We have seen the Patriots look great at times this season but we’ve also seen them lose focus and look pretty bad. Some blame the point guard play, the gameplan, and others are saying the team lacks a killer instinct. I don’t think the issues are stemming from any one thing so far this season and their are a couple of big question marks surrounding this team.
Point guard play. Bryon Allen being benched on Tuesday night is the equivalent of a starting QB being benched for the second string guy. The point guard position is very important in college basketball and the instabilities for George Mason here have been hurting them since the beginning of last season. Allen can often look out of place playing point guard but has proven he’s more reliable. Corey Edwards is a guy who still needs some development and perhaps that’s why we might see more of him before CAA games start. Edwards is better in transition and is less protective with the ball than Allen. Sure, he has had his problems with turnovers but there is a certain risk-reward scenario going on there that might get better with more experience. The bottom line is that certain players aren’t getting the ball enough. A good point guard leads and makes the guys around him better, often putting guys in spots where they can succeed. Mason might not have one of these on the current roster but they need to figure this out or their offense will continue to be stagnant.
Player rotation and depth. It’s great for a coaching staff to have confidence in 10-12 guys on any given night but only if everyone knows their role on the team. Is that what is happening this season? For me watching this team it’s difficult to say that’s the case. The guy who stands out the most as an example here is fourth year junior Vertrail Vaughns. A player who started every game last season is now averaging about 7 minutes less a game and didn’t see any action against Maryland. I don’t disagree with that but than in the team’s last game he played more than emerging sharp-shooter Patrick Holloway. At some point it has to be about either playing veterans or developing the younger guys, I don’t see how you can have it both ways. Jon Arledge is another example of some fluctuation in playing time. His game minutes have been anywhere from 22 to 5 and it shows how short of a leash some of these players have. How good can some of these younger guys play if they know there’s at least two other guys at their position ready to come in at a moment’s notice? Hopefully the staff is still feeling out the roster and finding their ideal lineups but this could be something to keep an eye as the season goes on.
Killer Instinct. Patrick Steven’s of the Washington Times brings this up in his article yesterday. It’s certainly seems like the Patriots are lacking a killer instinct and too often take their foot off the gas. Paul Hewitt said that he has been told by others that “it’s been the personality of this group”. Too often this group has gotten lazy on defense, let a team creep back into the game, and then force things on the other end. Their efforts on defense have prevented being upset but I’m betting they’d rather not be in close games so often. The attitude has to change and that starts with the leaders in the locker room.