Creighton 72, George Mason 52
History lesson: Why is George Mason important to our country?
Mason is known by many as the “Father of the Bill of Rights,” and was one of George Washington’s closer friends. However, he fell out of favor with Washington and others of his time because he wouldn’t sign the Declaration of Independence, saying that among other things the Declaration did not include a declaration of rights. He eventually got his way, though, as the Bill of Rights that was ratified in 1791 was based on Mason’s original Virginia Declaration of Rights. Still, because he ticked off Washington (the Founding Father) and others during the process, he is relatively unknown among the rest of the Founding Fathers.
Current lesson: Why was Creighton’s game against George Mason so important?
While not as important as one of the great Americans in history, Creighton’s road game in Fairfax against a solid Patriots squad served as a measuring stick for Dana Altman, his coaching staff, and their players. Lose this early in the season to a senior-laden team projected to do well this season, and Altman could chalk it up as a lesson of how important defense and rebounding are to a successful basketball team. Win, and Bluejay Fever swells another degree, with a quality road win an early addition to what could become an NCAA tournament resume.
Well, they won. They won big. And they won with defense.
Creighton learned a couple of lessons against GMU: First, they grasped first-hand just how important rebounding is, especially if a team is a bit off their offensive game. Creighton shot 46% for the game, which is not a bad percentage. However, George Mason played suffocating defense at times, which kept Creighton from getting comfortable in many half-court sets during the course of the game.
However, while GMU’s Jai Lewis pulled down (almost) his weight in rebounds (275 lbs., 17 boards), the Jays finished the night deadlocked with the Patriots at 40 caroms a piece.
Second lesson: Even if an offense is struggling, a team can produce good looks in transition by playing suffocating defense. Why were there so many rebounds to be had? Because GMU only shot 29% for the game (26% in the second half).
Regardless of what Jays players learn from this victory, it should be evident to the newer faces on the CU bench that you can’t let up effort on one end of the court if things aren’t going your way on the other end. Road games are only going to get tougher as the season progresses, and it will take solid exertion in every aspect of the game to overcome lengthy travel, layovers, hostile crowds, and home cookin’ officials.
So, I hope the Jays enjoyed their lesson on the team’s trip to our nation’s capitol. Oh, and I hope you learned a little bit about George Mason (the American leader).
(Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!)
Behind the Box Score
- Glancing at the box score, it would appear that Nate Funk didn’t have his best game as a Jay. After missing just a few shots total in the two exhibition games and the season-opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the senior came back to earth a bit with a 12 point performance (6-14 from the field, 0-2 from 3pt. land).
However, just because he isn’t scoring doesn’t mean he isn’t the leader of this team on the court. Funk played a team-high 29 minutes, played solid defense, grabbed 6 rebounds, and played through some tough contact to his oft-sore left shoulder. He absolutely brings it every night, regardless if his shot is falling or not.
- Neither part of Jeffony Tolliday played exceptionally well on the offensive end of the floor, and GMU’s Lewis more than quadrupled the rebounding total of Jeff Day and Anthony Tolliver. However, Day and Tolliver didn’t force anything that the Patriots weren’t giving the duo – only 1 turnover in a combined 36 minutes of play, along with only 6 shot attempts between the two of them. This fast-paced, up and down action was geared more for both teams’ guards, and that’s exactly what happened.
- Speaking of guard play, two of the newcomers at that position helped make all the difference in the final outcome. Youngster Josh Dotzler played the second-most of anyone on the team (27 minutes), was 3-4 from the field (including 2 big three-pointers), and added 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. A true freshman. In his first road game. Against a team with veteran guards and an attacking defense. I wasn’t lying when I said I would take Dotzler over any point guard in the Missouri Valley Conference right now.
Combo guard Nick Porter also did some good things against GMU. He used his big body to drive to the low blocks, create contact, score in the paint, and go to the free-throw line (a team-high 6 free-throw attempts). We heard fans, players, and coaches raving about the possibilities of this kid last year while he sat out an injury; let’s hope he continues to get better with each game he plays.
- Since we’ve named all of the other leading scorers, we can’t forget Mr. Energy, Johnny Mathies (Funk, Mathies, and Porter all recorded 12 points). He was perfect from the free-throw line, led the team in rebounds (7 boards), collected 4 steals, and dished 3 assists. Sure, he takes a few ill-advised shots here and there, but you’ve got to bet that Altman feels comfortable with Mathies firing away. A solid effort by the senior on the road.