George Mason falls to Colgate in opener

DSC_3019The Dave Paulsen era officially began Friday night with a new tone, new uniforms, a new floor but not a W. While expectations were not high, the loss reminds the fan base that there’s still a lot of work to do to turn this program around. The players played hard, showed great hustle, but couldn’t finish on a lot of offensive sets and missed a ton of free throws. They struggled on defense as well, allowing some easy baskets down the stretch and were outscored in the paint by a smaller Colgate team.

DSC_3150

Overall the offense was a mess. They couldn’t buy a basket in the second half shooting and went on to finish 33% from the field, 17% on three-pointers, and 51% at the free-throw line. They finished the game with just five assists and turned over the ball 14 times. Colgate did a good job of denying the ball to Mason’s post players and double-teaming Shevon Thompson, who never looked comfortable in this game. As a result we saw Mason’s young guards settling for a ton of outside shots and turnovers from the big men. Marquise Moore tried to give the team a lift but driving to the lane but at that point it was too little too late.

DSC_3024

On paper Mason should have been able to dominate inside with the trio of Jalen Jenkins, Shevon Thompson, and Marko Gujanicic. They won the rebounding battle but overall they were too soft inside. Thompson was easily flustered by the extra defenders and neither he nor Marko or Jenkins were able to make strong moves to the basket. The three forwards combined for 10 of Mason’s 14 turnovers on the night. They did get to the line often but just couldn’t convert. Marko had seven points in the first half and looked like he might carry this team with Thompson struggling but was held scoreless in the second half and struggled on defense.

The bright spots were definitely the freshman, who were certainly thrown into the fire early. Patrick Holloway was out due to suspension and Julian Royal is out indefinitely with a concussion so there were minutes available for the underclassmen. As a result we saw a lot of Livingston, Grayer and Murrell in the back court and they showed confidence. Livingston hit a buzzer-beater at the half to give Mason the lead but struggled to hit shots after that. The intensity and the hustle was noticeable from the young guys but so was some of the qualities that make them raw Division I players.

We knew heading into this season that this team was a “work in progress” and will have to rely on playing good defense and rebounding in order to win games. The offense is a big question mark at this point. I would have thought the back court players would have let down the front court ones but it was opposite last night. This team lacks shooters so when the front court guys can’t get it going they will struggle to put points on the board.

[Photos by Bill Bride]

  • vienna fan

    Love seeing DP being so energetic and animated….something we haven’t since since the Coach L days.
    Disappointed in the loss, but the overall play seems to fit exactly with coach’s assessment. HIS guys are being molded to succeed, the vets are not the vets he needs (or wants, if I read him right).
    I think DP is our guy! We’ll just have to be patient. With Hewitt we were going nowhere fast, I truly believe in the next year or two as the vets graduate and Paulsen’s guys come in, we will see VAST improvement.
    The future, I think, looks good fellow Patriots.

  • Bill Bride

    Depth will be an issue with this team and it was evident last night with Holloway and Royal out. Missing 17 free throws is unacceptable. They simply need more from Marko and Jalen.

    Overall though, I like what Coach Paulsen brings to the program. He has a tough task ahead of him but this is not going to be fixed overnight. Best we can do as fans, and when I am on the court shooting pictures, I am a fan, is just be patient and support Coach and the team

    • Matt Cerilli

      Great pictures Bill!

      • Bill Bride

        Thanks!

  • Jim Green

    I got a lot of grief for saying the team lacks talent, and the new recruits are not good. I want this team to be good more than anyone. The reality is the program is in shambles and wishful thinking will not solve anything. There is only one hope for the program now and that is alumni donating money. With millions donated the program can get competitive. Hoping a good coach who can’t recruit can make us competitive is wishful thinking. Stop being wishful, and support, and figure out ways the team can have more donors. I do love they named the arena, it is focusing on money, that is the only hope now.

    • BoredInClass

      How have you already come to the conclusion that the new recruits aren’t ever going to be good and that Paulsen can’t recruit? IT’S BEEN ONE GAME. This is going to be a process, and while I was disappointed with how Thompson and Jenkins played, I am not really worried about them at this point. This season is about the young guys who played in their first game ever last night. Yes, (as someone who currently works in athletic fundraising at a D1 University) money can absolutely help with the development of a program in terms of facilities upgrades, apparel buys, and increased travel and hospitality budgets but it is definitely not the “only hope”. Last night was not a dooms day realization, it was the start of a very long, tough road which we all should have expected. I am and believe I will continue to be encouraged about the programs future. That’s not wishful thinking, that’s having faith and believing in the process.

      • vienna fan

        Completely agree BIC. Its one game. DP has been successful elsewhere…no reason he can’t be here too.
        And as far as money is concerned…yes, it can be helpful in many respects, but as we have seen with, oh say, our public education system, throwing more money at something is not a guarantee that something will succeed.
        Way too harsh Jim Green.

    • Jim Green

      Go to home games no matter how much they lose. That helps with money and recruiting.

    • BoredInClass

      hmmmm…. mhm… yep

  • Days of Yates

    Tough loss to swallow. I was prepared to accept the fact it’s a process and we may suffer from a lack of cohesion, but to learn that the same thing could be said for Colgate…. they sure looked more prepared. Having Holloway and Royal out could have had something to do with it, but neither of those two have exactly been “glue guys.” Passing in and out of the post was clumsy, and when we were able to pass out to the perimeter (to make them pay for compressing in the paint) and get an open three, nobody could drain one. We played aggressive and induced fouls, but the charity stripe seemed a mile away for us. Shevon Thompson do SOMETHING about your free throw shooting. And how many of their players played with 4 fouls down the stretch??!! And yet they pulled away. Our experienced front court was supposed to be the advantage, yet their frontcourt more than doubled us up in points.

    I don’t mean to say I walked away disenchanted with the whole season, but I couldn’t help but hope one of the new guys would emerge with that extra bit of poise, or that gametime magic that helps lift the team. Didn’t see that, though it may still be there. Livingston seemed trustworthy at the point all night, and he’s obviously going to be a key player. Or heck, maybe even a veteran could step up and be the leader. I think Moore gave that a go, anyway. But at this point, it seems success is going to come from perspiration and hard knocks more than finesse and brilliance.

    • G-n-G

      I very much agree with your last line about effort being the defining trait of this team if it’s going to go anywhere this year. I think where we may differ if that I saw plenty of that last night. Players must have dived on the floor a half-dozen times. They scrapped. They fought (several times almost too literally, those were mental breakdowns by Moore and Jenkins). Heck, Murrell during someone’s free throws sprinted to the Mason bench to get input from an assistant coach.

      I spent a lot of time watching Livingston because PG is always the heart of the team. The kid has charisma. He was almost always the first to congratulate a teammate or celebrate with them. He was constantly talking with players and coaches. On the end-of-half play he knew exactly what he was doing from the moment Thompson handed him the rebound. He looked at the clock, dribbled down, sucked in his defender, pointed as though he were directing another Patriot (this seemed like a fake-out to gain more space from his defender), and calmly drained his shot.

      I like Moore as the 2. He’s much more comfortable moving toward the basket. He needs a few more to fall, but that’s his strength. And his driving in the first half led the defense to collapse in the second half and opened up 3-point looks that, for now, the youngsters and Marko just missed. If they keep getting and taking open shots they’ll start to fall.

  • StopWearingPurple

    Here is one bright spot. Right before the end of the first half I was reflecting on how, under the previous coach, we never made the final shot of a half and, in fact, often turned the ball over. Then up steps Livingston to drain a buzzer beater giving the team the first lead of the game. Awesome.

  • dsnjd1

    I am reminded of the 1997-1998 season. Mason had just had four straight terrible seasons , that led to the ouster of a championship coach from another level who tried to forcibly install a system from another level that was doomed to failure . His replacement brought in to fix the mess was an unknown coach from a small mid-western program. In their first year I think his record was way under .500. In fact it took several years to develop a winning attitude. It is bound to get worse before it gets better. That’s the price for abandoning hard work for a quick fix. Patience. My fellow fans, patience.