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Andre Cornelius returns but still same old problems for George Mason this season

George Mason Basketball: Andre Cornelius returns but still same old problems for George Mason this season

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Andre Cornelius returns but still same old problems for George Mason this season

Photo by John Powell
The Patriots had another mistake prone evening in their 75-64 loss to Duquesne. The loss snapped their 18-game home winning streak and was certainly the first time in awhile we have seen this program get beat by that much at home. We received bad news right off the bat as the team announced Paris Bennett will be suspended two games for "off the court conduct". Although Paris has yet to register a point this season it still hurts the chemistry as he has already missed so much time due to injury in his career.  It was nice to finally see Cornelius out there and he did not appear to be rusty, scoring 11 points, hitting two three-pointers, and collecting three steals.  However, his return could not remedy the same problems we continue to see from this team.  
Photo by John Powell
Beating a dead horse. Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers, this time the number was 22. Doesn't seem like this issue is going to go away anytime soon.  Bryon Allen was the biggest culprit last night turning it over seven times.  Corey Edwards also somehow managed three in just 10 minutes of court time. The Dukes racked up 12 steals, some were gift wrapped.  The inexperience in the back court is obviously the team's most glaring weakness. At this point you have to question Paul Hewitt's offensive strategy, as most of you have already, because changes need to be made somewhere to help fix this problem.

Also here is a scary stat assessment:

Getting beat on the glass. This was actually more of a concern to me while watching this game last night. We know already that this team turns over the ball a lot, but getting beat on the glass by a vastly smaller team? I thought that was going to be one of the team's strengths this season. Duquesne's rebounding percentage numbers were ranked somewhere in the #330s nationally with them often sporting a three or four guard lineup. The fact that Mason couldn't take advantage in this area is a serious cause for concern.  Morrison, Pearson, and Copes let Duquesne players beat them on the offensive glass way too much, there's no way that team should have collected nine offensive rebounds.

Just plain sloppy. This team just didn't look like there were ready to play last night, and Paul Hewitt even admitted that in the post game interviews. The game was ugly at times despite the fact that both teams were hitting shots. Mason sent the Dukes to the free throw line a ton and they were lucky they only connected on 15-of-23.  They also allowed open looks on the perimeter, the Dukes went 8-for-16 from the three-point line.  At this point, if it feels like I am writing the same things after every loss that's because I am.



Anonymous GMURULES said...

That was a horrible game to sit through. Same issues every game.  At the end of the day, we just look horrible and have NO, and I mean, NO clue how to do the fundamentals of basketball.  It looks like the team all started playing the game this year.  Their whole life they have been playing the game, they should know how to box out, rebound, hustle on defense, protect the ball, shoot.  The lack of emotion was another huge cocern.  Do they even care?  Going through the motions?  It appears they are not even playing for pride.  I don't know what is happening.  HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT! I would love to say they are improving each game, but they AREN'T. I think they may be going backwards.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

I agree, the fact this team isn't showing signs of improvement from the beginning of the year is troubling.  They don't ever look prepared for some of these games, even the ones they ended up winning.  It was expected for us to see some bumps in the road with the changes this off season but at this point we should be moving forward, looks like they are going backwards right now.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

Is it too early to blame coaching? We are 11 games or over third of season and regression, not improvement is happening.   I want to give Hewitt a chance, but he needs to show me something and so far nothing.  I saw them play the two in Blacksburg and went to the UVA game in addition to the home games.  So I have seen them play a lot. The URI game looks like they were playing well compared to last night. No emotion, anger or pride from the players or coaching staff.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

But its ok guys, Tom O'Connor says Blewitt is doing a great job.

This team is reminding me of the 2009 team, I expect us to finish a little above .500 and probably blow a 30 point lead in the CBI Insiders College Inviation BS Tournament. Sucks, beacuse the CAA is there for the taking this season.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous AndyMinor said...

What's worse is we were in a position to be a force in the CAA for a good long time.  Instead O'Connor has just decided to take a back seat to VCU and hold the door open for them as they become the face of the conference.  We're only 2 months in and I'm considering not getting season tickets next season; if the athletic department isn't going to give a damn about the team, why should I?

10:14 AM  
Anonymous gmubball said...

No emotion, anger or pride, but plenty of confusion, players looking to the bench for approval after making a play, looking like they are playing scared at other times.  No clue what we are trying to do on defense - force man to one side with no help, non-existent transition defense, wide-open 3s.  If we are trying to play straight up man-to-man, I am not sure we have the horses.  I think the offense is what is going backwards because teams are watching film and adjusting.  We are not getting points off transition anymore and that is likely to continue.  Can someone tell Edwards to stop trying to make one handed passes off the dribble (fundamentals). CAA may be down this year, but teams still play good defense and shoot 3s.  VCU's defense looks better than last year and the young guys are very fast.  I don't want to be negative, please show me the silver lining... we did start making 3s last night - Go Mason!

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Clueless, no scheme, no half court zone trapping or defense, no floor leader, Morrison refuses to shut up and grow up, to even call for or work for the ball in the low post (which was there all night), or play defense other than an over dramatized block here and there. Probably the worst I've ever seen and I've had season tix for 12(?) years. 

They were an embarrassment and losing a game is not the issue. It's about comportment, attitude, desire, and court smarts and discipline. These guys collectively have very, very, little to offer and will be run out of the gym by decent teams. This is not pretty. This A10 team goes on the road a week before Xmas and plays with more intensity and focus than Mason and beats their ass. 
Let's talk Masonettes. They're awesome. You all see that Santa Rockettes halftime dance? Bad ass. Seriously, they are the best part of going to the games now. A few of them are smokin' too. Now that's teamwork, cohesion, desire.........    

10:30 AM  
Anonymous AndyMinor said...

How about those 4'3" kids chucking up floaters at half time?  More consistency in that shooting than there was from the boys in white, that's for sure.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Ballin4ever said...

Vaughn Gray is still riding GM bench....come on!  He needs to get out of there ASAP because this coach does not have any plans for him.  Vaughn Gray would be a fool to think there is a future with this team that is on the decline.  This team is a .500 team....period so GM fans need to stop dreaming becasue your dreams are becoming a nightmare.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

What I don't like is that no one seems to get benched for playing terrible defense.  Team needs discipline as well.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous bdgg said...

11 games in, it is pretty clear this team is not comfortable in the new system,  that is stating the obvious.  From the outside looking in, I'd have to guess they aren't buying into what Hewitt is selling them.  Is this because they are mostly Coach L's guys, or maybe the seniors thought they'd be on cruise control this season and aren't interested in learning a new system?  Who knows, but if Hewitt's future recruits don't come in and perform, this will be the second failed experiment of a "big name" coach.  (see Paul Westhead for first failure)

As for this year, don't see much hope for anything above 5th in the CAA. VCU, ODU, GA St. and Drexel are all better.  JMU might even surpass us.  If this team doesn't get its act together, and quick, they won't even be in the top 5.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous bdgg said...

Mason punted it's chance to become the face of the CAA.  (They still have the 70's era scoreboard with burned out lights)  It is sad to say, but VCU is the class of the conference and by far the face of the CAA.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous CAARULES said...

Hewitt's making 7 million from GA Tech, he's the highest paid employee in the Commonwealth and yet O'Connor wouldn't/couldn't give Larranega and his staff more $$$ to keep him at Mason. Trust me, this team wouldn't be performing like this if Coach L was still around. Mason basketball is done until they get a new coach. It sucks, but it's the truth.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

I don't see 3 victories in the CAA if they keep playing like this much less 5th.  This team is horrible.  No heart.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Good said...

Tom O'Connor sucks !  He is the root of all the troubles we are seeing. Who needs a fired coaching? are you expecting PH to do better with less-talented players ? What is the logical? 

10:58 AM  
Anonymous bdgg said...

Agreed.  The teams Mason have beaten this year are a combined 24-57.  That is HORRIBLE competition.  Not to mention they lost to a horrible FIU team (3-8) and a bad FAU team (4-7).

So the 7 wins they have shouldn't be given too much credit.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Patriot74 said...

Last night marked the first time in years I actually walked out of a game before it was over.It was too painful to watch! Sloppy!Sloppy!Sloppy! Like another poster wrote: "nobody played with heart." I look at our Final Four banner and say:" Is this the same program?" 1970s obsolete scoreboard, no practice facility for team, a jury-rigged lounge area with curtains for Patriot club members. The team is not the only thing regressing here. I dont wanna give up on Hewitt but things dont look good.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Ross_williams1 said...

I think the jury is coming in on Hewitt. Almost all of the problems mentioned this morning stem from poor coaching.  Sloppy play, being out of position, lack of motivation etc. There is a general lack of focus among all of the players this year that I have not seen before this season.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Ross_williams1 said...

Wasn't it coach L's policy that defensive play earned you playing time?

12:12 PM  
Anonymous BoredInClass said...

The program is regressing, because of old, stubborn leadership. The Patriot Center does not even touch VCU or ODU in terms of technology and atmosphere. Both arenas have club level seating and luxury boxes, at least I know VCU does, and it looked extremely nice. I was at a VCU women's game yesterday (for work) and they turn the lights off and have smoke for the players to run out of.. at a VCU women's game..... Mason still has the same, boring intro that needs to change. The Patriot Club amenities are also horrible. The athletic department as a whole is on the decline. As far as the play on the court goes, Bryce Lewis should see the court.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

Yep, fun while it lasted, right?

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Rmjank said...

Not much to add to all this.  It's all pessimistic, and with good reason.  In a previous post, I said that if Hewitt turns out to be a dud, maybe there could be a silver lining, that since he is a good recruiter he will bring in some good talent for a couple of years and then leave or get fired so that we can bring in a good coach.  I'm thinking maybe I should revise that ... because the way we are playing now I can't imagine how a good recruit could be convinced to come to Mason.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Gio said...

I'm regretting getting season tickets already, clearly this is not our year. Decent turnout last night for a midweek game and the students gone for break, too bad our guys stunk up the joint. It's like they forgot how to play over exams. The dukes are a decent team in a tough A-10 conference, they would be in 3rd or 4th position if they were in the CAA and we have yet to play the likes of Georgia State and VCU.Even William and Mary & UNC Wilmington would have beaten us last night smh

1:14 PM  
Anonymous TEACHERS PET said...

Well, Hancock is gone and the cry babies are getting their minutes. At least the best players are out there right?  

1:20 PM  
Anonymous gmubball said...

I posted my negative thoughts earlier, so now I will post my fanboy hope - in Feb there was a lot of blogging by VCU fans to fire Shaka Smart -  especially after losing to James Madison - we know how that turned out.  Tis the season...

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Good said...

The are in coffin and you said I did not see the nail. It will come soon. 

1:38 PM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

I too suggested to my crew we leave early and I NEVER do that.  It was just so sad.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Patriot74 said...

Man I hope you're right.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Jphubba said...

Quite a Bummer!

Some of the problems are a function of the talent available. Allen and Edwards lack the quickness to be excellent point guards. Both are inexperienced and it showed last night.  Pearson is only effective when he sets up close to the basket. But to get Morrison in the lineup, Pearson ends up playing the 4 spot and getting the ball too far from the basket.  Morrison has terrible fundamentals -- in all aspects of the game. If you told me, he played only a year of high school ball and never played AAU ball I would believe you. Cornelius handled the ball comparatively well last night but we have already seen that he makes enough bad decisions to eliminate him as a full time point guard.  None of the guards is particularly good defensively. Again, when Cornelius is your best defensive guard, you have real problems. No one shoots threes well. Vaughans can be effective, but he is a catch and shoot type of player. Right now the team is not getting him the ball in positions where he can be effective. Otherwise opposing teams are comfortable sagging in a daring GMU to shoot from the outside.

The team lacks leadership. We all know that Morrison has a short fuse. Last night I lost count of the number of times Pearson was slow to get back on defense. One of the laziest efforts I have seen in a long time. Cornelius was trying but somehow I don't think he has what it takes to be a leader. And anyway he isn't starting just yet. 

Hewitt is clearly trying to fix some of the problems. The team has obviously worked on how to get the ball into the low post. Perhaps in a few games or so, they will master it. Right now the point guards are hesitant to throw the ball inside even when someone is open. Hewitt has pulled Morrison out to the high post or even beyond in an attempt to free up the inside for Pearson. The problem is that Morrison is a terrible passer.

I suspect that Wright and Alredge can shoot from medium range well enough to be consistent threats. I would be tempted to give Alredge more playing time. Perhaps paired with Pearson against smaller teams. In any case, GMU needs to create some scoring threat away from the basket so that Pearson and the other big guys can work inside. On defense, they may have to go to a zone of some sort to at least close off the inside. Agains the best CAA teams, that would be problematic but it might be worth a try.

Finally, my gut instinct is still that Hewitt is not a tough enough coach for this team. Coach L would face many of the same problems, but I suspect that Pearson would not be walking down the court for long if Coach L were still on the bench and the level of effort at both ends would be better.


2:38 PM  
Anonymous 93Patriot said...

Yep. I can't remember ever leaving a game early, but I did last night.  I could not take it anymore. 

2:44 PM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

Wright has to stop going for the pump fake on D.  He has to step up and shoot more.  He has a sweet shot.  Arledge has a sweet jump shot and some energy.   I like the zone idea.  

2:47 PM  
Anonymous 93Patriot said...

Did anyone else catch the really tall Duquesne player on the bench jump up after a big play and give the double middle fingers to the Green Machine?  I looked him up and he is #33 Martins Abele.  Real class act.  He was jaw-jacking on the bench the entire game.  Should have been multiple technicals on this moron. 

2:50 PM  
Anonymous commboy said...

A few months back Hewitt made a statement that he thinks he can win a NCAA championship with Mason. It now looks like a CAA championship may be a lofty goal....

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Student said...

Lol I brought a chick with me to catch the game right, and tell me why I felt mad embarassed for bringing her there. Old cheezy ass facilities, scoreboard etc., and to top it all off, we played the lamest game I've been to.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Brentrg said...

Okay....  I hope everyone has gotten their frustration out.  Now where do we go from here?  I think Byron Allen Will NEVER be a point guard.  Hewitt needs to give up that idea.  Play Edwards as much as possible and AC when it's crunch time.  I'd much rather have Edwards get his 5 to's a game while we stink so when we are good in the future it pays off.  Let's see Copes a lot more too.  He has much learning to do as well.  We do have a bright future, but I agree this is going to be like '08 where we just gotta let guys learn.  I still think we finish top 4 in the CAA.  At least ODU stinks like we do!!!!  The most frustrating part of last night was waching guys moving slow on defense not stepping up at all.  Let's hope this game get's them to wake up.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous ChemistCorner1 said...

New President mixed with O'Connor is going to be scary IMO. Tommy boy needs to move along. Maybe a ,bar tending gig at Brion's Grillaaay.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Parebon said...

Give the team a freaking chance you negative losers.

5:02 AM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

Parebon, please share the positive.  We are 11 games in and nothing seems to be improving.  Please enlighten us.  I have seen 8 of their 11 games and nothing seems to be changing and the team is regressing.  There is not a person who has written here that does not want to see progress.  We love GMU hoop.  So please tell us what to pin our hopes to.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Neeker20 said...

Agree with Parebon to give this team a chance!  Moreover,  you all are not losers and make valid observations that this team has a very long way to go. Still think that this team is capable of winning the CAA tourney in March 2012. Go Mason!!!!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Jayvallance said...

what i can't understand is how we have a NBA COACH who can't run sets on offense.

that is kind of strange to me. 

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Cottrell99 said...

It will take time to fix the problem.  This staff seems to be dominated by recruiter types.  In the off season someone has to go and a very experienced  X and O guy be brought in.  A guy who does not go on the road, stays home and mentors guys on and off the court.  He would also make the adjustments during other team's runs.  Let Hewitt do whay he does well, i.e. Recruit!

12:33 PM  
Anonymous commboy said...

As Moses pointed out (somewhere on this thread) that he has been a season ticket holder for approximately 12 years, and he has not seen things gone this bad. 12 YEARS!!!! I think this points to issues not only with players but coaches as well. If we have problem throughout the organization, do you think we can get this fixed quickly?

12:36 PM  
Anonymous BatMason said...


7:24 PM  
Anonymous BatMason said...

Honestly, I don't really give a crap if Hewitt can recruit. I mean let's be serious, we're a mid-major, and of those mid-majors, we're not even in like the top 5 perennial NCAA favorites (which maybe we could have become in a few short years had the admin made some better coaching and facilities decisions). So who is Hewitt going to get?...realistically?  Some one and done NBA talent? Nope. Some top 50 high school picks? Nope. So why should I care? He's going to get one or two top 100 high school players to come into a disorganized system lacking the foundation of a good fundamental coaching program and those one or two players are going to make this team a perennial winner? Not in 100 years. This isn't some bball powerhouse man, one that is going to attract enough of that talent (even with a salesman like Hewitt at the helm) to make a discernible difference. I'd rather have a team of under the radar kids with good coaching and fundamental, watchable bball then to have this free for all in the hopes we are going to recruit enough good players to override the faulty system. It didn't work for him even at GaTech. a place that will be much easier to recruit from than at Mason. I'd like to be a blind homer, but... you know what they say - The best prophet of the future is the past. 

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Neeker20 said...

Had a nice second half tonight against Manahatan for a 20 point win and Chick F.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Neeker20 said...

Had a nice second half tonight against Manhattan for a 20 point win and Chick F.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous GMURULES said...

We did have a nice second half.  Was very surprised ont he Chick F since it seemed like it was 2-2 forever.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

The second half of last night was by far the best half of the season (hustle, passing, Morrison playing with a mission, Vertrail hitting 3s, etc.).  I can honestly say I saw improvement.  First half, not so much, but second half was good.  Two things concerned me. First, our starting point guard only had 1 assist 30 minutes into the game.  That won't get it done.  Secondly, we are still HORRID at foul shots.  We were 20-37 last night.  That won't beat VCU, ODU, GSU, or maybe even JMU.

But we've got what we've been wanted all along: improvement.  Albiet there is still much more work to do, but improvement none the less.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Having NBA experience can actually work against a college coach. The NBA is pretty simplistic- mostly a pick up game by the most physically gifted players in the world. In fact, it sucks- but I'm a hoops purist and I'd rather see Butler versus Wichita State, honestly than a bunch of dunks by 7 footers. 
Hewitt's approach seems to be to get superior talent and hope it overwhelms most opponents. Winning through solid fundamentals, defensive schemes and half court sets with 3 or 4 pass possessions isn't up for consideration. So be it. Lots of ways to win. I happen to like playing smarter and tougher and with superior desire. But that's me- old skooler. I can't wait to see Mason put a bunch of top high school prospects (who are fundamentally unsound, like Mike Mo) on the floor and have a disciplined, well coached team kick their ass. Like Dusquesne did the other night. Get used to it, I'm afraid.   

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Moses said...

That was Manhattan. MANHATTAN. 
In fairness to you, I got excited about how we played against Rhode Island. But I've sobered up.

1:04 PM  

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