VCU eventually wears down George Mason in A-10 debut

The first half was some of the best basketball we’ve seen George Mason play this season. They were breaking VCU’s press with ease and scoring easy baskets in the paint. Jalen Jenkins got his first collegiate start and was impressive right off the bat. Early on Mason did not dig themselves into a hole by turning over the ball and for once looked prepared for an opponent. But in the end the Rams have the better coach and Shaka Smart made halftime adjustments that got VCU back into their groove. They wore down George Mason in the second half and it was game over.

Mason rebounded the ball well. Jenkins’ double-double of the night included 12 rebounds and Erik Copes collected 10, his highest total of the season. But in the second half they let the Rams get way too many offensive boards, which kickstarted their offense. It was encouraging however to see Erik Copes last 31 minutes and not foul out of a game for a change.

Marquise Moore played very well for a freshman who was facing VCU for the first time. He looked unfazed early on and didn’t allow them to get lost in the Havoc. Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen just weren’t big enough factors. When Mason needed a basket they couldn’t get it done. VCU’s guards frustrated both of them and they were often looking to the refs for help.

A big difference in the game was free-throws. Mason didn’t nearly get to the line at the rate VCU did. The Rams were having an awful night shooting the ball but were aided by the 39 free-throws they got. We’ve seen this too many times before, the Patriots can’t adjust to how the game is being called or take advantage. 

As I’ve stated many times this year already, Mason needs to play a full 40 minutes. We continue to see them play well only for short periods of time.

  • clueless economist

    No way Mason committed more fouls than VCU. VCU always out fouls its opponents.

  • Masonfansince03

    overall I was happy with the way Mason came to play (at least for the first half). The second half they just weren’t getting things to happen, shots weren’t falling, rebounds weren’t being grabbed, and Hewitt started subbing players in and out with no hint that he had a plan of why he was making those subs. And Wright wasn’t playing that awfully, how do you leave your star player on the bench for the entire end of a game? We started fouling way too early and unfortunately VCU was hitting their free throws, so we lost. But, in my opinion, this game showed we have the potential to play against a very good team, hopefully we can keep it up! I am sticking with my 8-8 record in the A-10 this year!

    • ricandersen

      Yes, we have the potential to play against a very good team. We also have the potential to lose against very bad teams. I am sticking with my 5-13 record in the A-10 this year. (No exclamation point.)

  • GMUPATS74

    4-12 in our inaugural A-10 season. No change for me either.

  • gmurva

    Where to start…

    VCU did was they do – wear teams down. They are not a very good shooting team, so if they are not forcing turnovers and making 3s off transition they are very beatable. They bet they can wear teams down so they do not shoot as well (e.g. Allen’s shots were often short at the end of the game due to the number of minutes he played) and force more turnovers. They usually are successful doing so. Shaka’s system is the read-option of college basketball.

    Wright was on the bench in the second half as punishment for turning the ball over (one too many times). He may be the best player on the team but he continues to be guilty of lazy dribbling and passing (and motion). Coach L often benched Luke for extended periods as punishment for one thing or an other, but he always had him on the court when it mattered and Luke usually got mad and delivered. Wright does not seem to learn from sitting on the bench so Hewitt has stopped putting him back in. I agree with Hewitt on this point. That said, even the VCU fans were surprised Wright was not on the court at the end of the game. They have not forgotten what Wright did to them in Fairfax two years ago.

    I do not think we can complain about playing too many guys in this game (some guys may have benefited from a bit of rest). I liked the players Hewitt had on the court and wish that group had played together more prior to A10 play. I continue to believe they give us the best chance to win games but we will also lose some games due to lack of experience.

    Jenkins is a beast. Moore was not afraid of VCU. Holloway scares teams so much they change defense when he is in the game which opens the lane (because someone is glued to him). I don’t think VCU played zone when Holloway was in the game. All three are getting better.

    Copes needs to learn from Jenkins and stop hesitating when he has the ball on the post. Both Copes and Williams need to learn to stay out of foul trouble.

    Referees let the guys play. Prefer this to the way the game was called at ODU where there was not flow to the game. There were some bad calls both ways, but if the game had been called tight we would have been in worse foul trouble much earlier in the game. That said, 3 fouls (on VCU) with 7 minutes remaining in the 2nd half was rediculous. Love President Cabrera’s tweet.

    Second game in a row Jenkins fouled out because we had to foul at the end of the game. He either needs to learn he cannot be the one to foul and/or the coaches need to start the rotation of players w/ no fouls sooner so he is not on the court.

    Can someone make a Vine of the classless BS Webber pulled on Marko at the end of the game so it can be played in the locker room and on the video boards at the beginning of every game to fire up the guys and the crowd? Maybe w/ the caption “get mad” followed by a bunch of Mason blocks and dunks.

    If the guys that played last night continue to get the majority of minutes and stay healthy and learn to stay out of foul trouble and Wright wakes up and/or is willing to and able to contribute as 6 man, I can see 8-8. Probably too much to ask for.

    • David Houck

      I had no problem with what Weber did. Hell I would love for a Mason player to show that kind of dedication and energy. He plays all out for 40 minutes.

      • gmurva

        Respect the way he plays 40 minutes and his ability to foul and get away with it, but taunting a player/team by acting like a bobblehead for so long the referee calls a 5 second violation crosses the line for me. He should have been T’d up, but I am sure the ref did not want to insight a riot since the game was over and we probably would have missed the free throws anyway. Maybe I am old school. I don’t like it when our guys do it either.

  • David Houck

    The first half was pretty much everything any of us could have asked for. Jalen Jenkins cemented himself in the starting lineup and I think its time for Copes to start over the joke that is Johnny Williams. Michael Rudy should be ahead of him in the rotation at this point. Marquise Moore was tremendous in dealing with Weber’s quickness, and also getting in the lane. He and Jalen were the two bright spots, but the problem that Ryan pointed to remains; this team is immune to playing 40 minutes. They take breaks, and you can’t afford to take breaks. When you get into a shooting slump during the game, keep driving and causing contact. This team still has the tendency of looking to BA or Sherrod to bail them out of a dull offensive set and it isn’t working.
    Lineup from here on out should be Moore, BA, Sherrod, Jenkins and Copes with Marko and Pat first off the bench.

  • Rick Jank

    It was sure nice to see us prepared for a change! Or at least looking that way. We were solving havoc for a good 25 minutes… I think Shaka went to Havoc 2.0, but we didn’t have HavocBuster 2.0 loaded up. It appeared early on the focus of their press was on our 20 yard line, but they adjusted it to the 40 yard line. Again, we didn’t look prepared for that.
    They beat us, in their gym, fair and square. Though the lopsided fouls do make you wonder.

    • gmurva

      Living in Richmond I see VCU play enough to confirm your analysis is their MO every game. Most teams do not survive “2.0″ in the second half (e.g. VT) and we actually did not let it get out of hand and were able to recover. Unfortunately, 4 points was as close as we got before guys shots starting coming up short. On the bright-side the guys played defense well enough that it took a while for VCU to get back to a double-digit lead and they beat the Vegas line :) I think VCU playing in Richmond is always good for 10pts.

  • gamoo79

    Maybe, just maybe, we can at least be somewhat competitive in A10 play this year without too many embarrassing blowouts, and look forward to a potential step up next year with the incoming class. I think, except for a possible breakout or two, we should stop counting on a comeback from Sherrod. I think he’s done.

  • gamoo79

    Also, I was both surprised and pleased by president Cabrera’s tweet. Maybe he will be more supportive of our sports programs than it appeared at first. Which could eventually lead to a superior AD to replace TOC, which could lead to…..Better days.