George Mason travels to William and Mary on Wednesday night for a rematch of last year’s Colonial Athletic Association tournament final. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Kaplan Arena. The Patriots (12-3, 5-0), who look to continue their best conference start since the 1998-99 season, defeated the Tribe, 68-59, to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The seniors who carried William and Mary (6-9, 1-4) on that remarkable run last season have departed, leaving junior guard Daniel Schneider and junior forward Danny Sumner (Paul VI) to carry the load. So far, it’s been tough going for the pair and the Tribe.
“I think people simply feel if it’s not Danny Sumner and David Schneider right now, you’re going to beat William and Mary,” Coach Tony Shaver said. “We have to strive to find that balance” from last season.
Sumner (15.9 ppg) and Schneider (14.1 ppg) could really use some help from their teammates. Right now, they account for 45 percent of William and Mary’s scoring output this season.
Not even Kaplan Arena has provided William and Mary with a home-court advantage. The Tribe’s only CAA win came on the road. Nonetheless, George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga isn’t taking them lightly.
“William and Mary is significantly different than the teams that we have played,” he said. “They play a combination of a lot of different defenses and do a good job in every one of them. But I think the whole key for us is our defensive end.”
Mason leads the CAA in scoring defense at 59.9 points per game and has held seven of its last eight opponents to 60 points or less, but Larranaga worries about his players defending the Tribe’s complex offense. William and Mary runs up to four offensive sets, including a variation of John Beilein’s take on the Princeton offense.
“There’s just constant ball movement, man movement, backdoors, ball screens, dribble handoffs, and if your players fall asleep at any moment in time, they could give up a layup or a wide-open three,” Larranaga said. “It’s really a defensive challenge always to guard William and Mary players.”
January 14, 2009; 6:29 AM ET
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