Mason comes up short in Cancun


George Mason went 0-2 in the Cancun Challenge last week against Louisiana Tech and Fresno State. Both games we saw the Patriots struggle in the first half and then try to claw their way back in the second half. LA Tech took advantage of Mason’s early struggles and never looked back. Fresno State was able to grind out the win late but in both games Mason really struggled on their perimeter defense. Meanwhile, Goanar Mar continues to be the team’s budding star as he earned all-tournament team honors:

Mar had 17 points in both games and was perfect from the free-line. We haven’t seen a true freshman play this well to start the year since Luke Hancock. Mar is probably playing the most important role on the team right now trying to help fill the void in the front court and provide scoring each night. Otis Livingston II also had a great tournament was the driving force behind the team’s second half surge against Fresno State.

Mason as a whole has been pretty poor on defense in recent games. They are allowing opponents to shoot way too many threes and they continue to struggle keeping points out of the paint. With a limited bench and overall size on the roster I don’t know how Dave Paulsen rights the ship on defense. We are starting to see Greg Calixte play more minutes and his progression on the court should help fortify the defense. This also goes for AJ Wilson, who I think they still have to figure out how to best utilize.

What I think we learned about Mason after Cancun is that they have the firepower to compete against quality teams but it may be difficult for them to put it all together for a full 40 minutes. They can’t afford to have a quiet night from one or two of their starters, it often puts them in a hole early on. On top of that they still need figure some things out on defense which I think they can shore up by the time we get to Atlantic 10 play but it will mean the younger players buying in and playing their roles.

  • Grad2003

    We saw a lot of the team’s limitations. They spend so much time trying to not get beat in the paint they are giving up open threes. Kier/Boyd aren’t reliable scorers each game and that could really start to hurt them going forward.

  • gmusigs

    I still don’t know how much depth is really an issue yet or not. They just don’t play very well int he first half of these games. Sure I guess Newman would have helped come in for either Kier or Boyd when they are struggling but other than that who we see out there is who would have been there even without transfers. Also don’t know if Grayer is 100%, he did ok in this tournament but they aren’t going to be very competitive with him only scoring 10-12 points a night.

    • masonfan014

      Heading into this season I wondered how we’d do if both Otis/Grayer aren’t ON that night. Seems like it’s a must for us to win against better teams.

    • Foolsrushin63

      I think depth is a huge problem. With a few exceptions the bench has not contributed. Other than Mar the freshman look lost out there most of the time. It has gotten a little better in recent games, but Wilson, Grenne and Calixte have got to step up.

      • Cruz108

        I really thought Greene would be more of a factor by now, he seems to only be chucked up missed three-pointers. Hopefully he’s just adjusting the speed/size of the college game

        • mkaufman1

          I think Newman missed his first 6 or 8 too before he got into the mode. I think once the first one drops he can take a deep breath and itll be much better going forward.

  • StopWearingPurple

    On the plus side, we don’t have to worry about Rick Pitino luring away Goanar Mar.

  • Joel1204

    The defense isn’t going to get much better if you ask me. They can’t be aggressive because of foul trouble worries. We rank 26th in the nation right now in fouls per game. They need to go after steals and takeaways to combat for their lack of size but they also just don’t have enough personnel. Paulsen’s good at getting these guys to play smart on defense without fouling but it looks like it’s still a work in progress.

    • mkaufman1

      Paulsen’s style doesnt’ really allow for gambling for steals and takeaways. Its a very traditional pack line man to man no gambling defense. I bet a lot of fouls were in the one game because at least it doesnt seem too bad

  • Gamoo79

    I know coach Dave said this was essentially a two year team. I’m glad, cause this first half year isn’t looking too promising.

  • Chris Hirsch

    Less said about Cancun the better, on to JMU.

    • mkaufman1

      quality insight Hirsch. 😉

      • Chris Hirsch