|Photo by John Powell
George Mason started out strong last night but let an early 19 point lead dwindle away as UMBC clawed their way back. The Retrievers got as close as six in the second half but the Patriots took control over the last 10 minutes to come away with the win. Paul Hewitt visibly frustrated on the sidelines as he saw his team’s strong start turn into another sluggish grind. Sherrod Wright had 23 points and nearly reached his career-high, while the rest of Patriots continue to be inconsistent on offense. It was a little unsettling to watch Mason allow a rebuilding program like UMBC to go on a 12-0 run and score 43 points in the second half. The Retrievers were turning over the ball hand and foot last night but the Patriots allowed a bit too many open looks. Mason won in fairly convincing fashion but still has a lot of questions to answer.
The most interesting part of this game was the rotation Hewitt used, for starters Bryon Allen was replaced by sophomore Corey Edwards at point guard in the starting lineup. Hard to argue the move with how poorly Allen has been over the last couple of games but still frustrating this is happening nine games into the season. Edwards looked good in transition last night and got a few things going but finished with zero assists. After a full season of these two sharing the duties it’s crazy to think this team doesn’t know who is the best option at the position. Bryon Allen does a lot of things well but often just doesn’t look like a point guard at there. Is Edwards the better option at this point, hard to make a strong case for that with what we have seen. To make things more interesting Hewitt even mentioned using Vertrail Vaughns
on occasion at the point in his post game comments:
Point guard remains a concern for Hewitt, who started sophomore Corey Edwards for the first time this season in place of junior Bryon Allen. They ended up splitting time, and neither stood out.
“We have got to improve that position,” Hewitt said. “We’ve just got to get better. All options are available.”
Hewitt suggested using Vertrail Vaughns, a junior shooting guard, to run the offense on occasion.
What? Vaughns didn’t play against Maryland but for some reason got more minutes than Patrick Holloway and Johnny Williams last night. Perhaps Hewitt is still feeling out the rotation before conference play but it’s still puzzling to me. While it was good to see Marko Gujanicic, Jon Arledge, and Anali Okoloji contribute in big ways last night I found myself wondering why Williams didn’t get more time. Erik Copes got his first double-digit scoring night and did well getting some points in the front court but they need more from Williams.
Offensively it can be extremely frustrating to watch this group. Outside of Sherrod Wright, the team has no consistent scoring threats. Patrick Holloway might eventually become one but not when he’s sharing minutes again with Vertrail Vaughns. I think a lot of players just don’t know their role on this team because let’s face it, it can change by a game-by-game basis. Is this depth or the start of more problems?
At what point do you blame the offensive game plan and not the players? Is the strategy not working or are the players just not executing it right? I don’t have the answer to that but Mason needs to right the ship fairly quickly as an important game against Northern Iowa is on Saturday.