AJ Wilson throwing down alley-oops at Kenner League

IMG_7934Redshirt freshman AJ Wilson will make his debut on the court this season for George Mason but is already turning heads in summer league. Wilson, along with teammates Otis Livingston, Jaire Grayer, and Goanar Mar are in this year’s Kenner League at Georgetown.

CaptureajLivingston and Grayer are playing on Higher Level and Wilson and Mar are on the Curt Smith All-Stars. Here’s a clip of AJ throwing down a nice alley-oop:

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Dedicated practice facility will be ready for the start of 2017-18

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The dedicated practice facility for the George Mason basketball program, that has been under discussion for some time, is finally under construction. Today the school issued a release saying the dedicated facility will be ready by November for the start of the 2017-18 season:

“The Basketball Excellence Plan, which also includes a complete overhaul of the teams’ locker rooms at EagleBank Arena, is an important step toward making Mason more attractive for top recruits within the increasingly competitive national landscape.

“Although we haven’t yet realized the entire fundraising goal, we have hit the threshold to begin construction, which is more than 50 percent of the total budget,” said Edwards. “It is critical that we have the practice facility project completed before the start of the basketball season in November. In the basketball-driven Atlantic 10 Conference, it is imperative that our basketball teams have a dedicated space to develop and compete.

This is great news considering Dave Paulsen is already starting to have more success on the recruiting trails. The facility gives the team a chance to better market themselves in the competitive DC area recruiting scene and provide 24/7 court access to the current players. In the past, practices and workouts had to be scheduled around other teams using the facilities or the availability of EagleBank Arena.

Expect Mason to play at a higher tempo on offense this year

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We’ve discussed how this is the ‘Year of Small Ball’ for George Mason basketball heading into 2016-17, but how will that change their approach on offense? Steven Goff of the Washington Post got some good insight from Dave Paulsen on how Mason will approach this season without big man Shevon Thompson and using a smaller, more guard heavy lineup:

The Patriots will play differently this season. Without 6-11 Shevon Thompson, last year’s senior centerpiece, they have broadened their offensive options and aim to play at a higher tempo. They’ll do more screening and cutting and hope to break out in transition.

Last season, if the primary option crumbled, the Patriots often would crash.

“We struggled to get to a second or third action,” Paulsen said. “I think we can do that this season and have some nuance in our game.”

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Recap of the open scrimmage

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Yesterday was the annual open scrimmage at the RAC. Not a whole lot to take away considering it’s a glorified practice for the fans to watch but it is a fun first look at the team during preseason. Otis Livingston had some impressive shooting and Marquise Moore was having a good day scoring and driving to the basket. Jaire Grayer sat our with an ankle issue, doesn’t appear to be serious though.

One of the best takeaways however was Troy Temara displaying some nice low post moves. The kid plays with a lot of energy and it will interesting to see how he does in the regular season in similar situations. Ian Boyd looked confident, especially on fast breaks and it’s obvious he will be able to contribute right away this year. Also, AJ Wilson showed off his shot blocking skills that Dave Paulsen keeps raving about, however I still wouldn’t be surprised if the redshirt rumor is true because he’s still seems a bit raw.

Here is some video from the scrimmage:

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Season Preview: The Year of Small Ball

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Year two for Dave Paulsen and George Mason begins with higher hopes than the last couple of seasons. Wins over Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Davidson, and VCU showed to the fan base that this program was moving in the right direction. Paulsen had the daunting task of installing his new culture into the program and cleaning up all the unforced errors we grew accustomed to seeing. We saw a team last year that fouled less and rebounded the ball well. It was clear at the end of the season that the team was practicing and playing hard but just kept falling short. Inexperience was a big issue last season, some freshmen were playing who probably weren’t ready but with the teams lack of depth there was no choice.

Now they enter 2016-17 with a more seasoned group and a proven new leader in Otis Livingston II. There are some new faces, some of whom will have an immediate impact, and definitely make this team tougher on the wings. And don’t be surprised to see an offense that runs a heck of a lot smoother. Yes, it is the ‘The Year of Small Ball’ but that’s not a bad thing. Let’s take a look at some of the key issues heading into this season for Mason using some quotes from Paulsen from this year’s Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

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