Northeastern’s big second half takes down George Mason

For most of this season, defense hasn’t been one of George Mason’s biggest problems. By the numbers they were pretty efficient on that end and kept teams below their averages. Last night against Northeastern though, it was a total collapse, and they allowed the Huskies to score 54 points and shoot over 64% from the field in the second half. Sure, they’ve had problems all season long with closing out on the perimeter but it wasn’t just three-point shooting that doomed the Patriots last night. They were so bad they allowed a freshman, who normally averaged 6 points a game, to go off and score 15 points, most of them in the second half. Northeastern just plain shredded Mason and at one point late in the second half “scored 11 straight in less than two minutes to turn a one-point deficit into a 73-63 lead.”

The lack of intensity and desire the Patriots demonstrated in the second half was just embarrassing. Not only were they giving up countless looks on the perimeter but they were allowing the Huskies to drive and dish with ease. On the offensive end, it was the same old song and dance, the occasional Sherrod Wright spurt and lots of confusion. In the beginning of the game they made an effort to go inside, which made sense considering that Northeastern has no big bodies inside. It worked and Erik Copes and Jon Arledge were having some success in the first half. For whatever reason they abandoned this strategy after taking a lead into the locker room at halftime and came out in the second launching up ill-advised three-pointers. Northeastern feasted on the Patriots poor shot selection and pretty much beat them at their own uptempo style.
Corey Edwards looked good at the point in terms of dishing out assists, something we rarely ever see with Bryon Allen running the position. Edwards finished with seven assists and zero turnovers but failed to maintain any sort of rhythm for the team on offense in the second half. It’s amazing to me how lost this team looks on offense after it being 13 games into the season. The 4-out, 1-in motion offense worked for about 10 minutes last night with Erik Copes muscling in a few baskets but then it turned into guys like Anali Okoloji making terrible passes into the post. When you don’t have a consistent post player scoring it all falls apart. Sherrod Wright freelancing seems to be the only real offensive threat and we saw last night what happens when he scores less than 24 or so points. 
After watching last night, it seems the prediction that Mason wouldn’t have too much trouble winning the CAA is completely inaccurate. The CAA is looking pretty wide-open right now with everything coming down to that March weekend in Richmond. The Patriots making the NCAA tournament looks like such a long shot at this point and team in general plays in complete disarray.  Yes, the CAA is bad this year but Mason also just isn’t that good either. 
A few notes:
-Johnny Williams continues to be a huge disappointment. He just cannot stay in games and was yanked early in the game with two quick fouls. In the beginning of the second half he quickly picked up his third and finished the game with 2 points and 4 fouls in only 10 minutes of action. Remember when we thought this guy would be the second go-to scorer?
-Why is Anali Okoloji still starting? This is another thing Paul Hewitt does that confuses me, continuing to play a guy that rarely provides anything on offense and makes countless mistakes on defense. The “high-energy guy” talk is tired at this point and Mason needs someone in the lineup who can guard the 3 spot and score a few baskets. He had three terrible passes where he tried to get it into the post player and just handed the ball over to the other team. The CAA is full of teams that start a three guard, two forward lineup, yet Hewitt keeps running this two guard, three forward one. Does he think he has an advantage or mismatch somewhere? He doesn’t.
-The rotation of Vertrail Vaughns, Vaughn Gray, and Patrick Holloway continues to be unbalanced. At least last night Vertrail looked much better and reminded some of his 2010 days from behind the arch. But don’t Gray and Holloway have a higher ceiling? Holloway might not be as good of a defender as Vertrail but I think he’s worth more than three minutes of action. As for Gray I have no idea why he seems to be in Hewitt’s doghouse. He had a bandage on his face last night so who knows what’s going on there.
[Photo by Bill Bride]
  • http://www.facebook.com/collin.agee Collin Agee

    Unfathomable that Holloway only played 3 minutes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/collin.agee Collin Agee

    Shooting 56% on 3-pointers, as Northeastern did, is a good way to pull an upset.

  • Andy Minor

    So sick of Hewittball. It’s inconsistent, it isn’t fun to watch, and it’s unnecessarily stressful. This team has oodles of talent but Hewitt can’t seem to manage it at all. Run a 2-3 zone against his “offense” and our guards can barley work the ball past half court. Our players seem to think that taking on 3 defenders by themselves is ok. No one passes to the open man off a pick and roll. No one kicks it down low when they draw a double team. It’s almost as if they just set up 5 hoops and have everyone play one-on-one during practice.

    I really can’t stand that I pay money to go to these games and watch this brand of basketball. People keep saying how great we are in close games but that’s because every game is close. Rarely do we get a chance for a blowout. Heck, rarely do we get up by more than 6 or 7 points. Hewitt may be a good recruiter but he’s shoddy at best as a head coach, and can’t manage a game to save his life. When was the last time we had an offensive spark coming out of a time out? Either the players aren’t buying what Hewitt is selling, or the players have bought it and Hewitt is selling them a sack of crap. Either way he needs to go, and Tom O’Connor while we’re at it, so we can get an AD in here who will hire us a coach who wasn’t some hack-ACC school’s leftovers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Jank/1663980095 Rick Jank

    Though lately he has been throwing up some terrible looking bricks…

  • Christopher Hirsch

    I enjoyed when Blewitt ran through 4 timeouts in 2 minutes, including the awesome play of calling a timeout and our team immediately having to call a timeout after inbounding the ball.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Jank/1663980095 Rick Jank

    But it shouldn’t be shocking since NE was consistently camping shooters on the 3pt line and we were not covering them. I’m sick of seeing the situation where a player invades the paint on us, then practically our whole team collapses on him, with a couple of the players just standing there out of position with nothing to do, and meanwhile a couple of shooters set themselves up at the 3pt line, take a breath, crack their knuckles, and wait for the pass and the wide open shot.

  • gmuhoops

    Edwards loves to dribble himself into corners but Hewitt is also a terrible in-game manager.

  • gmuhoops

    Teams know that mason doesn’t cover the perimeter and seem to having an easy time taking advantage.

  • Andy Minor

    His takes last night were OK, just a touch strong. I can see pulling him after 4 or 5 takes but you need to give him a chance to heat up, especially when he hasn’t seen too many minutes the last few games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Jank/1663980095 Rick Jank

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Nothing Hewitt has done courtside during a game has impressed me. What’s the use of being able to recruit talent if you can’t do anything with it? What GaTech fans were saying is turning out to be alarmingly true — that we’ll end up with a squad of talented underachievers. And guess what, we’re not THAT talented. We need COACHING. This whole “uptempo offense” style that Hewitt allegedly favors: I’m beginning to think it’s just a coverup for the fact that he can’t do much else as far as advanced strategy. Just play ‘em fast and hope their athleticism wins out. Frankly, I don’t see any uptempo. There are no quick outlet passes after a rebound, our “long bombs” usually fail, and we end up with the pg plodding his way up court into a halfcourt offense that no one appears confident in.

    My prophecy back in the day was that Hewitt would be here 2-3 years, recruit some good talent (how he does that idk, smoke and mirrors?), then get replaced by someone who can coach that talent. I remain optimistic.

    But not to be all negative about today, it seemed in the first half we were doing a decent job of feeding the post, and Copes anyway looked comfortable working the post and shooting. Albeit against an inferior defense. More more more quality playing time for our bigs will be a good thing.

  • James Hubbard

    In over ten years I have not seen such an unhappy crowd at the Patriot Center. The true believers were not happy at all with what they were watching. My recollection is that Nestor and Westhead weren’t fired. They either resigned or GMU did not renew their contracts. Hewitt has three years to go on his contract. Will O’Connor and the administration wait that long to make a change?