First off, the new video boards, lighting and overall game day experience is very much improved this season. The intro video was awesome and it pumped up the crowd, we’ve been waiting a long time for something like that. For game George Mason edged out Lafayette in the closing seconds with some clutch full court defense and free-throw shooting. Not the start to the season we wanted, especially when you consider the Leopards were picked by most to finish last in the Patriot League.
Mason started off hot on offense, pushing the tempo early and getting transition baskets. Freshman Goanar Mar, who with the current roster limitations, started at the five but looked very confident. His first basket was a three-pointer and hit two more on the night on his way to 11 points.
.@YounginGoanar for Threeeeeeeee!!!
— Mason Basketball (@MasonMBB) November 11, 2017
As expected Jaire Grayer led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds and looked assertive all night long. Otis Livingston II uncharacteristically went 0-for-3 from the free line but finished with 14 points, six assists, and only one turnover. Justin Kier was the late game hero, going 5-for-5 from the line on a night with very few free-throw attempts for either side. He finished with 15 points and four steals, career highs for him.
Speaking of steals it was great to finally see a Dave Paulsen team play some full-court defense. They have small quick lineup on the floor at all times this year, might as well use that to their advantage. Lafayette had a great night shooting the ball, especially in the first half, but Mason was able to clamp down when they needed to in order to get the stops they needed down the stretch. Overall, their defense might be a work in progress all season, especially with out a real rim-protector on the back end. It will be a process this season and they certainly have a lot to work on.
Zero points from the bench is not very surprising but I had thought coming in we’d see more of a spark from freshman Javon Greene. His three turnovers reminded us he’s still a freshman out there. Greg Calixte and AJ Wilson looked very raw out there and were often out of position on defense. They certainly need Calixte to be that bigger body in the middle, Mar certainly can’t defend the post himself all season. Also, Mason gave up 12 offensive rebounds and way too many second chance opportunities. This could be a problem that plagues them all season.
Mason wasn’t going to ever get a ton from their bench this season and to me it’s less of a concern considering the starters had such a balanced scoring attack. Kier and Boyd shooting the ball better and being productive each night is what will help make this team good this season. It’s the question of what happens when one of the starters has a bad night, can they survive that or is the depth just too shallow?
Paulsen’s Post Game comments: