RealGM previews the Atlantic 10 in ’14-’15

new a10 logo mason preview

RealGM gives a lengthy preview of the upcoming 2014-15 Atlantic 10 basketball season based on statistical projections and historical data. They have George Mason in the “Hoping for the NIT” category and give a pretty accurate assessment of this upcoming season’s team. It certainly is one of the more detailed season outlooks we have seen so far as they point out strengths, weaknesses and question marks.

First they talk about the front court:

“George Mason has incredible depth in the frontcourt. It starts with former Top 100 recruit and Georgia Tech transfer Julian Royal who is debuting this season. But don’t overlook the slightly undersized Jalen Jenkins and Eric Copes, who were outstanding shot-blockers and rebounders last year, though Jenkins is the better offensive player. And while ESPN, Rivals, and Scout had mixed reviews, Scout gave a very high ranking to freshman Therence Mayimba. The difference in recruiting ranking probably comes down to potential vs ability. Mayimba is a great athlete and rebounder who is raw. Meanwhile Top 100 JUCO recruit Shevon Thompson is a true 7 footer who should make an impact right away. I honestly keep waiting to hear that incumbent junior forward Marko Gujanicic has transferred. That’s what tends to happen in these situations. And I don’t know why three star forward Trey Porter chose George Mason over George Washington when he’s almost guaranteed to redshirt at GMU.”

No argument here as the strength of this year’s team in without question in the front court. However, suggesting Marko should transfer and Trey Porter is “almost guaranteed” to redshirt is a bit a stretch. On paper it might seem like a crowded group but they are a also a versatile group and it’s not like Marko was logging big minutes at the end of the last season. He’s still here and I think he understands his role. And for Porter, it’s easy to say he’s going to redshirt based on his skinny physique but Paul Hewitt mentioned his toughness and ability to jump in the fray with the big boys and come out unscathed. We haven’t seen much from him to go off of but it seems like he has a unique skill set that could help this year’s team. I don’t have any inside information and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did actually redshirt but I also think he could have a role in the rotation if they chose to go that path. My gut feeling though is that Hewitt doesn’t have the luxury to redshirt anyone at this point.

As we continue on in the article there is not as much praise for the outlook of next season’s backcourt:

“The backcourt has one true asset, lights out three point shooter Patrick Holloway. But Vaughn Gray is a weak backup and there are no other obvious three point-shooters on the team. The PG spot is also very shaky with either turnover prone Marquise Moore, turnover prone Corey Edwards, or freshman Isaiah Jackson taking the reins. Most importantly, Paul Hewitt checks in as one of the worst player development coaches in my data set. He’s a solid recruiter, but his offenses rarely live up to expectations.”

This is why it is difficult for me to have much faith in this team winning in the A-10 this season, the uncertainty of the backcourt players. They don’t have proven shooters outside of Holloway and we will have to wait and see if guys like Julian Royal, Therence Mayimba or Eric Lockett can develop into one. And then there’s the fact that the point guard situation is a huge question mark. Marquise Moore is recovering from surgery (minor but still a concern) and freshman Isaiah Jackson is essentially a small forward who is now a converted point guard. The last sentence quoted in the above paragraph though is plucked straight from the minds of any Mason fan who has watched the Hewitt era unfold.

Also, this team had real trouble defending perimeter players last season and that was with seniors at the starting guard positions. Even if they clean up the turnover problem on offense, this is still a huge separate issue that cost them a lot of close games last year. Some of the freshmen are better known for their aggressiveness and intensity on defense (Mayimba) but it’s certainly asking a lot to expect a turnaround in this area based on that.

The statistical projections and historical data don’t really paint a clear picture for this year’s squad because there are too many unknowns and new players. This is the first season where essentially the entire team is made up of guys hand picked by Hewitt and his staff. Will that have a big impact on the season in terms of them running his system?

There are also a lot of “ifs” heading into the season that could swing the performance of the group either way:

If Julian Royal can step in and contribute scoring in a variety ways, the offense should be more efficient than last year. Especially with the improved play from frontcourt players Jalen Jenkins and Erik Copes.

If the team can find some sort of stability at the point guard position between Moore and Jackson they will be much more balanced. Together if the two can get the team’s overall assist numbers up and run smoother plays they will be a much more difficult team to defend.

If Patrick Holloway can develop into a legit starting two-guard and provide confidence in the backcourt on both ends of the court. They are really counting on him this season and they need more then just three-point shooting.

If team’s new influx of athletic and defensive ability among the freshmen class can quickly materialize into a cohesive unit that ramps up their efficiency on defense; they can certainly win more than four conference games.

So you can see a lot is riding on the team’s new fresh look that is providing a new identity heading into ’14-’15. Whether or not that translates into more W’s for Paul Hewitt in his fourth season is what we are all eager to see.

  • Andy Minor

    I’m “hoping for the NIT” as well but unfortunately it’s gonna take at least one NCAAT win to convince me that Hewitt deserves to finish out his contract. The fact that we’re 4 years into this mess and the best we’ve ever done is “hope for the NIT” is pitiful.

    Then again I’m not sitting at home polishing my “CBI Runner Up” participation trophy, so what do I know.

  • Rick Jank

    Yep, there are so many new faces that one has to have grave doubts whether “one of the worst player development coaches” can accommodate them all, develop chemistry, teambuild, whatever you want to call it. Makes me think we will see a repeat of two years ago where Hewitt kept throwing players out on the court in this or that combination, as if he knew what he was doing. The big hope here is that someone — some player — in this group will emerge as a strong leader and keep everyone together on the court. Anyone have any ideas who that might be?

    • GMU2008

      Eric Lockett seems to fit that mold based on his play and leadership in the playoffs for his HS team

      • Guest

        If the first name that pops into your head is a freshman that hasn’t played or even seen a single minute of college basketball up close, that should tell you all you need to know about the team Hewitt has “developed.” Not a single one of our vets have taken a leadership role on or off the court, which is utterly pathetic. I have very low expectations for this team… regardless of the talent or potential of its individual players. We might as well have water coolers coaching on the sidelines. An inanimate object would have the same level of impact any one of these current coaches have the past 3 seasons.

      • Adam

        If the first name that pops into your head is a freshman that hasn’t played or even seen a single minute of college basketball up close, that should tell you all you need to know about the team Hewitt has “developed.” Not a single one of our vets have taken a leadership role on or off the court, which is utterly pathetic. I have very low expectations for this team… regardless of the talent or potential of its individual players. We might as well have water coolers coaching on the sidelines. An inanimate object would have the same level of impact any one of these current coaches have the past 3 seasons. And the Head Water Cooler wouldn’t cost you $745K a year.

        • Chris Hirsch

          You can say that again.

    • Grad03

      Jenkins and Copes need to be leaders. Jenkins got more vocal as the season progressed and Copes is in his final year. Edwards is another leader but he will be more like the role Paris Bennett played in his senior season.

  • SkinsGMU

    I can’t say I disagree with anything said in the article. We have turnover prone point guard, one shooter, and a ton of question marks on the roster.

  • mkaufman1

    I agreed with most of it except 1) I doubt Marko is transferring (dont see why he would but who knows 2) MM is turnover prone? really? 3) Why focus on VG as a backup? So random.

    • Chris Hirsch

      Moore is turnover prone, look at the stats.

    • Adam

      Can you honestly say that you feel completely comfortable with the ball in Moore’s hands? I mean granted… I feel better with Moore than I do with Edwards… but both of them make some really stupid decisions. Almost as if they are color blind and can’t tell who’s wearing the same jersey as them. Every fastbreak is a nerve-wracking experience.

      • mkaufman1

        Moore had a lot of turnovers in 22 minutes of action, however as a freshman, I cut him a bit of slack. I’m going to assume he improves on that going forward. With that being said, I’d much rather see him be PG than Edwards. Ive never seen the kid look confused seeing a press or randomly pick up his dribble. He also had 2.7 assists per game which seems pretty decent.

      • gmuhoops

        Agreed, Moore has more upside with other areas of his game but the fact still remains this team doesn’t have a good answer at the position and they will still struggle because of it.

    • gmuhoops

      Marquise Moore had the highest TORate on the team according to Kenpom, 28.5. Others were Edwards 27.5, Copes 25.2

    • gmusigs

      I could easily see Marko being the odd man out with the new additions, doubt he will transfer though. As for Gray this guy didn’t do all of his homework on the team, makes no mention of Lockett who will probably end up being our best freshman and rotate in the backcourt.

  • PatDan

    Pretty fair assessment of where we are now with Hewitt. I’d really like to believe we have “incredible depth” in the frontcourt but that seems like a stretch. I’m still not sold on Royal being the savor. I can’t imagine are backcourt competing in the A10, too much inconsistency and inexperience.

  • GaMoo79

    Can’t say that I agree that Holloway is a “lights out three point shooter”. Pretty good, but not great.

    • Rick Jank

      So far, I’d say he is a “lights out 3 point shooter on given nights.” I’d like to see that develop into “on most nights.” That said, I think it’s wise for him to keep developing that dribble and drive off the fake, which he has been doing.

      • GaMoo79

        Yeah, Rick. I’ll go with that too.

      • Andy Minor

        He could be more consistent if Hewitt ran plays to get him open looks. A lot of times Hewitt just uses Hollaway to draw a defender out of the lane so someone could drive to the hoop. Now, if one of our players knew how to drive/dish the ball, Hollaway would again get more chances to hit 3s. Instead everyone seems content just letting him run around on the court hunting for a teammate who’s kind enough to set a screen for him.

        If he played on any team that had a semblance of inside-out basketball, he’d be one of those dagger players. But Hewitt doesn’t seem to like recruiting or relying on PGs or SGs so we’re kinda stuck.

        • PatDan

          Hewitt’s system gives his players a lot of freedom (for better or worse) and I don’t know if that will be a good or bad thing this season for Holloway with Allen and Wright gone.

          • GaMoo79

            I’m not sure if its freedom or just lack of discipline/coaching, but generally speaking, teams that consistently run set offenses kill those that dont (or in our case, maybe its can’t). Princeton comes to mind. Or Villanova over Georgetown. Or NC State over Phi Slamma Jamma.