St. Bonaventure wrap-up – Good Jaire, slumping Otis, and separating the A-10 from the OOC
by: Petey Buckets
- For the second game in a row, Jaire played the game Mason needs him to play. I’ll take 16 points on 11 shots, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks from him any night. What’s more is how he did it – he was 4-6 from three and had a couple nice finishes in traffic for his other two buckets. Aside from the scoring, I love seeing him to get to the basket, rebound, and defend, since there will be nights when the three ball isn’t falling.
- Otis in A-10 play so far: 35 points on 10/38 from the field, 4/16 from three, 9 assists, 6 turnovers. He was playing at a very high level before conference play started, so I think it’s safe to attribute this to a little slump. I was surprised to look at the box score after the game and see he was 0-6 from the field (I thought his game was quiet, but not that quiet). Five of his missed shots were threes – I expect they’ll make it a point to get Otis into the paint to get him going next game.
- Through three A-10 games, it’s clear some things that were true in the out-of-conference schedule might not be true against the A-10:
- Mason might not have a rebounding advantage
- Mason might not have a free throw advantage
- Mason’s defense needs some work, particularly against opposing 4s
Denzel Gregg absolutely murdered Mason. Some of his production came against Jalen, but most of it came with Ayeni or another big on the floor. Jalen spent most of the night not guarding Gregg, and in Mason’s four guard system, that left him to Grayer or Boyd, or getting switched onto Kier or Newman. There were several times when Jalen was guarding him that he’d screen the ball handler, Jalen would hedge hard, and Gregg would get switched onto a guard anyway. Mason’s big guards can handle a skilled four for a possession here and there, but if asked to do it repeatedly, time after time, the results will look like they did tonight. I’m curious to see how Dave handles this, particularly with St. Joe’s skilled but small frontcourt of Markell Lodge and James Demery coming up. The bench didn’t give Mason very much today, combining for 13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 turnovers. Kier hit four free throws but didn’t take any shots, Karmari hit one three, and Kam hit a three when the game was out of reach. Mason needs more than that to survive off games from Jalen or Otis.
- Mason also allowed the Bonnies 23 free throw attempts, just two games after allowing 20 to VCU. Previously, Mason hadn’t allowed 20 free throws to an opponent since the JMU game, when they allowed 20+ to JMU, Bradley, and Kent State in the first three unconvincing games of what turned into a convincing nine game win streak. Doing it twice in three games in conference play is a concern – part of Mason’s formula is to limit opponent opportunities by keeping them off the boards and off the free throw line.
- Mason’s defensive rotations were really puzzling. Jalen was hedging the Bonnies’ guards to help up top, and he was often hedging well out past the 3 point line, and for longer than necessary, allowing his man to slip down. With Mason’s only big being so high up, the Bonnies would get the ball into their bigs quickly, leaving the rest of the defense to crash into position quickly so Jalen could recover. Frequently, this didn’t work. I thought maybe Jalen was doing something wrong but then Relvao came in and did the exact same thing, hedging a couple feet out past the three point line while his man ran to the paint. I don’t understand the point of leaving the only big on the floor so high out that he can’t hope to anchor your post defense. This isn’t something I noticed before tonight, and I hope it doesn’t continue.
- Speaking of Jalen, I think I jinxed him when I wrote about how well he’s been doing handling double-teams. The Bonnies kept throwing double-teams at him tonight and he had five turnovers to show for it. He also collected only one defensive rebound, which is a strange box score anomaly and part of the reason the Bonnies were doing so well on the boards. Mason will need him to hit the boards harder to mitigate the rebounding shortcomings of a four-guard system.
- Credit to St. Bonaventure for switching to zone at several points in the first and second halves. They used the 2-3 zone look to keep Marquise out of the paint for a big part of the first half, and Mason really struggled to generate offense otherwise.
This loss was frustratingly similar to the VCU game because it felt like Mason couldn’t generate stops when they needed them down the stretch. Keeping things in perspective, however, this game looked a lot different if Otis plays up to his standard, if Mason gets a bigger bench contribution, or if some other little things go differently. We’ll see how the guys respond on Tuesday in a road game against the always solid St. Joe’s.