1 points a game. Mason on the other hand is number 1 with 73.3 points a contest.  But you can't overlook that ODU has the best scoring defense in the CAA holding their opponents to only 59.1 points a game. Yes those numbers a little deceiving considering their last two games but still a big factor heading into this one.

So let's get right to, how is this one going to go? What does Mason have to do to win this game? Do they even have a chance?

Why George Mason will lose this game:

ODU has a bruising front court and Mason's fowards haven't been great at staying out of foul trouble especially Mike Morrison.  If you remember last season in Norfolk Morrison got a double technical and was ejected from the game in the 2nd half. You want to believe he has matured a bit since last season but he's already been limited in the 1st halves of games this season due to picking up early fouls. If that happens again tomorrow afternoon it could again doom the Patriots. ODU's front court is just too strong and forwards Frank Hassell, Ben Finney, and Keyon Carter are going to go right at Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison. Let's not also forget that the Monarchs are averaging 16 offensive rebounds a game, an area the Patriots are already weak in.  If ODU keeps getting 2nd chances around the basket it's going to doom Mason and we will see a lot more Paris Bennett and Johnny Williams.  Long story short the Monarchs are deep where the Patriots are shallow and I think it could be too much of an advantage for them to overcome on the road.

Another area I think the Monarchs have an advantage in is in Kent Bazemore and Ben Finney. Both are in the guard/forward role at 6-5 and are more experienced versions of the Patriots Luke Hancock.  Which one of these guys will Hancock be guarding and which undersized guard is going to be matched up with the other? Bazemore if probably the most dangerous scoring wise as he has an inside and out game. If Hancock is on him he will have his work cut out for him as he has struggled with guys like this.  Remember how poorly Mason did against athletic forwards Chris Wright and Chris Johnson against Dayton? Sure these two guys from ODU aren't as versatile or athletic but they pose similar problems for Mason on defense.

Why George Mason will win this game:

The Patriots are 9-0 this season when their opponents are held to under 70 points and ODU hasn't exactly been lighting it up lately as I mentioned earlier.  Mason hasn't really had a poor shooting game all season and if they can turn this into a run and gun scoring battle they will have the advantage and some of their weaknesses won't be as glaring. Three-points are also going to be key for Mason in this game, ODU is 8th in the CAA in opponents three-point shooting percentage allowing 36.5% on average.  And although Mason hasn't been quite as good lately at launching up from behind the arch we all know they have ability to take a game over with it.  I would not be surprised if the Patriots start firing from there right off the bat looking to bury ODU early. The Monarchs on the other hard are 10th in the CAA in three-point shooting and Mason has defended the perimeter well this season.  Taking away that area of the Monarchs offense will be critical for Mason as they need to make them as one-dimension as possible.  

Aside from a good shooting night the Patriots need to return to their suffocating defense in order to win this match.  They don't need to be perfect but they have to prevent the Monarchs from going on huge runs like Hofstra did on Wednesday. Earlier this season they were dictating entire games through their defense and we need to see some of that return.  If they can cut back on giving up the easy lay-ups and open looks and force them to take the outside shots they don't want to they will come away with the win.  

And lastly I never get bored of posting this picture:


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Highlights from George Mason vs Hofstra posted some highlights from last night's loss at Hofstra, careful the frame rate isn't easy on the eyes:

Labels: ,

George Mason suffers first CAA loss to Hofstra

The Patriots lost on their first CAA road trip of the season to Hofstra 87-74 and you can tell from the final score there was plenty of breakdowns on defense.  They let Charles Jenkins go off in the 2nd half and ended up finishing with 32 points on the night.  Hofstra is a one-man show with Jenkins and the fact that Patriots couldn't even slow him down gave them no shot in the 2nd half. If you bet on sports at Betus like I used to you'd know Mason was still favored in this one. This game was very much like the one against NC State as play-by-play man Bill Rohland mentioned where the Patriots gave up  a ton of transition points and allowed too many open looks and easy lay-ups. In the first half Mason switched to a zone defense and Hofstra started to drain three-pointers. Add on to that Mike Morrison again being in early foul trouble and the Patriots usual first half flow was thwarted and they never really recovered. The Pride didn't need much effort to pour on the points and shot 59% from the field in the second, something I'm sure Larranaga was thrilled about. You can watch and hear his postgame comments below:

Offensively the numbers don't look bad by any account for that Patriots but when the Pride went on a 14-0 run in the 2nd half you saw a ton of ill-advised shot attempts.  Mason's poor shot selection led to a ton of easy baskets for the Pride and in turn made it much tougher for them to clamp down on defense.  Ryan Pearson had a great night leading Mason scorers with 22 but at times the team looked very flat on offense after starting out shooting 53% in the 1st half.  Luke Hancock and Mike Morrison were non-existent on offense. Morrison's inability to stay in games is starting to really become an issue, the team can't have him off the floor for that long with their lack of depth at forward.

It's a little alarming to see the team perform this bad in their first CAA road game as the conference seems to be even more competitive this year.  Yes Charles Jenkins had a hell of a game but were the Patriots really that surprised to see him scoring like that? I'd be ok with him scoring 20 but 32 is just inexcusable for a team that puts defense first.  This is the second consecutive game where they let the other team's star go off in the 2nd half. It let Delaware nearly crawl back into the game on Monday and it was their complete undoing last night. With ODU on the docket for Saturday something has to change or it's not going to be pretty.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

George Mason holds off Delaware with clutch play from Isaiah Tate

The Patriots looked a little rusty to start off 2011 but used some hot shooting (not from the free-throw line) and some clutch play by Isaiah Tate to hold off Delaware for their second CAA victory.  His three-pointer with about eight minutes ago gave Mason the room they needed to close out the win.  Tate's 12 points off the bench was something the Patriots needed and could have used in their loss to Dayton.  Luke Hancock and Ryan Pearson again had great box score numbers while Mike Morrison continues to not know be much of a factor on offense.  Mason shot the ball very well on the night going 56.5% from the field but really could have ran away with the game if they just sank a few more free-throws. It is something we have become used to since last season but in this game it really hurts when you get to the line for 31 attempts and only come away with 18 points.

The team's chemistry this season and overall decision making is much improved from a year ago.  When team's clog up the middle the Patriots find the open man for an outside three, when the perimeter shots are denied they find Pearson or a cutting Hancock inside for the easy two.  Larranaga has to be impressed with this lately because it's been the difference in a lot of wins.  Overall I think this team is tough to beat when they are in transition and moving the ball well.  It was evident last night against a Delaware team that was playing a pretty darn good game.

However, defensively the Patriots weren't as sharp as they have been, allowing the Blue Hens to go on too many runs and Jawan Carter to score 20 points, 13 of which came in last five minutes.  They also gave up too many easy shots as Delaware shot over 44% from the field, the highest percentage the Patriots have given up at home this season.  As a whole the team is still giving up too many offensive rebounds which is really how Delaware kept this game close.

Mason is one of the three 2-0 teams in the CAA. Kind of amazing that ODU and VCU have already dropped a CAA game.  I think it just goes to show you how competitive this league is going to be this season.  Each one of these conference games is going to be important and road wins will probably come a premium meaning Mason has to continue to win these home ones. Mason now has a tough task of going on the road for their next three including a trip to Norfolk against ODU this Saturday.  

Labels: ,

Blog Counter