HARRISONBURG — James Madison University’s men’s basketball coach Lou Rowe likes the identity of his team, but he wishes they didn’t have to utilize it in the ways they have been doing this season.
Rowe said that the identity of his team has been toughness, and they’ve showed that all season in trying to come from behind in games.
“We’ve played a lot of games this season where we’ve gotten down and fought back,” Rowe said Tuesday in his weekly news conference. “This team’s really tough. We’re going to fight back, we’re going to fight back. But you got to start winning some games. But at our core that’s who we are. That’s the way we practice. That’s the way we compete.”
The Dukes are 2-5 this season. They had mixed results last week. JMU defeated Appalachian State University, 105-99 in overtime, on Nov. 22. The Dukes lost in the final seconds to Radford University, 69-68, last Saturday.
Rowe said the biggest thing he wants from his team at this point is just finding consistency. He said that the Dukes have found different ways of losing each of their games this season.
“I think we have to be more consistent,” Rowe said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball. We got to be good in transition defense. And we got to rebound the basketball. And if we can be solid in those categories — it’s not enough just to be tough.”
The Dukes were outrebounded for the first time this season in the loss to Radford.
Radford won the game on a layup with six seconds left. Rowe said that the Dukes didn’t box out on a Radford missed free throw with 27 seconds left, which the Highlanders rebounded and then made a 3-pointer to cut the JMU lead to one.
“That’s not about toughness, that’s about focus,” Rowe said of the rebound. “We gave them a second possession. We’re finding ways to lose games in a bunch of different categories. What we have to do is be more solid and be more consistent.”
LEADING THE WAY: JMU redshirt junior guard Stuckey Mosley has been the team’s top scorer this season.
The transfer from the University of Toledo is averaging 17.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Rowe said Mosley has been very important to the team early in the season.
“We knew we were going to need him to score,” Rowe said. “And honestly I’ve talked about this in the past, I thought he wasn’t being aggressive enough early on. But we need him to be an aggressive scorer. We need him for his offense.”
Mosley has 11 steals, tied for second on the team, and is averaging 2.1 assists per game.
He leads the team in 3-pointers, making 18-of-42 attempts (42.9 percent).
Rowe said that Mosley is a very even-keeled player, but he would like to see him in attack mode offensively more often for the Dukes.
Rowe said that it’s great having a player like Mosley who the team can turn to if they need points late in a game.
“He averaged 11 points a game at Toledo,” Rowe said. “So it’s great to to be able to have a guy who’s done it at a Division 1 level, that you can be confident in. And the other guys can feed off of him.”
OLD RIVALRY RENEWED: JMU hosts George Mason University at 7 p.m. tonight.
The Patriots used to be conference rivals with JMU. George Mason is 3-3 on the season, including a 72-61 road loss to Louisville.
“Obviously, it’s that old CAA rivalry,” Rowe said. “They beat us last year in overtime. I love their play. I really respect their coach. Their style of play is a style that you have to be prepared for. They have some guys that can do multiple things. They can dribble it. They can pass it.”
The Dukes will be looking for a balanced scoring attack against the Patriots. Mosley, senior point guard Joey McLean and freshman guard Matt Lewis are each averaging in doubles figures for the Dukes this season.
McLean is averaging 16.1 points and a team-best 2.7 assists per game. Lewis, who was named the CAA Freshman of the Week on Monday, is averaging 10.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per contest.
Goanar Mar leads the Patriots, averaging 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. The trio of Otis Livingston (14.8 points per game), Jaire Grayer (13 points and 7.8 rebounds per game) and Ian Boyd (10.7 points per contest) add scoring punch to the Patriots.
George Mason head coach Dave Paulsen is in his second year with the Patriots.
Rowe said the Patriots will provide a big test to his young squad.
“If you have a breakdown defensively, they’re going to exploit it,” Rowe said. “So it’s a really big challenge for us to play a team like that.”