George Mason falls to UVA in the Charleston Classic final

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George Mason shocked many this past week by reaching the final of the Charleston Classic against #6 Virginia. After losing to Colgate and Mercer, they weren’t given much of a shot to do anything in this tournament. UVA was lights out on offense last night and Mason was hanging with them for about three quarters of the game. Mason’s youth and lack of depth finally caught up with them but the exciting thing to take away was how much better they looked compared to the season’s first two games. This no longer looks like a team that will end up in the Atlantic 10 basement.

Shevon Thompson was dominate in the post and earned all-tournament honors scoring 50 points and grabbing 41 rebounds in three game span. Freshmen Otis Livingston and Jaire Grayer were big threats on the perimeter and shot the ball extremely well. They both displayed a ton of confidence that helped carry the team. Veterans Marquise Moore and Marko Gujanicic are benefiting big time from Dave Paulsen’s system. Moore is getting a lot of assists and making the offense run smoothly. Marko has finally found his stroke on the three-point perimeter and is making smart plays in and out of the post. He’s also knocking down mid-range jumpers, something this team has been missing for years.

There are still a lot things Mason has to work on going forward. Teams doubling the post against Thompson is still creating problems and turnovers. Ole Miss and Oklahoma State didn’t do this as much because they thought they had the size to match-up but Thompson went off. UVA clamped down on him and didn’t let him become a factor on offense. Expect most of their opponents to do this from now on.

The lack of depth was masked in the first two games in this tournament because the starting five was playing so well. Thompson was dominating down low and guards were hitting outside shots. Against UVA they couldn’t get any stops, which is understandable considering their offense right now is one of the most efficient in the country, but it showed a Mason weakness. They had trouble guarding the wing and didn’t have anyone to go to on the bench. They subbed in Abram but he looked like a freshman and wasn’t effective. Also when Thompson got flustered and Paulsen pulled him that left Jalen Jenkins, who isn’t having a great year so far, and freshman Danny Dixon. Those two are a big drop off from what Thompson can do in the post and that take a big hit when he’s on the bench for that long.

Mason only had 18 bench points during the entire Charleston Classic, that puts a ton of pressure on your starting lineup. Patrick Holloway and Julian Royal coming back will help the bench be in better shape. I mostly agree when people say depth is overrated and yes this starting group is playing great but some of them are still freshmen and some depth is better then no depth.

  • WB

    Clearly, UVa had too much muscle for us, and it didn’t help that they were shooting lights out. But anyway, what a great tournament for the Patriots! Honestly, outside of winning it all, not sure you could have asked for much more. There was just so much improvement in the players… Moore taking it to the rim with the best of them, and find folks when he gets cut off. Grayer, I mean come on… for an unrecruited Freshman? Shot at least 60%? And BIG SHOTS. Imagine once he gets comfortable with a couple dribbles and a pull up jumper. Livingston… that dude just has “it”… I could totally see him being a coach on the floor for the next four years… a few times, even showed a nice ability to create his own shot. Marko becoming the glue guy I thought he could be. And Shevon… just played great. I heard the announcers say it, and I agree… he probably did better because these “big time” programs didn’t double him… which tends to give him more problems.

    I’d imagine it’s the same for you guys… but win or lose, it’s just so much more fun watching and rooting for this team than previous seasons. Looks like they’re having more fun, too.

  • BoredInClass

    The most telling moment of the night for me was near the end of the game when Livingston got taken out. He wouldn’t sit down. He stood in front of the bench and stayed “in the game”.
    LOVE IT.

    • WB

      I’d seen somebody before post that they thought Livingston was too small for the A10… seems ok to me.

    • Matt Cerilli

      I have been noticing the same things as well. Even when Abram hit a 3 with under 2 minutes to go, I saw Marko jump up from the bench and cheer on Abram with excitement. These guys don’t seem down on themselves as much and have 100% bought in to Paulsen. (Although I am still not sure on Jenkins)

      • BoredInClass

        Yeah he is not having a great year at all. Hopefully he improves because he is a big piece off the bench and an even bigger piece next season in what will be a thin front court… Not to get ahead of myself or anything…

      • WB

        Yeah, it does seem like Jalen has had the toughest transition. Honestly, I thought he was a bright spot on the team two years ago… plenty of “A10 Freshman of the week” honors… physical enough to body up guys in the A10, even made some decent passes. Hopefully the coach can find a niche for him… like he’s done for Marquise and Marko.

  • vienna fan

    Remember last year when we were losing and PH would give the “all in sign” and nobody would? Definately agree with the comments above about Livingston and Marko’s excitement.
    The team is well coached, playing hard, and has some real talent.
    I’d say this was one of those good loss games. I was proud of my team last night. First time in a long time.
    Dino Gaudio (ESPN2) seemed very impressed all night long. Said we should be at least mid pack in the A10.
    Final comment…ESPN guys gave LOTS of props to the Green Machine.

  • Leedy1896

    It was a very exciting tournament to watch. Patriot fans had the largest fan base in attendance. And, of course, with the Green Machine it felt like a home game. Unfortunately, I believe NCAA rules require that we wait 2 years before we can go to another one of these November tournaments. By then, we should be able to win it!

    • Jim

      We play in a November tournament every year.

      You’re thinking of the summer overseas trips. The NCAA restricts schools from doing those more than once every four years.

      • Leedy1896

        That’s great news. I’m easliy confused by NCAA rules. I hope we’re invited back to Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

        • Leedy1896

          I realize the New York Tournament is more prestigious, but the beaches are better in PR or VI

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  • Jab Bush

    This team is really fighting tough. I can only see them getting better. Congrats.