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Previewing Rhode Island

George Mason Basketball: Previewing Rhode Island

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Previewing Rhode Island

A new era is about to begin for George Mason basketball: new coach, a couple of roster changes, and no green jerseys. Paul Hewitt begins his quest of following a Fairfax legend tomorrow night as the Patriots open against Rhode Island.  The  young Rams team was picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 by the media and their coach likes to run an uptempo game as well.  Rhode Island has a freshman class of five and they have combined for 36 and 51 points respectively in the team's two exhibition games.  Two of their starters have been freshman, including at the point guard position.  Also they have two incoming transfers that are not eligible til Dec 23. So this Rams team is really only returning three players from last season's 20-14 squad and only one of these three averaged double-digits last season, forward Nikola Malesevic.

Back court situation. The first thing to look for tomorrow night will be the back court situation. We got a glimpse of the Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards sharing the point guard duties in the team's exhibition but now Vertrail Vaughns will be back and should be in the starting rotation at the two guard spot.  They will be going up against another young back court as the Rams don't have much experience at that position either.

Sherrod Wright is a big question mark because we just don't know how much he will contribute this season.  To say he can replace Luke Hancock is certainly asking a lot and I don't think that is a realistic assumption.  The Patriots will need him to drive to the basket and make plays which is probably his best asset right now until he gets his shooting stroke in rhythm.

I'll be looking to see how smoothly the offense runs under these guys and if they are able to work in transition and make plays.  If the offense is running well, one of these guys has got to be averaging around 5-6 assists a game. Last season they averaged around 14 a game as a team.

Strength around the rim.  I'm sure fans are dying to see freshman Erik Copes go up against some Division I talent after his showing in the exhibition game.  It's no secret that with the addition of Copes the strength of this year's team will be their play up front. Hewitt hinted that Copes might start along with Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison. Don't be surprised if Pearson plays at small forward and doesn't pass up three-pointers, he certainly has not been at practices.  Mike Morrison on the other hand has got to pick up more of the scoring load this season and Erik Copes will help with that. Teams won't have the luxury of putting their biggest forward or center on Mike with Copes also on the floor and we should see better rebounding numbers as a whole this season.

Defensive philosophy. This might very well be the biggest change fans notice this season without Larranaga on the sidelines. Paul Hewitt says he didn't want to change much from last season considering the team's success but with Isaiah Tate and Cam Long gone, and Andre Cornelius suspended 10 games, they are without their best defensive back court players from last season.  The Patriots forced a lot of turnovers last season and disrupted a lot of good shooting teams, will some of that carry over to this season?

Projected starting lineup:

Bryon Allen
Vertrail Vaughns
Sherrod Wright
Ryan Pearson
Mike Morrison


Nice article from New & Messenger on walk-on Jordan Baird

George Mason's Ryan Pearson stays in New York groove - Wash Times



Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

Sounds like we should kill them. Go Mason!

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

Am I the only on who can envision in four years we are saying Eric Copes was as good of a big man at Mason as George Evans?  It's early, but so far he's legit.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I hope this is true-couldn't hurt to add Will Thomas' name too.  However super early for that talk, remember he was not a prolific offensive threat in HS.  George, Will and Jai got it done on both ends!

2:03 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

Wow comparing a 3-time CAA player of the year to a freshman who hasn't played a game yet. Um ok.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

That's why I said "it's early."  But going on what I've seen, which albiet hasn't been much, he looks legit.  I would argue that this point in his career (with only one exhibition game) in his career he's as good as any freshman big man we've had.  And that old school jump hook is great!

2:14 PM  

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