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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: May 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

George Mason will open against Mercer in 2012 Paradise Jam

ESPN's Andy Katz provided a look at the bracket for the 2012 Paradise Jam tournament that George Mason will be playing in this November:
If Mason wins against Mercer it appears they will have a chance to play New Mexico, the best projected team in the field. But let's not get ahead of ourselves like last year in the preseason NIT, when most thought it was a lock Mason would get to play Virginia Tech before that FIU game. Mercer is coming off a solid season in which they won the CIT championship, and they return four starters next year.

Much like last season an early loss in this tournament could greatly affect the Patriots' RPI. Certainly I would think they have motivation this year to not miss another golden opportunity again.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Add Maryland to next season's non-conference opponents

George Mason athletic director issued a message to fans and supporters today on the whole conference realignment situation. I posted the full text from the email over on the message boards if you want to read it in its entirety. Towards the end of the message O'Connor mentions the team's upcoming non-conference schedule and says that the Patriots are scheduled to play Maryland. Rumors of them playing the Terrapins in the BB&T classic have been floating around for awhile now and this confirms the game will be happening at the Verizon Center this year. With Virginia, Richmond, Bucknell, Northern Iowa, and the Paradise Jam tournament already on the schedule, this is one of the better non-conference slates we've seen Mason have in a long time. 

George Mason last played Maryland during the 2004-2005 season, where they lost 78-54 in that BB&T Classic match-up.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Transfer Anali Okoloji talks about his transition from Seton Hall to George Mason and the upcoming season

Seton Hall transfer Anali Okoloji had to watch last season from the bench due to NCAA transfer rules but he will be suiting up this upcoming season. caught up with him where he has been training this off-season and had a short interview. Okoloji talks about his transition from Seton Hall to George Mason, his off-season plans, and his expectations for the upcoming season. He continues to be somewhat of an unknown to George Mason fans but I think he will contribute a lot off the bench next season. Love to hear that he wants to be a "gym rat" and has a very versatile game.

He also reiterates that Paul Hewitt wants to continue playing an up-tempo style of play, something that had mixed results last season. The team will have a much different look next season as it is with Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson no longer holding down the front court and Okoloji's production will certainly be needed at times, inside and out.



Monday, May 21, 2012

Andre Cornelius career highlight video

Andre Cornelius' senior year was tarnished by an arrest before the season started but he finished his career at George Mason as one of the more dynamic back court players in the program's history. His speed and outside shooting certainly helped the Patriots win a lot of games from 2008-2012. What I'll remember most though is his defense, as it was a shame he never earned CAA All-Defensive team honors during his career, especially after the 2010-2011 season. The Patriots could struggle to find a people to replace his on-the-ball defensive skills this upcoming season. His career three-point shooting average was 39.1% at George Mason. Lamar Butler, the program's all-time leader in three-pointers made finished with a 39.2% career average.

Hopefully we will also see career highlight videos for Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson coming soon from Thuc Phan.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

ODU announces official move to Conference USA in 2013

ODU is officially moving to Conference USA in 2013 and unlike VCU will stay in the CAA for one more season as a "lame duck" member. As of now ODU will be ineligible for the 2013 CAA tournament, leaving the field currently at only 7 teams. Member presidents can vote to allow ODU and Georgia State to be in the tournament, which may save the conference from an embarrassing showing next March. had an interesting quote about George Mason in this whole process in their article today on the subject:
"George Mason decided to stay instead of pursuing possible membership in the Atlantic 10. A source close to the process told that the athletic department wanted to make the jump but the president did not."
Some are saying the CAA is in shambles and needs to add schools like Davidson or College Charleston to help right the ship. Can't say I disagree with that.

Discussions the GMU Hoops message boards

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why George Mason staying and VCU leaving makes sense, at least for right now

At the beginning of the CAA-Atlantic 10 rumors it was widely assumed that both George Mason and VCU were a package deal to make the jump. As if to say that both schools were on the same page with budgets, athletics, and other considerations. Well they're not and they are both currently at different stages in their athletics programs, especially when it comes to men's basketball. VCU is riding the hot hand right now, and you can't blame for them for making this move when they have the nation's most talked about mid-major program and coveted, young coach in Shaka Smart. George Mason is trying to rebuild a name for itself as it's been six years since their Final Four run and are now under Paul Hewitt, who didn't make the post season in his first season.

Let's break down the key factors that most likely went into each school's decision:

Money on the table. George Mason is set to get their final big payout from the money they earned in the 2006 NCAA tournament on July 1st. With upgrades planned for some of their facilities it's no surprise they don't want to pass on this money. VCU on the other hand won't collect the $5 million from their 2011 tournament run now that they are leaving. They believe the added exposure and level of competition in the A10 will make it easy to recoup such funds by regularly making the NCAA tournament. With Shaka Smart staying and prized recruits coming in, the move makes sense for the Rams while George Mason is just not in that same position at the current time. It's still a gamble for VCU, but they are willing to spend money on athletics and George Mason isn't quite on that level right now.

Uncertainty in college basketball realignment. This is probably the best argument for George Mason staying in the CAA, for at least next season. Who knows what else will happen this summer in conference realignment, rumors of the Big East breaking apart could send ripple effects across multiple conferences. What if Louisville and others bolt from the Big East and the A10's best programs are raided? Suddenly the A10 doesn't look so strong without the likes of Xavier, Dayton, or even St. Louis. VCU is better positioned to handle this kind of situation and seem to be annually poised for an at-large berth as long as Smart is still around. Is George Mason confident they can make the NCAA tournament regularly without a strong conference and a regular chance to grab an automatic bid? No way they can be as confident as VCU is right now about that. The point is that George Mason is waiting for the dust to settle with everything and they will reassess their conference affiliation again next season. That could very well end up being the smarter play.

Level of competition. With Butler now joining the Atlantic 10 in 2013, the core of that conference compared to the CAA is on a different level. The CAA has been a three team league for years now and last season proved how the level of competition isn't always great. VCU thinks they can handle the added competition in the A10 and maybe George Mason doesn't think they can. George Mason is regularly at the top of the CAA and in position to compete for the automatic bid. It would be a struggle to maintain that in the A10. Just look at last season's A10 tourney, St. Bonaventure ended up winning. You can't blame Mason's officials for wanting to stay in a conference they could continue to compete in compared to a conference they could end up finishing 8th in regularly. Personally I would have wanted to see George Mason put themselves up for the challenge of competing in the A10 but I do see why this may have been a factor in their decision.

One way to look it is this, George Mason is sitting back and watching what happens with the conference realignment business because they don't feel they need to make a move right now. Let VCU be the guinea pig and if it works out who is say that Mason can't join the A10 or some other conference in a year or two? They aren't chained to the CAA for life and will certainly have less obligation to stay after July 1st. VCU wants to strike while the iron is hot and you can't blame them for doing so. Who knows how long they will be able to keep Shaka Smart and will they be as attractive to other conferences after he has left Richmond? This isn't the end of the story for George Mason and the CAA by any means.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

VCU will leave CAA for the A10 on July 1st

Well it turns out VCU is leaving the CAA immediately and will join the Atlantic 10 in all sports on July 1st. So there's two more games George Mason will have to fill on their schedule for this upcoming season. VCU's president stated that they wanted to leave immediately and did not want to be a "lame duck" member of the CAA this season. If they announced a move for a later date, they would not be eligible for the CAA championship this season.

In the press conference today VCU officials stated that they estimated travel expenses increasing by only about $150K a year with the move and that there was a $700K entry fee to join the Atlantic 10. Add to that the $250K exit they must pay the CAA and the roughly $5 million they are forfeiting from the their 2011 Final Four run. Keep in mind that George Mason plays more sports than VCU and the travel expenses would have been more for them.

Fact remains that VCU feels the possible gain from this move greatly outweigh the losses. It's difficult to project what the A10 will look like in 2-3 years, especially with the Big East possibly losing members. It will certainly be weird having a CAA tournament in the Richmond without the Rams though.


Monday, May 14, 2012

VCU to the A10 in 2013, was apparently chosen over George Mason

Well if you are still sulking over George Mason's decision to stay in the CAA you're day just got worse. VCU is going to the Atlantic 10 in 2013 and CBS is suggesting that they were chosen over George Mason:
"On Friday, George Mason, which along with VCU and Butler had discussions with the Atlantic 10, announced it was staying in the CAA. However, sources told at the present time the Atlantic 10 was looking to add only one more school and VCU got the nod over Mason."
If true, it's a total dagger for George Mason basketball. George Mason is in a better TV market and has had similar post season success when compared to VCU. No question VCU is the hotter team right now but what about the long run? So did Mason pass up the A10 or were they just not picked like the fat kid in gym class? 

With VCU leaving, the CAA could be in serious trouble. What's keeping ODU around now?

Friday, May 11, 2012

George Mason will remain in the CAA

Well George Mason did it's due diligence on a possible move to the Atlantic 10 and AD Tom O'Connor has stated that the school is remaining in the CAA. Washington Post writer Steven Goff has the quotes:

Also, here is the official statement from the university on the CAA's website and the full article from the Post.

Questions still remain on whether the CAA will stay intact. Is VCU still considering the move? Is ODU still considering the C-USA? 

If VCU and ODU remain the CAA the non-move doesn't bother me as much. But you can't help but wonder what it would have done for the program to be in A10 with VCU and Butler added to the mix. Maybe it was media hype and never really much of a reality, who knows. 

What are your thoughts on George Mason remaining the CAA?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Latest Atlantic 10 rumor mill links

A lot of "reports" with no substance continue to roll in this week on the GMU/VCU to the A10 rumor mill. Things are definitely getting more interesting with the recent quotes from the University of Richmond's AD and CAA commissioner Tom Yeager:

-CAA decisions may be coming to a head (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

-Five questions George Mason and VCU should consider before joining the A-10 (Yahoo Sports)

-Excellent work by the guys over at VCU Ram Nation blog with their Q & A with Brett McMurphy from CBS (VCU Ram Nation)

-Xavier not interested in leaving A10 now that Butler has joined (ESPN: Andy Katz blog)

-Decisions Loom on Conference Realignment (Daily Press)

-George Mason, VCU should follow Butler into the Atlantic 10 (The Examiner)

-A look at George Mason and VCU joining the A10 with Kenpom stats, from an Xavier blogger (Banners on the Parkway)

-ODU still mulling over move to C-USA (Ed Miller,

-CAA hoops on tenuous ground with sanctions looming (Yahoo Sports)
"George Mason spokeswoman Maureen Nasser said the school has acknowledged that is assessing its conference affiliation, but would not comment further."

-Join the discussion on all the GMU/A10 rumors and news on the GMU Hoops message boards

Monday, May 07, 2012

George Mason would need to spend more to compete in Atlantic 10

Some fans might know this and some might not. But as whole the Atlantic 10 conference members spend more on men's basketball than CAA members. The Richmond Times-Dispatch compared the CAA and A10's men's basketball expenses using data from the 2010-2011 season. Going by those numbers only La Salle, Charlotte (leaving for C-USA in 2013) and St. Bonaventure spent less on men's basketball than George Mason ($2,435,191).

Here is breakdown of each conference's top four schools in terms of expenses on men's basketball:

1. VCU $3,221,519
2. George Mason $2,435,191
3. Old Dominion $2,417,397
4. Drexel $2,166,954


1. Richmond $4,056,940
2. Xavier $3,929,624
3. Dayton $3,810,320
4. George Washington $3,480,829
Keep in mind that VCU probably spent a lot more in 2011-2012, since these numbers are before their run to the Final Four. This could very well be in the underlining factor of whether George Mason seriously considers a move. They would most likely have to spend around a $1 million more on men's basketball to help stay competitive in a conference that now also has Butler.

Would Mason be willing to commit more to the basketball program? Fans have complained that much hasn't been down to build off the program's run in 2006, especially when they notice what VCU is doing to build their national profile. Would the school say these added expenses are worth it to be in a more competitive conference, with a better overall profile and more at-large bids to the NCAA tournament? That could be the main question here.

[via Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Lenn Robbins of the NY Post follows up on his GMU/VCU to the Atlantic 10 story

New York Post baseball writer Lenn Robbins created quite a stir in the CAA/Atlantic 10 realignment talks when he tweeted that George Mason and VCU were headed to the A10 on May 1st. Well that date has come and gone and all we know is that Butler has officially announced their intentions to join the A10 in 2013. 

Today Robbins has an updated story on the situation and is still is saying that George Mason and VCU to the A10 has a good chance of happening. He even says that a "new east coast college league" could be forming after George Mason and VCU make their move. 

From Robbins' article:
But what comes next could drastically change the look and direction of college athletics on the Eastern seaboard. The creation of a new conference, featuring programs poised to upgrade from FCS to FBS status, is being seriously explored by many institutions.

Most of those programs are in the Colonial Athletic Association but there are others in the America East Conference that could be in play. The timetable could be decided somewhat by the decisions made by George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth, two NCAA Tournament-proven programs.
Nothing would surprise me at this point, even a new conference forming. It makes sense that other moves could be hinging on whatever George Mason/VCU decide to do, because the A10 would be a basketball force to be reckoned with if they join.

A few more quotes pertaining to GMU/VCU:
One source said it was a done deal George Mason and VCU were headed to the A-10. The only obstacle preventing those programs from leaving now is the CAA’s policy forbidding a school that is leaving the league from playing in its conference tournament, thus making an NCAA berth extremely difficult to achieve.

Another source said the CAA office has been working furiously to convince those programs to stay. At the end of the day, of course, money probably will be the deciding factor.
 I know a lot of you are tired of all the internet rumors and such tied to this story but the issue does not seem to be going away. I traded emails with Brett McMurphy of CBS about the issue since he was the first major media member to write about the story, and he told the schools have no reason to announce anything before July 1st, as we have said here before. They don't want to lose NCAA tournament revenue that they have coming to them on that date, so this is still a wait and see type of thing happening.

The saga continues.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Wednesday Links

Yesterday's news about ODU bolting to Conference USA gave new life to the GMU/VCU to A10 rumors. Speculating is everywhere now about what will happen to the CAA and to Atlantic 10. Did ODU make this move as a preempted strike to save themselves after the CAA potentially collapses? Hopefully all this will be cleared up in a few weeks and this won't drag on into the summer.

-ESPN's Andy Katz said last night that Butler to the A10 is official, and seems to suggest that GMU/VCU following the Bulldogs is far some certain. There is still a lot of uncertainly in the A10 as Charlotte could be departing for Conference USA, would the conference only try to grab either GMU or VCU and not both?

-ODU's senior associate athletic director Debbie White isn't exactly denying yesterday's news about a move Conference USA

-VCU still sifting through pros and cons of move to A10. Is Mason doing the same?

-In other news not related to conference realignment, Penn State is trying to schedule a possible series with George Mason (via

-Former George Mason assistant James Johnson, who worked under Jim Larranaga for two years in 2005-06, named new head coach at Virginia Tech.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

ODU next to leave the CAA, will join Conference USA in 2013

CBS insider Brett McMurphy has been in the middle of all the conference realignment talk this off-season, especially involving the CAA. His latest story doesn't involve George Mason or VCU but does say ODU is leaving the CAA, making them the second school to leave the conference this year after Georgia State. In his story released today McMurphy confirms the rumors that ODU had interest in joining Conference USA and is set to join what will become a 14-team league
"Conference USA, which has four schools departing to the Big East next season, is reloading by adding six schools in 2013, industry sources told

Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Texas San Antonio, Charlotte and Old Dominion will join C-USA giving the league 14 members. However, it's not clear how soon after 2013 Charlotte, which is beginning its football program in 2013, and ODU, currently in the FCS, would be able to compete as a C-USA football member."
The move makes sense for ODU if they know George Mason and VCU are leaving for the A10, because I can't imagine they'd be making this move if those two weren't leaving the CAA. It's also a no-brainer for them because of their desire to continue to build their young football program.

This news today is more smoke to the George Mason/VCU to the A10 fire and I would imagine we should be expecting some sort of announcement on that very soon. 

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