Nov 13, 2012
—by Thomas Block @tomcblock
George Mason coming off its season opening victory against UVA on Friday night is now up against another opponent from last season in the Bucknell Bison this evening at Sojka Pavilion. Mason (1-0) came away with its first ever victory against the Cavaliers 63-59 and now the focus is on mid-major Bucknell (1-0) who had an upset win against Purdue in their season opener.
Last season, the Bison came to Fairfax, VA and lost 61-57 in a game that saw tonight’s two starters for the Patriots score 14 and 12 (Sherrod Wright and Byron Allen). This game looks to be another exciting matchup with Bucknell returning 4 starters including Junior guard Cameron Ayers who dropped 23 points last year. Also returning is big man Mike Muscala who had 11 points and 15 rebounds in the previous contest and had a double-double in the season opener against Purdue.
Muscala will be more than a handful for the Patriots to take on. He’s being looked at as one of the best centers in college basketball and stories have him being scouted by the NBA. The 6-11 Senior would have matched up against Erik Copes, but he will be serving his second of a three game suspension. Look for Arledge and Williams to have their hands full with Muscala. Let’s also not forget Senior Joe Willman as well in that front court discussion. He’ll probably have double digits in either scoring or rebounds.
If Mason is able to contain Bucknell’s frontcourt, the concern still lies in their 3 point defense and with a player like Cameron Ayers, you cannot sleep behind the wheel. Mason was able to contain UVA very well in the first half, but then collapsed allowing 7 of 12 from behind the arc in the second half. Byron Allen, Sherrod Wright, and company will need to have their best defensive strategy in place to ensure a victory.
One of the standouts from Mason’s season opener was Marko Gujanicic. In 25 minutes off the bench, he provided 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. The one glaring issue was his free throws missing on all four of his opportunities As a team, Mason shot 42% from the charity stripe against UVA. This problem hopefully won’t repeat itself this evening.
Another issue not talked about but might very important as an offensive asset, was the lack of play by Junior Vertrail Vaughns. He went from a very hot freshman year behind the arc to a dramatic decline last season. In last Friday’s game, he was on the court for 19 minutes and wasn’t able to sink his four shots. In case your starters are cold, it would be nice to see Vertrail get back to his old ways.
When looking at this matchup, it’s going to be a lot like Mason’s victory against UVA except there’s more experience with this Bucknell squad. The Bison have eight juniors and seniors to Mason’s six juniors which leads me to think this will be a little higher of a scoring affair. If Mason can reverse their offensive rebounding woes from Friday, shoot no less than 70% from behind the free throw line, hold Bucknell to under 30% from 3 point land, and support their own perimeter offense then the Patriots should come out victorious. Expect a low to mid 60′s scoring situation and a coin flip on who will win.