GMU's Edwards adjusting to starting role

GMU's Edwards adjusting to starting role
January 10, 2013, 1:15 am
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Being a good point guard is not simply about making the right plays but also anticipating the wrong ones. Heading into George Mason's home game against Old Dominion on Thursday, sophomore Corey Edwards is establishing himself as being rather adept at calling an audible.

Nearing the two-minute mark in last Saturday's back-and-forth game at William & Mary, the Patriots held a 65-61 lead and the ball. After rebounding an errant Tribe miss, the ball moved down court when a timeout was called. Not by George Mason coach Paul Hewitt, but rather by Edwards.

"I'm looking at him like why did you call a timeout," Hewitt explained. "He said I didn't think we were in a good play. Sure enough we get in the huddle, decided what were going to run. Ran, it scored, got fouled. Those are the types of things a point guard does."

The play ended with Sherrod Wright's 3-point score, capping a 7-0 run. The lead stayed above two-possession territory from there as George Mason snapped a two-game losing streak with the 73-66 win.

Wright once again carried the scoring load with a career-best 28 points. The only other Patriot in double figures, Edwards with 10 points, but it's his decision making powers have stood out to his coach. The New York native finished with five assists and one turnover against the Tribe.

Edwards gets to flash his heightened on-court awareness next against Old Dominion on Thursday (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network)

"It's almost like a really good quarterback coming to the line and seeing the play that he's in doesn't match up to his defense," Hewitt said. "He's aware enough not to try and force things, especially at that time of the game. He's aware enough to say 'hey, let's back off here. Let's make sure what we want to do here."

Edwards started the last six games since replacing Bryon Allen in the starting lineup on Dec. 4 against UMBC. Over the last two games, Edwards' natural floor leader skills have been evident with 12 assists - including a personal-best seven against Northeastern - with only two turnovers. Meanwhile he's made at least half his shots as a starter and 18 of 40 (60 percent) in that stretch.

"I think his shooting has improved, Hewitt said of Edwards. "He's worked extremely hard on in the offseason, but his point guard skills have always been there. He's been very steady over the last four to five games."

Hewitt said his rationale for starting Edwards had more to do with wanting to take pressure off Allen, whose scoring numbers dropped after a strong start to the season, but have rebounded as a reserve. Rather than simply have one of his primary ball handlers sub in for one another, Hewitt decided recently a new approach was in order.

"Actually for the first time against WIlliam & Mary - and you'll see it more - we put Bryon and Corey on the court together. I thought we were much quicker, much better defensively, got into transition better."

When it comes to making adjustments, like coach like point guard.

In its last season as a CAA member, Old Dominion (2-13, 0-3) is uncharacteristically in the conference basement. Per usual the Monarchs remain fierce on the boards, led by leading scorer and rebounder DeShawn Painter. Like George Mason, Old Dominion also owns a win over Virginia.

Should a play against the Monarchs appear unwise, at least the Patriots now their point guard is adept at changing the call.