And here we are, George Mason at VCU

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George Mason and VCU, back playing each other as conferences opponents once again. VCU and GMU fans love to debate whether this is a rivalry or not. Who cares, it’s a series that has history and is usually competitive. Currently George Mason isn’t on the same planet as VCU in terms of national prominence in the college basketball world, but if there’s one game this season the Patriots should be up to play, it’s this one.

The last time these two teams met is a poster child of the Paul Hewitt era at George Mason. The Rams blasted the Patriots to start the game with a 32-4 run. Mason clawed back late to make the final score of 74-64 look respectable but they were never in that game. It was also the fourth consecutive time that VCU had eliminated Mason from the conference tournament. To the seniors Johnny Williams, Bryon Allen, and Sherrod Wright, who have more history against VCU, it has to sting and this could be their last chance at some redemption. Sherrod Wright needs to return to that guy that hit the game-winner against them back in February of 2012.

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In terns of match-ups, I don’t think George Mason could be in a worse position then they are against VCU. The numbers per Kenpom.com paint the picture (numbers next to percentages are national rank):

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A team with a very high turnover percentage going up against the country’s number one team in forcing turnovers. Essentially what the Rams do best is something that is the Patriots’ biggest flaw. Their press will give Mason big problems, guys like Jalen Jenkins and Marko Gujanicic have to help get the ball over half court. Freshman Marquise Moore will probably start at point guard but expect Bryon Allen to bring the ball up plenty.

VCU’s game plan is this, as Rob Dauster states: “they gamble that they’ll be able to get more steals than you’ll get layups, and that in the process they’ll wear you down.” Everything feeds from their press on defense and an opposing team has to slow things down in a half court offense to beat them and even that doesn’t always work out well.

For George Mason to have any chance in their first official Atlantic 10 conference game, they will need to pretty much need to be the opposite of what they’ve been doing. They need to limit the turnovers, limit fouls, pack the lane to prevent easy lay-ups, and run an effective half-court offense. Their plan on offense needs to be Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen drawing fouls in the lane and kicking the ball to Patrick Holloway for three-pointers. That’s their best shot based on what I’ve seen this season.

On defense they will really have to stay out of foul trouble in the front court with Juvonte Reddic. He is a force and they will need to limit his touches in the paint to survive. I would think the game plan on defense for Mason would be to slow the game down and force VCU to beat you at the three-point line. Keep them off the offensive glass and don’t let them walk in the lane for easy lay-ups They aren’t as good as they were last year from there and Mason is better off taking their chances letting them shoot from there.

I want to be more excited for Mason’s chances in this game but they’ve done nothing this season to make me believe they can hang with a team like VCU. So far this season George Mason has played against some very good offenses, Oklahoma, Iowa State but have yet to face a team this good on defense. They looked confused against ODU on the road, imagine what the Siegel Center will be like for them Thursday night.

  • Andy Minor

    Hope for the best, expect the worst. I really can’t expect us to win this game (who could?) but I at least want us to show up and not be completely embarrassed. Make it entertaining at the very least.

  • Grad03

    Their fans don’t call it a rivalry but yet there’s a 16 page thread on VCURamnation forums right now…

  • Grad03

    Also, I expect to see VCU thug ball at it’s best as is usually the case in Richmond at these games:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yUSWydD6Dsw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AnY_sQIsoxA

  • ricandersen

    I think GMU has played itself out of a rivalry here. You have genuine rivalries, and you have instances where one team says, “We are rivals” and the other teams asks, “What is that buzzing?” as they swat the first team aside. VCU has dominated our games lately. And I don’t think it carries any weight when we win every fourth game by one point, and VCU wins the other three by anywhere from 10-20 points.

    We are 18-31 .367 against VCU all-time. I don’t think a .367 win percentage can be defined as a rivalry. And in games that count (CAA Tournament), I think we are 1-5. In the last 11 seasons (if I counted correctly), we are 8-15 against VCU. So in recent years, we have a .347 winning percentage. I don’t think that qualifies as a rivalry, and least not from VCU’s standpoint.

    On a note unrelated to this post: Hewitt has had us down by 28 points against VCU. We squandered a 24-point lead against Northeastern. We lost last season to New Mexico after leading by six with 17.7 seconds remaining. It seems that frequently Hewitt teams are either put in giant holes, or losing giant leads. I’d like to know if this is just my perception, or if Hewitt really does stand out statistically in this regard. Relatedly, I would proffer that Hewitt’s main shortcoming is not adjusting at the half.

    This comment is all over the place. :)

  • gmusigs

    This could have developed into an actual rivalry if Mason beat them more often. Been very one-sided for quite some time.

  • Masonfansince03

    If there is one team I hate more then JMU (although, let’s be real, hard to hate on JMU since they haven’t beaten us in how long, that coupled with the fact we don’t play them anymore, ya, I guess that’s dead) it would be VCU! I hate everything about them, their thug players, their POS fans who all have an attitude, and the fact that not only are they most likely going to crush us (based on the way we have played this year and the fact that none of our players seem to get up for games anymore and don’t understand that they need to be way up to win against VCU) but that it’s going to happen on national TV for everyone to see how bad Mason has become! I have a feeling I will be several bud lights deep to get through this game! Hoping for best, expecting the worst!

    • GMUPATS74

      Yeah have to agree. I went to a game at Siegel and their fans are A**h***s with a capital “A.” Cocky low class. Will never forget how one of the 50 something VCU fans got up into a visiting GMU fan’s face all because he was yelling “GMU-WHAT!”

      • Masonfansince03

        Yes, I have never liked VCU, but after going to the siegel center last year and getting hollered at for cheering for Mason, and then having one of their dickhead fans (who was there with his family, including two small children) swearing and yelling at me and in my face telling me to sit down and shut up (which I got back at him at half time, almost getting me kicked out, but that’s another story, haha). Ya, I am not a VCU fan. Re-reading your reply, I am pretty sure I was the guy you are talking about, haha.

        • GMUPATS74

          You know I think that’s the dude. No joke. If he was with two trailer park rats and a homely looking wife that’s the SOB.
          Must be some Viagra-taking, no self-esteem, gotta look good in front of my family types. Wife probably gives em hell 24-7.
          What a sad sack he is.

          • Masonfansince03

            haha, if we’re talking about the same guy, he kept talking shit to me the whole game, telling me “oh no, you won’t cheer for Mason in VCU’s house”, got in my face, and then kept going to cry to the ushers, who pulled me aside at half time and eventually took my side, because I was reasonable. Either way, I finally got to the guy and he left with his family (who I feel sorry for) before the game was over. Good times at VCU, as always, haha.

  • Petey

    It’s not a rivalry, it’s one fan base hating and being jealous of the other because they actually capitalized on their Final Four run. Yes I am one of those in the fan base.

    • Masonfansince03

      I think it still somewhat of a rivalry, although not as much as it used to be since we haven’t won many games against them as of late. Another thing that has hurt the chances of there being a real GMU/VCU rivalry is that we always only seem to play them once a year, why is that?

      • mkaufman1

        This year VCU was only a one time partner because the A-10 has 13 teams and other teams were picked as home and home partners. In the CAA, they came out with a “6 year schedule” which starting in 06 or 07 (around there) made VCU a one time partner as well. That was just about to change before VCU darted (or even this year). I think this will FINALLY change next year when the A-10 moves to 14 teams as it only makes sense to have VCU be a home and home partner.

    • David Houck

      I was born and raised in Richmond. Grew up rooting for VCU. My brother is a graduate of VCU. I was at the game, sitting behind the basket when Cam Long dunked over Larry Sanders, and I was rooting for VCU. I now hate VCU more than anything on this planet. I interned with the Richmond Flying Squirrels this past season and despised seeing their AD in the office when he came to Friday Happy Hours. I graduated from Mason on May 17th, 2013. Much to my dismay, I returned back to Richmond after the ceremony (at which Paul Hewitt was the key-note speaker) to work the game the Squirrels had that night, Shaka Smart Bobblehead Night. 9,560 fans in black and gold. The VCU Pep Band playing at the front gates. Shaka throwing a perfect strike down the middle for his first pitch. You can’t make this up. The greatest night of my life was Valentines Day 2011 when Sherrod Wright stole my heart, followed closely by their previous matchup in the Patriot Center when Larry Sanders fouled out, Cam Long hit free throws to send the game into overtime, Mason won, and I won the Farm Bureau layup contest in front of a sold out crowd. I despise VCU’s existence, because I am so overwhelmingly jealous of them. Have you ever been to a game at “The Stu”? Seen the students lined up down the block for a chance to get in to the game? Seen their awesome entrance? Heard how loud and seen how focused those fans and students are? They sellout every game. I paid $40 a ticket to see Cam Long dunk over Larry Sanders, and that was back then. I hate them because currently, they are pretty much everything we want to be. The University committed the necessary resources to sustain their Final Four success and build the brand of the University by investing in what got them their attention; Alan Merten and Tom O’Connor failed miserably to do so.

      • GMUPATS74

        No need to be jealous. VCU’s a bunch of turds. Wear your green and gold with pride.

      • gmurva

        First time going to ODU last weekend and I was impressed by how they fill the arena with a marginal team, the facility, the team entrance, etc. Patriot Center needs an upgrade (take some seats out and replace with sky boxes), we need to market better to families to fill seats (putting kids on a video board during breaks appears to go a long way), etc. To some degree that is on us (to pay for).

        The challenge is there are too many other things competing for time in NOVA (like driving home) compared to Richmond and Norfolk so I am sure the ROI of spending funds is a tough sell in the board room. Cabrera gets it, give him time.

        Don’t be jealous. We “win” on most fronts, just not basketball (for now).

        • GMUPATS74

          I was there too. Did you sit next to me?

  • mkaufman1

    All I know is playing VCU always gives me heart attacks, and makes me scream at my tv a lot. I never expect the games to be close, and sometimes they aren’t, but a lot of times they are.

    If its any game that Hewitt needs to win, its this one. The debut game in a new conference, an old foe, and a LOT of the Mason Community watching. I just can’t see it happening, but I hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

  • mason2004

    Honestly wondering what the reaction would be among fans if we won this game. A-10 championship here we come! Hewitt is a genius!

    • TonyD

      While it would be an injection of optimism, it will still be labeled a fluke until proven otherwise

    • GMUPATS74

      If you’re right your next Patriot Center waffle cone’s on me. Seriously. No BS.

  • gmurva

    Mason vs VCU is a rivalry even if neither side wants to admit it.

    (Hope Ryan does not mind the shameless plug…) If you have tickets for the game please plan to join MasonRVA for pregame – http://goo.gl/Hvn6mT.

    Now to make my case…

    1. The Redskins are barely 40% all-time vs the Cowboys – pretty sure it is a rivalry, so I don’t think that argument holds. Just not as much history yet.

    2. I grew up in NOVA and anyone who has lived outside NOVA knows there is no love for the “State of NOVA” (even if they do pay all the bills).

    3. Mason and VCU are both mid-major programs w/o football with the two largest student bodies in the commonwealth most of which are commuter students. Both have been to the Final Four. Both are competing academically and in athletics for the same in-state student population.

    4. I know we will all disagree, but academically parents want to see their kids go to VT, UVA, W&M, JMU – Mason is backup for NOVA kids, VCU for the rest of Virginia (see 2).

    5. VCU sold the extra tickets available for 4 games because the students are on break (otherwise season tickets sales would sell-out the siegel center) as a block for $100 to effectively make the GMU game a $100 ticket (nobody cared about the other 3 games).

    6. I have been to many VCU games and the fans are #@!% x 10 when Mason is in the building.

    7. We have the #1 and #2 pep bands in the country.

    For all these reasons and more, we are rivals.

    Now I will go read the VCU blog – sounds like fun.

    Rob.

    • Masonfansince03

      All valid points, I think I am with you on this one, now I just hope we can make it a heated, more even rivalry (so we don’t end up in JMU’s position with the old GMU/JMU rivalry, always losing).

    • Rick Jank

      Totally agree. And I would add that, no matter the W-L records between them, the two teams always managed to have to play each other in the VCU Invitational — er, the CAA Tournament. With so much on the line, that helps make it a rivalry. And to emphasize, we were the Final Four team, threatening to take over the CAA as its flagship team. VCU wanted to challenge that, and unfortunately, succeeded. The tournament game that still sticks in my craw was the one where we had VCU on the ropes late in the game but Maynor single handedly reversed the whole course of the game in the last two minutes.
      And now Mason joins up with “VCU’s conference” where you know they want to show us they are now a cut above any of their old CAA foes, us especially. So to any VCU fan: Mason is just one win away from re-establishing the rivalry. You know it.

  • gamoo79

    Interesting comments about VCU fans. If you listen to the VCU announcers on the radio, they say the same thing about our fans when we play them in Fairfax.

    • gmurva

      Yes, I would agree – make that #8 (see #2 & #4).

    • GMUPATS74

      VCU fans are annoying everywhere they go. The game we won on that buzzer beater I laughed so hard.

  • GMUPATS74

    Here’s a GT forum. Apparently the Blewitt I mean Hewitt love is alive and well at GT.

    http://www.stingtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75137

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