GW men's basketball returns to the Smith Center for its lone home game in a five-game span as it battles George Mason on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tip is set for 2 p.m. with national coverage on CBS Sports Network.
"BRAY OF HOPE: First-year Brayon Freeman moved into the starting lineup for the second time this year on Tuesday at VCU, scoring 10 points to go along with three assists. Freeman has taken over the point guard position during his recent surge, averaging 12.8 ppg and 5.2 apg over the last five contests and reaching double figures in each. The D.C. native also has kept track of the basketball, holding a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (30:12) over the last six contests.
For the season, Freeman is second among A-10 freshman with 3.0 assists per game and a 1.45 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's also second among league rookies in 3-point percentage at 45.8% after hitting 5-of-10 threes in the last two contests.
DEFENSIVE WIZARD: Ricky Lindo Jr. recorded another remarkable defensive stat line on Tuesday at VCU with 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. He's now ripped down double-digit boards four times this year, while swatting three shots four times and snagging at least three steals seven times. In sum, Lindo is now second in the A-10 in rebounds (8.1 per game) while also ranking fourth in steals (1.9) and seventh in blocks (2.0), becoming the only player to rank in the top 10 of each category. He's also the only player in the nation to average at least 8.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.
BAM-BAM: Joe Bamisile notched his second 25-point effort in three games on Jan. 8 vs. Dayton, hitting 10-of-18 from the floor to go along with six boards, plus career highs in steals (4) and assists (3). Bamisile now has four 20-point efforts this season, most on the team, and has reached double digits 10 times, trailing only James Bishop's 11 for most on the squad. Bamisile has been incredibly efficient in GW's wins, averaging 16.8 ppg and shooting 57% while averaging 12.6 ppg and shooting 40% in losses."
Im just glad GW is saving countless lives by prohibiting fans.
When they don't have in-person classes, kids safely remain quarantined, because they don't try to go anywhere, or try to stick their tongies or thingie jigs down other kids' throats, or congregate in any way, really.
And don't get me started about what dangerous January 6th elements might remain in the vicinity.
Date/Time: Monday January 16, 2022 @ 2:00 PM at The Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, DC (MLK Day) TV: CBS Sports Network Preseason Ranks: 212th (KenPom), 167th (Bart Torvik), 166th (CBS), 107th (SI) 2020-21 Record: 13-9, 8-6 (6th in A10) 2021-22 Projected Record: 17-14, 10-8 (T-6th in A10)
Coach: Kim English, first year at George Mason. A native of Baltimore, English played collegiately at Missouri, winning 107 total games over his four year playing career (his class won more in Columbia than any other class). He averaged double figures in scoring in three of his four years playing and was a career 39% three point shooter. The Tigers were a member of the Big 12 at the time, and English made the Big 12 third team twice in his career. He was drafted in the second round by the Pistons and appeared in 41 NBA games in his lone season. English then played internationally in Italy, France, and Venezuela for three years before returning stateside as an assistant college basketball coach. Prior to landing the head job at Mason, English was an assistant at Tulsa, Colorado, and Tennessee.
Head-to-Head: 19-8, although Mason swept us in two matchups last season (the second game was during the A10 tournament which sent us packing for the season). In the regular season matchup in Fairfax, we placed four in double figures: Bishop (15 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists), Ricky (12 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks), Jamison (11 points, 6 rebounds), and Brelsford (11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals). We led by 13 points at the break, but went -18 in the second half (a recurring theme in the JC era, although we were clearly gassed coming back from an extended COVID break).
Offensive Efficiency: 140th (KenPom), 126th (Bart Torvik) Defensive Efficiency: 121st (KenPom), 95th (Bart Torvik) Pace: 287th (KenPom), 266th (Bart Torvik) Returning Minutes: 37.6% (316th in country) - so far, the new additions to the team have done well on the squad.
Key Returning Players:
Josh Oduro (Sophomore; Gainesville, VA) 10 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.2 APG; 51% FG, 20% 3-PT, 58% FT Last season vs. GW: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks; 5-13 FG, 0-1 3-PT, 1-3 FT in 25 minutes.
Jamal Hartwell II (Junior; Inglewood, CA) 5.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.1 APG; 38% FG, 37% 3-PT, 89% FT Last season vs. GW: 3 points, 1 rebound; 1-5 FG, 1-2 3-PT in 19 minutes.
Jordan Miller (Transferred to Miami (FL); Middleburg, VA) 15.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2 APG, 1 SPG; 46% FG, 33% 3-PT, 78% FT
Javon Greene (Transferred to South Florida; McDonough, GA) 11.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.8 SPG; 42% FG, 38% 3-PT, 78% FT
Tyler Kolek (Transferred to Marquette; Cumberland, RI) 10.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG; 40% FG, 36% 3-PT, 79% FT
AJ Wilson (Transferred to South Carolina; Laurel, MD) 7.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 2.3 BPG; 40% FG, 24% 3-PT, 50% FT
Despite taking a step back in the A10 during the 2019-20 season, Dave Paulsen did a solid job getting the Patriots back to the middle of the league in his sixth season at George Mason, which ended up being his final year with the program. GMU finished 8-6 in A10 play (tied for fourth, Paulsen's best finish in six seasons), although six of those wins were against the bottom of the league. Despite several canceled games due to COVID late in the season, the Patriots played their best basketball in February, which included a five game winning streak before Davidson blew them out 99-67 to end the Paulsen era.
A change seemed imminent after GMU hired a new president in July 2020, Gregory Washington (name sounds like a better fit at GW imo). In comes Kim English, a well-respected assistant at Tennessee who seemed destined to return to the mid-atlantic region as a head coach. Like any new coach, English had his work cut out for him. With the extra year given to all athletes due to COVID, KE had the ability to bring his entire team back, as none of the players opted to go pro after last season. After Jordan Miller and Javon Greene packed their bags for the Sunshine State and A10 rookie of the year Tyler Kolek left for Marquette, it seemed like it was going to take a few years for English to be able to get the guys he wants in order to truly elevate Mason. The roster he inherited had a high floor, but the ceiling was low.
Much like JC, English went to work in the transfer portal. His first big get as head coach was actually getting sophomore Josh Oduro to remove his name from the portal. Oduro broke out last season and showed the potential to be one of the best bigs in the league for years to come. Getting Oduro back was especially important given Wilson also departed after four years with the program. Oduro is a tough guard - he leads the team with 17 ppg on the season while shooting 32% from three, and has also noticeably improved on the defensive end - he's second in steals and first in blocks on the squad. Pretty much any big in this league will give us trouble, but finding a way to slow down Oduro has to be at the top of the list tomorrrow afternoon.
There aren't really any other true forwards on the team behind Oduro. Malik Henry has resumed his deeper bench role this year. Henry is a strong rebounder and can get a bucket when needed but has pretty much only been asked to give Oduro a breather thus far. English brought in Australian freshman Blake Jones who is more of a stretch big, but even he has seen under 10 minutes a game on the year so expect Oduro to get all the minutes he can handle in tomorrow's contest.
The remainder of Mason's roster is made up of guards and wings. English clearly prioritized player versatility, and landed three strong transfers in D'Shawn Schwartz (Colorado), DeVon Cooper (Morehead State), and Davonte 'Ticket' Gaines (Tennessee). It definitely didn't hurt that English coached both Schwartz and Gaines as an assistant coach and was familiar with their games. Schwartz has taken on a more active role on this Mason team as a complementary playmaker, although that hasn't hurt his efficiency to date - he paces the team shooting 85% from the line, and is shooting 37% from three. Cooper is another strong passer in the halfcourt, averaging just under 3 assists per game and has hit 40% of his tries from distance. Gaines has arguably been the most important of the trio, and has really developed his offensive game after a couple seasons as an afterthought in Knoxville. He is shooting a ridiculous 51% from three (80% from the line) and leads the team in rebounding at just over 8 a game. Gaines is the X-factor of the team, and if he aren't able to slow him down we could be in for a long game. He was fantastic in Mason's contest against Kansas a couple weeks back. The strong shooting from this trio has played a large role in Mason shooting over 36% from three on the year. Something I really wish we had.
The remainder of Mason's rotation in the backcourt are holdovers from the Paulsen era. Xavier Johnson has seen more run this season as the main point guard of the squad. He is still finding consistency with his shot, but has done a great job setting others up with a near 2:1 assist to turnover ratio. Jamal Hartwell II is always a factor shooting the three ball, although he hasn't shot the ball to his standards through 13 games this season. Ronald Polite III missed the early part of the season but has played in Mason's last three games and should play a sizable role from off the bench as he continues to get his rhythm back. Otis Frazier III and true freshman Mike Gray are likely outside the main rotation during conference play but could see action if the game's a blowout. Frazier has been efficient scoring on low volume.
Will we see the team play with any kind of chemistry tomorrow? That's all I want to see. The W-L record and margin of losses have been bad, but the more concerning thing has been the utter lack of cohesion offensively and defensively. COVID has played a role sure, but there is no understanding of passing in the halfcourt on this team, or communicating on switches defensively. It's been bad through three years under JC, and this team in particular seems to have no idea how to move the ball offensively - at least there are a few good individual defenders like Joe and Ricky that can sometimes bail us out of bad defensive possessions. Why that is I have no idea, but generating (and taking) good shots will do wonders for making shots and improving our offensive efficiency that ranks 311th in the nation. It's the lack of team play on both sides of the ball that has made me lose faith that JC can turn this around. At this point, most of the goals I was hoping the team was going to meet this season aren't likely to be met, but can we start playing as a team? That's all I really ask for at this point. Gotta start somewhere...
Projected Score: Mason 72, Washington 64. 22% chance to win (Bart Torvik). ESPN gives us a 21.4% chance at a win. Mason opens as a 6 point road favorite."