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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: November 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

College of Charleston is officially making the move to the CAA

Interesting day for the CAA. Earlier today news broke that four Hofstra players will be suspended indefinitely after being arrested on burglary charges. Two of the players are among the Pride's top scorers. How bad is this story? Apparently one of the victims could have been their head coach, Mo Cassara. Later this afternoon however the CAA got some positive news though, that College of Charleston's Board of Trustees has approved a move to the CAA.


George Mason squares off against their toughest remaining non-conference opponent: Maryland

George Mason is coming off two, less than stellar performances heading into this Sunday's BB&T Classic. They are still winners of their last three and now face Maryland, the toughest remaining non-conference opponent on their schedule. A win on Sunday would certainly throw the Patriots into that early at-large, bubble team talk if they don't stumble later on. However the Patriots are faced with a daunting task of having to defend a potential NBA lottery pick at center, Alex Len and a very good wing scorer, Dez Wells. 



Thursday, November 29, 2012

George Mason escapes Rhode Island in another close one

One of the few things George Mason has done consistently this season is play close games. They escaped Rhode Island last night after experiencing a bit of a meltdown to start the second half. After the first 20 minutes they built a 16 point lead and scored their most points in any half so far this season (35). You would have thought Mason was going to run away with this one and it was fun to see nine different players score in the first half. 



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Game Day Links: George Mason at Rhode Island

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

George Mason heads to Rhode Island

George Mason looks to rebound from an awful performance against Boston University on Saturday. This isn't the same Rhode Island team that the Patriots nearly escaped last season in overtime at the Patriot Center. They have a new coach and a bunch of new players. The Rams are going through a transition with their new coach and just recently picked up their first win of the season against Auburn. With Maryland on the slate for this Sunday at the Verizon Center, we have to hope the Patriots are focused for this one and don't have another sloppy night from the field.


Monday, November 26, 2012

George Mason likely to be in Diamond Head Classic tournament next season

Just before tip-off on Saturday, Washington Post writer Steven Goff informed us that George Mason is trying to get into the Diamond Head Classic field for next season:


Saturday, November 24, 2012

George Mason survives a sloppy battle against Boston U

It was a game that left many fans befuddled I'm sure; but the Patriots came out of this sloppy game with a win. Bryon Allen drove to lane and scored (pictured above) while getting fouled with 0.2 seconds remaining. Keep in mind Mason was tied after holding Boston scoreless for the last 3:32 of the game and need Allen's heroics to win 48-45. Mason held the winless Terriers to under 29% shooting from the field while only shooting around 36% themselves. So what happened? Paul Hewitt attempts to explain it in the post game interviews:



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Could Patrick Holloway be the hot-handed shooter George Mason has needed?

Both freshmen Marko Gujanicic and Patrick Holloway have already played key roles this season. Holloway's immediate impact is a little bit more surprising given the returning back court players. Vaughn Gray's suspension and Vertrail Vaughns inconsistent shooting has opened the door for Holloway to get some early season minutes. So far he has seized the opportunity and has shown he's not afraid to shoot from anywhere. I have to say I like his no fear shooting approach. Where most freshman guards struggle to create their own shots he looks comfortable and was completely unfazed in the New Mexico game. As a pure shooter off the bench he has the potential to be for this team what Vertrail Vaughns once was during the 2010-2011 season.

George Mason routs Quinnipiac, earns third place in Paradise Jam

George Mason came out strong last night and took care of Quinnipiac to leave the Virgin Islands on a high note. There's still that soar feeling that they probably could have won this tournament but in the end we got to see just how good this group can be. Sherrod Wright is playing his best basketball of his Mason career and was nearly unstoppable going to the rim last night. Every time I watch him get to the basket that easy and get an and one play I wonder why he isn't doing it more. However the best thing to take away from the win over Quinnipiac is how this team showed off their depth. Ten different players scored for Mason last night and what was most surprising was that they were lead by guys like Anali Okoloji and Erik Copes. This balance on offense will make George Mason a tough team to scheme against going forward.

Here are the key things to take away from this trip to St. Thomas for George Mason:


Monday, November 19, 2012

George Mason to face Quinnipiac in final Paradise Jam game

Not the finish George Mason wanted in this tournament but hopefully the teams' spirits aren't broken as they play Quinnipiac tonight before heading back to Fairfax. Quinnipiac can't be feeling much different, having taken Connecticut to two overtimes last night before eventually falling 89-83. This could be a very tough out for George Mason tonight as the Bobcats rebound well and get to the free-throw line often. They also have shot very well from behind the three-point line in this tournament and Mason is currently struggling to defend such. 

It will be interesting to see how Mason responds from last night: do they come out firing trying to finish on a strong note or do they start off flat and look defeated? Like Mason, Quinnipiac has had their problems with turnovers. They committed 24 against Iona and still won the game by consistently going to the free-throw line. Mason has had a habit of sending other teams to the line often and need to start settling down more on defense. Sometime's the aggressive full court press gets the better of this team and really hampers what they are trying to do. It seems to be a gamble Hewitt is willing to take.  


George Mason endures a heartbreaking loss to New Mexico

It is the next morning and I am still in shock on how the closing moments of last night's game unfolded. Inbounding the ball against New Mexico was a problem all night for George Mason and it was painful to watch them cough it up again with 11 seconds on the clock and the Lobos down two. Watch the comeback again here:



Saturday, November 17, 2012

George Mason gets past Mercer, will face New Mexico on Sunday

The Patriots escaped the opening round of the Paradise Jam with a narrow victory over Mercer. It seems they haven't quite kicked the turnover bug that plagued them last season as they ended this one coughing it up 19 times. How did the Patriots win despite doing that you might ask? A combination of tough defense and shooting over 75% from the field in the second half put them in position to still be in the game late despite their sloppy ball handling. Mason also looked much better from the free-throw line and Sherrod Wright getting there late really gave them a lift.

Johnny Williams posted a double-double and had a career-high 10 rebounds. It's a good sign for Mason that he's hitting the boards hard. Someone had to pick up the scoring load as they finished 0-8 from the three-point line and starters Bryon Allen and Jon Arledge had quiet days offensively. However they ended up with 19 points off Mercer's 17 turnovers. Something they will have to continue to do against New Mexico on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see how the return of Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray will impact the team. New Mexico has the advantage in both the front and back court and Copes' return will very much be welcomed. Mason's pressure defense will again have to be on its game and give them more possessions. They will need to have more success from behind the arch and perhaps Gray returning will help that. But again, Mason's defense will be the key if they want to upset the Lobos. They have been pressing well but still have been having some trouble guarding the perimeter. I think it's worth mentioning that New Mexico had 18 turnovers against UIC.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bill Rohland takes us through day two in St. Thomas

The Patriots get a practice in at a local high school, Bill Rohland interviews Coach Hewitt, and the Patriots get a welcome party.

[Video via]


Thursday, November 15, 2012

George Mason basketball arrives in St. Thomas

Video blog from the team on their arrival in St. Thomas for the Paradise Jam tournament:


Also see my Paradise Jam Preview

GMU Hoops Forum Discussion on Paradise Jam

[video via]


Big opportunity awaits George Mason at the Paradise Jam tournament

Paradise Jam Live Video Channel

George Mason is in St. Thomas for the Paradise Jam tournament and will have an opportunity to pick up more quality non-conference wins. Their first opponent is Mercer and a win against them will most likely get them a game with New Mexico in the next round. You will also notice that a re-match of George Mason-UConn is a possibility as well. Mason missed a chance to take advantage of an early season tournament last year when they lost to Florida International in the opening round of the NIT Tip-off. As a result they played a bunch of RPI-killers instead of Virginia Tech and other BCS teams. Fellow CAA member Delaware is capitalizing on the NIT right now as a matter of fact. I imagine the Patriots are looking to avenge that loss from last season and seize the opportunity at hand this weekend in St. Thomas.

In the opening round on Friday afternoon the Patriots face a team that hasn't played a Division I opponent yet. Mercer started off their schedule playing two Division III opponents, so Mason will have the edge being much more battle tested coming into this game. They return a lot of talent from last year's team that won 27 games and were CIT champs. However, their returning leading scorer and starting point guard Langston Hall is most likely out with an ankle injury. They have some good shooters in the back court even with Hall's absence and some size up front. No excellent post players but Mason's front court will have to careful not to get into foul trouble again like they did against Bucknell.

After this tournament will have a much better understanding of how much this team has improved from last year. Their new aggressive style of defense will be tested and it will be interesting to watch what Hewitt does when Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray return. I think the Patriots are talented and hungry enough to have success in this tournament but there are still a few question marks heading in.

Here are some key factors for George Mason during this tournament:


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

George Mason falls short at Bucknell

Yesterday I posted a few keys to the game for George Mason, #2 being "keep them off the free-throw line". The Patriots didn't play a terrible game by any means but they let the game get away from them at times by continually sending Bucknell to the free-throw line. It ruined any chance Mason had of getting their fast paced offense going and key players had to sit due to foul trouble. By the end of the second half, Johnny Williams, Jon Arledge, and Marko Gujanicic had all fouled out. You can see from the "Four Factors" chart below the huge difference in the rates that each team got to the free-throw line. What's even more incredible is that Bucknell won this game while going 5-for-20 in the second half. You can see how big an impact all those trips to the line had but despite all that Mason was still in this one til the end. 



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Keys to the game for George Mason at Bucknell

Game Preview

Free video stream

Win the battle on the boards. Rebounding could be the difference tonight and how well George Mason's guards help on the boards could be a big factor. Without Erik Copes, Bucknell's Mike Muscala might feast on the boards and that could be devastating for the Patriots. Virginia had 11 offensive rebounds on Friday night and Mason only had 3. 

Keep them off the free-throw line. George Mason can't afford to let Bucknell shoot 25 free-throws like they did against Purdue. Mason struggled from the line on Friday and they don't want this one to have to come down to free-throws. They pressed well and didn't foul UVA much and they have to keep themselves disciplined again tonight. Sloppy fouls early could slow things down and allow the Bison to build an early lead. This was a big problem that plagued them last season in road games.

Guard the perimeter. The Patriots can't let all the focus go to Mike Muscala because Bucknell still has their share of outside shooters. Muscala is good but he's not going to drop 25-30 points on anyone. Mason needs to resist the urge to collapse on him and leaving their guards wide open. A lot of UVA's made three-pointers on Friday were heavily contested so Mason already looked better than last season but they need to keep that up. And don't be fooled by the boxscore of the Bucknell-Purdue game (2-10 3pters), last year Cameron Ayers shredded the Patriots with his long range shooting. 

Drive to the basket. George Mason has a size advantage at every spot except center tonight. They also are the more athletic team, especially on the wing and forward spots. Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen were excellent at driving to the basket on Friday night and need to do that again tonight  and get the Bucknell front court into foul trouble. Anali Okoloji and Marko Gujanicic can both dominate at the 3 in this one if given the chance and if they attack the basket along with the back court I don't think Bucknell will have an answer if Muscala gets into foul trouble. Muscala is a good shot-blocking presence in the middle but Mason has too much of a talent advantage here to shy away from attacking the rim.

[Photo by John Powell]

Game Preview: George Mason at Bucknell

It's weird to think that a Patriot League opponent will be a more difficult game for George Mason than an ACC one was, but that is the case heading into tonight's game. Unlike UVA, Bucknell has a legit NBA prospect, 6-11 center Mike Muscala, and aren't hampered by injuries and suspensions. The Bison return four starters from a team that won 25 games last season and beat Arizona, at Arizona, in the NIT. This first road test for Mason will be an important one to see if this team has really gotten rid of the turnover bug and learned to play more disciplined on defense. We saw them force their tempo on UVA and press well on defense. That all needs to continue against Bucknell, as the Bison are brimming with confidence after opening the season with a win on the road at Purdue. 



Monday, November 12, 2012

Video Highlights from George Mason vs UVA

Saturday, November 10, 2012

George Mason takes down UVA

Bryon Allen came up big with a clutch three-pointer with just under a minute left to give Mason a 60-57 lead. He then hit free-throws in the closing seconds to put the game away for the Patriots. UVA's Joe Harris had previously hit a few big shots despite Mason players being all over him. In the end Mason's pressure defense was the difference and allowed them to win the turnover battle.

-Overall the Patriots had a great night shooting the ball, just not from the free-throw line. They were not many ill-advised shots and Johnny Williams was very efficient. 

-Sherrod Wright had a big game but was uncharacteristically bad from the free-throw line. As a team the Patriots were 8-for-19 from the line and actually shot better on three-pointers. 

-Marko Gujanicic didn't look like a freshman and did a great job on the boards in the absence of Erik Copes. He wasn't afraid to let it ride from behind the arch and looked comfortable all over the court.  

-Bryon Allen was looking more like a floor general then ever and helped Mason push the pace against the Cavaliers. I thought he looked a more comfortable than he did last season and looks improved on the defensive end. 

-Vertrail Vaughns struggled all night and went scoreless. You have to wonder if this continues what kind of role he will have off the bench once Vaughn Gray returns.

[Photo by John Powell]


Friday, November 09, 2012

Keys to the game for George Mason tonight

I recently saw an article that was pretty on the money in terms of listing what George Mason has to do to win tonight. My keys to victory are very similar and here are my thoughts on some of them:

Limit Turnovers. I said this before every game last season and I'm going to keep saying it this season until it gets better. They turned the ball over way too much in their exhibition game and apparently also in their scrimmage against Marquette. Keep in mind Bryon Allen wasn't playing in either one of those but the fact remains that it is a team-wide problem. Committing too many in the first halves of games doomed this team last season and they cannot afford to dig themselves into an early hole against a good shooting team like Virginia. 

Guard the perimeter. UVA has got some good shooters and junior Joe Harris can do some damage from three-point land. This is another problem that plagued the squad last year, yielding a hot-handed shooter. Harris is going to get his points but Mason can't let him get hot from long range. With not many proven inside scorers the Cavaliers will be looking for a lot of open looks on the outside. Guys like Vertrail Vaughns and Corey Edwards need to be on their games tonight on the defensive end or it could be raining Cavalier threes.

Dictate the pace early on. As I mentioned in the preview UVA's brand of defense tries to slow down the game and force other teams into half court sets. Mason can't let them grind the pace into a slow, few possession game. To control the pace Mason will have to effectively press on defense. UVA is already out of their comfort zone with a platoon of shooting guards playing the point (one being a freshman), so it's very important for Mason to capitalize on this advantage. The only problem is trying to play a faster kind of offense is what can lead to the problem in the first key. There will be a good crowd at the Patriot Center and it behooves Mason to feed off that energy. Tonight will be a good test to see how much work Hewitt's philosophy needs on this team.

Get Sherrod Wright going. Looking back at his shooting numbers from last season you have to wonder why he wasn't shooting the ball more. With Ryan Pearson gone, Wright is their #1 option on offense and they need to get him as many open looks as they can. Getting to the line will be important because UVA doesn't currently have much depth available in their back court. Sherrod is one of the better free-throw shooters in the country but just needs to get to the line at a better rate.

[Photo via George Mason Athletics]

George Mason vs UVA Game Day Links

Game Time: 7:00 pm EST


Current Line

Game Notes

Live Stats

Probable Starters: Bryon Allen, Sherrod Wright, Anali Okoloji, Johnny Williams, and Jonathan Arledge

Photo by John Powell

Game Preview

UVA blogger preview

Around the Rim: The Focus for Game One

UVA will be starting three freshmen

Seth Davis picks Mason to win 57-53

First "Colonial X" of the season by Brian Mull

Forum Discussion


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Previewing George Mason vs Virginia

Both teams enter this game Friday night missing key players. Virginia's back court has been ravaged by injury and a suspension while George Mason suspended two players yesterday for the first three games of the season. The good news for Mason though is that starting point guard Bryon Allen will play after missing the exhibition game against Bowie State due to a sprained back. 

Virginia is a defense-first team and the Patriots should certainly remember that after the whooping they received in Charlottesville last season. Mason turned over the ball 20 times and allowed the Cavaliers numerous open looks behind the arch. It's a much younger roster for UVA this season but they have a very talented class of freshmen, their best newcomer being 6-11 center Mike Tobey. The inside, outside combo of Sammy Zeglinski and Mike Scott are gone, so much like Mason this season they will be looking for new contributors on offense. Shooting guard Joe Harris is the team's leading returning scorer but the instability in the team's back court could hamper him in the early going, or so we can hope. Look to see who is guarding him as that will be the key match-up to watch. 

Essentially the Cavaliers, picked to finish seventh in the ACC, are at their fourth option at point guard. This will force the team's shooting guards to handle the ball more, no coach's dream. That's good news for Mason because Virginia doesn't have an imposing front court and will still be relying on scoring from their guards. It would have been nice to have Erik Copes as an imposing figure in the middle for this one but oh well. Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns will be the key in this game and they give Mason the edge in the back court.  Sherrod Wright slashing from the wing is also something the Patriots will try to get going early to get their back court into foul trouble. They will try to speed up the pace of the game and Virginia will try to slow it down, I think Mason needs to win this battle in order to win. 

The front court is a different situation, both teams have much different looks from last season and don't return big time scorers in the post. If Jon Arledge, Johnny Williams and Marko Gujanicic can score early the Patriots night will be so much easier. I think this would help prevent turnovers and test how well the young Cavalier defenders are learning Tony Bennett's scheme. 

The Patriots' scoring trio of Allen-Vaughns-Wright should be enough for them to start off the season with a win on Friday night. Marko and Anali could be major x-factors though as both will see added minutes due to the suspensions. I think Mason has the firepower to overwhelm the short-handed Cavaliers but they will have to be smart on both ends of the court. A low scoring game does not favor the Patriots in this one

What could doom them however, is turnovers and that's why Bryon Allen being 100% is very important. Corey Edwards will play a lot this season but he still needs to earn his stripes in terms of protecting the ball and defending the perimeter. It was a little scary watching him defend against Division II Bowie State players two weeks ago. Another issue the Patriots could run into is if the Cavaliers' defense forces Mason into a half court offense. We don't want to see this team being forced into settling for long jumpers or throwing some ill-advised passes into the post out of desperation.

Kenpom prediction: GMU 61 UVA 60 (55% chance)

Here's my guess at the probable starting lineup:

Bryon Allen - Is said to be back to full strength

Vertrail Vaughns - Only returning player from last season who started every game

Sherrod Wright - Might still be in the doghouse with the coaching staff, but he's the team's best player and needs to start

Anali Okoloji - This is where Copes being unavailable affects the lineup. AO can play the 3 or 4 in my opinion but can he guard other 4s? Hewitt's high on him and I think he starts again with Marko Gujanicic getting a lot of minutes as well.

Jonathan Arledge - I'm certain Arledge starts, the only question is whether it will be with AO or with J2. Ideally you'd rather have Arledge at the 4, but J2 isn't as good a defender in the post. Marko played some at this spot in the exhibition and I wouldn't be surprised if did again Friday night.

Pregame discussion can be found here

[Photo by John Powell]


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray suspended for 3 games

The Patriots are already entering the start of the season with starting point guard Bryon Allen not 100% and today we find out sophomores Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray are suspended for three games:
George Mason men’s basketball sophomores Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray have been suspended for the Patriots first three regular-season games for student-athlete conduct violations. The suspension includes the home-opener against Virginia on November 9, at Bucknell (Nov. 13) and against Mercer (Nov. 16) in the opening game of the Paradise Jam.
While this team has good depth, this is still a huge blow. Especially when you consider what beating Mercer in the Paradise Jam tournament could do for the team's resume.

The loss of Copes essentially eliminates the team's advantage they had in the front court over these opponents, especially on the defensive end. Bucknell has one of the better centers in the country in Mike Muscala, so that game could be interesting now. Gray is an important wing shooter on a team that doesn't have great three-point shooting in general. Also this team will be trying to form a new identity from last year's squad and this just threw a monkey wrench into things.

Let's hope Marko is the real deal.

Forum discussion on this news here

Friday, November 02, 2012

Bryon Allen had MRI on upper back strain

We are one week away from the season opener against UVA and while the Cavaliers' point guard situation is a mess, George Mason's isn't all straight either. Bryon Allen didn't play in the exhibition game against Bowie State and it appears won't be playing in this Saturday's scrimmage at Marquette:

With a healthy Allen in the lineup, Mason would have the edge in the back court against UVA but if he is limited or not in the lineup they could struggle with turnovers. Sophomore Corey Edwards did a good job handling the ball in the exhibition but still was a bit shaky on defense and picked up some nonsense fouls early on. I'd worry about him getting into early foul trouble and forcing Vertrail Vaughns to handle some of the point guard duties. That is by no means an ideal situation for the Patriots and the other only option would be senior walk-on Bryce Lewis. Let's hope this isn't a serious issue for Allen.

Discussion on the GMU-UVA game can be found here

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