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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: October 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Players talk about how their practices are going so far this year

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

George Mason basketball radio broadcasts will be a little different this year

The school announced last week that they will be releasing a GoMason Mobile app for streaming audio of basketball games this season. The broadcast will not be on any other local station such as 106.7 The Fan,  ESPN 980, or even a smaller AM platform.  This decision might have been a cost issue as it is pricey for a school like Mason to have play-by-play on the local radio airwaves. I don't think this will be a negative issue because most fans listen through internet streaming as it is and the only difference would be not being able to listen to broadcasts on your car's radio.  And since almost everyone has a smartphone these days I don't see this affecting that many people.  

Bill Rohland will be back as the play-by-play guy but could be doing a few games solo this season as color analyst and Mason alum Ric Wilson has taken another job and won't be able to make all the games. I'm told the color commentary at this point is basically TBD so we will have to wait and see. However WGMU Radio, the school's own student run radio station, has announced that they will be an official streaming partner for the men's basketball games and will be broadcasting every game. Streams will be available on their website.

The schools says it will be releasing a full press release today, so hopefully that will shed more light on the subject.

UPDATE 10/27:

The school has an official press release today regarding the GoMason Mobile app. The key features of the app include:
• Radio broadcast of all men's basketball games
• Radio broadcast of all women's home basketball games
• Broadcast of pre and post-game shows
• New video features
• Social network capabilities
• Team rosters, calendar and game schedules
• Access to Mason promotions and online store for merchandise and tickets
I have to applaud the athletic department for making a bold move like this as it can really help connect fans and alumni more to Mason basketball. The "social media tools" feature could be something cool for Mason fans if implemented correctly with cool in-game features. And the ability to listen to a half-time show from your seats at the Patriot Center is going something I'm sure fans will love.

No word yet on whether Ric Wilson will still be doing a few games as color analyst or if Bill Rohland will be doing all the broadcasts himself. I would think a replacement color analyst could soon be in the works.

The launch of this app and the election to not have a tradition radio broadcast shows that George Mason is definitely backing up it's slogan of being a school "Where Innovation is Tradition".


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jonathan Arledge a little banged up from Mason Madness dunk contest?

With Sherrod Wright already being lost for the season the last thing Mason fans want to hear is more injury news. Our friends over at CAA Full Court Press got word from Coach Larranaga that Mason "only had 8 players healthy for practice last Sunday". Meanwhile, David Driver, who writes for has an article today where he mentions the injury to freshman forward Jonathan Arledge:
Arledge was injured on the first day of practice, during March Madness, most likely while dunking in an exhibition for fans, according to Mason coach Jim Larranaga. Arledge was one of the top players for Mason on a four-game tour of Italy in August. “He should be a factor, if he stays healthy,” said Larranaga
Haven't received word back from the coaching staff but I've since read it's his knee. I don't think it's anything serious, but you never want to see a freshman lose prep time just before the season.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

George Mason to scrimmage Richmond October 30th

Just received an email update from assistant coach Eric Konkol that Mason will travel to Richmond October 30 for a scrimmage. For the past couple of seasons Mason has had a "closed scrimmage" against Georgetown, meaning no one but the coaches and players could be there to watch. Perhaps the team sought out a new opponent for this preseason tune-up considering they could end up playing Georgetown in the Charleston Classic this November, but I could be reading too much into it. Either way I'm sure neither team wanted the other coaching staff to get a preseason look at their teams for this upcoming season just in case. Richmond had a great season last year making the NCAA tournament (#7 seed) and winning 26 games.  They have one of the best guards in the country in Kevin Anderson and will be an excellent team for the coaching staff to evaluate players against before the season begins.


Wednesday Links

With the season just around the corner the news coverage will start to roll in more. I know that not everyone follows me on twitter (@gmuhoops) so I'll post them here as well:
  • GMU looks to count on Cam Long for another big season []
  • CAA Basketball: It's a Three-Horse Race by Patrick Stevens [CSN Washington]
  • Assistant Coach Chris Caputo talks about mid-major scheduling and playing on TV []
  • "George Mason will be playing point-guard-by-committee, with Cam Long, Andre Cornelius, Isaiah Tate (correction: Hancock) and Bryon Allen fighting for the #1 spot." [@CAA_FCP]
  • Old-school Edwards finds new school in George Mason [New York Post]
  • UNCW's beat writer Brian Mull's CAA coverage of media day [Starnewsonline]
  • "Jim Calhoun talking about most disappointing loss of his career: George Mason" [@ManthonyCourant]

Is Corey Edwards the Old-School Point Guard Larranaga Needs?

The commitment from Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray last weekend has some Mason fans questioning the team's future depth at forward.  I think that at this point that is a minor issue because with mid-major squads like George Mason your life blood is your guards, especially point guards.  Point guards to mid-majors are like franchise quarterbacks to NFL teams, if you get a chance to get a guy that fits your system perfectly you cannot pass him up. The NY Post had an article the other day on Edwards describing him as a "throwback" and a "pure point guard". His high school coach says "he is big on loyalty and loves to defend", something that must be music to Coach Larranaga's ears.  

Although I have been suggesting that freshman Bryon Allen is the future at point guard, his talents might be better suited at the 2 or 3 spot in the eyes of the coaching staff. After listening to Coach Larranaga tell me about his versatility and ability to guard small forwards yesterday I think it's possible Allen could be more a Cam Long type player in the future than the team's go to point guard.  Larranaga also said yesterday that the point guard position is basically up for grabs and that Long, Tate, Cornelius, and Allen will be fighting for the spot. Not something that is encouraging to hear when the team is expected to be atop the CAA this season but again it shows why the team went after Corey Edwards so hard.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Interview with Jim Larranaga from CAA Media Day

CAA Media Day was a fun experience and I wish I could have stayed longer. The predictions and All-CAA teams have been announced and Patriots are picked to finish second behind ODU which is where I am sure most fans would have had them.  Senior Cam Long was named to the preseason All-CAA 1st team as well, showing that again the expectations are high for him from the media. Also junior Ryan Pearson was an honorable mention.

I was able to get a short interview with Jim Larranaga during the media frenzy. It was cut short because he was  being summoned in the background as I was talking to him but I still got about 4 min of audio. I knew going in I couldn't ask the questions I really wanted to so I kept it relatively simple. It's hard to get anything "good" out of Larranaga but I was happy with his answers and hope I don't sound too much like a blind homer fanboy.

Here is the audio:

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Team announces 2010-2011 TV schedule and GoMason Mobile

Happy CAA media day fans! The gifts come early as Mason has announced their TV schedule for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. The Patriots home opener against Harvard is set for 4 pm on Saturday November 13. The lineup includes presumably 14 TV appearances: 6 on Comcast Sportsnet, 4 on MASN, and the potential to be on ESPN's family of networks 4 times if all goes well. The great thing about the schedule is there doesn't appear to be any Sunday games that conflict with most fans NFL viewing needs.

Along with the TV times, Mason is also announcing something called "GoMason Mobile" which allows for fans to listen to Mason games on their iPhone, Blackberry, or Android phone. No word on whether it's just for Mason home games or for all games but still a nice thing to look forward, especially since it's free.  However it is only audio so your dreams of watching Mason basketball games and still not missing a trip to grandma's is still not quite possible without a slingbox or something.


Monday, October 18, 2010

NY Daily News article on Corey Edwards

Mark Lelinwalla of the NY Daily News has an article today on Corey Edwards and his commitment to George Mason. In the article Lelinwalla states that Edwards is widely known as the "best pure point guard in the city" and that the only reason he fell off some of the bigger schools recruiting radars is because of his dislocated foot which happened during a freak accident at a practice last March. This coupled with a shoulder injury his freshman year might have scared off some but not Coach Larranaga:
"I definitely think schools were saying that I was damaged goods or injury prone, but George Mason was there no matter what, since my freshman year," said Edwards, who chose the Colonial Athletic Association program over Fordham, Hofstra, St. John's and UNLV. "They've always stuck around," Edwards added. "(Coach Jim) Larranaga said, ‘You could have a concussion right now and I'll offer you"
Larranaga and his staff's loyalty might really pay off in this one as Edwards was definitely impressed by the team's commitment to him throughout his high school career. It's also very reassuring to see that Larranaga that with this pickup, is starting to develop a "New York City pipeline":
"Their coaches have been there a long time and are consistent with what they try to do, like we are," Arbitello (Edwards HS coach) said. "They have a New York City pipeline with Christ the King, Mount Vernon and St. Patrick."
The injuries to Edwards scare me a bit, as we have seen how often they can happen at the college level (i.e. Paris Bennett, Vertrail Vaughns, and Sherrod Wright) you hate to see a guy come in who might have durability issues but from what I'm reading it's a risk that is worth taking for Larranaga and his staff.


We will be live from CAA Media Day tomorrow

Tomorrow the CAA is holding it's annual media day for men's and women's basketball and coahces from all 12 schools will be available for interviews. We have our media credentials approved and ready and will try to provide as much content as possible. Not gonna promise an exclusive Jim Larranaga interview but I am hoping to get some questions answered with the Mason coaching staff. You can follow me live tomorrow on Twitter (@gmuhoops) for live pictures, video and other updates. The conference this season is doing a much better job of getting the fans involved by having a live webcast where anyone can send in questions. 

Sherrod Wright's Video Diary from Mason Madness

The Gomason Blog let Sherrod Wright record a video diary from Friday night's Mason Madness. Caution, some parts might make you dizzy:


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray commit to George Mason

ESPN is reporting that recruit Vaughn Gray has committed to George Mason and Coach Larranaga today. Gray is a 6'5" SG/SF from St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey and does a lot of things well. He seems like he will be a wing player in Coach L's system proving athletic versatility to a position he will most likely share with Luke Hancock and Paris Bennett. It was reported earlier that Siena was high on Gray's list so his visit to Mason Madness Friday night must have sealed the deal.

Here are some quotes from ZagsBlog:
"It fits all my needs,” he said. “I just felt comfortable there. It was a great academic school. I love the area. I got family down here. My aunt lives down here. I just feel like I love the team, the atmosphere. I felt comfortable with Coach [Jim] Larranaga and I felt it was a great opportunity for me.”

UPDATE: Corey Edwards has also committed to George Mason today. Edwards is a PG from Christ the King in New York, the same high school Ryan Pearson attended so no doubt he played a role in the Patriots getting this commitment. This verbal from Edwards means the team won't be getting PG Shane Larkin who was at Mason Madness Friday night also. If I'm not mistaken the team only had two scholarship offers to give.

Here is a quote from Edwards from Zagsblog about his visit:
"I liked the whole atmosphere, the crowd, the team, the coaches,”

Also Gray and Edwards have actually played together before:
As for playing with Edwards, Gray added: “That’s my man. We knew each other for a long time, playing at New Heights and with the Playaz. We definitely had a relationship.” 


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baseball legend Barry Larkin and hoops prospect son Shane attend Mason Madness

Shane Larkin, who is son of former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, has been on Larranaga and his staff's radar for some time as a highly touted prospect. Shane and his father (pictured above) where present last night at Mason Madness along with several other recruiting prospects. Most fans don't know this but the whole Midnight Madness tradition around college hoops these days has a lot to do about recruiting. Schools get to showcase the type of atmosphere the recruits can expect if they commit to the program. It can end up being an important visit for schools before the November signing period.

As for the Madness itself there was a pretty good crowd, the GoMason Blog has a recap including behind the scenes video footage. For those who weren't there Luke Hancock joined the junior team for the dunk contest and stole the show. Bryon Allen's dunks were still pretty sick though. Mike Morrison was his usual vibrant self and definitely looks more bulked up when I saw him up close.

Thanks to @mkaufman1 for sending in the photo.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

2010-2011 Season Preview Part IV: The Seniors

As we countdown to Mason Madness tonight 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:

In our last part of this year's season preview we take a look at the team's only two seniors Cam Long and Isaiah Tate.  These two were leaders last season with Louis Birdsong being the only senior and now that he is gone their leadership qualities will have more weight.  Both are starters although Tate saw his minutes diminished a little towards the end of the regular season.  Coach Larranaga always leans on his seniors and his best teams always had a strong presence from these upperclassmen.  Cam Long is obviously the team's most important player and last year he tried to do too much with a very young squad, this year some of the pressure should be off with emerging talents developing.  He has the ability to carry the team on his back but the team can't rely on that every night if they want to win in the CAA, consistent support for his teammates will be needed.

Cam Long
Cam Long led the team in scoring, assists, free throw percentage, and steals last year but suffered at times from being surrounded by inconsistent efforts from his teammates.  He ended the season last year on a bad note averaging only 6.8 points in the last 6 games and was suspended for team's postseason CIT disaster against Fairfield for "not meeting team responsibilities". Not exactly how you want your leaders performing but last year is over and done and I'm sure these guys are ready to move on and learn from their mistakes over that time.  Long has to lead the way on this or the team will have another roller-coaster year. During the season I wrote about how important he was to the team's success and although it's not critical he scores more points this season, his efforts of getting other players involved will.  Dishing out 3.1 assists a game may have led the team last year but it's just not good enough, they were 11th in the CAA in that category. This goes back to the point of the team not having a true point guard but until someone like Bryon Allen takes the reigns in that area they need more from guys like Cam. The Patriots don't need him to score 20 or even 15 points a game to win but they need a solid leader in the back court who won't turnover the ball and will get the surrounding talent more involved throughout the game.  Long is still the team's star player hands down but the fate of the season won't rest on his shoulders. However it would be nice to see more of these this season.

Isaiah Tate
Although Isaiah Tate started 23 games last season he will fight with a crowded back court for minutes this season.  The young talent on this roster for the upcoming season is strong at the guard position even with Sherrod Wright being out.  Aside from shooting guard he can play the 3 spot, more of a small forward type role, but Luke Hancock also plays well there and can handle the ball better.  Tate was inconsistent last season leading to a couple DNPs and him playing all of two minutes in the team's only CAA tournament game against VCU.  I still believe Larranaga doesn't use him properly at times and maybe he could have been a better three-point sniper for the team if given the opportunity. Another example of this is Vlad Moldoveanu who transferred out of Mason after a year in Coach L's offense and then went on to average 18.1 points and shoot .387 on three-pointers at American. Tate however was brought in to be that next great three-point shooter at Mason like Lamar Butler and Dre Smith but he never really took off and still has trouble creating his own shot. Tate could end up how Louis Birdsong did last year mostly because the younger talent on the squad keeps him off the court. Something I am sure won't bother most fans.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bill Rohland previews this year's Mason Madness

George Mason basketball radio play-by-play announcer Bill Rohland asks the players and coaches their thoughts on tomorrow's Mason Madness


What It Feels Like to Be Dunked on By Mike Morrison

From the GoMason Blog


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010-2011 Season Preview Part III: The Juniors

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
Part II: The Sophomores

Although Cam Long is probably the single most important player on this year's squad, the junior class as a whole is most likely going to be the biggest factor that determines the team's success for 2010-2011.  This 2008 recruiting class entered the Patriot Center two years ago as KRAM and last year were crowned the team's "super sophomores" and even had their own special on Comcast. But KRAM is not just down to RAM as the "K", Kevin Foster, has left George Mason and he will be playing for Fresno State this year after spending some time at Central Florida community college. Foster was a ghost for most of January and the beginning of February last season but had a few flashes of his talent on display. But ultimately ended the season by being mostly absent from the box score and didn't even play in the CIT game against Fairfield. Foster seemed to be very versatile forward and I know the coaching staff was high on him.

The rest of the 2008 recruiting class, which counted for more than 44% of the team's scoring last season, will most likely be counted on more this year.  Forwards Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison are poised to put up big numbers inside but need to be more aggressive on the boards.  Andre Cornelius was wildly inconsistent but proved he's the team's leading three-point shooting threat going .433 from behind the arch. 

Ryan Pearson
Ryan Pearson was the Patriots' most consistent player last season and proved he can score in a variety of ways, including the perimeter.  He's the latest left-handed big man in the Larranaga school of post players and has the ability to carry the team on his back when he has to.  With more support from Mike Morrison and Johnny Williams on the glass he should be in line for a big year production wise and will be the team's #1 inside scoring threat. Also Pearson's ability to out rebound taller, bigger players makes him a huge asset on this roster. Other teams find him difficult to guard but he will need to work on staying out of foul trouble late in games.  Look for Mason to try to isolate Pearson down low for scoring opportunities like they used to do with Will Thomas.  

Mike Morrison
Mike Morrison is probably the team's most electric player and like Pearson last season solidified himself as one of the better post players in the CAA.  His rebounding efforts and defense improved last season but his emotions when it comes to foul trouble and free-throwing shooting still got the better of him at certain times. Suspensions like last year's just can't happen again and hopefully he's matured a bit since then. There were moments when Morrison seemed dominant in the front court and Mason needs to get him involved in the offense early and often this year.  Morrison and Pearson will complement each other well in the low post but both need to stay out of foul trouble because their isn't much depth on the bench with Louis Birdsong now gone.  I think Morrison has the potential to be a 14 point 8 rebound a night kind of player for this squad which would ultimately open things up more for the guards.  

Andre Cornelius
Andre Cornelius might be the most talented guard on the roster but last season was plagued by inconsistency, the running theme for the team as it turned out.  His quickness to attack the basket and knock down a three pointer was a large reason for Mason staying atop the CAA standings.  After the whole pillow stealing incident while at Tulane, it seemed he was in Larranaga's dog house for some part of the season. His inconsistent efforts didn't help either and I almost wouldn't doubt the coaching staff wasn't happy with this work ethic on the court.  But as I stated above he had a terrific year shooting the ball from behind the arch and really got the Patriots back into some games last season because of it. He played the point a lot last season and I wouldn't doubt he will begin this season starting there but much like Cam Long I believe he's better at the shooting guard spot.  Cornelius is an excellent ball handler but he's not exactly a pass first type of player and often makes ill advised decisions. Defensively he's the team's best on the ball defender and really can make Larranaga's patented "scramble defense" work, if he decides to actually use it more this season. Let's just hope some of what happened last year can be chalked up to growing pains.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coach Larranaga named to NCAA Division I Regional Advisory Committee

Mason head coach Jim Larranaga has been chosen to serve on the NCAA Division I Regional Advisory Committee. He will represent the CAA (as he often does everywhere) as one of 31 coaches on the committee chosen by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. These committees help determine which teams will be in the field of 68 this March for the NCAA tournament.  Each coach chosen votes monthly and ranks the top 15 for the East region  which includes the following conferences: America East, ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East, Colonial, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-Eastern, Northeast and Patriot. This is really an honor for Coach L and shows how well respected he is in the world of college basketball.

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Charleston Classic TV update

UNC Charlotte just confirmed that the first round Charleston Classic game between George Mason and them will be broadcast on MASN. Great news for Mason fans because at first it was not known if some of the games in this tournament were going to be televised at all. So the 2nd round games will also be televised on either ESPNU or MASN depending on whether Mason plays the 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. game.


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.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

2010-2011 Season Preview Part I: The Freshmen

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.

We'll start with the freshmen class, Jonathan Arledge and Bryon Allen. I'm not going to include redshirt freshmen Paris Bennett and Vertrail Vaughns but just stick with the true freshmen for this preview.

Bryon Allen
I've been raving about Allen since the day he committed to the green and gold. He was formerly committed to Bob Huggins at West Virginia but they had to revoke the scholarship offer after a current WVU player earned a redshirt and returned to the team after injury. Allen was on the radar of a lot of big time schools after playing briefly at Oak Hill academy in Virginia.  He transferred to St. Thomas More for his senior year to play in the prep leagues and hone his skills. He went this route to play the point and be in a league that used a shot clock in order to get ready for his transition from high school to division I NCAA.  Allen has the size (6'3" 215 lbs) that Coach Larranaga covets in a guard (think Folarin Campbell) and seems to be the mold of a true point guard in the making, something this team is currently lacking.  

What can he bring to the team? I think Allen can eventually bring stability to the point guard position and allow players like Cam Long and Andre Cornelius to play more of the two spot were they are better suited.  His powerful frame and ability to create for his teammates makes him a big threat for the Patriots if he develops quickly.  He has the ability to score from the perimeter and attack the rim but how he plays the point guard position will ultimately determine how much we see of him on the court this year.  His high school coaching staff says he can contribute right away and from what we have seen in his summer league and Italy play he seems to already be up to the task.  

How much will we see of Allen this season? How he plays defense will be big factor in determining his minutes, but the squads lack of a true point guard also plays a role in this. Nevertheless Allen will need to improve defensively to cover Division I players but with his skills he should develop quickly.  Cam Long and Andre Cornelius are much better defenders at this point but Allen's ability to create for others could help him play around 15-19 minutes a game if not more. It might start off slowly but I believe by the season's end it will be clear that Allen is the team's starting point guard of the future.

Jonathan Arledge
Jonathan Arledge is a DC All-Met forward who comes to Mason this season a bit more raw than Bryon Allen but has a ton of potential. For starters he's 6'9" and has decent range outside of the paint and fits of the mold of forwards Larranaga has brought in to become elite CAA post players. He comes in with a bit more muscle than guys like Ryan Pearson or Mike Morrison had as freshmen so that should help his development. However I still believe Arledge is going to be a project for the staff this season, and that's not a bad thing.  

What can be bring to the team? Defense and versatility. After talking with his high school coach back in May all I heard about was Arledge's ability to be a defensive force, which was something you don't see much of in his highlights on YouTube. On his high school team at KIMA they always played man to man defense, no zones, and often Arledge had to guard someone much shorter and quicker than him. He always held his own and averaged about 2 steals a game to go along with his 12 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. His ability to guard a variety of players will help him see the court more in Larranaga's system eventually. The defensive part of his game is most likely why Larranaga and his staff were so high on him from the beginning.

Now when talking about Arledge's versatility you can see from his high school highlights that he was not afraid to shot a three pointer here and there.  He actually had a decent shooting percentage from there but I feel his tendency to hang around the perimeter on offense won't quite help him make the transition at this level.  

How much of Arledge will we see this season? I don't think we will see a lot of Arledge this season, he's just a bit too raw in some areas.  Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson are locked in as starters and Johnny Williams will see a lot more action this season now with Louis Birdsong gone. If he proves he can rebound and hang tough defensively in the paint I could see him earning more minutes as the season goes on. And let's not forget Pearson and Morrison often got into foul trouble last season which could also play a part in how much we see of Arledge this year.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Video Diary from the George Mason men's basketball team's trip to Italy this summer Part II

Midnight madness is in 2 weeks!

Part I of the Italy trip video series is here.

Part II was just posted today from the Blog:

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