Justin Kier Cooking Both on and off the Court
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Justin Kier Cooking Both on and off the Court

Justin Kier and Javon Greene, key perimeter defenders for George Mason, were executing a double team Thursday. Only this maneuver didn't occur on the court.

  They were at a cooking station in the kitchen of the Peterson Health Sciences Hall, preparing braised chicken with onions, pepper, and tomato, as part of the athletic department's life skills program conducted by the Mason Nutrition & Food Studies Department.

   Greene, who by the way, is a righty for all things except shooting, displayed a practiced touch in slicing up a red bell pepper as Kier offered pointers. 

   "Look at this guy!" Greene said in mock horror. "He's just sitting. He doesn't do anything."

   Eighteen hours before, at EagleBank Arena, Kier had done just about everything in Wednesday's 61-56 loss to Davidson. The 6-4 junior guard continued his superlative play with another stat sheet-stuffing performance – 26 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the floor and 13-for-14 at the foul line, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

    Such versatility is becoming the norm for Kier, one of just six players nationally averaging more than 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals per game. (Thanks to SID Mark LaFrance for such a telling stat.)

   "He's clearly someone who's going to challenge for conference player of the year, not just all-conference," said Davidson coach Bob McKillop. "You look at the way he filled the stat sheet. He did everything.

   "He kind of reminded me of a taller version and better shooter than the great player you had from New York City a couple years ago, Marquise Moore." 

   Kier's duties, along with Greene's, include being a defensive stopper. The two took turns Wednesday guarding Davidson's top perimeter players and potential All-Atlantic 10 candidates, Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who combined for 31 points on 11-for-31 shooting.

   Kier played his best after the Patriots (8-8, 2-1), who play Sunday at Rhode Island, got down 15 points, 42-27, early in the second half. In the last 13 minutes of the game, he had 17 points, three assists and two steals as the Patriots closed to within 48-47 before Davidson (11-4, 2-0) pulled away.

   "I got in the zone," said Kier as he was peeling a sweet potato for a baked salmon/veggie dish. "Nothing was going our way. We needed something to build on to win that game. As a leader, I just try to pick everyone up."

   When he's in a stretch like that, Kier gets a glazed look on his face and is in world of his own, going coast to coast after a defensive rebound or hustling back on defense to make sure one of his turnovers doesn't get turned into a fast-break layup.

   "It becomes this killer instinct," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I have to do to win."

      Kier has had double-doubles with points and rebounds in five of the last six games. His style of play – impacting both ends of the court – is "exhausting" as coach Dave Paulsen notes. The coach feels that Greene can produce similar offensive/defensive excellence.

   Paulsen's mantra with Kier is "keep your foot on the gas, don't coast."

   Says Paulsen, "I coach him hard. I am on his butt a lot because I think he has a chance to be special."  
    On the court, Kier isn't the type to get hung up on stats; he's more concerned with Wins and Losses.

But it turns out that he is proud of his cooking, bragging about his shrimp scampi and shepherd's pie.

    Teammate Zach Garrett walked past the Kier/Greene cooking station Thursday and glanced at their cutting board.

   "Zach, who's the best cook on the team?" Kier asked the sophomore. "It's me, right?'

   Garrett shook his head, no, smiling.

   But the Patriots are fine with what Kier has been cooking on the court.

The team took park in a culinary session as part of a life skills program

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