What will Jarred Reuter’s impact be on next year’s team?

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Photo by Bill Bride

The non-conference portion of George Mason’s schedule is now over and the Patriots have slugged their way to an unimpressive 6-7 record. To be honest, they were lucky to escape that portion of the schedule with six wins, especially when you consider how poor they played in most games, some against lower level competition (CSUN, JMU). Dave Paulsen peddled the “Two Year Season” talk early and most fans, whether they like or not, should really judge this season after the 2018-19 one is complete. I still don’t believe this current group, even though facing tough roster limitations, is as bad as we’ve seen for the majority of 13 games played so far. There’s a lot Paulsen has to address heading into Atlantic 10 conference play, which begs the question of what kind of impact would UVA transfer Jarred Reuter have on this team?

On surface it’s easy to see Mason’s lack of a true big in the front court has limited the team all year.  This has forced them to play passive defense for fear of foul trouble with the small group of forwards they currently have. I think this has allowed defenses to easily key on Mason’s back court players and force them out of their comfort zone when on offense. Reuter would force teams to play Mason more straight up and they would have to respect his bury size in the middle and his back to the basket scoring in the post.

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I think two players who will benefit the most from him on the court next season are Otis Livingston II and Goanar Mar. First let’s start with Otis, he’s been playing his heart out this year, as he has since coming to Fairfax, but he’s having trouble creating opportunities. He needs someone to pick and roll with and help with ball screens to give them new chances on offense instead of settling for outside jumpers and three-pointers. The lack of options for Otis has led to numerous unforced turnovers. Think of Otis as the QB and Reuter as the big tight end target in the end zone. Hopefully this will lead to fewer interceptions and a new dimension to their offensive strategy.

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Photo by Bill Bride

It has been frustrating at times to watch Goanar Mar have to play the five this season because we all know he has no business there. I’m sure many fans are wondering how he would be doing if he solely played the 3 or 4. He has still been putting up some very impressive scoring numbers despite the tough assignments he’s been given this year. However on defense it’s just too much to ask the 195 pound freshman. With Reuter inserted in the front court Mar will be free to get open on the perimeter, get back to knocking down more three-pointers, and slashing to the basket. Mar will hopefully be a great stretch-four next season and pose match-up problems for opposing teams. He’s probably the most versatile guy on the roster right now and I don’t feel like they’ve been able to use him to his full potential just yet.

Reuter isn’t the savior but he allows Paulsen to play the more tradition style of basketball that he’s been used to for years. He’s a veteran, which they are in need of and has a high basketball IQ. You can’t have enough of those type of guys on our team. Overall he helps to round out the roster, give them toughness inside, and fills a big hole on the defensive back end. I think his biggest impact next season will be that he allows more guys to play their natural positions and that will help all areas.

  • Chris Hirsch

    The ol wait until next year has become really tiring. I think I only have patience left for that after this season, struggles in 18-19 will be a bad look.

    The team playing as well as they did last season almost was a bad thing, because it might have made expectations unrealistic this season.

    It can’t be stated enough how badly the hiring of Paul Blewitt set this program back.

    • MasonFan4Life

      Thanks TOC!

      • Grad2003

        You’re out of patience in Year 3 of a total rebuild? I don’t understand this portion of the fan base who thought a new coach would step in the door with four-star recruits and we’d be challenging URI and VCU for the A-10 by now. It was never going to happen overnight and theres more bumps in the road to come.

        • Chris Hirsch

          When you add to that they sucked the last two years of Paul Hewitt, I don’t think it is unreasonable for people to be tired of watching a losing team. I didn’t expect an A-10 title or anything but I also didn’t expect us to be getting smacked around and embarrassed at home by Georgia Southern and Penn State. I think by Paulsen’s fourth year, which is next year, if the team is not competitive and not playing much better in non-conference and in the conference, any frustration is completely justified.

          • MasonFan4Life

            They also played well below their capacity during the first 2 years of Hewitt. He sucked all 4 years!

          • jake21

            They won 20 games last year after 3 20+ loss seasons when they were predicted to finish bottom of A-10. This year we are tracking pretty much where all the experts had us and you’re all gloom and doom? Can we also move past Hewitt, I don’t understand why every loss his name has to be mentioned

          • Chris Hirsch

            We can move past Hewitt once the program has fully recovered from the damage he did. Certainly they exceeded expectations last year, but the non conference schedule was incredibly soft last year, and the team wilted down the stretch.

        • Gamoo79

          Nobody said anything about challenging for the A10 crown. Don’t put words in people’s mouths that they didn’t say.
          But losing to W&M and barely beating JMU is not where any A10 team should be. THAT is what we are saying.

    • mkaufman1

      As Ive mentioned previously in our convos I definitely agree with you. We are all just so tired of losing that at this point anything next year, whether a slow start or a bad loss is going to start making the fans more restless.

      That said, I think we will start to see significant improvement during conference play going forward to next year. In addition, the league is down, and I think the out of conference schedule was a bit tougher than one imagined with a team like Georgia Southern or William and Mary. Not saying Mason shouldn’t have won those games, I think they should have, but those are really good basketball programs right now and I would be surprised if they aren’t in the mix for NCAA bids come March.

      As far as Reuter goes, I think having his body adds more options (duh), but also opens it up for guys like Mar or Wilson to defend their natural positions more, and also will alleviate the need for a guy like Calixste or Mar to play so many minutes at the 5. I’m sure they’ll still play some but it will be a lot less.

      Much like having the new class come in to add to some depth, next year should be much better. While it may not be the year I certainly was hoping for (at least I don’t see how it is right now), I do think its going to be a significant improvement with it continuing into year 5 and beyond.

      • G-n-G

        Kenpom agrees with you that this year’s non-conf schedule was tougher than last year’s. And lest we forget, Mason was in the Louisville game for at least 30 minutes and held a lead against Auburn in the second half.

        “Mason’s 2017-18 non-conference schedule featured far more top-125 opponents than the 2016-17 slate, according to KenPom.com. The Patriots faced six top-125 foes and three top-50 opponents in 2017-18, compared to three top-125 and 0 top-50 opponents last season.”

  • Masonfan01

    I have followed UVA for awhile, friends and fam who attended. He’s not a great defender but he can score with a nice little jump hook. I think he helps just by clogging up the middle and being a body in the lane.

  • Grad2003

    He’s a veteran who has played the position in the ACC, that’s a huge upgrade over what we are currently trotting out.

  • Gamoo79

    I don’t blame Paulsen for lowering expectations for this year by talking about a two year team early on…it’s a legit statement considering the situation, AND takes him off the hot seat a bit. But I agree with Chris, next year is year four. If we don’t see a significant upturn the fans will really start getting restless.

  • Foolsrushin63

    It is pretty depressing that the conference season has not even started and we are already doing the “things will be better next year”thing. Some problems are clearly beyond complete control such as having only 8 scholarship players and needing to depend on Freshman too soon. But, as many of noted recently, that neither explains not playing to the strengths we have nor the lack of consistency from players who can certainly play better. I like Paulson and realize he inherited a mess, but this team needs to run the floor more and stop trying to wait for a good shoot only to have to drive the lane or jack up a wild jump shot as the shot clock expires. Its like a broken record.

  • G-n-G

    Parts of this discussion are really puzzling. Someone will make a comment that shows a knowing grasp of the challenges of this current team (young, small, shallow bench, playing out of position, etc.) and then often conclude “But the team is underperforming and should be much better.” Based on what? This team began the season with 6 years of Div-1 experience. Divided among 8 active players. We’ll see if they get better and more consistent as the year progresses (a true test of coaching), but it seems unrealistic to have expected the team to start the season on a strong note.

    For the people who want to see “a significant upturn” what do you call last year? If people expected a linear projection (Mason won 11 games in year one, 20 in year two, so mid-20 wins in year three), that ignores the reality of the swings a team can experience from year-to-year based on roster, health, etc. If you need proof look at Richmond which was 22-13 a year ago and this season looks like it’s tanking to get a No.1 seed (despite being picked preseason to be 8th-10th in the A10.
    http://www.atlantic10.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=31600&ATCLID=211673363
    http://collegebasketball.nbcsports.com/2017/10/09/atlantic-10-preview-rhode-island-leads-the-way/
    https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2017/10/19/atlantic-10-projections-preview-team-rankings-standings

    • Foolsrushin63

      I generally agree with you, but believe there are things that can be changed now. We need to stop trotting out a game plan like a team that doesn’t have these weaknesses and adjust to the strengths we have. I agree this is all about coaching. I don’t have high expectations for this year and never did and it may be that if we go to a more uptempo offense the results will be the same or, given all the weaknesses, even worse, but what we are doing right now is pretty obviously not working and I am not convinced it is all because of the inherent problems with this team.