|Around the Rim: November Drama|
Now we know the reason for all the close games with the George Mason men's basketball team. It's part of a marketing plan.
"I guess we like to keep people on the edge of their seats," said Johnny Williams with a laugh after a 10-point, eight-rebound effort in Saturday's 48-45 win against visiting Boston University. "I guess that's our motive to keep them coming back."
The Patriots (4-2) have had five games this season decided by five points or less, going 3-2 in the close ones. The only comfortable margin was 74-58 against Quinnipiac, and that game was close well into the second half.
Head Coach Paul Hewitt had a more serious take on the situation. The reasons for so many close games: "The combination of the schedule and us just not being consistent offensively. The Mercer game (a 52-49 victory) was close because of our own offensive ineptness. Then we turn around against New Mexico (a 70-69 loss) and move the ball beautifully and make 10 threes. (Saturday) our first three possessions we didn't reverse the ball. We just played one side of the floor and were taking shots in traffic."
In an early morning practice Monday, Hewitt had the team running their motion offense without being able to dribble. "You learn a lot that way," he said.
One of his constant comments during the session: "Do not play in traffic. Keep moving the ball to the open side of the floor."
The Patriots play next at Rhode Island. Last year the Patriots started the Hewitt era with a 92-90 OT win against the Rams so another close game wouldn't be a shocker. Both the coach and players want to avoid a repeat of the slow start against BU.
"We're not playing to our best potential that we know we can play at," said point guard Bryon Allen whose spin move in the paint resulted in a three-point play and the winning points with .2 seconds left. "We believe that we can go to the tournament and make a deep run in the tournament. (Saturday) we didn't play like that at all. Most teams have bad nights; we're all human. For us to be as successful as we want to be, we got to come out and play better than that."
Hewitt said Saturday that he was "befuddled" by the team's performance against BU. He could use the same verb to apply to the season so far.
"Every once in a while you came around a team that doesn't understand how good they can be," he said. "I think this is one of those teams. It is our job to get them out of it.
"We've got a really good basketball team. We've got all the pieces, all the parts. But we have our mental lapses. We don't do all those little things we have to do all the time. When we play against teams - I'm not going to say better teams but teams with better records - we seem to play more cohesively."
After Monday's practice ended shortly before 9 a.m., Hewitt was approached by trainer Shannon Soares, who told the coach there was an opening for a massage later in the day. Hewitt, mentioning tightness in his neck and shoulders, scheduled an appointment.
If the rest of the season is as close as the early going, Hewitt's going to need lots of massages to work out the tension.