Game 1: George Mason Patriots (21-14, 10-8) vs. Santa Clara (24-11, 9-7) – 10:00 EST – AXS.TV
The Patriots began their CBI run by declawing two Cougars. George Mason domesticated The College and Charleston and Houston mascot, and made those Cougars more like Charlie. In the semifinals, the men in green and gold defeated the Western Michigan Broncos.
Now they’ll try to buck another Bronco group. Santa Clara placed fourth in the always competitive West Coast Conference. SCU has tripled its win total from last season, when the Broncos were 0-16 in conference play. SCU averages 72.3 points per game. The Broncos attempt 21.7 3-pointers per game, and convert on 7.9 (28th nationally).
The Broncos are paced by All-WCC performers Kevin Foster and Marc Trasolini. The legendary fifth-year seniors were part of SCU’s CIT Championship team in 2011. Trasolini missed all of last season with an injury, and Foster missed the final 12 games resulting from a DUI charge.
The 6’2″ Foster is SCU’s all-time leading scorer by a wide margin. It’s impossible to summarize how good he is in a mere few paragraphs. So we’ll quote this:
“Kevin Foster may well go down as one of the greatest all-around players to ever compete in the West Coast Conference. One of just two players to score over 2,300 career points, Foster leads the WCC this year in steals and is No. 6 in assists. Foster has collected 2,355 points (second best in WCC history), 454 assists and 227 steals joining LMU’s Terrell Lowery as the only players in WCC history to accumulate more than 2,000 points, 400 assists and 200 steals (Lowery: 2,201 points, 689 assists and 231 steals). Foster is No. 2 nationally in active career points scored behind Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum (2,361) who is out for the season with a broken foot.”
Consult the Santa Clara record book with Steve Nash’s name all over it, and understand that Foster’s name will be even more prominent when the season concludes.
Foster has 301 three-point attempts this season, the fifth most among D-1 players. That’s more than Lamar’s entire team (188, by far the fewest attempted by any D-1 team) and the same number of attempts as the George Washington Colonials. He is SCU’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 311.
With 1,649 career points, Trasolini ranks eighth among SCU’s all-time leading scorers. His 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game are both career highs. He has 174 blocked shots in his career, the second most in school history.
As always, it’s important to look at the charity stripe. SCU averages 20.8 free throw attempts per game, and makes 15.4. The Broncos’ 73.9% mark from the foul line is good for 39th in D-1. The Broncos commit 19.7 fouls per game, so they’re foul-prone like the Patriots.
The Broncos’ best win (on paper) came on November 14th at St. Louis. They also won at Pacific on December 14th, and played well at Duke on December 29th. They went 0-6 against the top three teams in their conference (Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and Brigham Young).
George Mason’s best advantage seems to be its depth. We know the Patriots have numerous guys who can put the ball in the hoop, which could be good in a (potential) three-game series against a team that seems a bit top-heavy. Regardless, containing Foster, who has averaged a cool 30 points per game in the first three CBI games, won’t be an easy task.