It was a five-on-five scrimmage. George Mason freshman Earl Moore stood at the foul line, his team down by eight. His first shot rolled off the rim. "You've got to make these baskets," cried out Coach Joe Harrington.
"It's not all right to just make one of two. You've got to make them both."
Moore stared at the net. He set and shot. The ball hit the rim and bounced to the side. Harrington looked away. "Try two more."
Moments later, Moore's team set up a fast break. Senior Rob Rose took a pass and spotted Moore open on the wing. Looking away, Rose fired the ball toward Moore.
"Earl, watch it," Rose cried. Moore never saw it coming and the ball bounced off his leg out of bounds.
"It's a different game here in college than it was in high school," said Moore, a former All-Met player from Cardozo.
Moore led the Interhigh League in scoring his senior year, averaging 29.5 points. So far in 11 games at George Mason, the 6-foot guard is averaging 4.5 points in approximately 17.8 minutes of playing time per game as the Patriots' sixth man. Moore's high game came against Maryland, when he scored 13 points in an 81-80 loss.
"The great thing about Moore," said Harrington, "is that he's not intimidated by the importance of a game. He's played against the great players of the city all his life. So when he gets out on the court against someone now, it's all natural.
"More and more athletes are wanting to stay closer to home," Harrington added. "That's good for us. Being in the area was important to Earl. He's got a strong home life."
"He fits in great here," said Rose, who leads the Patriots with a 15.6-point average. "Even though he's just a freshman, everyone really likes him and he's earning respect where it counts, on the court."
For Moore, that's his favorite proving ground. Although his style of play hasn't changed, his actions on the court have. A perfect example occurred during the final eight minutes of a recent scrimmage.
With his team trailing by 10, Moore, except for a single layup, didn't shoot. He led the offense on every possession, but instead of trying to score, spent his time passing off and setting up teammates, a far cry from the player Cardozo Coach Henry Lindsey called "one of the best pure shooters I've ever coached."
"In high school, they were looking for me to shoot and shoot it well," said Moore. "Here, they aren't looking for that. On this team, there are a number of players who can shoot the ball. My job now is to get them the ball and let them fill it up."
Moore's teammates and coach say that the adjustment to the college game is the only barrier keeping Moore from matching his play in high school.
"I think right now, people are expecting too much of me," said Moore. "They've got to realize that I'm just a freshman and I've got a lot to learn. I can't just go down the court and score like in high school. This is college."
But then there are those moments such as against Maryland. "I was standing at the top of the key," he said. "Jeff Baxter was checking me. I put on a move and just slid right by him. Man, that reminded me a lot of high school.
"I loved basketball in high school and I love basketball in college," he said. "It's all the same to me -- just get out there and play."