One thing to watch

BBT 1

Our friends over at College Chalktalk are during a series where they are writing a short blurb about each Atlantic 10 conference team and are pointing out one thing to watch.

For George Mason, it is all about finishing games this season:

“What must GMU do to give itself a chance to place in the top half of that range?

The Patriots must finish games.

The inability to close out contests plagued GMU a year ago. Costly turnovers. Defensive breakdowns. Uneven point guard play. The reasons were varied.

There was the November 18th game against eventual NCAA participant New Mexico where Mason led by five with 17 seconds to play. A three-point make, careless turnover and another made long ball by New Mexico’s Tony Snell with 1.8 seconds remaining sent GMU to an anguishing defeat.”

No surprise there and the example of the New Mexico game really illustrated it perfectly. As they also remind us, it wasn’t just any one thing or area that led to their frequent inability to close out games. That was the most frustrating thing about last season, deficiencies in multiple areas.

They improved on a lot of their weaknesses during March and in the CBI tournament but the simple fact is they must not let games get away from them in the closing moments. The experience that this squad will have entering the 2013-14 season will hopefully be a factor in preventing that from happening.

The Patriots have one of the tougher schedules within the Atlantic 10 and the difference between a top 5 finish and bottom 5 finish in the standings could be very marginal. Can they do the little things necessary to avoid having similar mishaps this season will be one of the biggest question marks for them.

[via College Chalktalk]

  • Andy Minor

    Sadly I think this is a coaching issue. Sure it was made worse by inexperience, and that will at least help mitigate it this season, but this team flat-out just couldn’t adjust. That falls on Hewitt not being able to tell his players how to adapt. How many times did we explode out of the gate, look amazing for the first 10 minutes, and then just pitter away the rest of the game? Happened way too many times. They don’t react to the other team reacting to them. You gotta stay a step ahead of your opponent otherwise your 18 point run to open the game is no better than an 18 point run to cover the spread later.

    • SkinsGMU

      I agree. A lot of the problems seem to stem back to poor coaching decisions. And that is why I have little faith that this team is really going to take a big leap against tougher competition this season.

    • mkaufman1

      While I understand the inexperience added to it, I don’t know how much more Hewitt could have done to tell his players to adapt. He seemed like he would pull , switch guys around, and try just about anything but something had to give because it happened way too much. Maybe it was inexperience because if you recall the young team Mason had a few years back under L, they would do the same hot and cold streaks.

      Also, while it happened all the way up until the Northeastern semifinal (ugh), somehow things got figured out in the CBI and that did not happen over those 5 or so games. Its a small sample and the competition wasn’t that great (albeit neither was the CAA), but there were strides made there in my view.

      It should be interesting and much tougher, but if Seniors can’t keep things together (5th year seniors), along with all of the other experience, I definitely have to think its on Hewitt. Its a big year, and I think it will be definitely telling. If the players do not listen, and the coaching sucks, the games will end up much more like Georgia State at Homecoming.

      • GMU2008

        Hewitt continues to get unfairly bashed by this fanbase. I’m not his biggest fan either but when I see guys dropping easy passes in the post and see other small mental errors I find it hard to put all the blame on him.

        • mkaufman1

          I agree. There’s a pre conceived notion that he sucks judging from his past and that the team has played terrible basketball for 2 years under him. While I don’t necessarily think things are terrific (the record is “good”), I do think this year will be more telling than the first two with more experience (senior leadership, 3rd year of system etc, tougher league). I don’t think it will be a complete story with him until after year 5, but this should paint a fairly accurate picture, say 70 to 80%.

          I also think the preconceived notion is due to the love for Coach L, the fact Coach L isn’t around, and that Hewitt isn’t Coach L, so there isn’t that “connection” with him and who knows if he’ll ever have one.

          • GMU2008

            You’re right that this year will be more telling. He has to show us something this year that gives us confidence he can be successful. The team’s best players have been in this system for three years now and will hopefully turn a corner.

          • Chris Hirsch

            You say its a preconceived notion yet then say the team has played terrible basketball in the 2 years he has been here. So we have evidence to have the notion Hewitt isn’t a good coach.

          • mkaufman1

            You can also argue that hes made (somewhat) the best of what he had to work with in several ways. I really don’t feel like typing them out. He’s also can be credit for having Pearson be CAA player of the year, and somehow having the growth of Arledge in the 2nd half of last year, along with Bryan Allen.

            We’ll see after this year in my opinion for what I previously stated above.

        • NY2DC

          I agree, and I’ve never been a big fan of his. However, let the man recruit his own team before you show him the door. The guy has been trying to run his system w/ Larranaga recruits. Give him a chance.

  • Kyle Stegner

    I agree with the pre conceived notion that people are quick to judge Hewitt. We have to remember that Larranaga did not reach the NCAA every year when he coached George Mason. Whenever Larranaga and his team made an appearance, it was when most of the players became seniors and had gained alot of experience. I would say give Hewitt one more year to prove the haters. If a NCAA or NIT does not happen in 2014, then it would be time for Hewitt to pack his bags and sell his 4 out-1 in motion offense to some other school.

  • Ric Andersen

    I think we need to stop with the “we’ve improved a lot during the CBI tournament” mantra. Sure, we went 4-2, but one win was a literal last-second shot to win by one point, after blowing an 8-point halftime lead. And another win was in overtime, after blowing a 7-point halftime lead.

    The point being, we were a second away from being 0-1 in the CBI Tournament, and another second away from being 1-1 in the CBI Tournament. So I’m not comfortable with all the talk about how much we improved in March (which also included the 24-point lead meltdown to Northeastern). We closed out March and April with a 5-4 record. A worse percentage than our overall winning percentage.

    • Petey

      You’re only looking at the wins and losses, totally not the point anyone is making. Did you watch the CBI? Bryon Allen was flying around picking off passes and getting fast break points. Jon Arledge began to look like he could be a full time starter for us. We finally saw a bit of the uptempo style Hewitt wants. The overall style of play was improved from the beginning of the season.

      • Ric Andersen

        Yes. I was at both Santa Clara games. I am looking at the points people are making. I just chose to illustrate via record. Records are the bottom line to gauge success, and improvements.

        • Petey

          Fair enough and I’m not saying a lot of improvement isn’t needed, it is for sure. But in the CBI they looked like a far cry from the team that got blasted by GSU on homecoming.

    • gmusigs

      I have to agree with this, the fact of the matter is they were a 5th place team in the awful CAA when it was all said and done. Santa Clara was probably the only decent team in the CBI and we couldn’t beat them in a series with home court advantage.