Diamond Head Classic Preview

George Mason is on their way to Hawaii to compete in the Diamond Head Classic tournament. They will be facing one of the best teams in the country in the first round, #17 Iowa State. The Patriots are coming off two unsettling losses to USF and Oklahoma have had a lot of time to prep for this tournament since they had no games during their final exams period. The big question is how this team will respond from their recent losses as they attempt to get this season back on track.

The Cyclones are an offensive machine. They lead the nation in scoring (90.9 PPG) and their effective field goal percentage is 12th best according to Kenpom. They like to score in transition, have very short possessions and have a balanced attack overall on offense. Mason can’t do what they did against Oklahoma and leave the lane open for easy shots or else this be an epic blowout. Northern Iowa recently went to overtime against these guys despite committing 17 turnovers. They may be the only encouraging news for Mason heading into this one.

How can George Mason win this game? Well for starters ISU is a very small team, something that helps them out on offense but can be a liability on defense. Interior scoring hasn’t exactly been the Patriots’ strong point this season but it might be something they look to early with Marko Gujanicic and Jalen Jenkins. A slowed down, half court game and feeding the ball inside would probably be their best bet. A high possession game will be their undoing

Rebounding is another big key for Mason. They can’t afford to the Cyclones out-rebound them and they have to put the effort in on the offensive glass. They were absolutely embarrassed on the boards against Oklahoma, a 51-to-29 margin. They need Erik Copes to be more of a force in this area.

Allen Hewitt USF

Offensively for the Patriots, they need more consistency than just Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright. They’ve become to reliant on these two guys free-lancing and it’s not difficult for opposing teams to defend against. Mason averages only 10 assists a game, near the bottom of the NCAA division I. To put that in perspective there’s a guy on LIU-Brooklyn who averages that many by himself. We should be seeing more of Marquise Moore at the point, he seems to have makeup of a guy who can get others involved on offense. The offense has been so erratic they need to find anyone that can help settle it.

On defense they have really been hurting themselves recently. Letting players literally walk in the lane for a easy two is starting to become a routine thing for them. They have looked pretty good playing zone this year but you’ll only see it for glimpse. This team just doesn’t have any solid on-the-ball defenders and their man-to-man defense, which Paul Hewitt seems to prefer, can be scary as a result. It looked a lot better at the beginning of the season and I’m not sure how this group regressed so much in that area.

No one is expecting them to beat Iowa State but we need to see some fight in these guys. I still believe they are better than they are showing on the court and hopefully the BB&T Classic was the final gut punch needed for this season. This tournament is great opportunity to get back on track and three games from which they must build on.

  • David Jonathan

    At this point, do people still have faith in Hewitt? I know people will say he was a great recruiter. But I would say Larranaga was way better! (Person, Morison, Hancock ect.) Just curios what everyone’s thoughts are

    • David Jonathan

      Hewitt’s resume before Mason;

      - Went 72-104 in the ACC

      - Was fired, and paid $7.2 million for the next
      five years by the school, rather than retain him any longer

      -three out of four seasons from 2007 to 2011,
      Hewitt’s team posted losing records.

      -For the 2010-11 season, attendance and general fan interest had diminished to the point that Tech failed to sell out a single home game.

      - Georgia Tech finished the season 13-18 and was eliminated
      in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

      Why would anyone in their right mind hire
      Hewitt? We pay him extremely well might I add.

    • mkaufman1

      I think I speak for the general masses but essentially…

      Everyone (or many fans) want to give Hewitt the benefit of the doubt and some “time”. Hes been here 2+ years and the Win-loss record shows well, even though there has been some not so great basketball played. With that said, this year will be much more telling since its year three (I say around 75%) due to the fact 1) he has the whole team returning and 2) a group of talented seniors (now granted Arledge is gone, but Sherrod and BA are talented). With the step up in competition, and the amount of experience returning (essentially the WHOLE team), expectations are high. While the 5-4 start isn’t what anyone has dreamed of and many of us (including me) are discouraged, this year in the A-10 will be more telling of what is happening with our program. I can see the team doing well, but I can also see them falling flat. I predicted 17 wins and a 9th place finish, and I hope they can prove me wrong.

      With that also said, I think the talent Hewitt is bringing in, has shown large promise. Guys like Holloway, Marquis Moore, Marko, and Jenkins have shown very good potential and are the future of the program. Whether Hewitt is here all 4 of their years remains to be seen as well. However, I think based off the first two years, he may get a small extension (like 2 years MAX), especially with the amount of recruiting that needs to take place (essentially 8 scholarships or so), so he has to get his time so to speak. If we start anew, it could be more detrimental to the program in that perspective. Whether that happens remains to be seen its merely my opinion. This year is huge in my opinion to determining what we really have.

  • Matt Cerilli

    ” Hopefully the BB&T Classic was the final gut punch needed for this season” Sadly we have been saying this all too much these past few years…. Even if we come away with a win in this tournament, people will be happy and saying we finally turned the corner! Then we all know we will lose some easy game to Penn or ODU and be back at square one once again.

  • Rick Jank

    It simply HAS TO be the case that this team is reeling and it KNOWS it. They are in complete disarray, and the coach simply sucks at steering the ship. That said, the situation kind of strikes me as a decent setup for the team to perform well against Iowa State. There just might be that “nothing to lose” attitude that keeps everyone loose and clothed with a sense of false courage. Add in the fact that it’s on an exotic, faraway island, over Christmas, with a jetlag factor (UH teams usually have a much better home record). Maybe Iowa State comes out lackluster and we come out strong. I could see us making a game out of it early on, and maybe, just maybe, hanging on for the victory.

    At least that’s what I’ll say when I’m on Santa’s lap.

  • Daniel Wu

    As much as we all are frustrated with Hewitt’s progress so far with Mason, here are some things to point out. Usually a new coach needs a full evaluation before it becomes clear whether the athletic program should fire the head coach or not fire. A full evaluation is usually 5 years (average # of years for the previous coach’s recruits to clear out and graduate). Also Hewitt has brought in Julian Royal, Patrick Holloway, Marko Gujanici, and Jalen Jenkins. Hewitt will also be bringing in Eric Lockett, Therence Mayimba, and Trey Porter. All the recruits so far look pretty good. If we fire Hewitt now or next year the recruits may transfer out, making things even worse.