#58 George Mason: 2010-11 Basketball Preview

    
October 19th, 2010

Overall Rank: #58

Conference Rank: #2 Colonial Athletic Association

 

2009-10: 17-15, 12-6

2009-10 postseason: CIT

Coach: Jim Larranaga (246-157 at George Mason, 443-327 overall)

 

Coach Jim Larranaga has made a habit of following up a disappointing season at George Mason with an NCAA berth. The Patriots have gotten to the point where playing in a postseason tournament that is not the NCAA Tournament is a disappointing season and that is a good place to be. With five starters returning, the Patriots should be much better and Old Dominion should be the only thing standing in the way between them and another trip to the big dance.

 

Key Losses: F Louis Birdsong, F Kevin Foster

 

Key Newcomers:

The Patriots only have two newcomers heading to Fairfax, Virginia this season, but both could be impact players right away. Bryon Allen is a very tough and talented point guard whose playmaking ability may make him a valuable player off the bench on a team that already has a lot of talent on the perimeter. Jonathan Arledge, a 6-9 power forward, will have to be ready to play right away with the departures of Louis Birdsong and Kevin Foster.

 

Backcourt:

Andre Cornelius and Isaiah Tate started a majority of the games on the wings last season. Cornelius is a dynamic scorer who connected on 43.3 percent of his attempts from long range. At 5-10, he is a little small to drive the lane, but he can use his speed to get to the basket on occasion. Tate is not a scorer, but he is a great glue guy and leader on the floor. Rarely will he put up numbers in any category that warrant any notice, but he does all the little things. When GMU needs more of a scoring punch they will call on Sherrod Wright and Luke Hancock. Hancock has the most potential after averaging 7.7 points, 3.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds during his freshman campaign. The 6-5 small forward can do it all and he could be ushered into the starting lineup if he keeps putting up great numbers.

 

Frontcourt:

The big guys return a couple great starters in Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison. Pearson is the power forward who can stretch out the defense with his shooting ability, but that does not mean he neglects his duties under the basket. On top of his impressive 11.9 points per game, Pearson led the team with 6.4 rebounds. Morrison, a 6-9, 225 pound junior, is the more traditional big man who will do most of his scoring with his back to the basket. Morrison is a quality interior scorer and a decent rebounder, but it may be his defensive and shot blocking skills that are most important to this group. Depth could be an issue if Arledge does not live up to his potential. That would leave Johnny Williams as the best option to fill in at the four and five spots and he averaged less than ten minutes per game last season.

 

Who to Watch:

There were times when the George Mason offense struggled, but more often than not Cam Long pulled the team together and got the job done. Long, a 6-4 senior, led the team with 12.2 points, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals. Long has proven to be a clutch performer and he will once again be asked to take the big shots for the Patriots. Those shots can come from anywhere on the floor as Long is an effective outside shooter, but also is fearless driving the lane and led the team with 4.6 free-throw attempts per contest.

 

Final Projection:

Arguably, this is George Mason’s most talented team since their Final Four run in 2006. The bigger issue is how good will the rest of the conference perform during the 2010-2011 season? If the CAA does well, this could be a two bid league. But as long as George Mason takes care of business most of the time, they could end the campaign second to ODU in the conference standings and in the conference tournament and still be squarely on the bubble of the expanded NCAA Tournament.

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

 

Projected Starting Five:

Cam Long, Senior, Guard, 12.2 ppg

Andre Cornelius, Junior, Guard, 9.4 ppg

Isaiah Tate, Senior, Guard, 4.4 ppg

Ryan Pearson, Junior, Forward, 11.9 ppg

Mike Morrison, Junior, Forward, 8.5 ppg

 

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