George Mason Patriots
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #111
Conference Rank: #4 Colonial
George Mason Team Page
Paul Hewitt had a fine first season at George Mason leading the Patriots to a 24-9 overall record and a 14-4 mark in conference play. The team stumbled in the conference tournament against VCU, but the Rams are not around anymore to get in the way. That will pave the way for George Mason to stay towards the top of the Colonial Athletic Association standings, but a few major losses may hinder this team from making a serious postseason run in 2013.
2011-12 Record: 24-9, 14-4
2011-12 Postseason: None
Coach: Paul Hewitt
Coach Record: 24-9 at George Mason, 276-190 overall
Forward Ryan Pearson did it all last season. He led the teams with 17.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. His offensive versatility opened up space for everybody else, but the opposition had enough trouble stopping Pearson on his own. The next leading scorer, Mike Morrison is also gone. Morrison tallied 9.8 points, 6.6 rebounds per contest and led the team in blocks. The next forward or center down the depth chart only averaged 15 minutes per game. And it is that inexperienced frontcourt that will cause some problems for GMU this season. Andre Cornelius is also gone after a disappointing senior season in which the guard averaged 6.7 points per game.
For good reason the group of newcomers is frontcourt heavy. Anali Okoloji transferred from Seton Hall after playing one season for the Pirates. As a freshman he played in 16 games and averaged 1.9 points and 1.0 rebounds. He will see much more playing time than that in Fairfax, Virginia. Okoloji is really a big 6-8, 232 pound small forward, but with that size and strength he can certainly spend a majority, if not all, of his time in the post for George Mason. Marko Gujanicic is another versatile big man. The 6-9 Serbian is a typical European big man who can shoot and handle the ball. He may not grab double-digit rebounds too often, but Gujanicic is big enough to do his fair share of work on the glass without too much trouble. Helping bolster the frontcourt depth is Johnny Williams. The junior missed last season with an injury and will at least provide some experienced depth off of the bench. Shooting guard Patrick Holloway is a talented local product who will make it very difficult for Coach Hewitt to leave him on the bench.
Who to Watch:
But Holloway may find those minutes really tough to come by with Sherrod Wright, Vertrail Vaughns, Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards returning. Wright spent part of the year coming in off of the bench, but he is the team’s top returning scorer at 9.6 points per game. Wright is a good shooter, but he does a great job using his 6-4 frame to get to the basket and finish with consistency. Vaughns is the shooter of the backcourt. He only knocked down 1.3 long balls per contest last season, but that was the most on the team. He will play that role again as the starting shooting guard. Allen gained a valuable year of experience running the point last season and should be much improved as an upperclassman. He is not a shooter or a great scorer, but he can make things happen. As long as that experience turns into a reduction of turnovers, George Mason’s backcourt will be in good shape. Those three will likely start, leaving Edwards as the backup point guard and some minutes left over for Holloway on the wing.
But it is in the frontcourt where there are problems. Vaughn Gray is a 6-5 sophomore who will likely see most of his playing time at the three spot. With Okoloji and Gujanicic better fits at the four, George Mason has to find a big body to man the five spot. Junior Jonathan Arledge is one option. At 6-9 and 228 pounds, he certainly has the size. Arledge can even stretch out the defense with his mid-range jumper, but that will not be too important since Gujanicic will be doing plenty of that. Erik Copes, a 6-8 sophomore, is the more intriguing option. He averaged just 15.0 minutes per game, but Copes tallied 1.9 blocks per contest. He is a force on the defensive end and that could be exactly what this team needs. However, Copes has a long way to go and needs to stay out of foul trouble. Coach Hewitt could always play smaller and move this team up and down the floor a little faster, but that will hurt on the glass and defensively. Replacing Pearson’s points is one thing, but replacing Pearson and Morrison’s 14.8 rebounds per game may prove to be the bigger issue that keeps George Mason from claiming a CAA title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Byron Allen, Junior, Guard, 7.5 points per game
Vertrail Vaughns, Junior, Guard, 8.8 points per game
Sherrod Wright, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Anali Okoloji, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Erik Copes, Sophomore, Center, 3.3 points per game