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

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

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:



Blogger Ryan said...

think this game will show up on

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your article was completely contaminated by that photo. Good job, Ryan!

7:04 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Since it's on csn then yeah it should be

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Ryan you have hit an all time low. I'm sure George Mason University will certainly be proud of how you have represented the University with such class and dignity.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Wow you guys are no fun sometimes. Come on it's a picture from college humor. No one cared when I posted those funny pictures of gunston back in the day it was just a good laugh.

Second, I don't represent the university, this is a sports blog and I am fan commenting like any other.

And yeah I turned off anonymous commenting so if you are going to say stuff like that you can at least show who you are.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous ODUf'sGMup said...

Hey Ryan i didn't really your post the back round colors kinda make me want to vomit. Maybe get off ODUs nuts for the day and work on you website!

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Dfarley said...

ODU is better because Big Blue hits it Monarch style on hot ass.

6:45 PM  

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