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George Mason escapes opener with wild OT thriller against Rhode Island

George Mason Basketball: George Mason escapes opener with wild OT thriller against Rhode Island

Saturday, November 12, 2011

George Mason escapes opener with wild OT thriller against Rhode Island

Not exactly how Paul Hewitt wanted to get his first George Mason victory but the Patriots escaped Friday night with a win. Early on it was not pretty and Mason looked very undisciplined on defense.  It was obvious from the opening tip these were not your Larranaga branded Patriots any more. There were 22 lead changes and 17 ties in this one and a last second three-pointer by Rhode Island forced the overtime period.  Once in the Patriots settled a bit in overtime it was two crucial steals by freshman Corey Edwards that help seal the victory.  

Let's look at the Good, Bad, and Ugly of this game.


-Ryan Pearson stepped up when the team needed him, scoring 28 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, he was also a vocal leader in his first game as a senior.

-The freshman played well in this one. Erik Copes showed off his brute strength and aggression and one of his emphatic blocks lead to a Corey Edwards lay-up on the other end.  Edwards, looked confortable running the point and Hewitt definitely has confidence in the him considering he was out there in overtime.

-Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen looked really good driving the lane last night.  Wright is starting to look like he can take it to the hole at will.  When the transition was working it was these guys making plays.

-Despite starting off terribly from the field, Mason really turned things around in the second half and credit needs to be given as they bounced back. They showed poise which will help when they get into this situation again this season.


-The breakdowns on defense were a glaring weakness for Mason.  Rhode Island's Jamal Wilson, whose previous high for scoring was 14, finished with 38 last night. Boy did they miss Andre Cornelius last night.  Wilson had way too easy a time getting to the rim and in overtime he scored nine straight for the Rams. Allowing that is just unacceptable.  

-Mike Morrison is a senior now and this team needs him to be a leader. He had a solid night contributing 11 points but his kicking and screaming routine when he fouls out is starting to get old. Yes, a lot of the refs calls last night were questionable but it is not the reason this game was so close.

-Rebounding have got to improve for Hewitt's uptempo offense to work. They finished the game with a slight edge in this department over the Rams but in the early goings it killed them.  When you can't defend or rebound the uptempo pace is difficult to run and this why the Patriots fell into a hole early in the first half.


-As Goff of the Post points out, "at one point in the first half, they were 6 for 26 from the field, 0 for 6 on three-pointers and 3 for 7 from the free throw line." They battled back with better shooting numbers from the field in the second half and OT but overall their outside shooting was dreadful.  It is pretty obvious this team's offensive philosophy is not as much behind the three-point line as Mason fans are used to, but they need better nights than this. The free-throw shooting troubles seem to be a recurring theme in Fairfax, despite the head coach.  They left numerous opportunities to separate or pull ahead at the charity stripe, Rhode Island really took advantage of them in this category

-In-bounding the ball for Mason was a difficult task.  Sherrod Wright did most of the duties and on at least three occasions, had his in-bound pass intercepted and put right into the basket for the Rams. That is just embarrassing, no matter what level of basketball you are playing. It was painful to watch, every in-bounds play shouldn't look like a hail mary pass.  Luckily this is something easily fixable in practice.



Anonymous BoredInClass said...

Completely Agree. Also, I went to practice last Tuesday and the team as a whole didn't look very good on in-bounding plays, which carried over to the game.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Moses said...

I was really very impressed with this team. They are quick, attacked, played tough man (overall) with some breakdowns, did not stand around looking for a 3 to solve everything and they looked well conditioned.  
Overall, they handled a good press and a quick team very well. Ok, 4? turnovers on the inbounds but they have to get the call in quicker off a make and not allow the D to set. On the plus side they attacked the press and looked deep, which ya have to do.

The refs blew a few at the end and barely kept control of the game. Thankful for their incompetence because if they had the balls and presence of mind, they would have Teed up Mike Mo for his little tantrum on the bad 5th foul call. You could see Morrison building a head of steam to do something stupid, but he played with fire and did not play poorly. 

I could not disagree more re Cornelius. He could not have stayed with Wilson any better then Allen or anyone else did. And AC would have been an offensive liability except perhaps when RI went to a zone in the closing minutes and a perimeter shooter could have helped. But Allen and Edwards handled the ball well and they have the ability to pass off the drive. I'm not sure I've ever seen "shoot first" AC do that.

As for bad perimeter shooting, they knocked down a 3 as soon as RI went zone. I give RI credit for being tough on the perimeter and not allowing a lot of easy looks. And I am thrilled to see this team attack the hoop. I know everyone wants the Jim McKay 3s but you can't live or die with them. In fact more penetration creates better looks from the 3.

How 'bout those Masonettes? They keep bringin' it.  

And I know there are good strategic reasons for Johnny Williams red shirting (right?) but damn, he would have had fun last night. Silver lining is Copes banged around and got some valuable time. Arledge too.

Watching the coaches, the assistants are really working, bringing things to Hewitt's attention at time outs and the players' themselves. Again, it looked like they knew what they wanted to do. Of course, the wheels can come off at anytime but last night looked good.   

It is refreshing to see so many players get floor time and the team seems like it's playing hard and loose, and not over thinking things or afraid to be aggressive. They got a bit sloppy, but its early. And it looks like this team will be able to run with quick teams. And it was nice to see some man pressure over half court, if not a full on press. RI is not a bad A10 team and that was a very good win which could easily have been a loss.      

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Bentleydogg said...

I couldn't shake the vibe last night that this team reminds me of Paul Ball.  Not Hewitt, but Westhead.  I hope it was just because the team is still only a month into practicing under a new coach.  This team has too much talent to have to go to OT with one of the worst teams in the Atlantic 10.  They need to learn quick, FIU will beat them if they play like that - and they will need to bring their A game if they do get to play VT.  Lets hope for a steadily improving team all year.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Bentleydogg said...

"RI is not a bad A10 team" ???  What have you been reading?

Rhode Island is generally projected to finish in the basement of the A10.  (projected to finish between 11-14 out of 14).  In other words, at the bottom of the conference.  Sorry, they are not a good team which should cause a lot of alarm for Mason fans.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

It all comes down to fundamentals.  Defense, rebounding, and IN BOUNDING THE BALL! 

Not to mention Sherrod Wright is a beast!  And Erik Copes plays like he's been playing college ball for years, not like a kid who went to his prom a few months ago!

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

If Rhode Island finsishes in 11-14 in the A-10 then the National Champion will come from that conference. Their is no WAY that conference has 10 teams better than the Rams. Jamal Wilson is very very good at he is a legit 6'5!! Does this mean Luke Hancock would have defended him better? 

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Bentleydogg said...

I'd say Xavier, Temple, St.
Bonaventure, St. Louis, Dayton, Richmond, GW, St
Joes, are better than URI.  They are just below or on par with Duquesne, UNC-Charlotte.  Bottom of the A10 no matter how you shake it.  Wilson is good, but he is not as good as Mason made him look last night.

I'll take it, a win is a win vs. any A10 team.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

Moses,  I love your enthusiasm!!  However your blinders were definitely on.  I love Mason hoop!!!  However, I was disappointed in the D and the in bounding, a basic.  The team looked lost on D and in bounding, they looked horrible.  The offense is totally different, esp. with Pearson playing on the outside and driving, which I don't think is his strength.  I know we are young and with a new coach, but if they keep playing like they did last night against an fair RI team, it will be a very long season.  I leave monday for VT to see them play, I hope they come out better at the basics like, rebounding, inbounding, defense, and blocking out. 

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Moses said...

They beat Richmond, Drexel, BC, Dayton, and Miami of Ohio last year with a lot fo the same guys. Okay, that was last year but there's no way this team isn't middle of the pack in that conference at least. I guess we'll see.   

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Mason Guy said...

Overall good game.  RI coach is smart and he knew early in the season its about defense.  Their uptempo and zone gave our young guys some problems, but they stuck with it.  It's a w when it matters.  Rhody is a solid team, not great but solid.  Yep, some serious problems handling the press and defense, but I'm thinking that will improve. 

One moment from the press conference I loved...RI coach "They're big man, I mean they're big.  When have you ever heard an opposing  coach say that about Mason?

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Any comparison to the Westhead era of run, shoot it 5 seconds into the shot clock, and play NO D is ridiculous. But it does look crazed when compared to the walk it up, structured and sometimes plodding Coach L teams of late. Those teams could look awful until later in the season (conference play) when his insistence on specific sets and plays began to pay off; ie, the kids started to get it. That said, RI's press  upped the tempo last night and I was happy to see Mason handle the uptempo game well. I thought the guards made good decisions with the ball. It will be interesting to see how they handle more zone and are forced to play straight half court O, rather than pushing against a press.

Let's not forget that Coach L used to press a lot back in the day, forcing this kind of game and generating a lot of O from turnovers. 

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Mason Guy said...

Oh, one link I didn't see on the pregame, Lunardi over on bracketology has Mason a 10 seed, Drexel 11, and VCU 'next 4 out'.  Almost would rather see our guys under the radar, but anyway...

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Chris S said...

I think some of the reactions to this game are overblown.  Paul ball?  Not even close.  The offense is much faster - which I think is good.  We have the talent to do that.  However, it was not disorganized and out of control like Paul Ball.  Now, the team NEEDS to work on free throws and inbounding.  

The defensive lapses I attribute not to a change in coaches or focus, but on the fact we have a lot of new players that need time to gel and get used to each other.  Time will benefit the defensive discipline. 

RI surprised me because they were better than I thought they would be.  I think they have won 20 games a year for the past few years and they were big and pressed a lot.  A good early season workout for the Patriots. 

Go Mason!

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Mooky_l3d said...

still fundamentally unsound.  free throws, inbounding and rebounds are huge issues with this team.  its great they broke the press with some consistency(when they got the ball inbounds).  it seemed embarassing to watch RI get so many second chances on offense.  they would have 4-5 players underneath rebounding.  that did lead to wright getting a number of cherry picks at the other end but they were still scoring so it really didn't help.  i am glad they came back and really glad they won.  this could go either way this season, with huge upsides or very low downs.  need to get bennet healthy because the big man depth will be tested soon.  GOOOOOOOOO MASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12:21 PM  
Anonymous ByGeorge06 said...

Overall good win.  RI has consecutive 20 plus wins that past few years and finished 3rd, 4th and 6th the past three year in A10.  From what I saw last night, RI should finish the season better then 10th that most experts have predicted.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Wow.  Some of the commentary here is crazy!!!  We did not look good last night!  I left shaking my head despite the win.  My thoughts:

1) Pearson was great but if this is how we are going to play all year I don't think it will be good for him.  They need to let him post up.

2) Defensive guard play from Vertrial and Bryon were terrible.  Out of position leaving the base line or other paths to the hoop wide open.  If your getting killed stop guard so close and force your opponent to score if he does then solve that problem.   I was dying to have Edwards and Gary on the floor instead.

3) Copes was a beast defensively, he was redirecting peoples shots, he rebounds like Rodman, off his feet over and over again before any one else can move.  And he was hauling up the after Wright got the final lead.  Offensively he was ok but that is to be expected.

4) They shift to a 2-3, Vertrail is off the floor we get nothing going he gets put in and instead of shooting over the zone and stickng it to them and forcing them out of it or pulling the zone up, he's driving baseline into it???  What? 

5) In Morrison's defense that 5th foul was crazy BS, his man lost his footing.  Awful call.

6) Offense: Sloppy.  Lots of one pass and shoot etc.  Not many screens to free people up.

7) Breaking the press.  What happened to one guy curling directly in front of the ball?  What happened to setting a pick to free some one up.  Only a few times did we seem to run a press break.  

8) Cornelious should have been in a shirt and tie on the sideline.  If we've got to have our best defender sit bc he was an idoit, he could at least look more professioonal.  Paris did.  That said we missed Paris too.

I am definitely worried and am no longer expecting to meet Va Tech.  We have to play with more discipline.  The energy and fire are great but who cares if we are just all over the place. 

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Deber said...

is patriot vision free. i seem to get coverage on all sports other then basketball?

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Because I'm an awesome guy, I appreciate the comments that basically told me to sober up an take off the rose colored glasses. I try not to be too big a homer. I do stand by, 

1. RI is not an awful team- it's not like some of our early season struggles against crummy, low level teams. They play in a good conference and have some talent and are well coached. A test. But okay, I got it.

2. It's early and while sloppy at times we could have looked and played a lot worse. I honestly think that the style of play last night (press) made it seem way sloppy, but I've seen a lot worse form Coach L's teams early on in the turnover department. I really do not think they played that poorly. 

As for AC, it's all about him 24/7. I don't see him getting the pt he thinks he's going to get this year.      

5:09 PM  
Anonymous fan said...

What i saw last night did not shock me. We looked like a team that lost their best outside shoooters, defenders and ball handlers, because we did. Long, Tate, Hancock and Acorn are an awful lot to lose, not to mention coach L. That being said, i was happy to see Copes play strong on the boards. Corey made some huge plays and Arledge looked smooth for such a big pup (accept from the line). Pearson saved us though and he's going to have to do it all year long i'm afraid. Whoever said the best players didn't play last year was smoking something i don't want a part of. As for my two cents on URI, they suck. We made a guy, who's very average at best, look like Michael Jordan. I don't know what the heck to expect from this team other than a chance to win the CAA tournament. There will be no at-large bid, i know... i know... gutsy call.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Foothills 5 said...

Hope you guys don't mind me creepin' but had to get the skinny on how ya'll felt about your first night. I'm sorry to inform you that you better get accustomed to the poor in-bounding plays and inconsistent defense which has been, unfortunately, a Hewitt tradmark over the last several years. It did sound like you moved the ball around, something we had not seen in the ATL since the Final Four year. Good luck to you the rest of the season.  

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Bentleydogg said...

almost that entire team is gone; this year is not the same URI team.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Bentleydogg said...

The only bright side is Paul ball was chaos by design, and then just
poor execution.  Last night I think (hope) the chaos was rust and a new
system.  I hope.  It is understandable if it was - lots and lots of
change in the offseason.  But last night was eerie the way it looked
like Paul ball with poor shooting, horrible D, and horrible decisions
(like on in-bounds.) I sat through every home game of Paul ball.... it was bad.

I am hoping this was just rust and really more like a pre-season game
since they've only been practicing for a few weeks.  That said, if they
play like this Monday, FIU will beat them.  And if they do get to play
VT, VT will destroy them if they play like last night.  You can't shoot
3s and FT that poorly and beat an ACC team on their home court.  The bright side - LOTS of room for easy fixes and improvement.

For this season, best case is that they learn and grow together and
these early season games (that likely will pile up some Losses) will be
forgotten with a strong Jan/Feb run.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Jayvallance said...

i think we did aright i think we need to do a better job of boxing out and mike morrison may have to be substituted more often and for Arledge. Arledge is a rebounder and scorer. other thn that i hope v vaughn gets less playing time. i think he is the weak link in the team. 

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Vertrail was a lift on offense, it was his defense that was awful.  Coaching staff should have made him adjust a few things.  He may not be a starter but he will be needed to score in stretches.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Mike O said...

Good, if sloppy early season test. The fact that they hung in there, came back from poor execution and a double digit deficit, roared back in overtime and generally hung in against a decently talented Rhode Island team (Jamal Wilson played out of his mind and Mason had no clue how to defend him for sure but he also might be poised for a breakout season). Basically, they won a game that for the most part they deserved to lose, a sign of a good team. Are there still glaring holes that will drag this team down at different points this season? Absolutely. I don't see any at large bid coming from this team unless they can get a big upset against out of conference competition like Va Tech. Still, it's nice having a true big in Copes who should have a great career here if he can stay healthy and focused and the athleticism of the Mason team has definitely taken a big step forward. It's not a great team but it should certainly be an entertaining one.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Brentrg said...

So I did not see the game, but after reading tons of posts it seems like a lot of these things (inbounds passing, defense, breaking the press) will get better with time.  Especially with a young front court and a young roster.  Sounds like both freshman looked good and will be factors this season.  I think our biggest problem this year could be three point shooting. Other than VV we have no solid 3 point shooters.  We really need ACorn back for that alone.  If people don't fear our outside shooting at all, it will change the way they defend us and that won't be a good thing.

So there are no video highlights anywhere huh????  Home opener and nothing... i guess i'll have to wait until tomorrow night to see them!

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Based on what? Have you seen any of these teams play yet that you have mentioned so far this year! Espn makes pre-season predictions, if URI plays like the way they did against Mason no way they finsish 11-14. Now maybe they played over their heads last night but I think none of you guys are giving them credit. To me the biggest dissapointment was the crowd had no energy, which definately needs to improve.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

Crowd had no energy?  Where in the arena did you sit cause It was louder in my section that I have ever heard it in the Patriot Center!

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Nichol said...

I appreciate that you taking the time to write this article , it has valuable information.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Ross_williams1 said...

This was the first game after major changes in the program so I will chalk up the problems as a learning experience. I am not worried as there were many games over the last couple of years where we had problems inbounding and poor  free throw shooting has always been an  issue. These guys will improve.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

And Miami won Friday.  Way to go, Coach L!

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

Didn't see the game but sounds like a lot less shootin 3 tees will be given away this year.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous waldo said...

I've always assumed that defense would be where we'd first miss Coach L.  Seems to be unfolding that way.  He had a distinctive system...that system's gone.  So there is going to have to be a period of time where a new system takes hold.  

7:14 PM  

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