George Mason Patriots
Colonial Athletic Association (22-10, 13-5)
NIT Seed: #7
Big Wins: 11/15 at Vermont (80-79), 1/10 Old Dominion (61-53), 2/14 Northeastern (64-53)
Bad Losses: 11/20 at Hampton (44-50), 12/1 at Liberty (66-69), 2/12 at Delaware (58-66)
Coach: Jim Larranaga
Cam Long, Sophomore, Guard, 11.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 4.8 rpg
Dre Smith, Senior, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
John Vaughan, Senior, Guard, 10.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Louis Birdsong, Junior, Forward, 6.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Darryl Monroe, Senior, Forward, 10.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Andre Cornelius, Freshman, Guard, 5.2 ppg, 1.5 apg
Mike Morrison, Freshman, Forward, 3.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Ryan Pearson, Freshman, Forward, 7.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
George Mason wins games with their tough defense. On the other side of the floor, they will slow down the tempo and look for good shots. The guys who take most of those shots are Cam Long and John Vaughan. Long, a 6-4 sophomore, is the team’s leading scorer with 11.6 points per game and also runs the show. Long will do most of his damage attacking the basket, but he can hit the outside shot and does so quite consistently when he opts to take the jumper. His ability to change the tempo of the game and keep his teammates under control is quite impressive for an underclassman and as long as Long is under control, the Patriots will be too.
Vaughn is the most prolific and consistent outside shooter on the team. Early in the year Vaughn’s scoring output was all over the place. He would put up 22 points one game and follow it up with five points. That inconsistency seemed to have subsided late in the year, but Vaughn was nowhere to be found during much of the CAA Tournament.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Long and Vaughn might be decent three-point shooters, but they do not take that many outside shots. Usually that works pretty well for George Mason since they will keep most games close with their deliberate style and tough defense, but it still is necessary for some three-balls to start falling every once in a while. Dre Smith is a starter in the backcourt and he shoots a miserable 26.6 percent from long range and the backcourt’s first sub off the bench, Andre Cornelius, is not much better…although he at least does not take too many three-pointers. In the Patriots upset loss to Delaware, they were 0-for-9 from long range and even the Patriots cannot win without hitting shots.
Who To Watch:
And it is not like the backcourt does not get open looks. Many times the opposition has to pack it in paint to stop Darryl Monroe and that gives the guards plenty of open looks. Monroe, a 6-7, 275 pound forward, is a dominating force in the paint and has developed into a solid scorer around the basket and one of the Colonial Athletic Association’s top rebounders. Louis Birdsong is his partner in the paint and it is Birdsong who is the athletic forward who can block shots and finish above the rim. Birdsong is not much of a scorer, but he does play great defense. Ryan Pearson gives Coach Jim Larranaga another scoring option in the paint and the frontcourt depth gets even better now that freshman Mike Morrison is seeing more playing time.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.6 (186th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.7 (18, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (99, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.4 (20, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.3 (258, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.1 (203, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.4 (286, 10)
Rebound Margin: 3.2 (68, 4)
Assists Per Game: 11.7 (259, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (26, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Niagara