Mason falls to VCU 84-76

Photo by Bill Bride

Well it wasn’t the close battle I had thought we’d see yesterday afternoon but it was a winnable game for George Mason that they squandered. Mason had numerous opportunities including some great open looks, but just cannot connect. VCU completely dominated the boards getting nearly double the amount of rebounds and really hurt Mason on the offensive glass. We knew Justin Tillman was going to be a problem but Mason also let Khris Lane own them in the paint and simply had no answer. VCU actually had more turnovers than Mason (16) but the Rams capitalized more on Mason’s miscues.

Photo by Bill Bride

Otis Livingston II struggled with Jonathan Williams in his face during the first half but erupted for 20 points in the final nine minutes of the game. It wasn’t enough as the Rams went on a final run to stay ahead for good. Jaire Grayer didn’t get going til the second half either and Justin Kier vanished in the second half. Mason really struggles to get points when they need it and when they have opportunities. They cannot seem to capitalize on opponents mistakes and if not for a ton of free-throws this game could have been a blow out. When Otis and Grayer aren’t knocking down threes building a lead seems almost impossible for this group.

Photo by Bill Bride

Mason was always going to struggle on defense this season, especially when you consider they are rotating three freshman up front. But on offense I had thought they wouldn’t have to labor this much to put 80+ points a night. They really don’t have a consistent scorer outside of Otis, Grayer and Kier go dark for too many stretches. On top of that Otis is being neutralized for long stretches of games recently as opponents game plans to take him out are having a lot of success. In the end he’s still getting his points here and there but he’s being rattled early on and it’s affecting the whole offense.

Photo by Bill Bride

It was great to see AJ Wilson return from the flu and have a solid game. He can provide some toughness and athleticism on defense and was a spark on offense. Having Tillman in your a face is a tough task for anyone, especially a freshman but it’s easy to see his improvement. I think they also need to find a way to get fellow freshman Goanar Mar more shots. He started off the year hot from behind the three-point line but has since struggled to consistently knock them down. There’s a bit of hesitation on offense with the whole team but he’s one of the biggest culprits.

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  • Foolsrushin63

    Closer than it probably should have been given VCU played pretty well and exploited their strengths. Credit due for hanging in there (particularly Otis who stepped up in the second half). Teams with any sort of inside presence, however, have and will continue to have success against this team. Just don’t have the personnel, depth or experience to match up. I remain impressed with this team’s tenacity, free throw shooting and solid (but inconsistent scoring ability), but that can only get you so far when you only go 8 deep with 4 Freshman, no real inside game and inconsistent play. While I don’t expect a ton on consistency from the Freshman (who are getting incrementally better) some players (Boyd, Kier in particular) just seem to disappear some games. That needs to improve. We win when the scoring and effort is balanced. Given the weakness of the A10 this year, if team can improve consistency I think it could still get close to a .500 record and at least avoid the play-in game in the tournament.

  • StopWearingPurple

    That was a brutal match up. Tillman is a ridiculous talent on both ends of the floor and Lane is a fifth year senior who has a good 25 lbs on the freshman charged with covering him. Both play in the paint and killed us on the boards.

  • Gamoo79

    Mr. Bride, Thank you. You a master at your craft!!

    • Bill Bride

      Thank you. It’s a lot of fun for me to be covering this team no matter what the results are.

  • Gamoo79

    So after getting slobberknockered by the Bonnies (Bonnies!?), is it time to declare this season a train wreck and hope we beat Fordam in the play-in game?

    Good grief.

    • Chris Hirsch

      Yes.

    • Foolsrushin63

      Same story lately. Some guys show up (Livingston this time) and other don’t (Grayer, Mar in particular this time). Getting worse not better. Hard to figure.

      • Gamoo79

        Yes, it is getting worse. I quess that’s why I am beginning to think “could it possibly be DP?” You wouldn’t think so. He’s got a good track record, but gee whiz. SOMETHING is clearly wrong somewhere.
        I was hoping we would see improvement as the year went along so that we could be excited about our “gunners” coming in next year and pushing us toward the top few teams in the A10.

        It may still happen, but we’ve got a loooong way to go.

        • Chris Hirsch

          Yeah, the lack of actually being competitive is what is concerning.

          • Gamoo79

            Another problem is, if the trend continues into next year, it will adversely affect recruiting.
            Who will want to come to a losing program with a coach that has not been able to win even after several years of being able to bring in his own guys and not being able to blame the last guy anymore.

            Really hoping for better things in the second half of the 2 year year.

          • MasonFan4Life

            It’s disheartening, but if after next year GMU cannot rebound then it might be time to re-think what’s going on here.

          • MasonFan4Life

            Hope nobody is giving up on coach Dave yet.

        • G-n-G

          Well here’s the perspective of someone (Reuter) who spends part of every day with Paulsen.

          “But going through a summer of practices, which I love, that’s really been a great positive for me, seeing how competitive he is. It pushes you and pushes the guys around you. You don’t ever want to feel like your coach is wanting it more than you. Having him around like that, it pushes you.”