Should Anthony Grant Have Called a Timeout in the Middle of Mason’s Decisive 20-4 Run?

Last night I would’ve said “absolutely,” but the more I think about it, the more I don’t think it would’ve mattered. Louis Birdsong picked up his fourth foul and Jim Larranaga responded by going to a four guard lineup. Brilliant or fortituitous? Whatever the case VCU was unable to solve/respond.

And Mason rolled. Slowing momentum had little to do with it; the four guard combination was the perfect mix and the result was inevitable. It came mostly on the defensive end.

The difference was the guards–especially the size of Folarin Campbell–who thwarted VCUs drive-and-dish offense. Eric Maynor kept hitting bodies, and Joey Rodriguez was too small to be effective in the paint. The result was a flurry of standstill jumpers, which is never a good strategy. Coaches always Nuke LaLoosh you with “good offense starts with good defense.” Last night was the poster child for this cliche.

Compounding matters was that Mason had four ballhandlers on the floor. The Patriots resisted the urge, mostly, to hurry. Mason repeatedly sprinted into the front court and backed off. A staple of VCUs defense–get the ball into the hands of a player who isn’t comfy with the ball in the open court–was ineffective because those players weren’t on the floor.

Think of it this way: how many times did Will Thomas stand at the three-point line with the ball in his hands and watch players move around while the shot clock winnowed away? He knew if he tried anything other than “get the ball to somebody who can do something with it” he was in trouble. So he basically stood still. That, my friends, is brilliance. Thomas knew by NOT making a play he was making a play. He reversed the norm: by playing passively, he solved VCUs pressure.

Side note: I realize Thomas was anything but passive when he got the ball in the post (and on defense). I think the key to this game was (1) Thomas played his usual game and didn’t try to do more; (2) Birdsong couldn’t impact the game with the basketball because he was on the pine.

I also think that barring something extraordinary occurring in the second half of the season, Will Thomas locked up CAA Player of the year. Too many people with votes saw that phenomenal performance.

You know who really hated to see how that game went last night? Pat Kennedy.

***

Later today: predictions and two-bid scenarios.

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~ by mglitos on January 30, 2008.

9 Responses to “Should Anthony Grant Have Called a Timeout in the Middle of Mason’s Decisive 20-4 Run?”

  1. It seems to me Grant should have at least called time out to get the Rams refocused. Terribly disappointing game to watch. Being a VCU alum in Florida is difficult enough since televised VCU games are as rare as Gators paraphernalia is prevalent without having to witness such an embarrassing loss.

  2. Great Analysis MGL.
    Will continues to do all the little things that won’t show up on his box score stat line – but do end up with the ball going in the basket.

  3. You were right about Will having a big game, but Maynor was played tough by Vaughan, Eric had 5 turnovers, and VCU having 17(?) as team was very uncharacteristic for an AG coached team. JR is a good ball handler and passer, and can hit the open jumper, but you are dead on about him being too small to effectively drive the lane most of the time. VCU needs more O than just the two headed monster, evident all season but a good inside outside teamn like GMU truly exposed that weakness.

  4. Same thing I’ve been saying all year…Will Thomas is the POY in the CAA, and last night should lock it up. No other player in this conference means more to his team than Thomas, and no one seems to come up bigger when it counts. He was brilliant last night. Damn, I’m gonna miss that guy next season. But, for now…

    GO MASON.

  5. One more thing…did anyone else notice how miserable Jordan Carter looked again? I guess it’s official…Cam Long seems to have all his playing time…and it’s hard to argue with Coach Larranaga, based on Cam’s skills.

  6. Two things jumped out at me last night:

    – The energy in the building. 2000+ students plus great turnout from the alumni and ticketholders (5000+) had the PatDome rocking.

    – Will Thomas’ perimeter defense. That’s right, I said perimeter. I noticed a number of occasions where Will was out guarding their shooters on the perimeter and his defense out there was as solid as it usually is in the post. He is adept and jumping out on a shooter while still in control, affecting the shot without fouling.

    The other thing I love about Will is how you typically know he’s going to score about a half-second before he actually scores. Once he gets in a certain rhythm with his back-down moves, and there’s no double-team coming… you just know.

  7. Too bad Thomas couldn’t do all that against Vladie Kools and UNCW. And don’t use that lame arguement that it was Trask. VCU had no answer for him but UNCW does. We didn’t need to double team Thomas. Player of the Year should be Kools from UNCW. NO ONE can stop him except him. UNCW’s whole successful offense runs through him, and he is a rebounding machine. Give me a break with Thomas–he was a non-factor against UNCW. Now we know how to beat VCU, so what you did was open the door for UNCW to win the conference. Thanks GMU!!

  8. If Mason played the junior high select team at Trask, I’d bet on the latter to win.

    I love what DaveShac said. The atmosphere last night was awesome.

    And lastly, this is a 1-bid conference unless 3 things happen:
    – VCU/Mason play in the CAA Final
    – CAA gets good matchups for BracketBusters
    – CAA dominates BracketBusters

    We’re the 14th rated conference right now. 2002 was the last year that a 14th-rated conference took an at-large to the dance.

  9. Oh, Frank…you’re hilarious. When a UNCW squad gets to the Final Four and is nationally known, get back to us. In the meantime, start thinking about the glory days of UNCW when ugly-man Wainwright was there and you guys actually had a chance in March to play beyond the opening weekend. You guys have talent, veteran leadership, and you got a win over us like you do every time at Trask. That’s about it. Nothing more. I’ll take our pride of Baltimore over your behemoth any day.

    I totally agree with you paymon on the one-bid league points…very, very valid analysis.

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