Brann...it's good for you.


Friday, January 30, 2015

With Thompson leading the way, Mason breaks a losing streak



Led by Shevon Thompson's 19 pts., 14 rbs., and 3 blocks (his 10th double-double of the season), the Patriots defeated the St. Louis Billikens last night at home 68-60.  Thompson was joined in double figures by Marquise Moore with 15 pts. and 5 assists, and a career-high 16 pts. from Corey Edwards.  Mason's strong defense and efficiency from the FT line (82%) were keys to this victory.  

St. Louis had no answer for Thompson inside.  I continue to be more and more impressed by this big man from the islands, who has only been playing hoops a few years.  He's been a godsend for Mason, especially considering the issues we've had with keeping players healthy.  This is the one player Mason can't afford to lose.

With the win, Mason improves to 7-12 overall and 2-5 in the A-10.  We are in 11th place, ahead of St. Louis, Duquesne, and Fordham.  We have another winnable game on Saturday night in Burgh vs. the Dukes, but that's the kind of game where Mason slips up. We could use a couple wins in a row heading into next Wed.'s battle vs. the league's best team, VCU.

GO MASON.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mason blows a win in OT vs. the Wildcats

If you're the George Mason Patriots during the Paul Hewitt era, you find a new way to lose on a regular basis.  Once again, Mason had an opportunity to defeat a better team, only to snatch defeat from the jars of victory at "home sweet home."  Mason came back to a take a six-point league vs. the Davidson Wildcats.  With 21 seconds to go, the Patriots "simply" needed to stop Davidson's long-range game and make some foul shots.  

They did neither one.  Mason allowed Davidson to hit two three's in the final 21 seconds, including the typing three with a second to go.  In addition, Mason's Jalen Jenkins had a chance to give Mason the game with two freebies from the foul line.  He missed both.  In fact, he air-balled the second one, setting up Davidson for the game-typing three at the buzzer.  Davidson dominated in OT to take the win.  Mason did what it does best during the "reign" of Hewitt:  Choke.

With the loss, Mason falls to 6-12 overall and 1-5 the A-10.  Shockingly, we're not in last in the A-10, because Duquesne and Fordham are temporarily worse.  Mason was led by Marquis Moore with 18 pts. and Shevon Thompson with 15 pts. and 15 rebounds.  Even though he hasn't done much lately, Mason could have benefitted from Patrick Holloway being available to play.  He was out due to illness.  Nonetheless, Davidson was without their leading scorer, Jack Gibbs, and still came away with the win.  

Next up for the Patriots:  St. Louis at home on Thursday night.  A year after winning the A-10 tourney, the Billikens are struggling at 9-10 overall and 1-5 in the A-10.  They did lose all five of their starting five from a year ago.  What's our excuse for being even worse?

The Paul Hewitt "Era" countdown:  12 more regular season games and probably one A-10 tournament game.  Then, we're done.  However, one of the A-10 feeds that I follow on Twitter was sharing a rumor this weekend that Hewitt may be fired as soon as February. We'll see.  It can't end soon enough.  I know I could coach this team better than him at this point.

GO MASON. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Post focuses on the downtrodden Patriots



The Washington Post had a feature article on George Mason basketball yesterday, and it wasn't for good reasons.  Goff, who follows the Patriots, focused on how far we've fallen since the Final Four run in 2006.  It's a depressing read.  

From the Post:



Cast in light and shadow high above sections 108 and 109 at Patriot Center, the Final Four banner watches over the George Mason men’s basketball program like a hovering parent.

It offers a reminder of an unfathomable feat almost nine years ago, when the Patriots became the first in a rush of midsize programs to crash a postseason party reserved for the sport’s elite.

Before Butler, Wichita State and Virginia Commonwealth, there was a giant-killer called George Mason. But while the others have maintained a national presence, the Patriots have fallen back into the cluttered well of dreamers.

In eight seasons since the Final Four appearance, George Mason has won one NCAA tournament game, in 2011. And with a 6-11 record entering Saturday night’s game against visiting Davidson, the Patriots are on a path to consecutive losing seasons for the first time in 17 years.

The team has sputtered since leaving the lesser Colonial Athletic Association in 2013, dropping 16 of 21 Atlantic 10 games. Its lone visit to a postseason tournament under fourth-year Coach Paul Hewitt was the third-tier College Basketball Invitational two years ago. 

Attendance has declined to pre-Final Four years, an optic amplified by a 10,000-seat arena too large for the program’s needs even in the best of times.

“We have work to do, a lot of work to do,” said Brad Edwards, the former Washington Redskins defensive back in his first academic year as George Mason’s athletic director after two years at Jacksonville University. “We need to catch up on many things.”

I'll let you finish the article on your own. 

Mason takes on a very good Davidson team at 7 pm tonight in Fairfax.  Davidson, new to the A-10, was picked to finish last in the conference.  They've been near the top all season.  The difference?  Coaching and a commitment to the school's most major sport.  

Pray for an upset tonight.

GO MASON.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Caps stumble into the All-Star break



Tyler's Christmas was full of sports gifts, including many hockey-centric items.  He received a couple small hockey goals with sticks and "pucks" (little balls); he received a NHL poster; and he received a Caps helmet and jersey.  His Aunt Stacey gave him a Caps sweatshirt.  So, a couple nights ago, I purchased a couple upper decker seats on StubHub to take him to his first professional hockey game in March when the Minnesota Wild visit the local Caps.  We wanted to see the Wild when we were in Minnesota in October, but they were on a road trip at the time.  We also bought Tyler a Wild sweatshirt from a local Target (where else?) before we left the hockey state.

I'm not sure who Tyler will root for on March 5, because both teams are struggling going into the break.  The Caps lost their third straight game last night, 5-4, on a shootout in OT.  The Caps had 2-goal leads on three seperate occasions in this game, and lost them all.  This loss follows two over the weekend to a strong Nashville team and a good Dallas team; losing to the Oilers...not so good.

From the Post:


In the aftermath, Coach Barry Trotz raised an idea that recently seemed unthinkable. He had hoped for a dominating effort in what he had called “a must game.” Now, he ushered the Capitals away with biting criticism.

“It’s like a script,” Trotz said. “I said to the guys, maybe we don’t make the playoffs. There’s some good teams in there. Maybe we don’t make the playoffs, and there’s a point we gave away. If we’re going to be a good team, you’ve got to secure that. We get three goals in this league, you’ve got to be able to win the hockey game.”

So far this season, Trotz has been a great addition on the bench.  We'll see if he can motivate this often underperforming squad to the playoffs, and if they can do anything if they get there.


With the loss, the Caps fall to 4th in the Metropolitan Division behind the Isles, Pens, and Rangers.  They are 24-13-9 at the break.

GO CAPS.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Nats make some noise



The local baseball club, the Nationals, made some big national news on Monday with the signing of top free agent pitcher Max Scherzer.  I was hoping for Scherzer to end up in pinstripes, but alas, it's the local Nats who get the top target of many this off-season.  With Scherzer in tow, Washington has a starting pitching rotation most teams only dream about...we'll see if they keep all of the current members of that staff, or if they use some as trade pieces (especially with Fister and Zimmermann entering free agency years).

From the Post:





Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, is among the most powerful and influential characters in the sport, and he had long described the pursuit of the offseason’s most expensive free agent as a decision for ownership. To that end, Boras met with Ted Lerner privately earlier this month, and according to officials with knowledge of the talks, negotiations started at the highest level.

Though another, unnamed team remained in the mix Sunday night, according to multiple people with knowledge of the negotiations, the Nationals were “aggressive” by that point, and the parameters of a deal came into focus. Though the average annual value of the contract is $30 million, it is structured creatively. According to an official with direct knowledge of the negotiations, it includes a $50 million signing bonus that is spread out over several years, and the end result is Scherzer will receive $15 million annually for the next 14 years — including seven years after the pact ends. 

Scherzer could fit into the team’s current financial structure, meaning the Nationals don’t necessarily have to trade Zimmermann (due $16.5 million this season) or star shortstop Ian Desmond, also an impending free agent who will make $11 million in 2015. Before Scherzer’s deal was complete, the Nationals owed about $130 million in payroll for the upcoming season. The structure of his deal means they will only pay out $145 million — not a huge leap from their opening day payroll of roughly $134 million a year ago.

In a year, they could lose Zimmermann, Desmond, Fister and center fielder Denard Span to free agency. But their farm system is stocked with perhaps the best group of starting pitching prospects in the game. “They’ve been able to play it both ways,” said an official from another club.

For right now, though, they are now loaded. This one move that put Washington at the center of the sport guarantees nothing but anticipation and what’s sure to be a hotly contested debate: Which one of these star pitchers will get the ball on April 6, when the Nationals open the season boasting an accomplished rotation that just got better.

The expectations will be huge for the Nationals in 2015.  We'll soon see if they can live up to the hype.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mason loses its 4th in a row vs. the Colonials

From the Post:

Eighteen miles separate Smith Center from Patriot Center. The distance between the men’s basketball programs performing in those arenas continues to grow.

George Mason stuck with surging George Washington for much of Saturday afternoon’s affair in Foggy Bottom before succumbing to the Colonials for the third consecutive time since the Patriots joined the Atlantic 10 last season.

I think Goff from the Post gets to the heart of what's it's like being a Mason fan/grad these days.  Folks, it sucks.

Mason had another chance to win on Saturday afternoon/evening vs. the local Colonials, but it was not to be once again against a better team.  With the loss, Mason falls to 6-11 overall and 1-4 in the A-10.  We're not in last place, but we're darn close.  

Mason was led by Corey Edwards with 13 pts. and Shevon Thompson with 11 pts. and 11 rbs.  I'm been very disappointed with the play of Jalen Jenkins and Patrick Holloway this season, who should have been key contributors.  Mason got a boost yesterday from the return of Julian Royal, who has been out since the 5th game of the season with a hurt hand.  Still, it wasn't enough.  GW clearly has more talent right now, and it may be a long time before we beat them.

Next up:  A week off, and then Mason returns home vs. the league's newest team, Davidson.  Davidson was picked by the league's coaches and many college hoops publications to finish last in the league.  So far, they've been near the top all season.  

We are 13 games from the end of the A-10 regular season.  After one or maybe two A-10 tourney games, Hewitt will be fired.  We'll have a season or two of rebuilding after Mason's new hire comes in.  Things don't appear to be looking up anytime soon.  

GO MASON. :(

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mason embarrassed by the Bonnies in Rochester

I'll keep this short and simple:  Mason sucked on Wed. night.  I watched this game until the 16 pt. deficit at the half, when I couldn't take anymore.  I'm glad I didn't turn it back on.  Despite getting out to an early 10-2 lead, Mason was destroyed by St. Bonaventure 75-55 at a neutral site game in Rochester, NY.

For the game, Mason was led by Shevon Thompson with 18 pts., but only 4 rbs.  Little man Corey Edwards led the way on the boards this game with 9.  Jenkins and Holloway added 9 pts. apiece.  Mason shot a pathetic 38% in the game.  Both Jenkins and Holloway fouled out of the game.  Thompson, who was dominating early, was forced to sit with two fouls earlier than normal in the 1st half and the momentum quickly changed in the Bonnies' favor.  

With the embarrassing loss, Mason falls to 6-10 overall and 1-3 in the A-10.  Next up:  A likely butt-whipping by the Colonials of GW in DC on Saturday afternoon.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sucky Sports Sunday



It came down to one call.  Well, in reality, one call doesn't determine a football game, but it was a huge factor in Dallas's playoff loss to Green Bay on Sunday, 26-21.  Down by 5 with a couple minutes to go, Dez Bryant (above) made a miraculous catch at the one-foot line on 4th down that would have given the Cowboys 1st and goal and a chance to take the lead.  Who knows...maybe we wouldn't have gotten in.  Maybe the Packers would have scored on the next position.  But, we'll never know, because the guys in stripes made sure Green Bay got the ball back.

This was a game about missed opportunities, and I could probably spend a day talking about each one.  But, let's instead focus on the positives:  This team went 12-4 and won the division in a year most thought the Cowboys would barely get to 5 or 6 wins (5-11 and last place in the East according to SI) after their straight 8-8 seasons.  Romo, Bryant, Murrary, Witten, Williams, etc. and an underrated D all had great seasons. My son Tyler became a sports fan this year, and he got to watch my favorite team and now his favorite have a great season.  It was a joy to watch many games with him, even the bitter end.

My thoughts turn to the future, and it's a big off-season in Dallas.  Key FAs include Murray and Bryant, two guys this team can't afford to lose.  Plus, there are restricted FAs like Cole Beasley, an underrated gem who comes up big for a little guy.  I know not everyone will be back, so it's important for the organization and coaching staff to find gems in free agency or the draft to keep the momentum going.

Congrats on a great season, Cowboys.  I'm disappointed it didn't end with a Super Bowl win, but I think the future is still bright and there's always next year.  I didn't have that expectation before the season started.  It's amazing how things change.

As for my Mason Patriots, they also had a chance to win on Sunday.  It didn't happen.  Mason held a 2-pt. halftime lead over a beatable UMASS team, only to lose by 4 pts. at the end.  UMASS had a 10-pt. lead with about 6 to go, before Mason chipped away at it in the last minute.  The Patriots were led by Shevon Thompson (again) with 12 pts. and 16 rbs.  He got some help from Holloway and Edwards with 11 pts. apiece.  Jalen Jenkins, who I expected to score 15 ppg this season, added 9 pts., 6 rbs., and 4 assists.  Shooting 22% (!!) from the field in the 2nd half did in the Patriots this game.  

We're back to last season, where Mason puts together maybe one good half before things fall apart.  Or, vice versa.  With the loss, Mason falls to 6-9 overall and 1-2 in the A-10.  Next up:  St. Bonaventure on Wed. in Rochester, NY.

GO COWBOYS.

GO MASON.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

One 1st half run does in the Patriots vs. UR

One run.  That's all it took on Thursday evening for Mason to fall over 20 pts. behind the University of Richmond and seal the game for the Spiders.  Despite a valiant effort in the 2nd half to come back, Mason fell 10 pts. behind at the end, falling 75-65 in Richmond.  Mason will get a chance for payback vs. UR on Valentine's Day in Fairfax - a.k.a. Mason's Homecoming Game for 2015.  

Mason was led by stud big man Stevon Thompson with 19 pts. and 17 rbs. (!).  He was followed by Patrick Holloway with 17 pts. off the bench.  They needed additional help, and unfortunately didn't get it on Thursday night.  Mason's 34% first-half shooting vs. Richmond's 68% first-half shooting was the difference in this game.

Next up for Mason is another beatable team, UMASS, on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm.  With Thursday's loss, Mason falls to 6-8 overall and 1-1 in the A-10.  The match-up on Sunday between UMASS big man Cady LaLanne and Thompson should be a fun one to watch; Mason will need their guards and Jalen Jenkins to step up in the game to help out.  Thompson is up to 4th in the NATION in rebounds per game. 

GO MASON.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Post-Christmas fun: ICE!, National Harbor, and U.S. Botanical Gardens














 

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we spent a little time away last weekend at the National Harbor in Maryland on a Groupon deal.  We attended the annual ICE! show on Friday and walked around the harbor on Friday afternoon and evening.  We haven't been over there in five years, so it was good to get back (plus, it's only 45 minutes away when traffic is light...not bad at all).  On Sunday, we took a short day trip to DC to make our annual holiday pilgrimage to the United States Botanical Gardens near the Capitol.  This year's nature-inspired and nature-made creations had a lighthouses theme.  We finally made it this year on the last day of the exhibit.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Cowboys 24, Lions 20



With their backs against the wall in the 3rd quarter of yesterday's playoff game versus the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys decided it was time to wake up.  Down 17-7 at the half, Dallas stormed back to seal the victory 24-20 vs. the Lions with 2:32 to go in the game on a Tony Romo strike to Terrence Williams (his 2nd of the day).  In addition, huge 4th down plays (a 4th and goal TD run by Murray and a 4th and 6 completion to Jason Witten) keep the Cowboys alive and headed to Green Bay next weekend.  

For the game, Romo finished with 2 TDs and 293 yds passing and completed the biggest pass of his career thus far.  Murray was limited to 75 yds, but most of those were in the decisive 2nd half when the Cowboys needed some ball control to open up the passing lanes.  Williams was huge in this game, since Bryant was mostly quiet except for one big 3rd down reception.  

Dallas, 8-0 on the road this season, travel to Green Bay next Sunday at 1 pm.  The Packers will be tough to beat, but it's not impossible considering how well Dallas is playing right now.  They didn't play their best on Sunday, but found it in them to come back for the win.  

Keep it up, Cowboys.  

GO COWBOYS.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Mason starts off 1-0 in A-10 play



Behind a balanced attack, Mason defeated LaSalle 70-62 last night at home to start 1-0 in A-10 play in 2014-15.  Four Patriots scored in double-figures in the victory (Jenkins, Thompson, Holloway, and Jackson).  Thompson added 7 rebounds, and back-up PG (starting for injured Moore) added 7 assists and 3 steals.  Mason shot an impressive 57% from the field and made 20/29 FTs.  

With the win, Mason improves to 6-7 on the season and 1-0 in A-10 play.  Next up:  The Patriots travel to Richmond on Thursday and take on the Spiders.  The game will also be televised nationally on NBCSN.  

GO MASON.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Mason falls on the road to no. 18 Oklahoma



In a game I didn't expect us to win, Mason fell hard to no. 18 Oklahoma 61-43 on the road in an afternoon matinee game on New Years' Eve.  Mason shot a horrible 29.5% from the field and shot 0/14 from behind the arc.  That's no way to pull an upset.  None of the Mason players finished in double figures.  Shevon Thompson and Isaiah Jackson, who have been the leaders lately, both finished with 9 pts. apiece.  

With the loss, Mason falls to 5-7 on the season and finishes non-conference play.  Now, it's about the 18 games coming up in the A-10.  I had high expectations last season in our first campaign in the A-10, but we ended up disappointing and finishing a pathetic 13th in the league.  This year:  Who knows.  The outlook isn't positive, but if we somehow finish in the top seven of the league, I'd consider it a successful season.  I don't think anything less than a NCAA bid will help Hewitt keep his job. 

A "new" season begins on Saturday night vs. LaSalle, Patriots.  Let's pull some surprises.

GO MASON.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cowboys 44, Washington 17






The Cowboys made sure on Sunday that they ended the regular season on a high note with a 44-17 dismantling of the downtrodden Washington Redskins.  It was the Cowboys' 12th win of the season, and featured record-setting performances by RB DeMarco Murray (who eclipsed NFL Hall-of-Famer Emmit Smith for most Cowboys rushing yards in a season) and WR Dez Bryant (who eclipsed Terrell Owens for most TD receptions by a Cowboys WR in a season).  This win was beautiful payback for the earlier season loss to the Deadskins, and Dallas's 4th win a row.  It's the 2nd weekend in a row that the Cowboys scored over 40 points to destroy an opponent.

For the Cowboys, the new trio of Romo, Murrary, and Bryant led the way.  Romo finished with 299 yards and 2 TDs, Murray finished with 20 carries/100 yards and 2 TDs, and Bryant finished with 99 yards receiving with 2 TDs.  Romo destroyed his previous seasons' December demons, and now has a chance to redeem himself in the playoffs.  

Dallas starts the playoffs next weekend, since Seattle and Green Bay got the 1st and 2nd seeds and playoff byes based on tiebreakers.  Dallas will host Detroit next Sunday at 4:40 pm, in the weekend's final playoff game.  

From the Dallas paper:


The Cowboys last appeared in a playoff game in January of 2010.

Time moves quickly in the NFL. Only six players remain from that team. One of them, tight end Jason Witten, said the postseason absence “feels like about 50 years,’’ after last week’s victory over Indianapolis to secure the berth.

“We’ve done the division title thing,’’ Romo said Sunday. “Any time you can get 12 wins it’s hard in the National Football League. We’re proud of that.

“At the same time we understand we’re just getting started and we’re excited about the opportunity in front of us.’’

The season got underway on Sept. 7 with a head coach in the final year of his contract coming off three consecutive 8-8 seasons. Garrett has taken himself off the hot seat to mount a serious campaign for Coach of the Year.

Romo could barely walk when he left FedEx Field last December. His season would come to an end five days later when he underwent a microdiscectomy on his lumbar spine.

The 34-year-old quarterback was unable to practice more than two consecutive days in training camp. He has been held out of Wednesday practice since Week Three of the regular season.

Yet last week he passed Troy Aikman to become the most prolific quarterback in franchise history. He conceded Sunday that he’s played “my best football this season.’’

Murray never made it through an entire season before this one. But he played last week only six days removed from surgery to repair a broken hand. He rushed for 100 yards against Washington to finish as the league’s leading rusher with 1,845 yards and break Emmitt Smith’s franchise record for a single-season.

“I couldn’t be happier for him,’’ said Smith, who had 1,773 rushing yards during the '95 season. “He is very deserving of this recognition. This is something that I know DeMarco will share with the whole team, because he knows that they all had a hand in his success.    

“I am proud of him because I know how hard it is to do what he did this year. I am also proud because I’ve watched him bounce back from some injury setbacks in his first few years. He’s a worked through all that, and he deserves to have this record.

“I want him and the whole team to keep up this level of play and carry it into the playoffs.’’

The Cowboys have a lot of pressure to keep performing at a high level in the playoffs, but they seem to be peaking at the right now.  We'll see if they can keep it rolling next Sunday.  Win or lose, I'm proud they turned around a few seasons of disappointment this season and have the foundation in place to keep this success going for a few more seasons.  

GO COWBOYS.

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