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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ryan Pearson will play professionally in the Ukraine

Reigning CAA Player of the Year and George Mason basketball alum Ryan Pearson has signed a contract to play professionally in the Ukraine next season. The agency that represents him says he will be playing for BC Goverla in a "highly competitive" Ukrainian league and will give him "a great chance to be dominant against some formidable competition". If he does well he will have a chance to move up to better competition in other  more recognizable countries as this is only a one-year deal.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Johnny Williams has slimmed down and is poised for a big year

With Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison gone there is going to be a very different look in George Mason's front court next season. Johnny Williams sat out with a medical redshirt last year and has been working hard recovering from a shoulder injury. Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times wrote a feature on him yesterday noting that Williams has slimmed down and is "sporting a redefined body". He's down to 245 pounds, last season he was listed at 266. The overhaul in his body and his game makes sense with the burly forward Erik Copes primed to a mainstay in the front court for three more seasons. Williams isn't a tough inside guy and often would shy away from contact down low. Copes doesn't, so the two should complement each other well next season. Also with junior Jonathan Arledge also in the mix Mason will have a more athletic front court than we have seen in recent years. Williams will be counted on to provide scoring in the front court and if his outside shooting has developed he could do some serious damage in the CAA. The team's shortage of experienced forwards means the minutes will be there for him right from the start. 

Williams never looked comfortable in Jim Larranaga's rugged system for front court players. He never was able to mix it up in the paint and fight off guys for put-backs and rebounds. Paul Hewitt is slowly bringing in a new system that a guy like Johnny could flourish in. This off-season regime is no doubt tied to the fact that Hewitt wants to run and be more up-tempo next season. Hewitt discusses that issue more in the article:
"We'll probably do a little more trapping and pressing. We didn't want to wear Ryan [Pearson] out. Ryan was so important to us. I think this year's team has more balance, and hopefully we can make the full court pressure more of a part of our game and maybe wear people out a little bit."
With that in mind the team will no doubt look different and hopefully look more efficient on offense. More players will be handling the ball and there won't be a #1 option like there was with Pearson last year. Opportunity is there for a lot of young players and we should see a balanced attack on offense. Williams could very well be one of those guys takes the opportunity and runs with it. It seems almost expected that he is going to have a breakout season and his work ethic this off-season is certainly pointing towards that notion.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

South Florida added to the non-conference schedule's Eye on College Basketball blog had a post about the CAA offseason today. Among the notes for each conference team they added important non-conference opponents. On George Mason's list is a game scheduled for December 29 at South Florida of the Big East. This is great news for the program as they already have an impressive non-conference schedule. Checking South Florida's athletic site we can confirm the game and the date.

So right now the month of December could be a big one for George Mason's 2012-2013 resume. They start off with Maryland in the BB&T Classic on December 2nd, then play at Richmond in the Governor's Holiday Classic on December 22nd, and finally end the calendar year at South Florida. Notice that none of these games will not be at the Patriots Center and two are on neutral courts (not really for Richmond though). None of these teams are a lock to make the NCAA tournament but I doubt Mason fans will be saying the team wasn't tested in their non-conference slate.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Tony Skinn will be playing in the Olympics in London

Last week we talked about how Tony Skinn is playing for Nigeria as they were trying to qualify for the Olympics for the first time ever. Well after last night's win over the Dominican Republic they are heading to London for the 2012 games. And do you know who was on that Dominican Republic team, Al Horford.  Horford was a member of the Florida Gators team that ended George Mason's run in the 2006 NCAA tournament. 

Nigeria will be in the same group as the US team, and will play them on August 2nd. I think you're definitely going to want to watch that one. I'm also still trying to confirm with the school whether or not Tony is the first ever basketball alum at George Mason to play in the Olympics, I'm pretty certain he is though. One recent player that came to mind was Jesse Young who played for Canada but never in the Olympics. 

An amazing accomplishment for Skinn and the Nigerian team, Mason nation is certainly proud.

[photo via]

Friday, July 06, 2012

George Mason has begun their summer workouts

The team was back in the gym Thursday for first time to start their summer workouts. See what Paul Hewitt and some of the players had to say:

[via George Mason Athletics]


Thursday, July 05, 2012

Former George Mason star Tony Skinn helping Nigeria on their quest to get to the Olympics

George Mason Patriot alum, Tony Skinn has been playing on the Nigerian national team and has been a driving force on the teams' path to try to qualify for this summer's Olympics in London. Nigeria has never played in an Olympic tournament before but are considered one of the most talented African teams in this year's pool. The team contains NBA players, Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu, and a few other former Division I college players. Skinn was born in Lagos, Nigeria and hit a clutch three-pointer against Lithuania to keep Nigeria alive in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Caracas, Venezuela yesterday. Hmmm, Skinn hitting a dagger three-pointer to seal a key victory, where have we seen that before? 

Skinn celebrates after hitting a big three-pointer
You can watch the highlights from the game here. Nigeria will face Greece tomorrow in the quarterfinals.

[Photos via]

[H/T to Rotela]

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