Jan 15, 2014; Fairfax, VA, USA; George Mason Patriots guard Sherrod Wright (10) dribbles the ball around Massachusetts Minutemen guard Derrick Gordon (2) at Patriot Center. Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Duquesne vs George Mason 74-68

Duquesne made history today but not the way you want to handing George Mason their first Atlantic 10 win and losing 74-68 at the AJP. Once again the Dukes got off to a sluggish start and never really recovered. When they crept into the game, George Mason took control again. It was a  back and forth contest of mini – runs until the Patriots took control in final five minutes.

The Good

LG Gill. I thought Gill easily played his best game as a Duke today. It’s nice to see some of these freshmen come along to show that they’re making progress before next season.  He still plays out of position, but at the moment the Dukes don’t have better options inside to move him to the wing.

The Bad

Settling for jump shots. I noticed that when the Dukes went on their runs especially in the second half, it was when they pounded the ball inside and either found an open shooter from three or got an easy basket inside. When Mason went on their runs, the Dukes settled for jumpers without testing the Patriots’ interior defense. Grant it, the Dukes got a ton of open looks, but they would have done better to try to chip away and heap on  the pressure rather than take a more dramatic low percentage shot.

The Ugly

FT shooting. The Dukes probably didn’t lose the game because of poor free shooting, but they would have played with the lead for longer stretches. They could have but more pressure on George Mason who stayed loose for the entire forty minutes.

The Moment I Knew I Was Over

The Sherrod Wright jump shot with 3:45. George Mason went up ten and the lights went out. That shot sent a lot of people for the exits.

Play of the Game

I’m getting tired of Ovie Soko making big plays in losing efforts but his dunk over Erik Copes and another Patriot was my favorite. Thought it might spark the Dukes but alas, a jet engine couldn’t spark them today.

Honorable mention – The Sherrod Wright dunk and one or Jeremiah Jones.

 Player of the Game

Sherrod Wright. This was the Sherrod Wright I had heard about and expected. He hasn’t made the impact I thought he would this year but he was deadly today.

Credit Where It’s Due

When I talk about the importance of veteran guard play, please take this one as exhibit A. George Mason has had plenty of choke job performances this year, but their back court played virtually mistake free for the final seventeen minutes of the game. That was the difference today.

Parting Thoughts

The Dukes did squander their best chance to win the rest of the way and if they hope to stay out of last place and avoid the play in game, they’re probably going to need to steal two now. I still like their chances of splitting with George Mason. I didn’t see anything that made me conclude that the Dukes can’t beat them anywhere the game is played. However, they really need to break out of this slump and fast if they want to capitalize on their decent start in league play.

For the first time this season, I’m a little concerned about the handle Jim Ferry has on the team when, in his post game interview, he said he couldn’t quite figure out what was troubling them right now. That’s not a great vote of confidence when the man in charge isn’t sure what is going on with his team’s psyche. Hopefully, the issue reveals itself in tape.

However, I think it’s important to distinguish between a slumping team and a terrible one. Heading into the La Salle game we were talking about a team that was gelling and maybe even turning the corner. Three games later where they just couldn’t get over the hump doesn’t mean much in my overall evaluation of the team. Clearly, they’re not a great team, but it’s going to take a lot more than three games for me to say they’re terrible. Terrible was last year.  They’re not a bad team, but they’re not good enough either.

Duquesne vs George Mason Link

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