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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My thoughts and reflection on the Mason Game

Maybe I'm still stinging from the Virginia Tech loss. Maybe it was just the putrid foul shooting. Maybe it's the feeling that I didn't think the Mount played to its ability. Maybe it's just the fact that the program has grown so much, that I can expect to go into the building of a team that was in the Final Four three years ago, and come away with a win. Whatever it is or was, last night made me mad. And the effects have carried over to today.

Still as I look back on last night, I am disappointed.

Some areas that need improvement....

The foul shooting has to be better. I'm pretty certain that it will be. It just went sour last night for a moment and steamrolled from there. I'm confident it will be better as time goes on.

Somebody needs to step up and become the consistent third scorer. Kelly Beidler would seem like the most likely to fill that role. But as of now, he hasn't shown the ability to be a consistent scorer. His open jump shots haven't fallen the last two outings, after being near perfect shooting the ball in the opening win at Loyola. I believe he can and will make more of those in the future. However, he seems to do his best when getting to the basket, and he actually seems to be pretty comfortable with his back to the basket. I'd like to see him more in that role.

Shawn Atupem is another guy who has seemed like an option for that third scoring role. But for whatever reason he struggled last night.

Some of the credit must go to George Mason, which really did a fine job defending the interior and keeping the Mount off of the glass. But the Mount interior passing game, which had been a huge asset in the first two games, was virtually non existent last night.

The bench must step up and provide points on the perimeter. Will Holland is candidate number one in that role, but the junior from Texas has seemed hesitant. He just needs to shoot the ball. Its what he was brought here to do, and its got to be his role on this team. He has played well on the low block at times this season, but I still think his best asset is his jump shot and he needs to use it.

Defensively, I thought the Mount struggled, particularly in the second half. Again credit to the Patriots and Larrananga who really made some fine adjustments to break down the Mount defense.

But no adjustment was better than the one he made to go with the big defender on Jeremy Goode. After Goode had scored 17 in the first half, the change made all the difference in the world as the small guard was unable to shoot overtop the taller Vaughan and because of that Vaughan was able to give some ground and not let Goode by him. Because it was obvious that Mason's original gameplan wasn't working as the point guard scored 17 points in the first half.

The defensive adjustment reminded me of the adjustment that Penn State made on Chris McGuthrie back in the fall of 1992 or 93. When the young point guard/shooting guard torched the Nittanys early in the game at Rec Hall and had the Mount build a big lead. But Bruce Parkhill made an adjustment at half time to play the bigger defender on him and give some ground. Very similar results.

Unfortunately, for the Mount nobody stepped up quick enough to help get the Mount back in the game. Jean Cajou had a very solid final nine or ten minutes (I still think he was a little extra amped playing in his backyard) and helped lead the rally.

But again credit to Mason when the Mount drew within 3 with just under three to play, the Patriots made some plays.

Saturday night is another night, and I expect the Mount to be a lot sharper. That will not be an easy contest either. Boston U, might just be the best team in Beantown this year, and they are off to a fast start. They are the pick to win the America East and will be a true challenge on Banner Night at the ARCC.

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