George Mason Patriots
Overall Rank: #102
Conference Rank: #4
2007-08: 23-11, 12-6,
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Mason’s experience led them to a run in the Colonial Athletic Association
tournament which took the team back to the NCAA Tournament. But now their
senior leaders and the last of the holdovers of the Final Four team are gone.
Is the new group of seniors ready to become the leaders or will this be the
year the Patriots magical 2006 becomes a distant memory?
Forward Will Thomas and wing Folarin Campbell made
this team tick. Thomas averaged a double-double, tallying 16.1 points and 10.4
rebounds per contest. Campbell
added 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals during his senior
campaign. Nobody else on the team averaged over four rebounds, 2.1 assists or
one steal last season. Certainly there are players who can step up and fill
some of that production, but the leadership and importance of Thomas and
Campbell cannot be overstated. Guard Jordan Carter, who started 11 games in
2007-2008, has also run out of eligibility.
George Mason continues to build off the Final Four
appearance as far as recruiting is concerned. However, for this year at least,
the return of Darryl Monroe is more important than any of the newcomers. Monroe missed last year
with an injury after starting 19 games and averaging 6.1 points and 3.9
rebounds during the 2006-2007 campaign. At 6-7 and 260 pounds, Monroe is a big body who will battle in the
paint and hit the glass effectively. Kevin Foster, Michael Morrison and Ryan
Pearson will add depth up front. That group provides a ton of versatility as
all of them are solid athletes who can run the floor and score inside and out.
In the long run, point guard Andre Cornelius might be the best of the bunch.
The 5-10 (which is probably a little generous) point guard has plenty of speed.
He will work his way through traffic and find his teammates or get to the
basket. He has a surprising knack for scoring and can put up big numbers in a
Who to Watch:
For now, Cornelius will be asked to play a pretty
big role off the bench. The Patriots will not depend on him to contribute too
much, but the more he can, the better. John Vaughn and Dre Smith will be
starting in the backcourt and both could develop into solid senior leaders. At
6-3, Vaughn can use his size and strength to get to the basket. Smith will hang
out on the perimeter more. Smith made headlines last year with his 10-for-10
shooting from beyond the arc in a single game, but he ended the year in a huge
slump. If Smith cannot find his stroke, Vaughn is the only other proven long
range shooter on the team…and he only hit 33.6 percent of his attempts last
year. The Patriots know what they will get for the most part from Vaughn and
Smith, but how will Cam Long perform if he ends up in a starting role? Long has
the unenviable job of taking over Campbell’s
old spot. Nobody expects Long to replace Campbell,
at least they better not, but the team needs production out the position. The
6-4 Long is a solid all-around player. He will work hard on the glass, he can
pass the ball and he can knock down the outside shot. He sounds a lot like Campbell in that regard,
but he has a long way to go.
return of Monroe
helps, but Louis Birdsong carries much of the burden of the frontcourt. The 6-6
junior averaged 6.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in a starting role last year and
the team will look to him to become more of a leader now that he is an
upperclassman. Vlad Moldoveanu and Chris Fleming will battle with the newcomers
for minutes off the bench. The frontcourt simply cannot be as dominating as it
was with Thomas and that was what gave the opposition in the CAA fits. With an
above average, but not dominating frontcourt, the Patriots weaknesses will be
easier to expose and it will take another miraculous run for George Mason to
even get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Vaughan, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Smith, Senior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Long, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Birdsong, Junior, Forward, 6.1 points per game
Monroe, Senior, Forward, DNP last season