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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

What to look for in tonight's exhibition game

Game will streamed free on

We already knew this but here is the official release on Johnny Williams redshirting this season

George Mason plays it's only exhibition game tonight against Lycoming college. Johnny Williams (shoulder) and Vertrail Vaughns (ankle) are not playing tonight but there are plenty of new faces to watch for in his one.  This will be the first official game action we get to see under Paul Hewitt and although you can't learn much from watching the Patriots play a D3 school, here are some things to look for tonight.

Hewitt's offensive strategy. He's been saying that he wants to play uptempo this season and conditioning has been a point of emphasis in early practices so far. It will be interesting to see this in action and how well the conditioned the team is at this early point of the season.  

Who stands out at point guard? Vertrail Vaughns won't be playing tonight but I doubt he'd be the point guard anyway since he's much better suited for the shooting guard spot. I'll be looking to see who looks like a leader out there at the point and who helps facilitate this uptempo offense. Expect to see  a lot of Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards tonight.

Front court rotation.  I'm very curious to see how Morrison, Pearson, and Copes are used. Will they often be on the court the same time or will Hewitt start with Copes coming off the bench?  Also, how will Jonathan Arledge be used, the sophomore struggled to get playing time over Paris Bennett last season. 

How ready is Sherrod Wright?  A lot of fans have high expectations for Sherrod Wright, who is returning from a shoulder injury this season. The coaching staff has been praising him in off season workouts and practices, but is he game ready or will he need some time to get back into it? I'll be looking to see how comfortable he looks being out there again.  I imagine he will be taking a lot of shots tonight and look to see how many plays Hewitt runs for him.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Roster update: Three walk-on players added

Over the last couple seasons we've only seen the team carry one or two walk-on players, but this year they will have three.  This is largely due to the fact that Anali Okoloji is sitting out (transfer rules), Andre Cornelius is out indefinitely for a least the beginning of the season (suspension) and Johnny Williams will be out (medical redshirt).  That leaves the current roster at 13, if we are counting Cornelius out.  Apparently one of the walk-ons is a ex-Marine, here is what I know so far.

#15 Jordan Baird - Junior, 5-11, played high school basketball at Stonewall Jackson. Also has a music background.

#2 Bryce Lewis - Junior, from Union, NJ and a commenter here has mentioned he was recruited by American University.

#30 Jacob Hoxie - Sophomore - Ex-Marine, played high school basketball in Raleigh, NC.


In other news Ryan Pearson is not shaving off his beard. Good. #FeartheBeard

Video from the team's photo shoot

We got a sneak peak at the team's new uniforms on Wednesday but here is video from their photo shoot. You'll notice that there are three walk-ons this year, all in the official team photo.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What have George Mason practices been like so far? A lot of running.

Here is some news that may get fans even more excited for this season: Paul Hewitt is conditioning the hell out of these kids. If you follow any of the players on social media outlets you might have noticed they have been talking about how tough the conditioning has been and getting up at dawn for 6 am practices. Mason's play-by-play man Bill Rohland talks about this more in his blog on
If your coach really wanted to make a point, it was a timed exercise and if you didn't all make it in that was back "on the line".

In a pre-dawn practice a week before the men's basketball team would have their opening exhibition game against Lycoming (October 31st at the Patriot Center, 7pm) new coach Paul Hewitt was making such a point to a group of players.

Late in getting to their spots in a particular drill, Hewitt decided it was time for a little discipline. "Gold team...on the line". Five guys hung their heads, lined up along the baseline and waited for the next command, "go!"

Thirty-five seconds later, all but one in the group of five finished their penalty run on time, but four out of five isn't enough. "Back on the line." The same scene played out two more times with the same four of five players making it.

Coach Hewitt had seen enough and made it quite clear to the veteran player failing to make the run in the allotted time that he was less than pleased with the effort. That's putting it kindly. The next run, all five players crossed the line in time.
We had heard some whispers that Hewitt wanted an uptempo style of play this season from his players and it looks like they are going to be in impressive shape at the beginning of this season. What's interesting is that we also heard that Hewitt might often go with a lineup that includes Erik Copes, Ryan Pearson, and Mike Morrison; will they still be uptempo with those three on the court at the same time? Just add that to the list of many questions that surround this team.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Check out George Mason's new uniforms for this season

I think I liked last year's better, maybe I'll like the road jerseys more. You'll notice the numbers on these are gold, last year they were green. Big question is will the names be left off the back again? Also the stripe design on the sides, my favorite part about last year's version, has been changed. 

These are the latest from Nike called Hyper Elite, and they will have some sort of cool design on the back. Here is an example of UVA's to get a better look.


[Photo via twitpic]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

George Mason received 12 votes (38th) in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Preseason Top 25 Poll released today

The preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll was released today and it's nice to see the Patriots still getting some respect despite the changes going on with this team over the summer.  Drexel and VCU also received votes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CAA Media Day Thread

The CAA media day is today and George Mason has been selected by the media to finish 2nd, behind Drexel.  Senior forward Ryan Pearson was selected to preseason All-CAA first team. This post will update today as interviews and other news follows. You can watch on ESPN3.

Predicted order of finish:

1. Drexel
2. George Mason
3. VCU
4. ODU
5. JMU
6. W& M
7. Delaware
8. Hofstra
9. Northeastern
10. UNCW
11. Ga. State
12. Towson

Preseason first team:

Bradford Burgess, VCU
Samme Givens, Drexel
Quinn McDowell, W&M
Ryan Pearson, GMU
Kent Bazemore, ODU (selected POY also)

At least 18 George Mason games to be televised this year

Paul Hewitt tells Sporting News he can win a national championship at George Mason


George Mason, VCU, ODU may have company atop CAA

10/19 UPDATE:

An update on the Andre Cornelius suspension

Monday, October 17, 2011

Green and Gold scrimmage highlights from Mason Madness

[Video via Thuc Phan]


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Green Machine plays Party Rock Anthem and Paul Hewitt wears a Doc Nix suit

Paul Hewitt has already bested Jim Larranaga in one category of Mason basketball: Mason Madness entrance awesomeness:

Meanwhile the Green Machine opened things up with LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem, great stuff as always.

Also has video.

As for the actual basketball, it appears they have added more than one walk-on this year, we'll have to wait for details on these guys.  Vertrail Vaughns looked good out there shooting the ball in the green vs gold scrimmage, as did Vaughn Gray.  Fans also got a good look at Erik Copes performing some post moves against Mike Morrison, I think this kid is going to be the real deal.

Official start to the season is underway.

[Photo via @BillRohland, video via @tomcblock]


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

As Mason Madness approaches, we break down the biggest questions heading into this season

Mason Madness is this Friday and official practices will finally be underway. A lot has changed since last year's Madness event and there are many questions fans and media have entering into the '11-'12 season. We tried to break down the big ones.

Where is the offense going to come from?  Last season the Patriots were #1 in the CAA in points per game (72.8) and FG% (47.1), while being one of the nation's most efficient teams. With Andre Cornelius currently suspended, the team will start the season with only one of their top four scorers from last year, Ryan Pearson. We know what we are going to get with Pearson, who will likely be in the running for CAA POY, but what about the rest of the team?  Redshirt sophomore Sherrod Wright will no doubt bear a lot of the scoring load this season along with Ryan Pearson but the team will need big contributions from a number of younger players.  Bryon Allen, Corey Edwards, Vertrail Vaughns, and Vaughn Gray will be used to help fill the scoring void left by Cam Long and Luke Hancock. Wright, Gray, and Vaughns have all received praise from this coaching staff for their shooting but will they be as effective from behind the three-point line as Hancock, Long, Tate and Cornelius were last season?  In the front court it's difficult to project how Mike Morrison will do under Paul Hewitt as he often struggled in Larranaga's offense at the high post. In fact his ppg dropped last season from 8.5 to 6.8. He's at his best running the floor in transition but I think the ceiling for him is most likely 9-10 ppg.  Freshman Erik Copes will get minutes but he is very limited offensively, Paris Bennett and Jonathan Arledge have more range than him at this point. Junior forward Johnny Williams will be redshirting.

Who will be the starting point guard? Don't be surprised if freshman Corey Edwards gets a lot of time at the point guard position or even starts in the early goings. Andre Cornelius most likely would have been tabbed the starter because of his experience but like Bryon Allen and Vertrail Vaughns, he's really a better fit at the shooting guard position. Vaughns is better used when he is off the ball, as he showed last year behind the three-point line. Allen can definitely play the point but his size, strength, and ability to get to the rim might be better utilized elsewhere on the court.  Edwards is the team's only pure point guard and with no returning guards averaging more than 1.6 assists per game last season he has a chance to shine.  

Will this team still play great defense in the post-Larranaga era? This will probably be the biggest change we witness in the first year of the Paul Hewitt era. The team's scoring defense and opponents FG percentage were tops in the CAA but I think it's very unlikely we see them repeat these feats. Andre Cornelius is team's best defender, without him in the lineup they will have inexperienced guards trying to defend some very good players in the CAA. Jim Larranaga would bench younger players who didn't play defense well enough, will Paul Hewitt do that?  We won't see an attacking style of defense like we saw with the "scramble" but a number of Hewitt's teams at Georgia Tech had good defensive numbers against the ACC. It's worth noting that a few of his teams finished the year holding their opponents under 40% shooting from the field. Hewitt's defenses also force turnovers and his teams would often lead the ACC in steals, which is something we are used to seeing the Patriots do.

How will the Patriots fare in the CAA this year? Before Jim Larranaga and Luke Hancock left, I'd bet most media members would have tabbed the Patriots as favorites to win the CAA. Now Drexel is starting to get some attention as the favorite.  Despite what has happened to George Mason over the last couple of months, I still like their chances in the CAA this year. Despite some roster turnover, the Patriots are still one of the deeper teams in the conference and have the best incoming freshman class in the CAA.  VCU and ODU lost a lot from last year and James Madison and William & Mary haven't made enough strides to be better than fourth or fifth place teams.  Drexel returns the most talent but Bruiser Flint never seems to get these guys over the hump. Like George Mason, the CAA has a lot of question marks heading into this season, and right now that's good for the Patriots.

What other questions do you have?


If your not already pumped for this season, the new '10-'11 highlight video from Thuc Phan will get you there.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Atlantic 10 has expressed informal interest in adding both George Mason and VCU

According to the New York Times yesterday, the Atlantic 10 conference has expressed informal in adding both George Mason and VCU as members:
“There’s a lot of informal conversations going on,” Yeager said. “Athletic directors are running into each other in the press box on Saturdays, and I think it’s a nonstop topic of conversation. We’re not going after anyone.

Although the C.A.A. is sending feelers to A-10 members and others, a different college official said that the Atlantic 10 had expressed informal interest in adding C.A.A. members George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth.
I can't say I would mind the Patriots joining the A10 and be a member of a basketball conference that isn't driven by football. George Mason ans VCU have already shown they can play well against current members of the A10 and assuming no current members leave, this would create a very competitive mid-major conference.

I think the best case scenario for non-football programs like George Mason and VCU in all this realignment craziness, would be if they joined other non-football members of the A10 and Big East in some form. Not sure how they would do this but this A10 talk could be the beginning of something like that.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Might we see a lineup that includes Pearson, Morrison, and Copes?

Jon Rothstein has been talking with Paul Hewitt all summer and in his latest tweet he mentions that there's a good chance we might see a lineup that includes Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison, and Erik Copes.  

This is something Mason fans have been pondering since we learned highly touted freshman Erik Copes was coming to Fairfax back in May. When we've heard Hewitt speak about Copes you got the feeling things were still a work in progress. How is his conditioning at this point? And while Ryan Pearson could definitely play the 3, you have to wonder if that is best for team. I guess if Mike Morrison and Erik Copes do enough of the dirty work on the boards this might become the optimal scenario for the team. Let's also not forget that with a young, less experienced backcourt a more forward-heavy lineup might make the most sense.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Rhode Island added to schedule for the home opener

Today George Mason announced their home opener and final non-conference opponent, Rhode Island from the Atlantic 10.  The opener is slated for November 11th which is the Friday before the team travels to Blacksburg, VA for the 1st round of NIT Tip-Off.  I like the addition of an A10 school especially since they don't have Dayton on the schedule this year. The Rams have some big names on their schedule for this year so they could end up with a pretty good RPI number.  They only return two starters but hey at this point so does Mason.  Should make for a solid home opener and early test for the Patriots.

Rhode Island's website mentions that this will be the start of a three-year series. Also Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times notes that the Rams haven't finished outside the RPI top 110 since 2005-2006.


2013 center Tonye Jekiri visits George Mason

Paul Hewitt and his staff seem to be heavily recruiting centers, the latest is 2013 6'11" prospect Tonye Jekiri, who visited George Mason unofficially this weekend.  It's really early to be talking about 2013 prospects, but the staff has to get after the good ones early and Jekiri is an example of a recruit whose stock could rise quickly.  Hewitt is probably looking to pair a big time center in the future with freshman forward Erik Copes.  If he does the Patriots could end up with a bruising front court that would give the rest of the CAA real problems. Legit centers are very hard to come by for mid-major programs as they area a scarce commodity in college basketball. Landing one who isn't completely raw or under the radar is something we rarely have seen at George Mason or the CAA for that matter.


Another tidbit of news today for Mason basketball is an article by Andy Katz that mentions both Ryan Pearson and Erik Copes as 'players who might end up on the Wooden list':
Ryan Pearson, George Mason: The Patriots are a trendy pick for the top 25 and a lot of that has to do with the versatility of Pearson.

Erik Copes, George Mason: Copes was bound for George Washington before Karl Hobbs was fired, but instead he'll be a headline performer for the Patriots and first-year coach Paul Hewitt.


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