Five observations from George Mason's 74-48 victory over Brown in the consolation bracket of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
- Pearson has more freedom and thriving. Under Jim Larranaga, Ryan Pearson was much more a low-post finisher. And for good reason. Larranaga had Cam Long and Luke Hancock to start things. Under Paul Hewitt, however, Pearson is playing more at the three and getting the ball in different spots. Most of his numbers are way up – points (20.8 from 14.2), rebounds (9.4 from 6.7), steals (1.8 from .9), and shooting (58.8 percent from 51.1).
- More from Mike Morrison. The 6-9 senior is averaging 7.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. “If you want to play at the next level, you can’t be a four, six guy,” Hewitt said. “You have to be a seven, eight, nine guy.” Hewitt says he expects Morrison to collect a rebound for every three minutes on the floor. He achieved that standard against Brown – 21 minutes, seven boards.
- Missing the point. Andre Cornelius is back for game 11. He’s a great on-the-ball defender, very disruptive, and a nice transition weapon. But making penetration and running an offense is not his deal. Sophomore Bryon Allen has struggled against quicker players, and is better suited as a swing reserve. Freshman Corey Edwards got his first start against Brown and showed explosion, but he has more turnovers (3.3 pg) than assists (2.8 pg) and is shooting only 29 percent. He’ll get better.
- Coping with potential. Six-foot-8, 245-pound freshman Eric Copes has shown ability to rebound (5.6 per game in 19.2 minutes) and defend (2.4 blocks per game), but scoring isn’t a strong suit. Has hit just four of 18 free throws. Will have to go a long way to become the low-post threat that space-eaters Darryl Monroe (6-7, 270) and Jai Lewis (6-7, 275) were.
- Winging it. This backcourt might not have enough balls for a talented trio of two guards. Freshman Vaughn Gray showed explosiveness against Brown, but could he get buried behind the more experienced duo of sophomores Vertrail Vaughns and Sherrod Wright? Both were instant offense types in their respective freshman seasons – Wright’s came in 2009-10 before shoulder surgery last year.