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:
Goanar’s leaving Mexico with a little extra luggage.
— Mason Basketball (@MasonMBB) November 23, 2017
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.