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:

Sherrod Wright. He came up big in this tournament for George Mason and averaged 16.7 points in the three games. He was was making shots from the outside and getting to the basket with ease and I still think we have more to see from him. It’s been no secret that he was Mason’s best player coming into this season but the question was would he show up every night. So far so good. 
Offensive firepower. George Mason consistently put points on the board during this tournament and offense was never one of their problems during this trip. In the tournament they shot 46.5% from the field and got big contributions from different guys each game. It was also good to see the offensive games of Erik Copes and Anali Okoloji come to life last night. They are also a more consistent three-pointer shooting team at this point then they were last season.
The new Johnny Williams. J2 looks like a totally different player in my mind. He has improved nearly every facet of his game. He can make the outside jumper or mix it up inside to get a tough rebound. What’s most impressive is that he leads the team in rebounding and in steals, yes steals. The only knock on him is that fouls sometimes keep him on the bench too long, something we saw happen again last night.
Defense is better but still needs work. At times so far this season, Mason has looked extremely tough on defense. However they have had their lapses, especially when guarding the perimeter. The press is doing some real good things for them but they have struggled to make points out of the turnovers they collect. They have let their aggressiveness get the better of them too much so far and they need to cut down on the numbers fouls they commit. After last night’s game, there are only nine more teams in the country who have committed more fouls than Mason. I also still have my doubts about them being able to guard a strong three-guard lineup. In fact New Mexico ran four guards at certain times on Sunday night and it gave the Patriots real problems. In the past Mason has had better on-the-ball defenders in the their back court and it’s something they are lacking this year. Vertrail Vaughns is probably their best but his inconsistency on offense has been keeping him off the floor.
Role of Erik Copes. Copes will be a big part of this team’s success this season. We’ve only seen him for two games but his impact has already been noticed. Mason is just a different team in the post on both ends of the court when he is in the game. His rebounding and shot blocking were hard to replace when he was suspended. Last night we saw him collect a career-high 9 points which included a nice jump hook. He’s not going to put many points on the board this year but he gives Mason a different type of identity in the front court.

Game Highlights:


  • mooky_l3d

    Just irritates me knowing that if there had been better defense at the end of the New Mexico game, better free throw shooting that game, and  better use of time outs then there could have been a nice match up with a ranked team.  I am glad that this young team was able to bounce back after that tough loss.  Should be an interesting season.  I would like to see more of the upsides than the downs this season, but I realize that this team is not “feet fast” that is why they rack up so many fouls.  To much reaching and being out of position.  Great job representing Mason away from the CAA.  GO MASON!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rick Jank

    The amount of fouls we’ve given has been alarming, but for what it’s worth, it’s been a perception of mine that in these early season tournaments the refs are very trigger-happy with the fouls. Every little body-bump seems to get called. If VCU were playing that game last night, the 40 minutes of havoc would have been 15 minutes of havoc before everyone fouled out. I think when we settle into conference play the fouls issue will settle down. That said, I’m not sure interior defense is going to be very strong for us this year – unless Copes blossoms into that ballast guy we’re all hoping for. By the end of the year, Williams, Okoloji and Arledge are all going to realize that they need to work on their defense over the summer. Marko may be the X factor once he learns he’s in the USA.

  • GMU6

    It is early for everyone but to come back as they did showed me something. They should compete in every game they play. One word for Wright “SMOOTH”.