George Mason blows 20 point lead in loss to Drexel

George Mason has lived and died by the play of Sherrod Wright this season. When he was shut out of the second half last night against Drexel, the outcome was inevitable. The Patriots blew a 20 point lead on their home court and for the second year in a row got torched by Drexel’s Damion Lee. Lee scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half, while Sherrod Wright disappeared after scoring 13 in the first half. All this after shooting 54% from the field in the first half. They didn’t allow a Dragons field goal in the first seven minutes either. However rebounding and a scoring drought was a the big killer for the Patriots in this one. The Dragons dominated the glass and got numerous second chance points on offense. Johnny Williams being out with a concussion certainly didn’t help but I doubt him being in the lineup would have done much different as Mason was simply outworked. The offense just couldn’t get anything going without Sherrod Wright and if not for Jon Arledge probably wouldn’t even have been in the game late.

Mason was a mess in the second half after playing so well in the first. When the game was tied at 52 and three minutes remaining, Mason came out of a full timeout, looked lost, didn’t get the ball to Sherrod and ended up having Bryon Allen throw up an ill-advised shot. We just keep seeing the same sort of disarray out there. I don’t even know what else to say about it and the constant confusion at this point of the season is just embarrassing. On defense, the break downs always seem to come at the worst times for them. Nothing was working in the second half and Damion Lee was on fire. Paul Hewitt’s man defense wasn’t working, as usual, and he just was throwing different guys on Lee. Anali Okoloji, who played zero minutes in the last game at Northeastern, was covering him with the game still in reach. A huge mismatch for Lee and we all saw how that one ended.

A couple times this season the Patriots “deep bench” has bailed them out. Not the case last night and suddenly the Patriots don’t look so deep. Marko Gujanicic, who had been starting to contribute more consistently  was a total non-factor. Also, Vertrail Vaughns stepped out of bounds with 14 seconds remaining, killing any chance for Mason to pull off another heroic shot.

The Patriots are just not a physical team and can be beaten by a more fundamentally sound basketball team on any night. The amount of talent you have on a roster means nothing when you can’t do any of the little things right. On top of that, they just can’t score either and failed to reach 60 points for the second straight game. Sherrod Wright might be having a great statistical season but he’s not exactly powering Mason to the top of CAA standings.

[Photo by Bill Bride] – More photos here

  • http://twitter.com/mkaufman1 mkaufman1

    yep, same stuff different day. I have never been so livid coming home from a game before. I can’t believe I pay to see this sort of performance. The team is gutless and whether that falls more on the players or coaches, it was embarassing all around. And yet, they can still pull this off in Richmond , but my doubts grow higher by the game.

  • Andy Minor

    This team gets worse every game, and we can barely win the games we do. I’m not going to go on another Hewitt rant. I’ll just point out that the team scored 16 points in the 2nd half. Pathetic.

  • James Hubbard

    I am not so ready to blame the players. Overall, they work hard. The effort in the first half was particularly good. Holding a team like Drexel under 60 is testimony to hard work on defense.
    On the other hand, anyone who had watched GMU this season knew that, despite the big lead in the first half, the game was going to be close, Why?
    First, the fundamental techniques are not there. Rebounding is about good fundamentals and hard work. None of the GMU players seem to have mastered the basics of blocking out and anticipating the path of the rebound. To be fair, rebounding was never a strength of Coach L’s teams either.
    Second, basketball is a team game. In the best case, five players have learned to work together on offense and defense. Hewitt’s lineups, substitutions and time outs make developing the right sort of teamwork impossible. Just when you think a particular lineup has clicked, Hewitt makes a substitution or calls a timeout.
    Third, with only one player on the roster who can create his own shot, GMU needs a tightly organized approach to offense. Other than Wright, the players need the offense to create opportunities for them to score whether it is outside shots for Vaughns and Holloway or inside shots for Williams and Copes. I don’t think that Vaughns has had a truly open look at the basket in the past five games. That’s down to the offensive scheme.
    Fourth, similarly, the offense has to create challenges for the opponents. The best offenses force the defense to choose — guard the outside shooter or the post player. At the end of the game, everyone knew that Wright was going to get the ball. Drexel adjusted properly, but what was plan B? Wright had no options available so Drexel never had to pay for double or triple teaming him. In a proper offense, once Wright was double teamed he would have had a clear opportunity to get the ball to the open player. He didn’t last night.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=757753315 Ed Aymar

    In other news, Miami is ranked #14 in the nation.

  • Christopher Hirsch

    Same shit, different game.

  • StopWearingPurple

    Can someone explain to me why Edwards, who was 3-6 for 8 points, didn’t see the floor the last seven minutes of the game?

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

    Disturbing emerging trend: the Mason uptempo offense, never particularly effective, has actually become of great benefit for the opposing team. We rush down the court to either turn the ball over or miss an off balance shot that gives the opponent a chance to run the floor back on us for an easy 2 or an open 3 shot. It gives the other team a mental lift and helps their rhythm, while making us feel like a bunch of wimps.

    Stupefying long term trend: Hewitt seems clueless as to how to address the matter.

  • Giomason

    Well that was a shambolic 2nd half display. They did so well in the first half barring the last five minutes or so when they let Drexel cut it down to 11 pts. Watched the press conference on GoMason afterwards and the issue of rebounding was brought up to Hewitt and he said it was fixable….really??! This many games in and it’s fixable? We have lost 2 games at home to conference rivals now and I don’t remember the last time that happened. We let their best player heat up and we didn’t do anything about it and the 2nd half which was frustrating to watch because everybody in the stands knew that he was pretty much their only threat. And say what you will about Bruiser but at least he showed more emotion than Hewitt did/does….remember when he bounced the ball with rage when something went wrong? Sure we got a kick out of it but his players fed off that and well…..we all saw what happened…we lost a game we should have won comfortably.

  • G-n-G

    I saw a team that used up a lot of energy playing stifling defense in the first half (Allen was particularly active) and was exhausted by the end. The switching, man-to-man defense was really good in the first half. It also seemed as though the team got tight/anxious as the game got closer. Last year when that would happen they could give the ball to Ryan and let him take over and they had three seniors who could settle them down by saying, “No problem, we’ve been through this before.” Both of those relief valves are gone this year and the team will be inconsistent until they develop their own.

    As a reminder, Coach L was 16-15 in the 2009-10 season, losing 6 of their last 7 games. If not for a stretch of 7 straight in midseason they would have had a losing season. That team also failed to crack the 60 point barrier a number times (admittedly with a few compensating 70+ or 80+ games).

    http://www.gomason.com/fls/25200/Stats/Men's%20Basketball/2009-10/teamstat.htm?DB_OEM_ID=25200