Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mason Nation vs. The Lions' Den - Preview of George Mason vs. Hofstra

Starting in the 2005-06 season, Hofstra and George Mason have had a heated rivalry. OK, it's a really heated rivalry when it comes to Defiantly Dutch and Mason Nation (and no, I haven't read that article at the time of this article's posting yet).  Still, there is a lot of history between the two teams.

In Hofstra's first season in the CAA, the 2001-02 season, the tenth seeded Pride upset the Patriots in the quarterfinal round of the CAA Tournament.   The 2005-06 season saw the Pride defeat the Patriots twice, including the semifinals of the CAA Tournament.  In that semifinal game, there was the infamous Tony Skinn punch to Loren Stokes that ended up on national television.  But George Mason made the NCAA Tournament that season and went onto Final Four fame, while Hofstra was snubbed out with the ultimate punch to the groin.

In the 2006-07 season, the Pride defeated the Patriots at the Patriot Center in the regular season.  But what originally was supposed to be Hofstra's season to win the CAA Tournament ended up in smoke after the Patriots upset the Pride in the CAA Quarterfinals.  It would be the start of a five game winning streak for Mason Nation over the Flying Dutchmen.  The streak ended last season when Hofstra defeated George Mason in the Mack Center.  But the Patriots would gain revenge winning at home later in the season.

So what's going to happen tonight, other than Defiantly Dutch's rants against Mason?  Here's what I think Mason Nation and the Lions' Den Faithful need to watch out for tonight;

Seven Things to Look For in Tonight's Game
  1. Points in the Paint - George Mason is averaging 51.7 percent from two point field goal range.  Hofstra's two point field goal percentage defense is 49 percent.  Look for the Patriots to try to exploit that by going to Ryan Pearson 51% FG and Mike Morrison 61% FG percentage, which leads the CAA..  Pride frontcourt players will be challenged tonight. 
  2. Where Art Thou Three Pointer? -  George Mason and Hofstra are two of the worst teams in the CAA as far as three pointers per game. George Mason is tenth at 4.6 three pointers per game, while Hofstra is eleventh at 4.3 three pointers per game. Only Northeastern and Towson have made less three pointers than the Patriots and Pride and the Huskies have played two less games.  Now here's the kicker - George Mason and Hofstra are third and fourth respectively in three point field goal percentage.  Simply put, neither team puts up that many shots from beyond the arc.
  3. Lots of Blown Whistles and Free Throws - In the Patriots and the Pride, you will be seeing the two teams that attempt the most free throws in the CAA.  Hofstra leads with 513 free throw attempts.  George Mason is second with 484.  Both teams are also first and second in free throws made; Hofstra with 366 and George Mason with 330.  If you're expecting an exact two hour game with end to end action and little stoppage in play, think again.
  4. Turnovers -  After being two of the best teams last season as far as not turning the ball over, this season  the Patriots and the Pride are two of the worst teams in the CAA.   Hofstra is eleventh in the CAA with 320 turnovers while George Mason is ninth with 305.  
  5. Fear the Beard - Ryan Pearson has been dominant this season and is right now the favorite for CAA player of the year.  In five career games against Hofstra, Pearson has averaged 18.6 points, 7 rebounds and has shot 28 of 54 from the field.  
  6. The Pride on the Offensive Glass -  Surprisingly, George Mason is one of the worst teams in the CAA in defensive rebound percentage, as they are eleventh at .650.  That means thirty five percent of the time, the offensive team gets a rebound on the Patriots.  Hofstra has the fourth most offensive rebounds in the CAA at 241.  It could be a very good night for Stephen Nwaukoni and Nathaniel Lester.
  7. The Students Are Back - The Mack Center has been awfully quiet in January as classes have not been in session.  But Hofstra undergraduates start their Spring Semester classes today. What will that mean for the student section at the game tonight?  The Pride could use a packed Lions' Den for support tonight. 

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