Don’t try to blame this embarrassing loss on the fact that the tournament is annually held in Richmond. Mason didn’t come out ready to play this game, something we have seen at many other times this season and VCU take advantage. This marks the sixth time since 2004 that VCU has eliminated George Mason from the CAA tournament. The game started off with a 22-0 run by VCU with Bradford Burgess dropping three-pointer bombs left and right. It got as bad as 32-4 and body language for the Patriots didn’t look good. Mike Morrison helped rally the team and cut the lead down to 16 at the half, a minor miracle. His energy must have been infectious in the locker room because the Patriots did mount somewhat of a comeback in the second half. And they did have their chances to bring it to a one possession game but Vertrail Vaughns and Jonathan Arledge both missed key three-pointers down the stretch. I had in my tournament previews that this team would need to lean on their veterans players and Mike Morrison and Andre Cornelius helped make this game more respectable for Mason but Ryan Pearson was a total disappointment this weekend.
It was just amazing to watch how poorly Mason executed to start the game, turnover after and turnover, all of which VCU turned into points. Then they started hoisting up three-pointers, an area of the game they have been atrocious from all season. They really needed something more from Ryan Pearson as it was a sad way for the CAA player of the year to go out. I do applaud the team for not giving up and fighting until the end but it should never have come to this, especially in the conference tournament with the chance for an NCAA bid on the line.
The Patriots most glaring weakness this season was the struggles at the point guard position. Towards the end of this game Paul Hewitt had Cornelius bringing the ball up instead of Bryon Allen, something he hadn’t done much at all this season. That doesn’t bode well for the future at this position for George Mason. Corey Edwards played one minute last night, which was not encouraging. Bryon Allen is great scorer but I don’t know if he is the answer at the point. Hewitt still has a scholarship available, might he bring in someone else?
Something positive to take from this weekend is what we saw out of sophomore Jonathan Arledge. He got a lot of minutes in this one with Erik Copes out due to a hip injury. We already know he has a decent outside shot but he showed some toughness inside against the Rams that I hope to see more of next season.
Now Mason waits to see if they can earn a low seed in the NIT or entry into a third-tier post season tournament. To help cheer us all up let’s watch the Green Machine play “Moves like Jagger” from this weekend: