Last week ESPN.com ran a feature on next year’s George Mason basketball outlook, as part of their summer buzz collection
. Another article by Dana O’Neil seems to be high on Paul Hewitt’s chances to succeed during this “fresh start”. But the most interesting one from the mix was featured on the Insiders page. It talks about the different coaching styles between Jim Larranaga and Hewitt and how it can have an impact on next year’s team. Seems Ryan Pearson and some other players weren’t too fond of Larranaga’s substitution style
. Here is the excerpt:
“GMU will be one of the most experienced teams in the Colonial Athletic Association next season, and the coaching styles of Hewitt and Larranaga are on different ends of the spectrum. For example, the Patriots have rarely depended on their bench; last season, only six players were on the floor for more than 50 percent of Mason’s minutes played. According to Ken Pomeroy’s metrics, Mason’s bench was underused. (It’s worth pointing out that so was every bench in the CAA; after Georgia State and William & Mary, the drop-off was pretty severe.) With Hewitt at the helm, Georgia Tech was known for its hockey-style substitution patterns. Besides Glen Rice, Iman Shumpert and Brian Oliver, the rest of the Yellow Jackets saw a fairly even number of minutes, and their bench enjoyed one of the highest percentage of minutes played in the nation. Ask senior Ryan Pearson, though, and the forward suggests that Mason needed a change.
“Coach Larranaga had a six- or seven-man rotation, and I didn’t think it was good — but we did win 27 games, so it worked for us,” Pearson says. “We have 10 guys who can play, and it’ll make guys happier that when they kill in practice, they then actually get to play.”
It’s hard to argue with Larranaga’s results because fans will remember that the Final Four run was basically the result of a 6-man rotation, much like this past season’s 27 win campaign. However it’s interesting to see one of the players, especially one that played the most during the year, complaining about it and insinuating that it may have hurt team chemistry. We could witness the returning players warming up to the new coach right away once the season starts and making the transition a much more smooth process.
Another point I wanted to share from the article was about next season’s back court. We already know the strength the front court will have with returning senior starters Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson coupled with the addition of the highly touted freshman Erik Copes. The back court has a few more question marks, especially in the starting line-up. Matt Giles seems to be high on both Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen making an impact this year:
“At the moment, it’s unclear what the rotation will be, but senior Andre Cornelius probably will start at the point. The potential surprise could be sophomore Bryon Allen, who averaged 5.8 minutes per game last season. “I’ve been working a lot with Bryon, and he’s been doing a good job of working on his shot. With his size, he can play the 1 or the 2, get in the lane and create,” Wright says. If Hewitt decides to go with a more guard-heavy lineup, a backcourt of Wright, Allen and Cornelius could cause some interesting matchup problems.”
I have to say the mention of that Wright, Allen, and Cornelius line-up is intriguing. Wright and Allen probably have the most potential to make big strides next season and fans are going to be eager to see them worked into the rotation often.