Expect Mason to play at a higher tempo on offense this year

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We’ve discussed how this is the ‘Year of Small Ball’ for George Mason basketball heading into 2016-17, but how will that change their approach on offense? Steven Goff of the Washington Post got some good insight from Dave Paulsen on how Mason will approach this season without big man Shevon Thompson and using a smaller, more guard heavy lineup:

The Patriots will play differently this season. Without 6-11 Shevon Thompson, last year’s senior centerpiece, they have broadened their offensive options and aim to play at a higher tempo. They’ll do more screening and cutting and hope to break out in transition.

Last season, if the primary option crumbled, the Patriots often would crash.

“We struggled to get to a second or third action,” Paulsen said. “I think we can do that this season and have some nuance in our game.”

Last year the team struggled to find consistency from game to game. This season with a new approach to better utilize their talent, they should look less sloppy and more efficient. The change to a more up tempo style of offense is something that makes sense given how poorly this team executed in half court sets last year. Having Thompson as the focal point in the offense was hit or miss and often seemed to disrupt the rest of the team. This year they have a lot of raw athletic talent on the roster and I think this style will help them generate more points despite not having great shooting.

otis2ab

We all saw Otis Livingston II in transition last year and now that he is more comfortable playing with Marquise Moore in the back court we should see more points in transition. Moore’s game isn’t built for the half court offense anyway. His outside shooting is dreadful and he more often uses his speed to get to the basket and draw contact. I say let he and Otis run wild with this offense. DeAndre Abram, Ian Boyd, Troy Temara, and Jaire Grayer are all good in transition so it makes sense to utilize those young legs out there running up and down the court.

A lot of what they will try to do on offense this year could come down to how much their outside shooting has improved. If Otis, Grayer and Abram all improved their outside shooting it will make a big difference in how opposing teams look to defend them. Teams will try to slow them down and keep them out of the paint so they will have to keep defenses honest by hitting outside shots.

  • Gunston98

    Otis seems like he’s improved on his outside jumper and this approach on offense makes sense. Could be a lot more fun to watch this season!

  • Cruz108

    This would be exciting if we weren’t dead last in the whole country in forcing turnovers. They have to create transition opportunities for this to work and that could be a real challenge.

    • Grad2003

      It’s not just about transition and fast break points, it’s also about spacing in the half court set and overall better ball movement with screens to create more opportunities. I don’t think Paulsen trusted all the young players last year to run stuff like that and just went with a more conservative approach.

  • masonfan014

    They will be able to open up the offense this year with more options. Last year it was basically a 6 or 7 man rotation. Production off the bench will be much improved.

  • Days of Yates

    Jazz musician Carla Bley was once asked how she arranged her music. She said, “I give the high notes to the little horns and the low notes to the big horns.” If we’re going to be guard heavy, pushing the tempo sure seems like the natural way to create an advantage for ourselves. Sure beats the Hewitt (oops, I know) approach of trying to go fast (high notes) with a bunch of big guys (big horns) on the floor! Hopefully the approach is to also be quicker on defense, especially from the armpits down, and cause more turnovers this year.

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