CAA Preview: George Mason Patriots
Last year: 24-9 Overall (14-4 CAA) 3rd in the CAA, Lost to VCU in the CAA Tournament
What Happened: The Patriots had a very solid season finishing third overall in a competitive CAA conference. They were extremely hot towards the end of the season winning 11 times in a 12 game stretch before consecutive losses to Northeastern (OT) and VCU. Prior to those two consecutive losses, the Patriots were able to grab a win against the eventual CAA Champion, VCU, as part of that 12 game stretch.
- Ryan Pearson (F): George Mason will be without its dominant big man, forward Ryan Pearson. In his senior season Pearson averaged a team best in points per game (17.0), rebounds (8.2), steals per game (1.3), and minutes per game (30.7). Pearson was the focal point of the Patriots’ entire game plan during the 2011-2012 season. He contributed on both ends of the floor whether it was rebounding, getting steals or scoring. His stellar performance earned him CAA Player of the Year and an AP All-America Honorable Mention
- Mike Morrison (F): The Patriots also graduated starting forward Mike Morrison. Morrison led the team in blocks, finishing with 64 on the season ranking him second in school history for blocks in a season. Morrison was second on the team in scoring averaging 9.8 PPG.
- Sherrod Wright (G): Sherrod Wright made a big impact in the backcourt of a team that relied heavily on its big men. Despite only starting in 14 of 32 games, Wright was able to finish the season third on the team in scoring (9.6 PPG) just .2 PPG behind senior forward Mike Morrison. Wright is a terrific shooter from behind the arc, averaging 40.4%, however he only shot 52 three-pointers on the season. Wright led the CAA in FT-percentage connecting on 85.9% of his attempts.
- Vertail Vaughns (G): Vertail Vaughns started every game in the 2011-2012 season for George Mason. He finished fourth on the team in scoring averaging 8.8 PPG. He led the team with 42 three pointers on 35.6% shooting.
- Bryon Allen (G): Allen started all but two games last season for the Patriots. Allen ranked fifth in scoring on the team averaging 7.5 PPG. Allen led George Mason in assists with 3.7 APG, which also ranked him fifth in the conference.
Despite losing its best two players in Morrison and Pearson, George Mason should be able to compete for the CAA Title in a weakened conference. This team is extremely young without a single senior on its entire roster. This lack of experience will certainly hinder this team at times. There will be a lot of pressure immediately thrust on to returning guards Sherrod Wright, Vertail Vaughns and Bryon Allen. All three of these players contributed to a successful team last season however the team was centered on its terrific frontcourt of Morrison and Pearson. The Patriots have a massive hole at the forward position that must be filled, but if their returning guards can pick up the slack expect this team to be competing for the CAA Title.
- David Kroopnick