Northeastern once again takes care of George Mason

Just when we thought this George Mason team was starting to find some consistency on offense, they have another game like last night where they again looked lost. Northeastern routed the Patriots and outworked them on both ends. Very similar to the two teams last meeting in Fairfax. Mason had one of their worst performances on offense of the season, and we’ve seen a whole lot of bad in that department already this year. The new look lineup of Corey Edwards, Bryon Allen, and Sherrod Wright failed to do any real damage. The play from the front court players was so awful the offense went through numerous droughts that included a lot of missed layups and close shots. The sloppy hands this group killed numerous opportunities for Mason to convert turnovers into points. Erik Copes had an especially awful night and Johnny Williams would get fed in the post, and then look completely lost. Keep in mind we are 20 games into the season at this point.

By now one would have thought the rotation would have some stability, instead Paul Hewitt seems to get into trouble and then just cycling through the bench desperately looking for a spark. Last night was another prime example. Anali Okoloji, who started 18 straight games, is now not even playing. At one point when Mason was still in the game, Hewitt had a lineup that consisted of Vaughn Gray, Vertrail Vaughns, and freshman Patrick Holloway. Those three have rarely played consistent minutes this year and I know the rest of the team wasn’t hitting shots but I just don’t see how that’s you’re best lineup based on what we have seen this year. I don’t disagree with the Okoloji benching but it just again shows the poor roster management. It’s just difficult to try to understand what Hewitt is doing with the rotation right now.

Let’s get back to the forwards because the lack of a post presence is getting to be rather alarming. Erik Copes and Johnny Williams don’t seem to be getting any better. Copes at least has the excuse that he is playing hurt but Williams seems to be getting softer and softer. Wasn’t assistant coach Roland Houston supposed to develop big men for us? Jon Arledge and Marko Gujanicic are playing hard and you can’t fault them for that, but they foul a lot and aren’t true post players. Both prefer to play more outside and Mason doesn’t need more of that, they need tough inside guys.

The team is just a mess and can’t seem to put together against good teams. We see different lineups each game it seems. Sometimes it clicks and other times we get what we saw last night. On offense it seems that if Sherrod Wright doesn’t score over 20 points the team has trouble reaching 60 points. They need an identity on offense and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

  • Andy Minor

    I am especially disappointed in our big men. How many duffed layups did we see last night? How many times did they settle for a weak outside hook as opposed to going up strong towards the rim? The worst part is even when they do go up strong, they shoot the ball high off the glass and it just caroms to the other side of the hoop. It’s like they’re so used to having tough shots inside that when they finally earn an easy one they just get too excited and throw up something awful.

    The next point I’d like to rant about is how utterly befuddled this team is by a 2-3 zone. Traditionally 2-3 zones yield a lot of good looks from the outside, and teams stop playing a 2-3 zone once the offense starts capitalizing on those good looks. Well, Mason couldn’t find a good look to save it’s life. Corey Edwards gets a few but rarely shoots the ball more than 5 times a game. Other than that I see good looks all over the place, but every single player on this team hesitates far too long to pass out of a double team. No one shares the ball. It’s like watching a mediocre NBA team, where all 5 guys are just expected to take it 1-on-1 with whoever is guarding them, chuck up a shot, and hope it goes in. That works with NBA level talent, which we clearly do not have on this team.

    I also really miss Mike Morrison and how he used to get so fired up during games. I know his last year wasn’t his best but he was always trying to play at 100% and inspire that in his teammates. Heck, I remember Coach L used to get a technical every so often and that would really inspire the team. He even got ejected once or twice. Can’t really see that happening from Hewitt. He looks about as bored over there as I was when I had to sit through the ODU game. This team lacks a certain amount of heart, and I really don’t see Hewitt inspiring it in them. Really concerning especially since we, as fans, tend to notice things that Hewitt doesn’t even catch. I mean, how many weeks ago did we say that Edwards and Allen should both be in the lineup? And it took the HEAD COACH this long to figure it out?

    I can’t believe I pay money for season tickets to watch crap like this. I thought I’d have these seats for the rest of my life and now I’m doubting if I even want them next season. If it wasn’t for the fact that we aren’t graduating anyone I’d definitely not renew, but if I don’t see an NCAA tournament birth in by 2014 I’m done.

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

    When Sherrod Wright scores more than 20 points, Mason is 6-3. When he doesn’t, they are essentially a .500 team.

  • StopWearingPurple

    I can’t say that I am surprised by this outcome. Mason won games in the soft point of the schedule but there was nothing in those wins that showed issues had been fixed. A great example is the JMU game. Mason won the game, but they consistently left guys wide open on the perimeter. Just because JMU didn’t have any outside shooting to take advantage of it doesn’t mean it still wasn’t a problem.

    Each game somebody has a “break out” performance only to regress to the mean afterwards. ODU was the Holloway and Bennett show, JMU was Gujanicic’s double double, Hofstra was Edwards “keeping pace, and Towson featured Allen sparking the offense. Other than Williams, there has been no consistent support and most games the lineup is Williams with 30+ minutes and six – eight others splitting the time across the other four slots.

  • http://twitter.com/mkaufman1 mkaufman1

    I completely agree with you in terms of playing against the zone. Corey looked tentative bringing the ball up against it and I can’t help but think that more teams will continue to use this defense to slow Mason down. In fact, the defense NE used last night reminds me a lot of how Georgia State plays Mason and how they force Mason to use most of the shot clock and work slow.

    Northeastern is a good team, and I’m okay with the fact the team went 1-1 over a tough 2 game stretch. I’d like to see Mason take the next two (Drexel and JMU) to help solidify a potential top 4 seed, even though anything except #1 this year is pretty much worthless. I’d also like to hope that maybe if Mason sees Northeastern again (3rd time), that things will improve, but generally that is just my optimism.

    The team is very young, lost a lot of scoring from last year, and everyone (We think) is coming back. Hopefully the team this year just confirms that having no seniors doesnt make teams elite. The 2009-2010 team had no seniors, as well as the 04-05 team, and both those teams had inconsistency. Different times, but still food for thought.

  • Andy Minor

    As much as I complain I’m going to give this team another shot, but anything short of a CAA title next season will be pretty much unacceptable. You can’t return all your starters and your bench and not be consistent. If we have inconsistency issues next year, I will 100% put the blame on coaching, as opposed to probably the 75% I do right now.

    This doesn’t change what I said about heart, intensity, and passion though. Also, duffed layups and bad free throws. I assume Hewitt holds practices–if your players can’t make layups or free throws, and if your players don’t leave practice seething for the chance to win their next game, what do you do in your practices?

  • GMU alum2012

    We need to hire Bruce Pearl!. I understand there were some corruption issues. Honestly every school has corruption issues and he just got caught. He was a great coach and deserves a 2nd chance. Mason could prob grab him real cheap. He is a man with pride and would love nothing more to prove he still has what it takes.

  • GMURULES

    Watching last night made me sick to my stomach. I have said it before and I will say it again, this team has no heart or fire. Hewitt,s substitution pattern resembles him putting names in a hat and pulling them out to see who plays. The bigs are playing small, the offense is playing confused with no sense of what to do and the defense is just run around. I like Hewitt, real nice guy. As a coach I am starting to question. He can recruit, but on the sidelines I see nothing. No fire and no improvement of this team. it is very disappointing. Very disappointing……………………..

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

    It’s all about “Critical Mass.” The team keeps hitting Critical Mass on the following elements of their game when they meet up with an opponent 1) who can defend on the ball reasonably well, thus keeping us from driving to the hoop on offense; 2) who has at least similar height and a modicum of skill at blocking shots, which turns our bigs into butter; 3) who on offense can feed the post marginally well, which results in our guys either guarding the hoop, allowing the feed, and committing the foul OR fronting the post to block the feed and in the process losing out on positioning for the rebound; 4) who can dribble and pass fairly well, thus minimizing the impact of our press; and 5) with the same dribbling and reasonably crisp passing can readily set up shots from the perimeter.

    Critical Mass equals a breakdown of that element of our game, usually to the point of elimination of that element from our game. I think of it as Critical Mass (not that I am an expert on the scientific meaning of that term!) because once that Critical Mass is achieved, there seems to be no way of curing it, at least from the coaching staff we are blessed with. The only thing our coaching knows to address the issue is to substitute in new players in the hopes that they can find a cure… and they usually cannot. Many of our players are rather fungible: you can plug a new one in, but if the previous guy couldn’t score from the post, odds are the next guy won’t, either. They all appear to have been coached the same way, and that is to say not much at all. So when our skill levels are challenged by the skills of the other team, or game-planned away by the other team, Critical Mass sets in and there is no way out of it. And take away enough of the above elements, and like a house of cards we can crumble to a 20 point defeat.

    This is why our CAA opponents are having significantly better fortunes against us this year. They’ve seen us before, and now they know how to game plan against us. Us game planning against them, not so much. Some teams we are still able to out-talent, outshoot, or out-athletic. But those opponents with a semblance of talent and game planning stand a very good chance at beating us. That defines Northeastern this year. I thought it would define Towson, but I guess they have a little more ways to go. I believe Drexel will continue to get better at our expense this Thursday and may well sweep us this year. Delaware as well. Those teams can take away at least 3 of the above elements, and quite possibly all of them.

    Next year it will be more of the same. The good part of course is that we will be more experienced and more athletically skilled. But good teams will still be able to take away elements and gain the upper hand. While we may find our way to a 20 win season next year (no 20 wins this year, not even in the “down year” CAA), one or two teams will be able to master us in the tournament and take the auto-bid. The year after that, unless Copes, Edwards, Marko and Holloway really blossom we will be undermanned, depending of course on what recruits we bring in – allegedly our coach’s strong suit, but with this sort of outlook, can you really sell the program that much?

  • Keith

    Tom O’Connor by the end of the season:
    What is wrong with this woman? She’s asking about stuff that’s nobody’s business
    What do I do? … Really, what do I do here? I should have written it down. Qua-something. Quaar, Quaaooiirr, Qwall…Qwabity! Qwabity Ashuance!

  • G-n-G

    This is an inexperienced team across the board, with players who are in their first or second years of serious playing time. BA and JA in particular had minimal playing time in Coach L’s last season (neither played more than 9 minutes in a CAA game and even in blowout wins often had 1 minute of game time). Inconsistency is a hallmark of inexperienced teams, so this season isn’t very surprising or alarming in my opinion. They do seem to learn from game to game (not all their lessons but many of them) then other teams make adjustments to the improvements and the cycle starts again.

    As for needing to show passion, it works for some (see: Shaka Smart) but certainly isn’t a requirement in coaching or to get the best out of your players (see: Brad Stevens).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0UYnEHxm3Q&feature=player_embedded

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