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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A hilarious and fair assessment of George Mason

Mark Selig is a beat writer who covers James Madison and occasionally writes CAA updates for Rush the Court. In his latest CAA report he gives George Mason a pretty rough assessment but one that is also pretty funny:
"The Patriots can catch a matinee screening of “This Is 40.” Remember when Judd Apatow movies were comic gold? That was right around the time George Mason rose to a national prominence and maintained a run as one of the nation’s best mid-major programs. Now, Apatow is throwing together mediocre films based on the characters of his greatest hits. And George Mason’s putting together teams that can compete in the CAA, but are largely irrelevant on a bigger scale. Much like the Apatow movies, where the stars have moved on to bigger and better things, the face of Mason’s success – coach Jim Larranaga – is now down in Miami leading the ACC’s most sneaky-dangerous team."
Let's be honest it's spot on and the Judd Apatow movie comparisons are brilliant!

The Evolution of George Mason's Mascot

Homecoming is two weeks from Saturday and there are plenty of reasons to drink off the team's woes at this year's tailgate, so I hope you reserved a spot. The theme this year (why does there have to be one anyway?) is "The Evolution of Greatness", which is an interesting choice considering the current direction this program seems to be headed. In the spirit of it all that I thought I'd share this photo posted on the Mason Alumni Associations facebook page, that shows the evolution of George Mason's mascot. 


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

George Mason looks to regroup against Drexel

Both Drexel and George Mason have had their share of disappointing losses this season. First place in the CAA standing seems out of reach for both and their could be a log jam for second place very soon. The Patriots were just ran out of Boston last weekend against Northeastern, who are clearly the favorite to claim the CAA's autobid to the dance this year, and are looking to regroup. They have responded well to losses like this during the year but there have still been too many of them. As it stands now these games are nearly just preparation for the CAA tournament in March, because that is Mason's only shot at a postseason berth. We haven't seen this team improve much during the course of the year but February is certainly a good time start. 


Monday, January 28, 2013

Northeastern once again takes care of George Mason

Just when we thought this George Mason team was starting to find some consistency on offense, they have another game like last night where they again looked lost. Northeastern routed the Patriots and outworked them on both ends. Very similar to the two teams last meeting in Fairfax. Mason had one of their worst performances on offense of the season, and we've seen a whole lot of bad in that department already this year. The new look lineup of Corey Edwards, Bryon Allen, and Sherrod Wright failed to do any real damage. The play from the front court players was so awful the offense went through numerous droughts that included a lot of missed layups and close shots. The sloppy hands this group killed numerous opportunities for Mason to convert turnovers into points. Erik Copes had an especially awful night and Johnny Williams would get fed in the post, and then look completely lost. Keep in mind we are 20 games into the season at this point.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday night showdown at Northeastern

George Mason is at Northeastern tonight for a rematch against the first place Huskies. Last time around the Patriots played their worst conference game in a home loss to the Huskies and their perimeter defense was greatly exposed. Since then Mason's defense has been tighter on the perimeter and their offense has started to show some consistency. Bryon Allen being in the starting lineup will give the Patriots a much better look in the beginning of the game against these guys. He makes them tougher to defend on offense and he's been a solid defender these last three games. NU's Jonathan Lee will give Mason headaches again but they have to be careful to not let their attention wonder on defense. It killed them last time around when they allowed a freshman to have a big night. Tonight's game isn't a battle for first place but it is an important one. A Huskies win means they will be controlling the CAA race down the stretch. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bryon Allen rejoins starting lineup, sparks George Mason's offense against Towson

Paul Hewitt finally took Anali Okoloji out of the starting lineup last night against Towson, and the result was a  better start on offense that set the pace for the rest of the night. I had previously talked about how I thought Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen sharing the court together could be the Patriots best options on offense. Last night they played together, along with Sherrod Wright, and looked a lot more dangerous on offense as a whole. Wright and Allen were cutting to the basket with ease and getting to the line. Allen had two ridiculous layups, one being an alley-oop that made Sportscenter (video below). Mason led for most of the game before sealing the 10 point victory. Also, Marko Gujanicic has come alive and is contributing a ton on offense. Both he and Allen could emerge as the second scorers on this team but we'll need to see some more consistency. On defense the Patriots frustrated Jerrelle Benimon, who had been playing like a conference player of the year to date. They held him below his averages on points and rebounds and it was the difference in the game. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

George Mason heads to Towson to take on a surprising Tigers team

The Towson Tigers are currently in second place in the CAA standings. I'm sure they'd be more excited if they were actually eligible to win the CAA's autobid to the NCAA tournament. They are a far cry from last year's squad that won only one game and went a calendar year without a victory. Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon is a big reason for this year's turn around and he's playing like a conference player of the year. He's been all over the court this year, averaging 17 PPG, 11.7 RPG and shooting around 55% from the field. Early foul trouble is an obvious worry for George Mason in this one and they won't win without discipline on defense.



George Mason will play in the 2013 BB&T Classic

The Washington Post is reporting that George Mason will participate again in the BB&T Classic next season. Earlier this year the Patriots played Maryland at the Verizon Center for this year's classic and will face a 'to-be-determined' opponent next year:
George Mason, which has played in five BB&T Classics since 2004, will face a to-be-determined opponent in the early game before the Terps and Colonials square off. Feinstein said the Patriots are searching for a “national opponent.”
I'm curious to see what "national opponent" they come up with...



Sunday, January 20, 2013

George Mason wins another foul happy affair

This years George Mason is getting more consistent, but just not in the areas that a coach would like to see.  They have let countless teams hang around in games they did not have any business hanging around in  this year. The main reason for this has been because they send teams to the foul line at an alarming rate. Saturday against Hofstra was another prime example. The Pride shot 22.9% from the field but were able to stay in the game late because of the Patriots fouling. Sherrod Wright was again big for Mason and Corey Edwards continued to keep the pace for Mason, although it wasn't a great pace on offense. Still, the two did what was needed in order to get the win at home and secure third place in the CAA.


Friday, January 18, 2013

George Mason takes on Hofstra

George Mason takes on Hofstra Saturday looking to get back in the battle for first place in the conference standings. The Patriots haven't lost to the Pride at home since 2007 but any given night seems like it could end up being a close one for them. Hofstra has been playing better than expected despite losing four players earlier in the year to suspensions. They recently played Northeastern much tougher on the road than Mason did against the same team on their home court. On paper the Pride have some terrible offensive numbers but as always a loss of focus on defense by the Patriots often gives poor teams a chance.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

George Mason and VCU close to a 4-year deal to resume series

Looks like the rumored George Mason-VCU series that we talked about earlier this month will be a four year series and begin next season in Richmond. Here is the tweet from the Post's Steven Goff:
VCU is becoming one of the better teams in the country this season and Mason fans have enjoyed the sense of a rivalry that has brewed with them.


George Mason continues dominance over James Madison

George Mason bounced back after an awful performance Saturday to continue their home dominance over James Madison. The Dukes haven't won at the Patriot Center since 2003 and Mason has beaten them in their last eight meetings. Bad as Mason has played at times this season at least they kept their winning streak over JMU alive. What was different last night compared to the loss at UNCW was that Mason took control of the boards, especially on the offensive glass and Sherrod Wright had a big night getting to the free-throw line. Also, they got a lift from freshman Marko Gujanicic, who posted his first career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). He showed glimpses of the strong play we saw from him in the beginning of that season and even knocked down a few three-pointers. The Patriots' perimeter defense was an issue again in the first half but they held the Dukes to no three-pointers in the second half. The Dukes' offense struggled without much of a perimeter game and Mason took advantage.  


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Erik Copes has been playing through a lot of pain

Erik Copes had surgery in the off-season on his hip and it limited any training during the summer. Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner tells us yesterday that his return from the injury has been quite painful. On Saturday when it was announced Copes was out for the UNCW game, Dunleavy mentioned to me that the hip injury had has been an on-going problem still this season:
And from his article yesterday you can get a feeling for much it has been holding him back this season.
"After a summer of inactivity, Copes received medical clearance to play this year but with warnings that there would be soreness. Copes describes the pain as a "pinching" sensation.

"I don't want to say I should have redshirted. I don't think that," Copes said. "It's just pain that I've got to push through."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

George Mason falls at UNCW

George Mason endured a bad loss at UNCW Saturday afternoon. They were beat on both ends of the court and allowed a guy who averaged under 6 points a game to go off for 30. Defensive effort was nonexistent and they were killed on the boards. Erik Copes missed the game with a hip injury and they were killed in the front court with out him.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Vaughn Gray's missed dunk makes Sportscenter's Not Top 10

Vaughn Gray's botched dunk, which wasn't the only one of the night for George Mason, made ESPN Sportcenter's "Not Top 10" this morning. Any publicity is good publicity, right?

George Mason shows off depth in rout of ODU

George Mason had their first blowout win of the season and it came on a night where leading scorer Sherrod Wright recorded only one point. Patrick Holloway and Paris Bennett, yes that Paris Bennett picked up the scoring load. Mason had 58 bench points, ODU had 9, that pretty much sums up the game right there.  Holloway and Bennett combined to hit as many shots from the field (12) as ODU's entire team did. The Monarchs were dreadful on offense and went 4-for-20 in the second half. The Patriots on the other hand shot 75% in the second half and scored 20 off the Monarchs 24 turnovers. The game was ugly to watch at times, fouls were called nearly every five seconds but Mason seemed to take advantage the most of the choppy play. It ended with 42 turnovers and 50 fouls total, oh CAA basketball.



Thursday, January 10, 2013

George Mason hosts ODU for final time as CAA opponent

George Mason hosts Old Dominion tonight for their third conference game. Last time out they handled William & Mary on the road in a game where we saw Sherrod Wright score 10 of 28 points in the final seven minutes. The offense ran a bit smoother and Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen sharing the court looks to be a good fit. ODU has been awful this season and are one of the worst defensive teams in the country. Blaine Taylor's teams are never this bad but they just can't seem to score or stop anyone else from scoring, simple as that. In their last game against Delaware, the Blue Hens managed to get to the free-throw line for 50 attempts. That's amazingly bad for the Monarchs. 


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Corey Edwards is keeping the team "comfortable"

Sophomore Corey Edwards seems to have soldified himself as the team's starting point guard. Bryon Allen has been playing alongside him at the wing as the team's sixth man and things are starting to look better for the offense. Work still needs to be done but at least some of the players are starting to look more confident in their roles. It all starts with Edwards as this team has needed some stability at the point. There was a play late in the game against William & Mary that really shows what he's capable of as the team's starter:
Sherrod Wright turned a layup into a three-point play for a 68-61 lead with 1:54 left in a game the Patriots won 73-66.

 "It was a great point guard play for him to come down and have the feel and recognition of the situation," Hewitt said. "It's like a quarterback gets to the line of scrimmage and doesn't like the call or the set or what the defense is in. We got up seven and never looked back."


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

CAA "Power" Rankings

1. George Mason - The Patriots have this spot at the moment but won't keep it for long if they continue to have games like they did against Northeastern. They looked much better at William & Mary over the weekend but the thought of them running away with the CAA title seems a bit far-fetched at this point.

2. Delaware - Lately the Blue Hens have been playing better and they have two all-conference starters in the lineup, Jamelle Hagins and Devon Saddler. Hagins leads the nation in rebounding (12.7 RPG) and the squad has recently won three straight. In their only conference game so far they pummeled ODU and got to the line all night long. Jarvis Threatt had 19 points, all of which came from the free-throw line. They are one of the more balanced teams in the conference.

3. Northeastern - Their 2-0 in conference play and took care of George Mason will ease. I'm not sure if they can keep this up but you have to wonder what their record would be so far if they had had Jonathan Lee all season long. 

4. Towson - Leave it to Towson to follow up one of the worst season's in college basketball by doing decent in a year when they can't win the CAA autobid. They are 7-8 and are 2-0 in the CAA. The win at Drexel was impressive and Jerrelle Benimon is an emerging star. They will continue to hand out "upsets" this season.

5. Drexel - They have been the most disappointing team in the league outside of Old Dominion but lately they seem to have found their stride. Losing Chris Fouch has hurt them and Frantz Massenat hasn't been playing like a CAA POY. They have looked awful at times but pounded Georgia State in Atlanta last week. 

6. William & Mary - Their soft non-conference schedule might bite them in the behind. They lately haven't looked as good as their record would indicate and turned over the ball a ton against George Mason last weekend. They have some talent but will struggle against the CAA on the boards and on defense. 

7. James Madison - They are hurting without senior Andrey Semenov and just lost to Hampton. Semenov is out with an ankle sprain and the Dukes could tumble in the CAA standings. They still have a decent one-two punch with Devon Moore and Rayshawn Goins but don't have much outside of that combo. They've have real troubles on defense this year.

8. Georgia State - The Panthers just lost to Hofstra but showed off their hot shooting against James Madison. They lack a true inside game and it has hurt them. They have a tendency to go cold from the outside and can't rebound well at all. 

9. UNC-Wilmington - Keith Rendleman is a double-double machine but the 'Hawks struggle on defense. They are a young team that has also had trouble holding onto the ball. 

10. Old Dominion - Easily the most disappointing team in the conference. They have two wins and one is actually against UVA. I didn't think they would be like Blaine Taylor's teams of the past this year but also didn't they would be this poor defensively. They can't make shots and they can't seem to stop other teams from making shots. It's really just that simple. With DeShawn Painter they have a go-to option on offense but have nothing else outside of him. 

11. Hofstra - The Pride lost a lot due to suspensions and they will struggle during CAA play. They are one of the worst shooting teams in the country and don't have many experienced scorers on the roster. Depth will be an issue this year and they will need a few guys to play over their heads this season in order to stay out of the conference basement.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen sharing the court could work

The Patriots rotation has not been balanced all season. There have been 12 players this season that have played and all at least had two games with double digit minutes at one point or another. Paul Hewitt's latest tweak to the lineup is playing both Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen on the court at the same time. We witnessed it for the first time on Saturday. Together the duo had nine assists to only one turnover against William & Mary.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Wright's 28 points leads George Mason past William & Mary

George Mason bounced back from an awful home performance against Northeastern and took down William & Mary in their first road conference game. Sherrod Wright continues to look like a CAA POY candidate and poured on 28 points. The Patriots won this one by getting to the free-throw line a lot and won the rebounding battle, while limiting the Tribe's three-point attack. They were down at times and had some bad stretches, but in this one they didn't let the other team run away with it when the momentum didn't swing their way. Sherrod Wright's play was infectious and the rest of the team played as tough and aggressive as he did down the stretch. Wright had nearly a perfect game with the only exception being getting a dumb taunting technical foul during a TV timeout.

Paul Hewitt experimented with the lineup and at times had both Corey Edwards and Bryon Allen on the court at the same time. I for one liked it because Allen is excellent at driving to the basketball and Edwards is becoming at good facilitator. A lineup that includes Edwards-Allen-Wright could be Mason's optimal lineup going forward. 


Friday, January 04, 2013

Visual display of George Mason's poor perimeter defense

No secret how bad George Mason has guarded the perimeter this season. Last night's loss against Northeastern was just the most recent example. Their defense efficiency rank on the statistic guru site Kenpom went from 51 to 76 after last night's game. They are also allowing their opponents to shoot over 38% from three-point range on the season which is 317th worst in the nation. Opposing teams also get off around 18 attempts a game against them, that's a pretty staggering average. 

I've taken some screen shots, shown below, from last night to visually show just how bad and out of place the Patriots are playing on defense. Is if coaching or is it the players? I don't know but this just looks awful. On some of these the next closest Mason player is about 12 or 13 feet away. Just amazing. 

VCU could be on next year's schedule

The Richmond Times Dispatch is reporting that VCU and George Mason could be playing each other again as early as next season.
"Smart said the Rams are close to adding George Mason to next year’s schedule."
Would like to see this become a regular fixture on the schedule and I hope it's a home and home series.  It's about as close of a rivalry as it gets for the younger Mason fans and I think that's important for the program. VCU would destroy this year's Mason squad but hey at least they won't have Troy Daniels next year.


Northeastern's big second half takes down George Mason

For most of this season, defense hasn't been one of George Mason's biggest problems. By the numbers they were pretty efficient on that end and kept teams below their averages. Last night against Northeastern though, it was a total collapse, and they allowed the Huskies to score 54 points and shoot over 64% from the field in the second half. Sure, they've had problems all season long with closing out on the perimeter but it wasn't just three-point shooting that doomed the Patriots last night. They were so bad they allowed a freshman, who normally averaged 6 points a game, to go off and score 15 points, most of them in the second half. Northeastern just plain shredded Mason and at one point late in the second half "scored 11 straight in less than two minutes to turn a one-point deficit into a 73-63 lead."


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Game Day Links: George Mason vs Northeastern

TV: NBC Sports Network

Spread: Mason by 7.5

Paul Hewitt: "I’ve told them every once in a while I feel like I’m coaching 12-year-olds” [GoMason Blog]

Patrick Holloway's role to expand? [Wash Times]

Conference Catchups: Mason best of shrinking CAA [NBC Sports]

Conference Title Predictions [Kenpom]



Wednesday, January 02, 2013

George Mason begins CAA schedule against Northeastern

The non-conference portion of the schedule is over and George Mason now has 18 games to prepare to the CAA tournament; which will most likely determine their postseason chances. The CAA had a terrible time with their non-conference opponents this season and only achieved one Top 50 win. The Patriots will be looking to become the leader of the pack in the conference and earn that #1 seed. The #1 seed has the easiest path this year in the CAA tournament, getting a bye on Saturday and only needing to get a win on Sunday to go to the championship. Mason seems like a shoe-in for this #1 seed but they still have to get the work done.


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