George Mason outlasts UMBC

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.

  • http://twitter.com/MattCerilli Matt Cerilli

    Correct me

  • gmuhoops

    I think you’re right but it says zero on the box score http://www.gomason.com//downloads2/530103.htm?ATCLID=205820740&DB_LANG=C

  • GMU6

    Sometimes it looks more like a fire drill then a basketball game. I think the plan last night was to try to get the ball in the post. Right now our guards show little sense of spacing and timing. I admit it was hard to watch. If teams start to take Wright away I have no idea who will step up. Yet I have faith it will turn around. How much faith will soon be determined.

  • Christopher Hirsch

    Obviously, I would think Hewitt will be after a point guard for his next recruiting class. Larranaga’s boys aren’t cutting it. Hard to win consistently when you are mediocre at best at that position. The CAA is so bad that it probably won’t matter, but I would assume Mason has higher goals than just winning the conference.

  • Wayne Brown

    This team is playing on egg shells!  Only Wright and Cope can fill comfortable knowing that they will be on the court regardless but all the other players are playing on egg shells and I blame the coaching staff instead of giving these guys a define role…their role changes every game and instead of this team playing like a unified group the team is more like every man for himself today and you can see it on the court.  Those that are(High-up) in the basketball circles know that Hewitt is not a good coach and his game plan didn’t work at Georgia Tech and the players at MASON are struggling with his game plan.  When conference play starts will this team have an idenity or will this team continue to look inconsistent.  There will be a scholarship or two available at the end of the season because I believe there will be a transfer or two coming from this team and then maybe Hewitt can get the pt. guard the MASON needs.

  • StopWearingPurple

    They didn’t do a good job of working the ball inside until the second half.  In the first half, after they built a great lead, they started hoisting threes and putting up jump shots which allowed UMBC to get back in the game.

    That’s what was so frustrating.  They put up 21 in the first eight minutes and only nine in the last 12 minutes, including zero in the last four minutes.  It was a complete loss of focus. 

  • StopWearingPurple

    “Offensively it can be extremely frustrating to watch this group.”  Truer words have not been spoken. 

    On the plus side they play excellent defense.  If they can improve the perimter defense it should keep them in every game while they figure out the offense.

  • gmubball

    Game we should win, so I don’t have a problem with Hewitt playing with the lineup to figure out what works, to teach, and to work on parts of the game (as long as that is what he is doing and we win at the end).  
    I would like to see more posting up from the bigs.  Nice to have 6’8″ guys that create matchup issues because the can shoot 3s and drive the lane, but I prefer the inside – out game.  Not sure our bigs command the respect necessary on the post nor pass well enough (yet).  Also, do not not see any of the guys really driving the lane and dishing out successfully very often.  Even Wright tends to lose the handle or throw a bad pass when he does not make it to the basket (fun to watch when he does though)Point guards with no points, no assists – what is the point? (I know bad pun)  They struggle inbounding the ball and handling pressure too.  If we are going to play w/o a point guard, might as well put the best players on the court:  Wright, Halloway, Copes, Williams, Okoloji, Marko, Gray.  I think the MD game showed this is the direction Hewitt is going and most these guys are his guys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701921774 Monèt Sutton

    Corey actually didn’t look horrible last night but it’s gotten to the point where we NEED a good solid point. I’m not a HUGE fan of the way Corey passes the ball at the very last minute instead of shooting. Yeah that works sometimes but it’s pretty dangerous. For once I didn’t think the refs were horrible. There were points where I yelled “Ref how is that not a travel?” or “That was definitely a foul!” but I’m also all the way in the student section so my view could be skewed. I thought last night’s games was a good one but we still have a lot of weaknesses that need to be fixed before we start playing conference games.

  • Dont_Block_me

    Lets try Holloway as the starting Point Guard! I know he is a shooter. But he seems smart enough to dish the ball when necessary . And I seen him drive to the the hoop. This kid is going to be our leader for the next few years. We might as well get him started now!

  • Murray & Cavanaugh, PC general

    I did not have the chance to watch too many games because of studies while attending GM UV in the 90′s but I appreciate the need for sports including exercise, and strategy of the game and teamwork. The offense and defensive strategies can be interesting. -Mike M.