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2010-2011 Season Preview Part II: The Sophomores

George Mason Basketball: 2010-2011 Season Preview Part II: The Sophomores

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010-2011 Season Preview Part II: The Sophomores

As we countdown to Mason Madness and the official start to the season, we will be taking a look at this year's 2010-2011 George Mason squad on a class by class basis. Feel free to chime in to praise or tear apart my analysis if you see fit.

Previous Previews:
Part I: The Freshmen

The 2009 recruiting class contains almost an entire starting line-up of the future, or so we hope.  The group of six, including redshirt freshmen Vertrail Vaughns and Paris Bennett brings a wide variety of talents to the squad. These guys are really the future of the team and their development this year will be crucial to the team's future success in the CAA.  Luke Hancock and Sherrod Wright saw the most action but Johnny Williams and Rashad Whack should be more involved this season. This group gives the team depth in all areas and a lot of high energy. With a full year of Coach Larranaga's defensive scheme under their belts this group should be very much improved over last season.

Luke Hancock
Luke Hancock was a pleasant surprise to Mason fans last season, but definitely no surprise to the coaching staff.  His extra year prepping at Hargrave Military Academy did wonders for his transition to division I basketball.  A lot of his contributions don't show up on the stat sheet but he there were so many times he looked like a seasoned veteran, especially late in important games.  His late game dunk to power the Patriots to victory over Creighton was probably one of his best moments last season, the kid has no fear. Apparently he's been working on his three-point shooting, which was good percentage wise last season (.324) but he needs to not shy away from the perimeter shots.  He's also an unselfish player, which I am sure Larranaga loves, and at times last season you would have thought he was the team's point guard or "point forward". Hancock is kind of a jack of all trades player every good team needs, who doesn't do anything particularly great but does many things well (think Gabe Norwood). Hancock will log a lot of minutes this season and although I think he's better as a 6th man I wouldn't be surprised if he finds himself in the starting lineup at times this season.

Sherrod Wright
The 2010-2011 doesn't exactly start off with great news as we found out last month that Sherrod Wright will be out for the season. The coaching staff isn't going to say much about it, because frankly they don't have to, redshirts are not named until the end of the season.  Barring any unforseen circumstances we won't see Wright this season because even after successful arthroscopic shoulder surgery he's got months of rehabilitation ahead of him.  The only chance we could possibly see him this season would be if at the end of the year the team is devastated by injury and basically the coaching staff just needs the extra body to compete but even that is a long shot given that he will be eligible for a medical redshirt and not lose a year of playing. It's really a shame because I would have predicted Wright to break out this season scoring wise and be a large part of the Patriots offense. He has the skills to beat you in a variety of ways but on defense he was exposed a bit at the beginning of last season.  Although I think Mason will miss his scoring ability this year, an extra season of him and Bryon Allen in the same backcourt will be something fans will grow to love.

Johnny Williams
Before last season started I would have thought Johnny Williams would see more minutes because he has the big body frame the team was lacking.  He didn't quite produce in the rebounding area in the limited action he saw last season which is an area he can really help this team.  Aside from his season high 18 points against College of Charleston we didn't see much of him but we did see that the talent is there when given the chance. Last year senior Louis Birdsong kept Williams on the bench, which fans didn't like, but Birdsong was a veteran in Coach L's system and a better post defender.  This year look for Williams to be used more off the bench in what hopefully amounts to a solid three-forward rotation between he, Pearson, and Morrison.  Rebounding and low-post defense will get him on the court more and let's hope it happens sooner rather than later because this team's depth at the post player position is shallow. The Patriots need him to be a physical presence in the middle this season.

Rashad Whack
Rashad Whack is not a name you heard a lot of last season either, except when the Washington Post revealed that he injured himself last January slipping in the shower.  The injury to his shoulder kept him out for a little bit in January and February last season but still was able to log some minutes in the Patriots crowded shooting guard spot.  Back in the beginning of the year he started in place of Andre Cornelius against Villanova in one of the best games we saw the Patriots play. He will need to show the coaching staff he can routinely hit the outside jumper if he wants to earn more minutes this season and Sherrod Wright's absence might provide him with more time to showcase himself.  The Patriots need him to come off the bench and help defend the CAA's top guards, which is another area he could excel in this year to see more time.

Paris Bennett
It's tough being injured your freshman year but Paris Bennett at least got some minutes in before getting hurt and ultimately earning a medical redshirt. Bennett has a tough task ahead of him this year trying to battle with Luke Hancock and a bunch of other talent on this team for minutes.  He's a true small forward on this team but mostly played power forward in high school. While lanky he doesn't really have the muscle to bang on the inside and I'm not sure he has the perimeter game to play successfully at the off forward position.  I compare him a lot to Louis Birdsong as being somewhat of a "tweener" meaning he's a between two positions kind of player.  Paris is not a selfish player and his athleticism, hustle and ability to run the floor well could get in him more involved this season.

Vertrail Vaughns
We already know he can dance, but how much will we see of him this season? Vertail Vaughns suffered the same setbacks Paris Bennett did last year injuring his wrist after only playing six games and now faces a tough challenge of competing for minutes against a crowded roster of combo guards.  He brings a solid mid-range game, quickness and the ability to create well in open space but I think he will hard pressed for minutes this season with the addition of true freshman Bryon Allen.  Vaughns made a name for himself in high school as a stellar passer and great facilitator for his teammates.  This could give him an edge over some of the guards on this roster but you can't help but remember he turned over the ball seven times in the last 19 minutes we saw him play last season. There's a lot of talent ahead of him at the guard position so I don't think he will get much action this season but after Cam Long and Isaiah Tate graduate there will be opportunity for him.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny Williams should be much improved this season, hopefully he can be a rebounding force off the bench

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I agree about Hancock being better off the bench. I'm really excited to see what he can do this season.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Darren J. Costa said...

Chances Byron Allen starts? Or is he more fitted for a 6th man off the bench type of role?

Potential depth chart?
1 - Cornelius, Allen
2 - Long
3 - Tate, Hancock
4 - Pearson
5 - Morrison, Arledge

3:02 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...


No way Allen is starting at the beginning of the season. He'll get his chances though during the season because guys like Cornelius and Tate aren't set in stone as starters. Defensively he won't be better than the other guards to start and it will take some time for him to transition.

Luke Hancock and him will be the first ones off the bench though.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya'll wanna win put Lukey in!!!!! Hancock should be a made guy this year!

- Bolly

1:11 PM  

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