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Previewing George Mason vs ODU

George Mason Basketball: Previewing George Mason vs ODU

Friday, February 03, 2012

Previewing George Mason vs ODU

The Patriots are coming off a bad loss in Delaware and need a win at home Saturday to stay atop the CAA standings.  Last time these two teams met in Norfolk the Monarchs seemed to grab every rebound that bounced off the rim but just couldn't put it back in the basket. Mason escaped there with the win, something they hadn't done in that arena in years. They are now looking to sweep this series for first time since 1999, something that would most likely go a long way in terms of the CAA tournament seeding. Mason needs to bounce back from their recent road loss and focus on the task at hand because there are still enough chances for them to create separation in the standings.

While Mason is coming off less than stellar recent performances, ODU was looking very impressive in their win last night against JMU.  Despite being one of the poorest shooting teams in the country, the Monarchs went 13-for-25 from behind the three-point line (52%), on the season they are only a bit above 30% from there.  They also had six players in double figures and dominated the boards.  Forward Chris Cooper finished with 22 rebounds, so Mason better make boxing him out a priority.  That game for ODU was still an anomaly as they don't score above 65 often and have had much worse scoring droughts than the Patriots this season.  

What worries me is the inconsistent play from Mason's backcourt, as they recently have been sluggish on offense and have allowed opposing guards to have big nights (JMU Hitchens 27 points, UD Anderson 21).  Paul Hewitt has tinkered with the line-up having Sherrod Wright come off the bench, which has led to much better production from him.  The problem is the other guards besides Andre Cornelius rotating on defense to defend the perimeter.  Vertrail Vaughns and Bryon Allen have had their struggles on defense this season and while it may seem like they have a deep bench in terms of scoring they don't in terms of on-the-ball defenders.  ODU's Kent Bazemore had a productive night in their last meeting and is very capable of having a 20+ point day against Mason.  It will interesting to see how they play him in this one because having Vertrail Vaughns on him for most of the game is not going to work.

Keys to game for George Mason:

Rebounding: Forget the turnover battle in this one because ODU won't feast off them like other teams have against Mason. They have beaten teams this year with their rebounding margin and stout defense. I can't stress enough how much rebounding will determine the winner in this game and the Patriots have to make this a priority. The issue was masked a bit in their last meeting because ODU couldn't buy a bucket, don't expect them to be that cold again.  Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison have been much better on the boards since that game but will need help as the game could get ugly.  Morrison tends to get very emotional in big games like this, he can't let that get the better of him in this one.

Get to the free-throw line: ODU's defense might make this a much more lower scoring game than the Patriots want it to be. Mason wants to run up and down the court and score quick baskets.  That won't be easy tomorrow and since they struggle with outside shooting getting to the line is the only other way for them to build a lead.  They didn't convert from there at Delaware and it was the difference in the game.  They are much better at home from there and will need to do this to take advantage of their more athletic backcourt players.  

Get the backcourt players going early: I don't think Mason can win this game without the backcourt being heavily involved. It will be sell-out crowd and most of the young players on this team aren't used to that atmosphere.  That is why they need to get them going early on offense to build confidence.  Running plays and screens for them in the early goings to pick up easy baskets is a must in my opinion and it's something they seem to abandon too early.  Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison will get theirs but they need to set the tone with these guards early to keep ODU's defense honest and open things up.



Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

On one hand feel good because in recent years we always blow out ODU at home, feel bad because I feel like ODU is playing their best, and we are playing mediocre. Will be interesting to see what happens.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Patriot Center gets a new score board and GMU Hoops gets an upgrade. Both look great

2:10 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

Thanks, a reader emailed me suggesting the CAA standings, I thought it was a great idea.  If anyone else has any feedback you are always welcome to send me your suggestions or comments at

2:14 PM  
Anonymous jimp said...

Just went back and looked at the box score from last game.  I didn't realize just how poorly ODU shot.  28% from the field, 29% from three and 48%  (12-25!) from the line.   This does make me less confident about tomorrow's game.    Rebounding will be huge - I think just average shooting will keep them in it.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Abdc1234 said...

What about Corey Edwards or Vaughn Gray as good backups for Vertrail and Andre? Just curious...

4:31 PM  
Anonymous DueorDieX said...

We don't stand a chance with a backcourt(wings) with the height @ AC(5'8') and VV(5'10").  Coaching staff better get a clue.....QUICKLY.  Wright and Gray should be the wings becasue of their height and speed to defend larger guards.  I've never heard of wings that are under 6 ft.

11:13 PM  

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