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.
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.
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.