When: Saturday, 11/12/2016, 7:00pm
Where: EagleBank Arena (Fairfax, VA)
Dress Code: GOLD RUSH GAME – Gold/Yellow
Online Streaming: A-10 Network
Mason Madness was awesome.
The dunks, the excitement, the comradery of the team, all of it was awesome.
This Saturday night at EagleBank Arena, the Towson Tigers will not care. There will be no flashing lights, no scorers’ table consisting of Doc Nix and Darrell Green, no backdrop reflecting on 50 years of George Mason Basketball. All that will matter will be the 14 players and coach suiting up for the Patriots.
Starting the second season under Dave Paulsen, the team gets their former CAA foe, Towson. A squad that embarrassed Mason on the road 75-54 last season. It is a new year though for the Patriots, it will be a team consisting of over half of Paulsen’s recruits. Consistently there will be four guards on the court without a true center. Ball movement will be quick, the team will be higher scoring, and there will be a team first ideology on the court, something fans have not seen since the Jim Larranaga days.
From their 11-21 campaign in 2015-16, Otis Livingston II led the team as a freshman starting in all 32 games at the point guard position. He had the most minutes (34.3), points (11.9), assists (3.6), three pointers (46) and total steals (23). Joining him in the starting lineup will be two other starters from last season, senior Marquise Moore (11.4 ppg) and sophomore Jaire Grayer (9.5 ppg). Finishing out the lineup is sophomore DeAndre Abram (6.6 ppg) and the lone forward, redshirt senior Jalen Jenkins (5.5 rpg).
The three sophomore guards mentioned averaged over 20 minutes per game last year as freshmen. Of them, Livingston was named a team captain this season along with Jenkins.
Like the Patriots, Towson is returning three starters, all of which were recognized All-CAA last season, seniors John Davis and Arnaud William Adala Moto and junior guard Mike Morsell. The trio all averaged over 10 ppg last year with Morsell at the point. The team is physical in the paint and uses their height to their advantage. Towson’s shortest projected starter is 6’5”.
While the interior of their game is their strength, the Tigers defense can cover the perimeter. Against Mason last season, Towson held them to 3-13 shooting from long range.
The loss of Shevon Thompson will be exploited this game as Towson will rack up the rebounds and second chance opportunities. It will be a great chance to see how the Patriots will be successful with increased ball movement in order to break through the length of the Tigers.
The challenge this season will be to improve on last year without one of Mason’s best big man. Transitioning to the guard heavy system will continue to be a work in progress as the year goes on. A first measure of improvement though is simple in the first game, just beat Towson.
Prediction: Mason 72 Towson 68