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

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

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.



Anonymous c hirsch said...

If we do well this year, who will get the credit? Larranaga for recruiting most of the team, or Hewitt for coaching them?

Same question if we do poorly.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Guest said...

I thought Allen was a pure point guard, no?  I liked his ability to get to the basket and dish, in the limited time he played last year...

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Ameadows said...

Allen was orignally recruited by WVU. WVU is a top tier program, they know talent when they see it. I have faith in the kid...

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

If we do poorly people will grumble that Larranaga bailed but Hewitt will take a beating for letting the standard fall.  If they do well-which I am optimistic they will-credit goes to both b/c Larranaga did bring this team in to Mason but credit will have to go to Hewitt who managed to shephard the team through transition.  I'm not very doubtful of the talent but a change in coaching staff, especially at this level, is signficicant.  Hewitt did well his first year at Ga. Tech.  Hopefully the same is true here!

7:40 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

After watching him I think he's more versatile like a Cam Long

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Boredinclass said...

Who is the primary outside shooter going to be? Pearson can demand double teams on the block, Allen and Wright and drive the lane, who is going to be on the wing waiting for the open three to stretch the defense?

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Boredinclass said...

Allen and Wright *can* drive the the lane

12:09 PM  

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