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Starting Five: Mason Madness 2012 edition

George Mason Basketball: Starting Five: Mason Madness 2012 edition

Friday, October 12, 2012

Starting Five: Mason Madness 2012 edition

Mason Madness is tonight and the official start of college basketball is upon us. Connect2Mason will be streaming it live tonight if you are an out-of-towner or cannot attend. Over the last two weeks I've been talking about bench players who will play an important role this season but now I want to discuss the team's potential starting lineup. Keep in mind that this season will be much different than last year in the sense that we will see more player rotation. Ryan Pearson played more than 35 minutes in a game seven times last season, don't expect anyone this year to be logging those kind of minutes. That isn't a bad thing because the team will be using more of their depth and will need fresh legs more often running a more uptempo offense.  

Bryon Allen
Point guard play wasn't an area of strength for this team last season. Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards struggled a bit with turning over the ball. Allen had a much better go at it in the second half of the season and Edwards played less down the stretch as a result. He looked a lot more comfortable as the season went on and they really need him this year to be a floor general out there. Last season he had a terrible time shooting from behind on the arch (8-for-48 on three-pointers) but is excellent driving to basket and scoring around the rim. His size and strength give him an advantage over most point guards in the CAA and his rebounding will remind you of Cam Long's efforts from that spot two years ago. For Paul Hewitt to run the uptempo offense he wants effectively, it will have to start with Allen.

Vertrail Vaughns
Vaughns started every game last season but saw a big drop in his overall shooting numbers. Nevertheless he became the team's most consistent backcourt scorer. The shaky point guard play and the 10 game suspension to Andre Cornelius didn't help and I felt like Vaughns was trying to do too much. Defensively, they need him to be better when guarding the other team's shooting guard as he has struggled a bit in this area. This year without Ryan Pearson being the focal point of the offense I would expect them to run plays to get Vaughns a few more open looks from behind the three-point line. He and Vaughn Gray are streaky shooters who sometimes just need to be given the green light.

Sherrod Wright
Wright is poised for a breakout season and it's HIS team this year. He had his ups and downs last season returning after missing an entire season due to injury. He had to share time in the backcourt last year once senior Andre Cornelius returned and an injury in the NIT Tip-off held him back a little. Wright is by far the team's most talented player and can score from anywhere on the floor. They will be counting on him this season to pick up the scoring void left by Pearson and Morrison. At times he looked timid and was far too unselfish with the ball but this season he will most certainly seize the opportunity. An uptempo style of offense is perfect for his game as he cuts to the basket better than anyone and makes other teams pay at the free-throw line. A quick look at his shooting numbers from last year makes you wonder why he wasn't shooting the ball more. Hopefully that won't be something we are saying at the end of this upcoming season. 

Johnny Williams
Williams is another player who like Wright, is expected to have a breakout season. A shoulder injury had him taking a medical redshirt last season but he's been conditioning and slimming down a bit to run in Hewitt's uptempo offense. Nearly all the low post scoring graduated last season and that leaves the team with a big void up front. They will be relying heavily on Williams to score up front in a variety of different ways. Sophomore forward Erik Copes is a great defensive power but doesn't really have any low post scoring moves. Williams has great range for someone his size and if his aggressiveness around the basket has improved he will be a force. A lot will depend on his conditioning and if he can effectively run the floor. He won't make fans forget Ryan Pearson but he certainly will have his moments putting points on the board for Mason this year. 

Erik Copes
Copes had an impressive freshman year being a defensive force in the paint. He averaged nearly two blocked shots a game and was a tough customer on the boards. He's a true center in a conference that doesn't have many true centers. On offensive he needs to develop some scoring moves because right now he won't give you much besides some clean up work around the rim. It's not a major issue this season because they don't really need him to score but it's just something that would make the Patriots much more dangerous. His brute force is a great complement to Johnny Williams' soft touch around the basket. The only thing I worry about with Copes is his ability to keep up with this uptempo offense Hewitt wants to run. Conditioning has been a priority for the team this off season but you have to wonder if it will take away from his strengths.


Anonymous hankblalock3b said...

Does anybody know why Sherod Wright was excluded from the Midnight Madness Activities?

2:31 PM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

Someone asked on the forums too, I'm not sure yet

10:46 AM  

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