records can be deceiving. They're not always easy to interpret. Who
knows what it means that Virginia is 0-3 versus the CAA, losing to
George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion? Does it mean anything that the
Patriots are 1-1 versus ACC teams, beating UVa and losing to Maryland?
questions will be answered in the next few weeks. Coach Paul Hewitt
likes where Mason is entering Thursday's CAA opener against Northeastern
in the Patriot Center:
looking forward to it,” Hewitt says. “I'm excited. I like our energy
level – we're playing hard. We're not shooting the ball well right now,
but I'm not going to dwell on that -- as long as we keep playing well
defensively and keep trying to move the ball and take good shots.
thing that I don't like right now is we're falling back to the habit of
fouling too much the last part of games. That was such a point of
emphasis early in the year about silly fouls and silly turnovers. Now
we're back to fouling again.”
Patriots (7-5) are certainly battle-tested after the non-conference
schedule. Only two of their games were decided by more than seven
points. The team split the 10 close games, going 5-5.
Hewitt, junior post player Johnny Williams thinks preseason opponents
such as Virginia, Maryland, Bucknell, New Mexico, Northern Iowa and
South Florida have prepared Mason for the rigors of the CAA.
“I'm pretty confident we should be ready to take over this league,” Williams says.
calls the CAA opener “tough.” Northeastern is 5-7, but the record is
deceiving. The Huskies played their first nine games without senior
guard Jonathan Lee, a first-team CAA preseason selection, who had a
foot injury. Lee is averaging 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in the three
games he has played.
“They're a different team with him,” Hewitt says.
Patriots remember last year when Northeastern pulled a home upset,
85-82, as Lee scored 27 points, going 18-for-20 at the foul line as the
Huskies went 31-for-35 as a team. Mason entered the game 14-2 in conference;
Northeastern was 12-15 overall.
was another glaring stat from last season's game – the Patriots had 21
turnovers, though Northeastern had 22. Mason has experimented recently in
practice with point guards Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards playing
“We're looking at that,” Hewitt says. “Anything to shore up our ballhandling.”
Hewitt has been emphasizing good defense without fouling and proper spacing to minimize turnovers in recent practices.
“I've told them every once in a while I feel like I'm coaching 12-year-olds,” Hewitt says. “But they're trying really hard. You can see the energy in practice."