George Mason continues dominance over James Madison

George Mason bounced back after an awful performance Saturday to continue their home dominance over James Madison. The Dukes haven’t won at the Patriot Center since 2003 and Mason has beaten them in their last eight meetings. Bad as Mason has played at times this season at least they kept their winning streak over JMU alive. What was different last night compared to the loss at UNCW was that Mason took control of the boards, especially on the offensive glass and Sherrod Wright had a big night getting to the free-throw line. Also, they got a lift from freshman Marko Gujanicic, who posted his first career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). He showed glimpses of the strong play we saw from him in the beginning of that season and even knocked down a few three-pointers. The Patriots’ perimeter defense was an issue again in the first half but they held the Dukes to no three-pointers in the second half. The Dukes’ offense struggled without much of a perimeter game and Mason took advantage.  

It was another Mason game where we saw a ton of fouls. Erik Copes was a non-factor because of it and it almost prevented Marko from getting his first double-double. The team’s overall discipline on defense hasn’t improved but the difference last night was that they got to the line more than James Madison did. They didn’t shoot the ball better than the Dukes but they got a lot of second chance points, despite missing numerous lay-ups, and got their best free-throw shooter to the line. Bryon Allen had a good night off the bench and helped the Patriots gain momentum in the second half. He scored five points in about 25 seconds after getting a steal after a made basket and converting it into a three-point play. Allen continues to show that his role off the bench seems to be better for the team and he should be doing nothing but driving to the basket. The team has looked their best this season on offense when both he and Wright are cutting successfully through the lane.

[Photos via Bill Bride]

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

    Glad we won last night. One of the problems I see though is that Anali gets a bit too cocky. He almost started a fight last night. I think someone needs to sit him down and tell him to stop acting like a boy and act like a man with some class.

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

    I get tired of Johnny Williams always trying to do too much so far away from the basket. I feel like all he cares about are “his” stats. Even when 2 Mason players are fighting for the same rebound he is always in there trying to make sure he gets it. (Yes I know that’s a big man’s instinct but it’s more than that with him). Almost reminds me of when Kevin Foster played here whenever he touched the ball you knew he was going to shoot it.

    Then of course Johnny drives into the post last night, finally makes a spectacular unselfish pass into Copes which shocked us all, and Erik missed the easy layup…

    Like the television broadcast showed last night, Mason has relied on having dominant big men down low in the past (Evans, Thomas, Pearson) and I just don’t see this team going very far without that this year.
    Anyone else think Corey needs to shoot just a little bit more to keep the defense honest?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robwaltersii Rob Walters

    I have always believed that the Wright, Williams, Okolji, Gujanicic, Allen lineup that was in at the end of the game last night should be our most productive on both ends of the court – assuming the bigs make layups and passes commanding some respect on the post.

    Not sure why Hewitt feels compelled to insert other players in the lineup as soon as the team has an 8+ lead and momentum (maybe 28+ lead with 3 mins is ok). Fortunately last night the insertion of Edwards and Holloway was short lived and the guys (above) were able to regain the momentum that was lost over 30 seconds or so.

    Observation (expanding on previous posting re: help defense): opposing teams are feeding the ball to who ever is guarded by the weakest link on defense (they do their homework). Opposition player takes on the weakest link one on one, beats the weakest link, two Mason players leave their man to help (one to many), and either the weakest link fouls from behind or the opposition player feeds the ball to one of the two open men. Result: easy layup or open 3. If beat, how about guarding the perimeter rather than chasing player to the basket and fouling them?

    Last night the weakest link was often Holloway, Edwards, or (had not noticed this before) Williams.

    After the ODU game the coaching debate flared up (pretty sure it started the day Hewitt was hired). I am not a big fan of making coaching changes in college sports until a coach has time to get “his guys”, but I am willing to join the debate (I am sure gmuhoops would prefer on the Bulletin Board if it still exists). VCU fans had built websites dedicated to getting Shaka fired mid-Jan of his Sophomore season after they had some bad early January loses (they wanted Joey benched too). I am not suggesting Hewitt is anyway near the same level as Shaka or there is any chance things will turnout the same way, but I am willing to give Hewitt and his assistants a bit more time. I will admit I am as baffled by the offense is as many of you.

  • eric

    I have watched Okiloji with Seton Hall and he had a very similar attitude and I completely agree, he almost got a technical and I was surprised nothing came of his shove after Wright was fouled. Last night seemed like 2 different Mason teams from first half to second half. I think where this team starts having issues is not knowing where scoring is going to come from with the exception of Wright. Also, there were WAAAAAAY too many turnovers on passes that simply were rushed and stupid. I don’t know why Corey Edwards felt the need to throw a fade pass out of bounds or why we force passes into Copes or Williams when they are double/triple teamed. I will say this though, some of the fouls called on Copes and Gujanicic were very ticky tack, almost non-existent.

  • gmufan84

    I don’t think we get the ball into the post enough. Problem is our post players (Marco excluded) are not good passers. So once it gets into the post, they cant pass it out, if they dont have a shot, or they think about it too much, and then they are double teamed. They need to be more decisive. Maybe they should work on that in practice. I have noticed the someone has worked with Copes about not dribbling when he gets the ball in the post. So we know at least Copes is receptive to coaching.

  • GMURULES

    Matt, I could not agree more on the Corey comment. the dude can shoot and he would really open the middle more.

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

    Similar to letting Holloway or VV shoot from the 3 to see if they have the mojo on any given game, we also need to see if Johnny Williams has that midrange jumper working for him, because sometimes he can get into a good rhythm. Even Paris Bennett has of late shown that he is worth minutes to see if he “has it.” And Marko, who in fact delivered some baskets last night. Gotta find that complement to Sherrod. And yes, I agree that Corey should shoot more.

    Maybe the biggest scoring problem has been getting those short range “bunny shots” to go in. By my count last night we were 6 for 19 on those. Nobody on the team seems composed while bodying up to get a shot, and there were several blocks on us. We’re actually better with Allen or Sherrod driving the lane than with feeding the bigs.

  • Andy Minor

    My problem with Hewitt is that our complaints are the same that Georgia Tech fans had for years. With Shaka Smart no one knew what they were getting and he had to establish himself as the head coach. Hewitt seems to have been running ambiguous teams for about the last 4 or 5 seasons. Sure they’ll have some success sometimes, but he doesn’t seem to be able to communicate to his players very well what he wants them to do. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope eventually the guys’ inexperience starts to wear off and Hewitt can manage the team properly like he did for 10 or so minutes last night. But until then I can’t really see myself continuing to spend money to watch the games when the product doesn’t improve.

    It’s going to take a CAA championship, pretty much, at this point, to convince me not to be critical of the guy. Until he actually earns anything I’m inclined to think there was a reason GT fired him, and that should have been reason enough that TOC didn’t bring him on board.

  • birdman33

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Hewitt was a terrible hire. He is going to wreck this program. All Hewitt does is rely on talent he runs a horrible NBA style offense, i.e. one pass and take a bad shot or one pass and drive to the basket. The commentators on tv hit on this all the time. There is the zero, zero offensive flow with this team. And the defense looks as bad as the Lakers do. I imagine the boosters and athletic department aren’t happy when this stacked team lost to UNCW. This team should be dominating teams in the CAA. Coach L left an amazing roster for Hewitt and Hewitt is from what I can see is doing the same thing he did at Georgia Tech, nothing.

  • Terence Young

    Its like I’m seeing favortism out there some of these players havent been the same since Coach L left. You will not win any conference championship this year if you have one player in double figures this coach has scorers and handcuffs them. You have 4 point guards Corey, Byron, Vertrail and Paul let them all run it. Corey can hit 3s Vertrail can hit 3s and goes to the hole, Byron is a big body that goes to the hole scores and gets fouled and Paul can hit 3s. Vertrail is your best defensive guard you have so is Byron use them..

  • StopWearingPurple

    I too am baffled by the substitutions. It seems like six guys each get about 20 min a game. Does that mean we have a mediocre line up?

    The defense is starting to get tiresome. Last night you could see how JMU would bring the ball down one side of the lane and the entire defense would rotate to that side leaving at least one, if not two, shooters all alone. If they really rotated then the shooter could come in under the basket unguarded.

    Last night there were more drives to the basket than I had seen all year. It will be interesting to see if that was a change in offensive strategy or if it was just for JMU.

    Too soon to bail on the coach, its only his second year. Next year will be a bellwether year. There is only one current SR and ten of fourteen players are Jr. or Soph. That means next year’s team will be very experienced. We will also be able to see how this year’s four freshmen are progressing.

  • James Hubbard

    You have to play the percentages. JMU let Marco take three pointers because he has been, to date, a terrible three pointer shooter. Giving him an open shot turned out to be a mistake in this case, but frankly if winning depends on Marco hitting outside shots, the rest of the season will be painful for GMU and the fans. To be fair to Hewitt, the team plays hard. Morale looks good and so on. But (and its a very big “but”) Hewitt tactics don’t make much sense. The point is to prevent easy baskets but score some yourself. GMU goes whole games without scoring an easy basket. Wright making a fall away jumper with three guys hanging on him is not a high percentage shot. And so on. Whatever offense Hewitt is trying to run does not generate any layups for the big guys or for anyone else for that matter. It’s hard to win that way.

  • Moses

    I am a long time Pat Club member/donor, long time season tix older. Very dismayed. Program is moving backwards. We struggle with JMU and lose to UNCW? It would be understandable if we had limited resources and limited talent, relative to the rest of the league. That is not the case. This is really unacceptable. No defensive intensity, no real scheme or system other than a loose motion offense.
    I’m fine with not becoming a hoop factory, I’m fine with dropping a should win game here and there, but there is no excuse for not putting a respectable, disciplined team on the floor. I see a fundamentally inept squad that doesn’t block out, close out the shooter on the perimeter and does not feed the post consistently.
    We have not had a pure point guard since Jason Miskiri, yet Larranaga was able to win with point by committee because he schemed it with much half court and back court help. Hewitt seems to wishing and hoping the players will figure it out instead of committing to a disciplined scheme or schemes.
    I’ve been very patient and hoped for the best but these teams are nowhere and will go nowhere and seem not to care one way or the other.

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

    Who is the current senior?

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

    Do you mean Patrick? Cuz there aren’t any Pauls on the team except for the coach.

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

    I def agree that Corey needs to shoot more. My problem with him is that he always has these open chances to shoot or do a lay-up and instead he decides to pass. A pass that a majority of the time is risky and even his own teammates don’t see coming.

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