George Mason fell in the season opener for the third straight year last night. It was a game they should have won and despite Jalen Jenkins’ big effort, they struggled as a team on the glass and coughed up the ball too much. You can definitely tell they missed Shevon Thompson’s rebounding but they were some bright spots in the offense that was looking to push the tempo way more than we saw last season. The different lineup combinations however, with new freshmen heading in and out, did cause some erratic play at times. It’s obvious Dave Paulsen is still trying to find out who his key guys are off the bench.
Before the game I said they needed to slow down Towson senior Arnaud William Adala Moto, they didn’t and it killed them in the second half. Moto scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half and Mason’s smaller lineup seemed a bit exposed, especially on the defensive end. Freshman Troy Temara, who seems like one of the most exciting new players this season didn’t get off the bench. Paulsen seemed to favor the bigger bodies of Daniel Relvao and Danny Dixon in the post. Mason gave up way too many second chance opportunities that hindered their ability to establish any sort of run.
The size difference is something we all are expected to be an issue with this season. Mason will be with a four guard lineup more often than not. Jenkins stayed out of foul trouble but if you watched Dixon and Relvao last night you have to be a bit scared of what this team will look like in games were Jenkins is on the bench in foul trouble. You can tell Paulsen was weary of keeping him out there after his first foul early in the game, which led to a quick substituition. It’s hard to tell what the smaller lineup’s offense will look like when they have an off shooting night from behind the three-point line like they did in this one. If a couple more three’s went down in the second half Mason would have taken this one.
Mason needed more from Marquise Moore, Jaire Grayer, and especially Otis Livingston II. Grayer had a tough night on defense guarding Mike Morsell and Livingston struggled from the field going 3-for-11 and 0-for-6 in the second half. They were creating their own opportunities but just not finishing. He had success driving to the lane and drawing fouls as he usually does but they needed more success shooting from the outside to overcome all their turnovers.
The big surprise of the night was freshman Justin Kier being the first guy off the bench and playing the most of all the freshmen, 24 minutes. He had a bit of the freshman jitters but you can see why he was in there as he showed some flashes of his ability to create and facilitate. Ian Boyd also saw a lot of time and like Kier you can see the ability but they just need more reps and game experience. That will be the big struggle this season, trying to integrate and use the talent of these young guys while trying to also play a different style of offense different from what worked for them last season.