Jan 29 / Rob

Ryan Pearson and the Patriots Top JMU

JMU fell to George Mason 89-79 at the Patriot Center yesterday. It was the Dukes’ millionth loss in a row to the Patriots. However, it was one of those games that was closer than the final score indicates. I thought it was over when A.J. Davis went to the bench with his 3rd foul before the 16 minute mark. The Dukes battled tough all day though and only down 4 with under 2 minutes when Ryan Pearson blocked a 3 point attempt by A.J. Davis. From that point on it was basically a free throw shooting contest. Mason knocked them down and went away with the win. Pearson was just too much for the Dukes all game. He poured in 29 and 15. JMU could do nothing to stop him. The guy is just a beast and is probably the best player in the conference. And you know how much I hate Mason, so I really don’t like admitting that.

Humpty Steps Up

We said that Andrey Semenov had a classic Semenov game in the win over William & Mary. Well, Humpty came to play yesterday and had a vintage Humpty performance. He was bruised, battered, and red hot from long range. Where as Semenov is at his best mixing it up with the other team, Humpty seems to get going when he’s bumped and bruised by the opposition. He had a brutal (yet completely clean) collision with Mike Morrison that sent him to the ground late in the first half. It only seemed to fire him up and focus him. He single-handely kept the Dukes in the game with his long range shooting before the break. With A.J. on the bench in foul trouble, Humpty picked up the slack for JMU. He dropped 27 points and 7 assists in a tireless effort. It was a great performance.

 Battle in the Paint

The battle in the paint wasn’t much of a battle at all. It was a bloodbath. Mason absolutely crushed the Dukes down low. I lost track of how many times JMU played solid D for 20-25 seconds, only to have a Mason player deliver the ball to a wide open teammate running the baseline. It was the story of the game. Mason showed tremendous patience and eventually had someone find space or create a match-up problem down low. And when the Patriots missed, they often grabbed the board and nailed the follow-up. They had 21 offensive rebounds. Enoch Hood has shown me enough that I think he could become a good CAA big man. Right now though, he and the Dukes just can’t compete with most CAA teams’ front lines. Gene Swindle is a big body, but his poor footwork and lack of lateral quickness are too much to overcome against guys like Pearson.

Let’s Go Streaking

The big CAA news of the day was that Towson notched a win over UNCW to snap their 41 game losing streak. That’s great for the Towson program and I’m legitimately excited for them. I’m also happy for the Dukes who now are spared any heartache from being the team to hand Towson their first win. JMU has a few streaks of it’s own to end though. In particular, JMU needs to stop the bleeding against Mason. JMU has lost 8 straight to their rivals. They’ve never beaten them under Matt Brady. On the positive side, A.J. Davis has scored in double figures in 10 straight games. He and Brady have struggled to connect at times, but he’s showing that he’s got ability to score against anyone in the league. And while I’m not sure he’ll keep it up for a Towson like 41 games, Semenov could easily rattle off 20 or 30 in a row with a tech. He’s the D.J. Bryant of JMU hoops. An effective player who’s good for handing the opposition a free pass almost every game.


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  1. Matt / Jan 29 2012

    I was at the game, and I think you’re speaking way too highly of AJ’s day. Humpty and Semenov appeared to be the only two who came to play (you take a jab a Semenov in your post, but the flagrant foul was a ridiculously bad call and was a major factor in the outcome of the game).

    AJ’s lazy defense parked him on the bench for almost the entire first half with three early fouls, and when he came back in for the second half, he was a non-factor. He made a couple threes, but he also missed three straight free throws late in the game when the Dukes were within 3-4 points (including the front end of a one-and-one). He had a couple crucial turnovers down the stretch as well (who exactly was he trying to throw that baseball pass to?).

    He didn’t cost us the game (our complete lack of any sort of inside presence did that), but he sure didn’t help matters. I can see why he drives Brady crazy.

  2. Jorge / Jan 29 2012


    Brady does have one victory over Mason, in his first year. It was the best game I’ve attended at the Convo.

  3. Rob / Jan 29 2012

    I said he’s shown that he can score against anyone in the league. How is that “speaking way too highly” of him? I’m not saying that the kid is All CAA or even a great player. I’m just saying that he’s got the talent to score. He does. I know he’s got plenty of room for improvement (like everyone else on this team), but he clearly can score the ball. It’s something to build on that’s all.

  4. Matt / Jan 29 2012

    Hitting the front end of a one-and-one with the game on the line (then hitting two more freebies the next trip down) would be considered “scoring”.

    Just not sure how anyone watching that game could take a shot a Semenov and come away saying AJ was or is a positivie because he “can score”. Semenov battled all game. AJ was watching.

  5. Rob / Jan 29 2012

    Matt, I didn’t say A.J. had a particular strong game or even try to imply that. I included the scoring comment as a “but” to the acknowledgement that Davis and Brady have struggled to connect. He has scored in double figures 10 straight games and is leading JMU in scoring through 22 games. To me, that means he’s proven he can score. If you believe that missing a few free throws or getting in foul trouble somehow proves that he can’t score, then so be it. And the entire paragraph was about streaks not necessarily yesterday’s game anyway.

    Regarding Semenov, I was just trying to make light of the fact that they guy has a reputation as a dirty player. Deserved or not, it means he rarely gets the benefit of the doubt from officials. So fouls like yesterday’s (which wasn’t particularly flagrant in my mind) end up being technicals. And it will probably happen again. I love the guy’s game, but his reputation does him no favor with refs.

    So I apologize if you wanted me to write the post differently and put more emphasis on the fact that A.J. Davis had a subpar game. There is plenty of crap being written about what’s wrong with this JMU team. I simply wanted to point out that despite all the bad that has happened, Davis has shown he can score. That’s at least something to build on right?

  6. Matt / Jan 29 2012

    Thanks for your heartfelt (I’m sure) apology, but it’s unnecessary. I didn’t “want” you to write the post in any particular way. I just thought you were singling out Semenov, when quite frankly he was one of two players who actually look like they want to be out there. That was a ludicrous flagrant foul call, aided by an Oscar-worthy performance by the green and gold douchebag.

    Perhaps I’m just bitter because I was talking Davis up to my non-JMU friends walking into the game, and spent the rest of the afternoon listening to their crap. Davis is starting to look to me to be a Julius Wells clone.

    On a positive note, I did forewarn my friends to expect to see lazy defense, poor shot selection and terrible rebounding. So at least I got that part right.

  7. Rob / Jan 30 2012

    Sorry about the sarcasm Matt. I just am sort of fed up with all the focus on the negative with this team. Yes, the guys have flaws. Each of them still bring something to the table though and for A.J. it’s an natural scoring ability. And don’t go crazy thinking he’s a Julius Wells clone. If you were bragging to your friends about him, then I assume it’s because you’ve witnessed some of his explosive moments. He’s also shooting 11% better from the field than Julius was. I feel bad about Wells’ health situation, but his shot selection was always suspect and his accuracy got worse every year since he’s been here. Maybe his health played a factor, but he never shot better than 36% from the field. A.J. is shooting a team leading 44% and has an eFG of 50%. He’s a better player.

  8. LD / Jan 30 2012

    I don’t think people would be so negative if the Dukes weren’t 259th in field goal percentage and 254th in rebounding. What i take from those stats (provided by ESPN) is that they take bad shots or just can’t shoot and then when they send up all those bricks they are to lazy to get to the boards. Rebounding = hustle. This team obviously sucks all off the above. If we won no games but they acted like the gave a crap I wouldn’t be so incensed. Towson a team that is 1-22 averages more 2 boards a game than JMU.

  9. Rob / Jan 30 2012

    LD, while JMU definitely struggles with rebounding, it’s one of the few things you could say Towson does relatively well. If you look at the tempo adjusted stats (which are more telling than per game averages), you’ll find that Towson has a 50.1% rebounding percentage. That’s 5th best in the CAA. JMU is an awful rebounding team and only grabs about 47% of available boards. That’s 2nd worst in the league. So I don’t disagree with you at all about JMU being bad on the boards. I think the tempo adjusted stats paint a clearer picture and add to your argument actually.

    And while they’ve always struggled defensively, they particularly struggle fouling the opposition. They foul more than any team in the CAA resulting in the opposition having a Free Throw Rate (=made free throws/field goal attempts) of 31.8%. That means they’re giving the opposition a lot of chances from the line. Combine that with the number of second chances they give up on the glass, and it can be a recipe for disaster.

    And yes, I realize the FTR stats above could result in Matt saying “That’s why A.J. had a bad game.” I get that. I never said or even implied that he had a good game. I just made mention of his scoring streak. He’s got definite holes in his game (lazy defensive footwork = fouls), but to me he’s shown he can score. If I wanted to discuss his individual game against Mason, i would have written about it. I didn’t.

    Finally, I’m not trying to be a stat geek or show off with numbers. I find the tempo-adjusted numbers to be very interesting. In this case, I think they supported LD’s argument, so I shared them.

  10. LD / Jan 30 2012

    Interesting perspective and good data. All of which underline the fact that they care about playing on the O side of the ball but have no interest is exerting the effort requireded to play good D. Where does one find “tempo adjusted stats”

    I guess we will see Sunday if you need go D to win championships… or a game against other mediocre bball teams in the CAA.

  11. Rob / Jan 30 2012

    Kenpom.com is a great source for stats, but it’s a pay site. Statsheet.com is a free alternative. Here is JMU’s page: http://statsheet.com/mcb/teams/james-madison/team_stats?type=all

    It’s got all the traditional per game averages, and tempo adjusted stats like efficiency, points per possession, etc listed right there. Check it out. It’s interesting.

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