Who knew there'd still be a use for this song after the spring of 1992? "Some say I've got a bad attitude, but that don't change the way I feel about GMU..."
The silly thing is I was beginning to wonder yesterday if I was just going through the motions with this whole disliking George Mason thing. Tony Skinn and the Great Screw Job will be four years old this spring, Skinn and his teammates are long gone, etc etc.
I’m sure, for every jackass who yells “TONY SKINN!!!!” during a game, there’s 10 perfectly reasonable fans. I even attended the game in Fairfax with four of those reasonable folk—two of whom are, like me, out-of-work sports writers with nary a clue what to do next and a third of whom had to finally leave the business he loved for something with, you know, a future. Tear off our alumni sweatshirts and our broken hearts all beat the same, or some philosophical crap like that.
Plus, how long can I really come up with new and hopefully amusing ways to express my contempt of Jim Larranaga and Tom O’Connor? At some point, I figured, it loses its luster and its edge, like a TV show that has gone on for too long (I’m looking at you, 24!), and maybe that time had come. We should never forget 2006 and we should always want to see Hofstra beat Mason 198-2, but how can you hate forever?
Turns out it’s pretty goddamn easy.
And I know exactly when I decided I could hate forever: Ryan Pearson figured it was pretty cool to hit a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left and Mason up 16 in its 90-72 victory last night.
This is no walk-on jacking threes because he’s excited to get some rare run in the final minute of a blowout. This is Ryan Pearson, who was one of three starters still on the court for Mason in the last couple minutes, despite that vaunted 11-man rotation at Larranaga’s disposal. And it would have been four if Mike Morrison hadn’t fouled out.
“That’s Mason,” Tom Pecora said afterward. “Their reputation precedes them.”
This is also the same Pearson, by the way, who was mouthing off to the Hofstra dance team throughout the second half. We sat right behind the home basket and we saw it happen, multiple times. Wonder no more why Pearson—who was suspended earlier this season for stealing hotel pillows, snicker snicker snort snort—somehow eluded the grasp of Pecora despite being from Long Island. It was no accident.
I know the response from the leather lungs: Mason wasn’t breaking any laws shooting threes that late. If you don’t want to lose by 18, play better. You sound like the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, it wasn’t cool when Northeastern dunked in the final seconds of a 25-point win over Mason 13 days ago and this isn’t the NFfreakingL, but I digress.
(And if you don’t like what I’m writing, a.) thanks for reading and b.) you can tell me how much I suck via email or Twitter. My favorite critic last night, by the way, was the Mason grad who misspelled Hofstra and said I’m an example of why not everyone should have a blog. If it makes you feel any better, guy, Corporate America agrees with you)
It’s crap, or a more appropriate four-letter word that serves as a synonym for crap, and it’s a classless act symbolic of the program. We know now that 2006 wasn’t an aberration—one thug taking out his frustration on a defenseless and innocent opponent. We now know what Mason is under Larranaga: A win-at-all-costs bully for whom winning big is not enough.
As one Hofstra athletic staffer said to me last night: In the end, it all evens out and it all comes out in the wash. And that’s why we want to see Hofstra beat Mason, and why nights like Tuesday are so goddamn frustrating even before Pearson drains a three in the final minute of a blowout.
Because the most maddening thing of all is we KNOW Mason gets the last word. That stupid flipping Final Four banner is hanging at the Patriot Center, and it doesn’t matter how the Patriots got it—doesn’t matter who punched who or who “wasn’t in the room when Mason’s candidacy was discussed”—they got it.
They’ve got the lazy national media eating out of their hand and on the search for the Next Mason, the next cuddly underdog story it can spoon feed the masses. Nobody wants to know, Mason fans least of all, that the cuddly underdog is a gangly mutt who bites and kicks and craps all over the rug.
But we know the truth. That and a ticket to a Hofstra game gets us a view of the 2006 NIT banner. Crap.
All we’ve got is one or two games a year, one or two games a year in which we can’t get back that NCAA Tournament berth that was stolen via backroom politicking but in which we can hope to glean a little bit of satisfaction from watching the smug smile disappear from Larranaga’s face.
Except it never happens. Hofstra beat Mason more in an 11-day span in 2006 than it has in the 1,416 days since. Last night’s loss was the Dutchmen’s fifth in a row to Mason, and every one has been a kick in the nuts. There will be no reliving the gory details, because if you’ve read this far, you either endured the losses with me or would take great pleasure in reading about them.
And so we hang on to believing in karma and cling to the theory that everything will even out and come out in the wash, because, well, what else can we do?
“I’m a big man,” Pecora said. “I know how to take a beating and I know how to give one. It’s a round world.”
Can’t wait for it to finally look spherical.