Men’s basketball team might be going stagnant at a crucial time late in the season.
Q: One big thing Mason fans are unsure of is the identity of their point guard, who is it?
A: Well right now it’s Corey Edwards. I think putting Bryon Allen into our lineup as a secondary point guard or on the wing has allowed him to play a little more freely.
Q: Is that the offense you drew up from the beginning?
A: We came into the year thinking our post players would be the center of our offense, and early in the year they were having trouble finishing.
We had to change things: post up our perimeter players more inside, make some shots and go to the line. Sherrod, Anali, Jonathan, Bryon. Particularly Sherrod is getting fouled a lot and he brings us some easy baskets.
Q: You mentioned Jonathan Arledge. You originally put him in to replace Johnny Williams in the starting lineup due to his concussion. Is he making his way back to that starting spot?
A: It is taking longer than we thought to get him back, our training staff says this sort of thing is common with a concussion, but we are more concerned with getting him healthy and where he needs to be.
We had this same experience last year with Corey and when he came back he was not the same player. Our primary concern is getting him back healthy and doing what is best for him.
Q: Who is our on-court leader?
A: We don’t have a lot of personality. I’d have to say Corey or Paris Bennett are some of our more vocal players.
Q: What about Marco? He gets fired up on the sidelines a lot. Do you think he will develop into that sort of emotional leader?
A: He could, he’s a freshman and a very emotional player. He is a smart and good player, but sometimes he has those moments. He is very passionate about team play and I’m glad we have him.
Q: How do you make decisions on deciding the lineup and who gets how much play time?
A: Performance, practice and obviously in games too, but a lot of that decision comes from seeing performance in practice.
Q: What do you feel we are doing really well as a team?
A: Defense. We’re able to limit and control a lot of the teams we play and play our game.
Q: What about on offense?
A: Offense is a fickle thing, it’s about making shots. Sometimes you can run a great offense but the shots won’t go in. We are getting the ball inside, we’ve done that well all season. But now we have guys that are finishing plays getting to the foul line.
Q: What do we need to get down before going into the tournament?
A: We got to rebound more.
Q: Would you tie our weakness on the boards to our losses this season?
A: I can’t say every single game, but if there is one thread that appears or shows up most often, that is the common factor. It is not the only thing but there are two three games where if we rebounded better we would have definitely won those games.
Q: What about the issues with consistency we are having? Like the Drexel game where we were hot one half and ice cold the next.
A: It’s the age old question of coaching: athletic performance. I think it centers around rebounding. We rebounded good in the first half, but in the second they scraped their offense and just went after the ball; we weren’t ready for it.
Teams get emotionally high when they are rebounding, especially on offense. If we don’t rebound the ball we don’t have that confidence and emotion.
If we do a good job on the boards, I think we are good enough offensively. When we are in situations where we are letting other teams get that confidence we have not responded well.
Q: What is the plan for the last few games?
A: Rebounding and keep getting better, keep things moving and developing on offense. We’ve stumbled along the way but look at John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens. Losing the last couple games of their season. Harbaugh would look at the film from the games and say ‘We are getting better’ and that’s what I feel we need to do here is just focus on improving.
Q: Rebounds and finishing, what are are you doing to work on that?
A: Drills at practice, we have exercises for them, but at this point in the season it’s not so much about practice as it’s about being healthy and ready to play 100 percent.
Sometimes our travel arrangements don’t put us in a good spot to be getting ready for games. Keeping their heads fresh and keeping their legs fresh helps a lot.
Q: Is there anything you want out of Mason fans and students?
A: They’re great, I tell people all the time. It’s a really good thing we have here, students and fans come out and we appreciate it. There is nothing more we want from them other than to believe in us and keep supporting us.
Q: You still think we have that sixth man advantage, even with the slip ups along the way?
A: That’s on us.
Q: We always seem to be looking back on the Final Four run. Do you think we are close to getting something new for Mason to rally around?
A: I think our team is headed in the right direction, our guys are doing well. Probably not as much as I would like but, when I look at what we are capable of here, guys with good defense and good shooting, we can do some stuff.
Q: How has the young age of our team been an impact?
A: As a coach it’s a battle sometimes I need to be reminded about because I keep forgetting about how young we are.
Q: So is this a building year then?
A: It’s hard to look at when you’re in it,but no I think we’re in it competitively. It’s the kind of thing you won’t know until we’re out of and looking back on it.
Q: Anything else you have to add or want thrown out there?
A: We want everyone out there supporting us with these last few games. This is a very very special place and we appreciate what we have here.
After being at Villanova and Georgia Tech I see it’s something that often gets taken for granted. While you’re here doing it you may not notice it but afterwards it’s something you’re going to miss.
BRYAN DOMBROWSKI SPORTS EDITOR