CAA Team Previews: George Mason Patriots
Last Season Record: (24-9, 14-4), 3rd in CAA
Key Losses: 6-6 F Ryan Pearson. In 2011-2012, the senior captain averaged 17.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game on 50 percent shooting from the field. He led the team in points, rebounds, and steals and ultimately earned CAA Player of the Year and Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention honors. Losing 6-9 F/C Mike Morrison, who scored 9.8 points and grabbed 6.6 rebounds a game, will also hurt the Patriots frontcourt this season.
Key Additions: 6-8 F Anali Okoloji, a transfer from Seton Hall, had to sit out the 2011-2012 season per NCAA transfer rules. 6-8 F Johnny Williams also missed last season as he was redshirted after injuring his right shoulder. Both should help replace the losses of Pearson and Morrison. The Patriots will be adding 6-9 freshman F Marko Gujanicic this season as well. The newcomer hails from Serbia and starred at Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, California.
Coach: After 11 seasons of coaching at Georgia Tech, Paul Hewitt joined the Patriots on May 2, 2011. Hewitt guided the Yellow Jackets to a 190-162 record during his time in the ACC and led the George Mason to an outstanding record and a chance to win the CAA Tournament last season. Despite not appearing in the postseason last year, Hewitt did lead the Yellow Jackets to 5 NCAA Tournament appearances and 1 NCAA Championship game while at Tech.
Player to Watch: 6-4 G Sherrod Wright. After being redshirted for 2010-2011, Wright had a very impressive sophomore campaign last season. Appearing in 32 games, 14 as a starter, the knockdown shooter averaged 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and just under 1 steal a night in 2011-2012. Wright also posted incredible shooting percentages of 53% FG, 40% 3Pt and 86% FT. This winter, Patriot faithful should expect to see Wright start the entire season and handle the majority of the scoring load for Paul Hewitt’s club.
Prediction: Hewitt led his squad to a successful season during his first year at the helm of Patriots last season. Losing three of his starters won’t help his fortunes, but he does have formidable replacements. As other teams in the conference like Delaware are improving, look for George Mason struggle a little bit in the early going of the season. However, this club should earn a rightful spot in the top 5 of the conference by season’s end.
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