Mason bested by Penn State this time around


Photo by Bill Bride

Last season George Mason surprised many by beating Penn State on the road by 19 points and dominating the glass. This season without Marquise Moore and Jalen Jenkins the Patriots struggled to keep the Nittany Lions out of the paint and lost at home 72-54. Mason’s overall size disadvantage is becoming more and more of a glaring weakness at this season rolls on. They went 0-for-14 on three-pointers and struggled to get any good open looks for most of the night. Freshman Greg Calixte started in place of Ian Boyd to give Mason more size upfront and though he’s getting better battling in the post, it’s still their weakest area on the court.

Photo by Bill Bride

Photo by Bill Bride

On offense Mason continues to turn the ball over at a high rate. Otis Livingston II and Justin Kier are supposed to be the team’s best ball handlers and they are now together averaging more than six turns a game. Defenses are not letting Mason get comfortable and without a sharp shooter it’s difficult for them to create any sort of spacing. The three-point shooting has been trending down lately for them, everyone is struggling, even Goanar Mar who started the season hot from there. It seems like most of the offense relies on guys like Otis and Grayer to make very tough shots. Not ideal by any standard:

At this point they don’t really have a go-to scorer who opposing teams have to collapse on and it’s real problem. Marquise Moore garnered a ton of attention last year and that opened things up for the rest of the group. It had looked like Grayer would feel that role this year but he’s been inconsistent like the rest of the team. I still think Dave Paulsen isn’t being aggressive enough with this small ball lineup because it’s looking like getting to the free-throw line is there only sure fire way of scoring points each night.


Photo by Bill Bride


Photo by Bill Bride

Post game presser:

  • Gamoo79

    This may not be a popular opinion, but I’ve never been an Otis fan. He has always had turnover issues, is not strong with the ball, and is only a mediocre shooter.

    That being said, it’s not his fault. It’s just who he is. And remember, he was a rush pick up when DP first came on board. I doubt he would be at Mason if coach had had more time to recruit.

    Yes, I know I just dissed Boyd too, and I honestly don’t mean to be a bad guy. I’m just expressing my personal thoughts.

    And really, imo, nobody on the team is really performing very well. Can we lay that at Paulsen’s feet?Is he getting the max out of these guys?

    Sorry, just venting.

    • Days of Yates

      Sure, it’s fair to be asking these questions. If we’re going to be a small team, which it seems to be the way Paulsen likes it, we gotta be good at the things smaller players are good at. And going 0 for the night on 3-pointers epitomizes the fact that we are not doing smallball well at all. And an under 6 foot player like Livingston has obviously got to excel at smallball. But I’m not down on him particularly. He’s just not an attention-commander. He would be much more effective if he had offensive threats to pass the ball off to.
      Ultimately, I look at this team and can’t say there’s any one thing we are particularly good at. And if talent level dictates that there will never be any one thing, maybe team ball (team chemistry) can become that one thing as the season marches along.

    • TonyD

      I’m starting to sour on Otis, he’s really not creating much for our guys. Did he benefit THAT much last year from Moore doing what he did? They aren’t finding open looks, taking terrible shots, and forcing slow half court sets. It’s boring to watch and totally ineffective. Paulsen has to make some serioues adjustments but I don’t know if he can given the roster.

      • Gamoo79

        And then other questions begin to arise…I know they’re young, but shooting a ball is pretty fundamental. And most of these are DP’s guys. So what does all this say about Paulsen?

        I’m as big of a supporter of Paulsen as the next guy, but I’m beginning to have questions.

        Pleeease I hope I’m overreacting and this team turns it around. After all, coach did say this was a two year team. And believe me, I really want to eat some crow. But gotta wonder though.

        • masonfan014

          I think Paulsen will turn it around to an extent, but we are far from a good team in the A-10 right now. They have looked over-matched in every loss. I think the turnovers can be fixed and running a faster, uptempo offense can provide a spark but they need to make shots. Mar and Grayer are better three-point shooters than what we’ve been seeing the last few games.

    • Grad2003

      It’s obvious Dave needs more talent and there a void right now but that said I don’t feel he’s getting the most out of these guys. I think he hasn’t really adjusted to the weird, limited roster, he’s still coaching the same which I don’t get. I also think teams have a pretty clear cut way of attacking our defense (or lack there of) and that’s frustrating our guys.

      The offense is in a slump also, I don’t think we are as bad as we are playing but teams are having an easy time putting us into tough situations. Paulsen has to shoulder some of the blame for this but Otis/Grayer/Kier/Boyd are really far from consistent production at this point.

  • dsnjd1

    Uhg! This is getting ugly, and the team has not started the regular season yet. This was a Penn State team that they beat on the road last year. I know that the team is undermanned because of some unexpected late defections…..I guess it could be worse, the team could have lost to the Normal and Indusrial School for Woman in Harrisonburg, which along with the loss to William & Mary would have made us 0-2 against the supposedly inferior CAA. Hey’, at this point you find positives where ever you can. .This looks like a long year

  • Chris Hirsch

    So are we looking at a 10-20 season?

  • G-n-G

    A few thoughts…first, Gamoo79 I think Otis is still a net-plus player. He’s always had a positive assist-to-TO rate, even if it’s never been the 2-1 or better you’d hope for. I’m not sure how a career 85% FT shooter can be considered “mediocre” when that’s reportedly the best indicator of 3-point shooting ability (clean, consistent shooting motion, balance, etc.)

    Second, “Days of Yates” I doubt Paulsen “likes it” to be undersized inside. He had a 6’9″ player leave days before the season opened and recruited a hulking 6’7″ guy from UVA. He also coached 6’11” Mike Muscala into the NBA. I think this is the hand he’s dealt for this year and trying to make the most of it.

    Third, as the three bench freshmen show more ability and awareness (e.g. AJ was always out of place on defense in early games) they’re getting more minutes. The balance in the PSU game is probably about right–everyone gets at least 15 minutes and no one more than low-30s. That would be a sustainable rotation for a long season, but the freshmen have had to show they can handle the workload. They’re starting to.

    Finally, potential wins on the schedule look like Morgan State; maybe Davidson at home; St. Louis; Richmond home and away; maybe Fordham away; GW at home; Dayton; and maybe one of Mass at home, La Salle away, or St. Joe’s away. If so that would be upwards of 9 wins plus the 5 they have. So .500 territory is my ballpark, Chris.

    • Gamoo79

      Allow me to respond.

      I do think Otis is a terrific free throw shooter, but I don’t give a darn about espn’s “indicators”. Bottom line is putting the ball in the basket, and unless someone can give me stats to the contrary, I will continue to maintain that he is a “mediocre” shooter.

      As to the 6’9″ guy that left (name escapes me), he just took up space. Was really not a useful player, and I think he would have been eaten alive inside. But, I agree with you about Muscala and the potential of the UVA guy.

      Maybe I’m being a little to negative in my assesment of coach and the team right now, but there’s a lot that’s just not going right, and the “eye test” of the team on the court looks pretty sorry. I can’t help but have some questions.

      Do I hope DP will prove all my concern was for naught?
      Of course!!!

  • T.A. UNER

    Anyone think this season can be salvaged?

  • MasonFan4Life


  • MasonFan4Life

    So does anyone think this season can be salvaged? I know the ball club has lots of issues right now, and they have yet to beat a decent team. Just some thoughts from anyone.

    • Gamoo79

      I think that after 2 years going on 3 under Paulsen that we are probably seeing the maxed out version of Otis and Grayer.

      I’m still disappointed in Boyd. I know his soph stats are similar to Moore’s in his soph season, but to me, the difference is that Boyd has a real coach and Moore didn’t. I think that should account for more progress than we have seen from him.

      The wild card, seems to me, is the development of the frosh. They appear to have potential, but may not start to show it in a tangible way till next year.

      And finally, I don’t see us getting much better on the inside until the UVA guy gets here next year and until DP recruits some more size.

      I hope to see improvement this year, but right now we simply seem to be outclassed, and frankly undisciplined (coaching?) on the court.

      FWIW, I’ve been watching since 1975 (42 years), and except for coach L, I THINK coach Dave might be the best coach we have had…except for “Its great to be home at George Mason until I get a better offer like Lane Kiffin the traitor Barnes” or the “We had Roy until Dean Smith talked him out of it Williams”.

      Just my 2 cents, friend. 😁

      • MasonFan4Life

        You paint a grim picture. But most of it is true. I was hoping they’d be able to compete for an NIT bid this year. Doesn’t look likely though.