Marquise Moore is turning heads in the college basketball world this season and while he and Otis Livingston II are a big reason why Mason is currently 9-3 and not 3-9, this year’s freshmen class is also playing a big role in the turn around. We knew heading into this season that, much like last year, we’d see freshmen play a lot of meaningful minutes. Whether or not that would result in George Mason getting out of the Atlantic 10 basement was the big question. Kenpom’s team experience rating formula ranks Mason 305 out of 351 this season which is not surprising given how many sophomore and freshmen are on the roster. The team has surpassed expectations and already two wins away from matching last season’s win total. The freshmen have been in impressive to say the least.
We are about a quarter of the way into the 2016-17 season and it is already looking like a big year for senior Marquise Moore. The incredible part about his hot start is that he is filling a rebounding need from the point guard position; an area that this off-season seemed like a weakness for George Mason. Through eight games they have made it their strength, beating opponents to the glass without size but effort and tenacity. Moore has been a leader in that area, driving the lane with or without the ball in his hands making things happen for the Patriots. Typically you would expect your point guard to fill up the stat sheet in other areas, three-pointers, assists, and so on. Moore has adapted into a new kind of floor general and it’s the one Mason needs right now.
Freshman Troy Temara, the wildly athletic 6’8″ forward, wasn’t shy showing off his moves last night at Mason Madness. The dunks were certainly fun to watch and he might make this upcoming season more interesting simply by driving the lane and throwing it down at EagleBank Arena. Some other good dunks by Jaire Grayer and AJ WIlson below also.
The development of these two guards is something that will be pivot to next season’s success. Both were starters last season and played a ton of minutes by freshman standards. They were streaky shooters at times but when they got hot Mason’s offense was rolling.
The improved play of Jalen Jenkins has certainly been a big part of George Mason’s wins over Davidson and VCU. He has been a clutch go to guy and a real force inside on both ends of the court. Jenkins has averaged 14.2 points per game over the last five contests and has given the offense a needed spark. Too often this season Mason has relied on outside shooting to beat teams and we’ve all seen how that has been wildly inconsistent. Jenkins and Thompson are providing points in the paint off put backs and great leads from Otis Livingston and Marquise Moore. The team overall is now less one-dimensional on offense and a lot tougher inside on defense.
“He spent extra time with assistant coach Duane Simpkins banging him with a football blocking pad during post shooting drills. What Paulsen calls “the lag time” between practice improvement and game improvement ended with Jenkins going for 20 points and nine rebounds in an 81-75 loss at Davidson on Jan. 9 in the Patriots’ third A-10 game.”
It looks like George Mason basketball is finally getting a dedicated practice facility for its men’s and women’s teams. The university’s Board of Visitors is meeting next week to request the authorization for a 100% donor funded $15.5 million basketball facility to build on to the existing RAC. You can find the details here on pages 21-22 of BOV’s agenda for the February 11th meeting. If everything goes right this is a great recruiting tool for the program as Mason often has recruiting battles with schools who have bigger and better accommodations for their basketball teams. Facilities are all the rave in college sports these days and Mason needs this addition.
So yeah, remember that feeling after Mason beat Oklahoma State in Charleston and we might have been the happiest fan base at 2-2? Since then there has been two blow out wins, beat downs at James Madison and Towson, and some roster developments that will severely hurt the team this season. Sure, expectations were low this year, given the transition of a new coach and the roster turnover but now the depth is non-existent. Senior Marko Gujanicic is gone for the time being, and now Patrick Holloway has decided to leave the program all together.