The Washington Times - December 8, 2009, 10:25PM

You never know what a coach will say when he comes in after a one-point loss – especially after a game that really entirely different before and after the break.

But when George Mason coach Jim Larranaga sat down after 56-55 loss to Dayton, it was clear some deft analysis was on the way.

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“I think in most things in life, numbers tell a story if you know how to read the numbers,” Larranaga said.

(In the future life of D1scourse, that might just be a quote placed in a prominent place).

Anyway, the numbers were very telling for the Patriots. They got outrebounded (again). The committed 15 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.

And only two or three players could credibly say they had good offensive games.

“We need our upperclassmen – Mike [Morrison] and Ryan [Pearson] and Cam [Long] and even Ike [Tate] who started the last two games – to give us some numbers,” Larranaga said.

Let’s be certain of one thing – when a team goes 14:31 without a field goal, the numbers aren’t just lacking. They’re nonexistent.

Both Morrison and Pearson reached double figures in scoring in Mason’s first two games. The pair has taken turns going for 10 or more (it was Morrison’s tonight), but they haven’t both broken out on the same day in three weeks.

But that’s not the full scope of things. Mason’s starters scored 28 points, and three of them – Pearson, Tate and Andre Cornelius – were a combined 2-for-15 from the field. At 6-foot-9, Morrison managed only two rebounds.

Those stats, as Larranaga alluded to, tell a pretty remarkable tale.

“You look at a guy and he plays 10-to-15 minutes, he needs to get three or four points, two rebounds, an assist,” Larranaga said. “Something that contributes to the offensive end. A steal, a blocked shot. You can’t just be out there accumulating minutes and not producing numbers.”

Make no mistake: Mason has some interesting pieces, and chances are this team winds up being at least a pain and probably a top-four or top-five team in the CAA.

But the numbers don’t lie. Empty minutes aren’t going to cut it, and it’ll take four or five guys playing well as opposed to two or three if Mason is to make a run at something greater than simply a bye in the conference tournament.

Patrick Stevens