Quick turnaround for George Mason today as they are in Louisville to take on an embattled Cardinals team. This will almost undoubtedly be the toughest opponent the Patriots face all year. Louisville is definitely a team that can greatly expose the match-up issues that could plague Mason all year long. Louisville only has one guy under 6’6″ in their starting lineup. So it will be interesting to see Dave Paulsen’s game plan is in this one considering he didn’t get much from AJ Wilson or Greg Calixte on Friday night. This team will most likely punch Mason in the mouth early and we will have to see how a team this young and with such a short rotation, responds.
Will Mason be looking to push the tempo on both ends? I highly doubt Paulsen wants to play much half court defense against the Cardinals today. We saw Justin Kier and Otis Livingston II aggressively going for steals against Lafayette, I would think that will continue and try to fuel more transition baskets. Mason has a very athletic starting lineup that can all shoot from long range. They have to find a way to maximize that to their advantage.
How will they defend the post? Louisville on paper is gigantic compared to George Mason’s lineup. Today they will be put to the test against an opponent with a big size advantage over them in the post. They weren’t many fouls called in Friday night’s opener but I doubt that will be the situation today. How Paulsen manages this area will be something to keep on eye on. AJ Wilson and Greg Calixte have to play better here, it’s trial by fire, but we need to see progress here before conference play kicks off.
Will they attack the paint more? I thought they settled for a ton of mid-range jumpers on Friday night. Sure they were trying to attack the middle of Lafayette’s zone; but I don’t think they will win many games this year if they don’t get 15 or more free-throw attempts. They have to attack the paint and draw contact for their athletic guards. This will open up the outside shots for guys like Goanar Mar and Jaire Grayer.
Can they maintain balanced scoring against a tough opponent? Balanced scoring will be important for Mason this year, especially considering their limited rotation. It goes without saying they need something from their bench guys, like anything. Zero bench points isn’t going to cut it each game, freshman Javon Greene needs to develop into someone who can provide a spark off the bench. They also cannot rely on Jaire Grayer and Otis Livingston II the shoulder the scoring load. That’s why I was excited to see Justin Kier and Ian Boyd involved very early on. Those four guys will likely have to carry the team this year and if Mar can average double-digits that’s just gravy. Balanced scoring will make them more difficult to defend against and something that is going to be essential without a proven low-post scorer on the roster.