This page has moved to a new address.

Previewing the regular season finale at VCU

George Mason Basketball: Previewing the regular season finale at VCU

Friday, February 24, 2012

Previewing the regular season finale at VCU

TV: ESPN2, 6 p.m.

The Patriots finish up the regular season in Richmond against VCU, where they will be headed right back to in a week for the CAA tournament.  The loss to Northeastern on Wednesday night prevented Mason from any chance of getting the #1 seed in the tournament and now the winner of tomorrow night's game will determine the #2 and #3 seeds. Keep in mind that the #2 and #3 seeds can meet in the semifinals if both win their games on Saturday during the tournament, so it's very likely the Patriots will yet again face VCU in the semis. 

Mason played of their better games of the season against VCU and you have to think they will be "up" for this one after coming off an embarrassing loss to Northeastern on the road. Last season they stunned the Rams at the Siegel Center with a 71-51 win but then got manhandled by them in the conference tournament a few weeks later. The situation of seeing them again in the CAA tournament is very likely and at least this year we will have more tape on the teams against each other. The result of the game might not mean that much considering they will most likely need to beat them again in a week but a win would certainly give them some much needed confidence heading into the conference tournament.  

To win on the road against VCU the Patriots will need to do what they did in Fairfax last week plus a little more.  The Rams still forced a lot of turnovers but Mason didn't let them go on any sort of run.  Ryan Pearson did a great job on the boards and they will really need that again.  Mike Morrison wasn't much of a factor and that is something they just can't afford on the road.  The one positive from that Northeastern game was how Morrison looked assertive in the paint, let's hope he's pumped up for this one.  

With that said here are the keys to the game for George Mason:

Keep the turnovers to around 10-13:  I don't think Mason can win turning over the ball 16 times again against the Rams. They got away with it at home but on the road in a packed house against the thieving Rams defense is a totally different story.  There were some awful turnovers, a lot by Bryon Allen, on Wednesday night and it will be interesting to see if Corey Edwards handles the ball a bit more in this one.  Allen's been getting more minutes at the point but he and Edwards both have questionable decision making late in games.  The Rams will attack this and how the Patriots respond could be the difference in the game.  Getting the ball out of their hands quickly and into the post or to shooters on the wing should a focus for them.

Win the battle at the free-throw line: The Patriots definitely lost this battle on Wednesday night and let dumb, ticky-tack fouls prevent them from getting into any sort of rhythm on offense.  Usually they are better than that and make their opponents pay for sending them to the free-throw line.  They didn't do enough of this against VCU last week. Sherrod Wright and Ryan Pearson only combined for seven FT attempts in that game and they need to get there more to slow down the momentum the Rams can get while playing at home.   With Paris Bennett playing more recently, the Patriots have a deeper bench and getting the Rams into foul trouble could be a huge advantage for Mason in this one.

Get Sherrod Wright involved early: The Huskies provided VCU with a great blueprint for slowing down Ryan Pearson. They frustrated Mason all game long and the Rams are even more capable of doing this.  Pearson often gets off to slow starts early in road games and Mason needs to make sure other players are getting involved.  Too often this year Sherrod Wright hasn't gotten going til the second half, especially when Pearson is getting a lot of attention.  Andre Cornelius has not been much of a factor on offense recently and Vertrail Vaughns has been a streaky shooter all year.  They need to run plays, set screens, and do whatever they need to get Sherrod Wright more looks.  This is going to Mason's toughest road game of the season, and the Rams have a way of forcing a team out of their usual flow, making Wright's impact even more important for the Patriots.

[Photo by John Powell]



Anonymous Rmjank said...

I think we all would agree with Ryan that limiting turnovers is a big deal against VCU.  It seems strange to see in the "Four Factors" that we have a better ball handling percentage.  I thought it was interesting in the NU game that we did a little full court press and had a little bit of success with it.  I wonder if that was a warmup for VCU, a plan to give them a little of their own medicine.  As the adage goes, "teams that like to press don't like to be pressed."  Maybe we're sending a little message their way...

11:34 AM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

No we don't, that ball handling figure is turnover %, so you want it to be lower. It's misleading I know.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Charlie T said...

We need this type of game before the tournament. From here on its all about who wants it more and 90 some percent of the people this Saturday will act like Mason needs to be destroyed not just defeated. If we can keep our heads and let them lead in fouls commited and turnovers it will be interesting. Love these type of games since they really bring out the inner character of the players and how they react. Behind GMU all the way.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous ByGeorge06 said...

For some reason I just want us to play VCU as many time as possible this year.  Despite all the ups and downs, if we can beat them in all 3 meetings I would be satisfied regardless where I end up in the postseason.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Gio said...

As I commented in the post NU game discussion, having Sherrod stay out of foul trouble and getting him involved is key from the get-go.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous overrated14 said...

Not a good idea to get Sherrod off early.  He will become a complete ball hog and there goes any chances of winning. 

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Good said...

A trick Patriot may need to use when get trapped at the edge or at the corner. Throw the ball on the legs of the VCU players to get it off the court. Go Mason ! 

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Match or exceed their intensity.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Great analysis!

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Sjones said...

Loved the game tonight, it showed that the puzzer beater on Valentine's Day was a lucky run by Mason at the Buzzer.  And by the way, that was VCU's 18th consecutive sellout!  A very nice win for the RAMS for VCU tonight in Richmond.  Loved that 10 point run by the Ram created by steals and take-a-ways!  Go-Rams-Go!

11:16 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

The buzzer shot may have been lucky, but overall I wouldn't say VCU is the better team. I think VCU played well and we played pretty poorly and got into a lot of foul trouble - some of the calls were questionable and it's always tough away from home.  As for the's not too hard when the place is the size of a high school gym compared to the patriot center. 

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Charlie T said...

Scones, sorry I was thinking of traffic. There are 6 and maybe 7 teams in the CAA that could win one game but only one will win all 3. Do I hope that is Mason,sure since off all the teams we are the only one that has to correct a big issue ,which,of course, is turnovers. VCU has a nice team and they are very much in tune with their coach and game plan but they really have no answer if their press does not work. In other words they are totally dependent on creating 15 to 25 turnovers every time they play. We will play them again providing we both get by and as in both games there will be no luck involved. The real bottom line is whoever wins this will be a tough out in the NCAA tournament. I just hope there is 2 of them.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous DRSHELDONCOOPER said...

Mr Puzzer,

I know its a free county and what are you doing on the GMU blog? Go talk to your evil ram jam minions and please stay our out of our house.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous DRSHELDONCOOPER said...

Spelling CorrectionMr Puzzer,I know its a free country and what are you doing on the GMU blog? Go talk to your evil ram jam minions and please stay our out of our house.

10:01 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Blog Counter