The men’s basketball team is in Hempstead, N.Y. today to take on the Hofstra Pride in a game between two of the league’s three remaining unbeaten teams. For both teams it will be the second game in three days as this is the week the CAA has Monday-Wednesday-Saturday contests for all its teams. Sounds demanding but thanks to New Year’s Day being on Saturday, it’s actually a break from past seasons. In typical years, teams would play four games in eight days. This year, it’s down to just three contests in six days.
The current schedule became so demanding beginning with the 2005-06 season when Georgia State and Northeastern joined the league. The only time since then that the league hasn’t had three games in six days was 2007-08 when the conference tournament fell on the second weekend in March. Over the other four seasons, the Patriots have managed to put together an 11-1 record in those first-week-of-January games. But then Mason has never had to play more than one of those games on the road. Until this year.
The first season of the current scheduling format, the Patriots played at Northeastern and home against VCU and Delaware, sweeping the three. In 2006-07, Mason hosted UNCW, went to Towson and hosted James Madison, again with three wins. In 2008-09, Mason hosted Georgia State, went to Towson then hosted Old Dominion. Last year, the Patriots finally lost a contest in that stretch as they won at home against Hofstra, lost at Northeastern then came home to beat UNCW.
Two Patriots who are no stranger to the early-season stretch are senior Isaiah Tate and junior Mike Morrison. GoMason Blog asked the two about playing those three games in six days.
“It’s definitely going to be tough, especially getting our wind back and with the teams we’re playing,” Tate said. “They are teams that play really, really hard in this league. At the same time, we’re excited and pumped, we’re all in college, we’re young, so we should be able to put together enough energy for these games.”
“You have less time to prepare for each team and on top of that, it’s physically taxing,” Morrison said. “It’s more that you need to focus more. In the past, we haven’t had too many problems with that. I don’t think (the three games in six days) makes that much of a difference as long as you focus on getting your matchups.”
The two road games is a new wrinkle but as Tate pointed out, it’s just as much about the three-game road trip which begins today as the three games in six days. The Patriots go to Old Dominion after facing Hofstra, then they travel to Northeastern.
“These next three games might be the toughest since I’ve been in college,” Tate said. “I haven’t won at ODU since I’ve been here, I haven’t won at Northeastern since I’ve been here, and Hofstra… Charles Jenkins is always going to get his shots up and he always has good games. So these three games are definitely big. We have to go into places where teams play really at home.”
The Patriots have won on their past two trips to Hempstead, including a double-overtime thriller in 2008. Mason’s lone CAA win over the Huskies came in their first season in the league, topping Northeastern 71-68. Mason’s last victory at Old Dominion was Feb. 28, 2004.
GoMason Blog was sitting courtside at the men’s basketball game on Monday night, watching the Patriots take on the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens. We noticed someone else sitting courtside, someone with a little more basketball acumen and decided it would probably be more interesting to hear what he had to say about the game rather than what we had to say. So without further ado, here are some thoughts on last night’s game from former Patriot standout John Vaughan (2004-09). Oh, and a Happy Birthday to JV.
As a former player, I now understand the importance of the little things in basketball that were stressed under the great leadership of Coach Jim Larranaga. As I watched Monday night’s game against Delaware, it is clear that the defense is the backbone of our team. As we now get into conference play, the teams are very familiar with each other and on most nights an offensive explosion will not occur. I saw last night that our team defense has greatly increased from the beginning of the year. Although Delaware made some shots, I felt that the majority of them were not easy makes. Mike Morrison does a great job being a strong last line of defense with blocks and charges. Isaiah Tate has vastly improved his defensive technique and intensity. Cam Long and Andre Cornelius did a great job of making the primary ballhandlers for Delaware very uncomfortable, and I believe Delaware got away with a few traveling violations. Luke Hancock and Ryan Pearson are doing a tremendous job of crashing the boards. Overall the team defense has been a collective effort and has shown great improvement.
Offensively, the team seems to be gelling more together. Although I’m sure coach wants them to tone down on the turnovers, I’m very sure he is happy with the assists in tonight’s game. 14 out of the 26 field goals made came off of assists. That is a sign of good team chemistry and familiarity with one another. I was also very impressed with the continued efforts of the team in the second half to get the ball in the post to Ryan Pearson once he got it going. Mike Morrison’s post footwork has vastly improved as well, as evident by the drop step facial he gave that Delaware defender. It was good to see Isaiah Tate provide the spark off the bench on offense with his three-point shooting and attack of the basket. Cam Long also has shown great leadership by providing baskets at key moments in the first and second half. His leadership by example has really improved. I was also very impressed with the development of Andre Cornelius being able to run the offense effectively from the point guard position. Luke Hancock just always seems to be in the right place at the right time when a play needs to be made, he just plays the game with good intensity which leads to positive results.
Overall, I enjoy watching my George Mason family play and succeed. I believe this can be a very successful year for the Patriots and I look forward to watching them continue to get better throughout the year. I also want to thank the George Mason fans, alum, staff and Patriot Club members for their continued support and love shown towards me at each and every game. It is truly humbling and so much of a blessing to have the great support of such wonderful people. We are truly a family and I appreciate all of you!
What kind of blog would the GoMason Blog be if we didn’t give you a year-end top-10 highlights?
Here, in chronological order, is a very unsophisticated look 2010’s top-10 Mason moments:
January 30 – The men’s basketball team beats James Madison, 70-68, to tie the school record with its 17th-straight home win over a CAA opponent. In the process, the Patriots improved to 10-1 in the CAA, the best 11-game start in conference play in school history.
February 28 – The women’s basketball team tops Georgia State, 47-43, picking up its 10th win of the year. It marked Mason’s first 10-win season since 2005-06 as the Patriots also picked up their first two-game conference win streak in four years.
March 19 – Ashley Danner capped a brilliant sophomore season with a runner-up finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Swimming Championships. What did it take for Arizona’s Ann Chandler to beat Danner? An NCAA record and the second-fastest time in history. Danner had three All-American finishes at the meet while Kristen Meier became just the second female Patriot to ever compete at the NCAA Diving Championships.
March 20 – Becky Anderson pitched the fourth perfect game in school history as she recorded 15 straight outs to beat Georgia State 8-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. Anderson went on to be named All-CAA for the third time in her career as she set a school record with a 1.29 ERA and seven complete-game shutouts.
May 1 – The men’s track and field team captures the CAA Track and Field Championship, the fourth in program history but the first since 1995. The women’s team, meanwhile, placed second, its highest finish since 2004. Grace Mavugara was the Outstanding Women’s Field Performer after sweeping the long and triple jumps.
May 8 – The softball team closed the season with a three-game sweep of Delaware, missing the CAA Tournament by one game but finishing with a 21-24 record. It was the highest win total for the program since 2005 and the fifth-place finish in the CAA was the highest finish in conference since 2002.
May 23 – Ryan Soares finished off one of the best seasons in school history by setting one CAA record and two school records as the baseball team ended the year with a 17-9 win over Towson. Soares entered the game tied for the CAA single-season record for doubles and the Mason school record for career doubles and he hit two to break both marks. He entered the day with a chance to break the school record for single-season batting average and he didn’t falter, going 5 of 6 to finish with a .438 batting average, shattering the mark of .420 set in 1985. Soares was a first-team All-American and finalist for the Wallace Award, given to the nation’s top shortstop.
Oct. 29 – The women’s soccer team just missed a spot in the CAA Tournament in 2009, finishing the season tied with JMU for the fourth seed and missing out on a tiebreaker. This year, Mason didn’t allow it to come to a tiebreaker as the Patriots beat Towson 2-0 in the season finale to earn the third seed into the CAA Tournament. It was Mason’s first trip to the CAA Tournament since 2007 and the Patriots brought their A game to Hofstra. It took penalty kicks against JMU to end Mason’s season after the teams tied at 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes.
Nov. 21 – Laura Sinclair put together a terrific sophomore season as she was CAA Runner of the Week multiple times, was named All-CAA and All-East, set the Delaware Invitational event record and was Mason’s top runner in every single meet. She finished second at the ECAC Championships.
Dec. 30 – Cayle Byers was expected to have a big year in 2009-10 but he ended up redshirting the season due to injury. He returned with a vengeance this season. Byers started the year 16-0 and beat the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the nation. His undefeated year came to an end when he fell in the finals of the Southern Scuffle to the nation’s second-ranked wrestler.
With a December 11 win over Liberty, the George Mason men’s basketball team entered its break for finals with an 8-2 record and a six-game winning streak. All six of those wins came by double-digits, tying the school record. On Wednesday, the Patriots will take on Duquesne at 8 p.m. To whet your appetite for that contest, GoMason Blog will present a Live Chat with Isaiah Tate on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Just Click Here to join the live chat.
Earlier this month, GoMason Blog told you about the Shots from the Heart tournament being run by CollegeInsider.com. With a tournament-style bracket for head coaches and assistant coaches, the objective of the program is to help to create more awareness for the growing problem of Heart Disease and to raise money to benefit the American Heart Association during the 2010-11 season.
Coach L lost on a tiebreaker in the opening round to Vermont’s Mike Lonergan but Mason assistant coaches Eric Konkol and Michael Huger are still very much alive. After winning his opening round match against DeMario Slocum, Konkol has kept the hot shooting alive as he has yet to miss a shot in two rounds. Against St. Mary’s Rick Croy in the second round, Konkol made all 25 shots while Croy missed four shots. The final tally was a 31-25 victory (shots 21-24 are worth two points and shot 25 is worth three points).
Now in the Sweet Sixteen, Konkol will take on the winner of the Craig Neal (New Mexico) – Kellen Sampson (Stephen F. Austin) matchup. Later this month, Huger will try to put two Mason coaches in the Round of 16 as he will take on Santa Clara’s James Ware.
Speaking of CollegeInsider.com, the most recent Mid-Major Top 25 poll came out on Monday afternoon and the Patriots have moved up one spot to sixth. Mason is one of three CAA schools in the top 10 along with No. 2 Old Dominion and No. 9 VCU. Cleveland State is currently first with St. Mary’s in third, Gonzaga in fourth and Wichita State in fifth. Missouri State (7th), Butler (8th) and North Texas (10th), round out the top 10. Drexel is the other CAA school in the poll at 15th while James Madison is receiving votes commensurate with 27th.
Tomorrow the George Mason men’s basketball team plays its first road game of the season. In honor of the event, GoMason Blog put together its perfect road schedule for this year’s team.
The first road game of the year would take the Patriots to Stetson University. While there, the bus could swing by Lady Lake, Fla. and make a trip down Larranaga Drive, the only street in America that shares a name with the Mason head coach. Game Two would be a quick trip up to Yale with the Patriots staying in North Branford, Conn. where the team can walk down Caputo Road.
Game Three is another trip south, this time to play Savannah State and visit nearby Rincon, Ga., home of Huger Street. Konkol Road in Hatley, Wis. would be a convenient place to visit while playing Wisconsin-Green Bay. Game Five would be one of the shortest road trips of the year as the Patriots play at Virginia Tech. While in Blacksburg, they could take a trip down Lombardi Drive.
Allen Road in Southgate, Mich. is a chance for the Patriots to play at University of Detroit. On the way back the team can stop in Berea, Ky. and visit Arledge Court while facing Eastern Kentucky University. Mason’s closest home game would come next on the schedule as the Patriots face UMBC after a brief stop on Armistead Way in Baltimore. A trip just short of the Rockies will take the Patriots to Bennett Avenue in Bennett, Colo. and a contest with University of Denver. The trip home would have a brief stop in Indianapolis, Ind. where Mason could check out Cornelius Avenue before facing Butler.
Boston College is next on the schedule as the Patriots take a detour to see Hancock Street in Quincy, Mass. A visit to the Gateway Arch is next as Mason faces St. Louis University (nearby Saint Ann, Mo. has scenic Long Drive). Big East foe Pitt is next on the schedule as the Patriots head down Morrison Drive during a stay in Pittsburgh. The Patriots then head to the Carolinas for the first time as they visit Pearson Drive in Asheville, N.C. and take on the UNC Asheville Bulldogs.
Have you ever been to Tate Drive in Del City, Okla.? The Patriots head there next to face University of Oklahoma. While out west Mason swings down to San Antonio to take on UT-San Antonio while swinging by Vaughns View.
Just like there’s only one Larranaga street in America, there’s only one Whack Road. It’s in Greeleyville, S.C. and it gives Mason a chance to play a BCS opponent in University of South Carolina. The season is almost over as Mason takes a bus trip up to Williams Avenue in Jersey City, N.J. and a meeting with Rutgers. The longest road trip of the season is at the end as the Patriots fly to face Nevada-Reno with a brief stop on Wright Street in Reno.
OK, so this road trip could never happen, we know that. But give us some credit for putting together 19 games in 19 states. Total roundtrip mileage on the trip? Roughly 29,000 miles, or more than once around the Earth’s equator.
You know what? A trip to Lynchburg and back to face Liberty at 7 p.m. tomorrow on MASN sounds pretty good right about now.
The George Mason men’s basketball team polished off its first 5-0 homestand in nearly 30 years on Wednesday night and they did it with their fifth-straight double-digit win. The Patriots handled Loyola, 66-52 to improve to 7-2 on the season. Lots of good stat nuggets coming OUT of the win and going INTO the Liberty game on Saturday night.
First off, Mason has now won five straight games by double figures. It’s just the fifth time in school history Mason has done that and the first since 2006-07. The school record for consecutive double-digit wins is six-straight, set near the end of the 1998-99 season. Mason held all five opponents to fewer than 60 points and on the season, in Mason’s seven wins, the Patriots are holding the opposition to just 52.1 points per game. Of course in the Patriots’ two losses, they are allowing an average of 80 points. None of Mason’s five victims shot better than 40 percent with Loyola reaching that mark but not surpassing it.
As everyone knows Cam Long topped the 1,000 career point mark last night becoming the 30th player in school history to reach that plateau. He actually sits in 28th now having passed Keith Michael and Brian Miller. Also moving up the career list was Mike Morrison who picked up his 85th career block moving him into a tie for 10th place with Will Thomas. The junior should become the sixth player in school history with 100 blocks sometime in January and before the year is out will almost certainly be top three in school history in that category.
Now the Patriots head to Liberty and their first road game of the season. The only time Mason has ever played its first road game later than December 11 was in 1996 when the Patriots played their first road contest on December 14, losing at Ohio State.
“We just have to keep working hard in practice and get everyone on the same page,” junior Ryan Pearson told the media after the game on Wednesday. “We would like to play the same way we do at home on the road. We’re not going to have our crowd with us it’s just going to be us out there and we’re going to have to come together as a team and get the job done.”
The Patriots head to Liberty looking for their sixth-straight win. Mason has only won six or more in a row five times under Coach L, most recently winning seven straight January of this calendar year. The Patriots are also looking for an 8-2 start, which would be just the fifth time in school history that the Patriots won at least eight of their first 10 games. The previous times were 1974-75 (8-2), 83-84 (9-1), 03-04 (8-2) and 08-09 (8-2). In 1983-84, Mason began the year 12-1. The other three years Mason won at least eight of its first 10, it was unable to go 9-2.
In case you’re looking down the road, after Liberty is an 11-day break for finals followed by a trip to Duquesne. Then the Patriots take a week off before playing at Dayton. Duquesne is currently 3-3 with wins over Bowling Green, UMBC and Wisconsin-Green Bay and losses to Robert Morris, Pittsburgh and Penn State. Dayton is 7-2 having beaten Mount St. Mary’s, Akron, Mississippi, Savannah State, Florida A&M, Miami (Ohio) and Central Connecticut State while suffering losses to Cincinnati and East Tennessee State. And since it’s never too early to look at the RPI, unofficially Duquesne is 171 while Dayton is 111. Mason is 118.
OK, on to the links to what the media had to say about Mason’s win last night:
The George Mason wrestling team was off this past weekend but the other three winter sports were all in action as men’s basketball, women’s basketball and the swimming and diving teams all competed over the weekend.
Let’s start with the men’s basketball team. The Patriots took their fourth-straight win, beating UNCW 80-52. None of those opponents have scored more than 55 points against the Patriots. In Mason’s six wins, it’s holding the opposition to an average of 52 points while in its losses, it’s given up 80 points. For the Patriots, the victory over the Seahawks marked the sixth straight over the conference foe, the longest winning streak ever for Mason against UNCW. Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson have never lost to the Seahawks. We’ll see if that holds up with at least three more meetings between the teams before that trio departs Fairfax. Now the big story heading into the game with Loyola on Wednesday night (7 p.m. on MASN) is that senior Cam Long needs just two points to reach 1,000 for his career.
Here are some of the stories from the media after that contest:
The women’s basketball team wasn’t as fortunate in their local meetings as the men’s team. The Patriots lost to George Washington on Sunday as the Colonials closed the game with a 23-12 run to beat Mason, 67-58. This came a few days after Mason led American 39-34 before losing, 46-43. The losses are disappointing, but it’s clear that if the Patriots can play tougher down the stretch during the upcoming five-game homestand, a .500 record heading into conference play is within reach. Three Patriots are averaging double figures with Brittany Poindexter at 10.6 ppg and Amber Easter and Taleia Moton both at 10.0 ppg.
Finally, the swim teams competed at the US Short Course Swimming National Championships and Ashley Danner had the top performance of any Mason athlete as she was 7th in the 200-yard breaststroke. Danner also competed in the 100-yard breaststroke finishing 11th. Danner also was 36th in the 200-yard individual medley. The other Mason swimmers with top 50 finishes were Preston Wolter, who was 37th in the 1650-yard freestyle and 41ast in the 400-yard individual medley; and Paige Impink, who was 42nd in the 100-yard backstroke.
The swim team is off until January but the wrestling team will be back in action this week with a tri-meet against Rutgers and Princeton on Saturday. Each basketball team will take the court twice more though before Finals begin. The women’s team hosting Stony Brook on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Ohio on Sunday at 2 p.m. while the men’s team will host Loyola on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and play at Liberty on Saturday at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday night Mason fans had a chance to collect the first of five bobbleheads being given out this season to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the school’s first-ever Final Four. Each of the five starters from the 2006 team will be featured during a select game this season. The GW game was a chance for fans to pick up a Folarin Campbell bobblehead. Tomorrow night, when Mason hosts UNCW at 7:30 p.m. on MASN, fans can pick up a Tony Skinn bobblehead.
Skinn, a senior on that team, has gone on to a professional career playing in France, Croatia, Italy, and Germany, where he currently plays. GoMason Blog had a chance to do a Q&A with Skinn and here are his responses:
Q – What is your top memory of the Final Four season?
A – My most favorite memory of the Final Four season (and there were many) would have to be against UNC at Dayton. Not being able to play in the first game, I was ecstatic about being able to play in the tourney against the Tar Heels and beating them was more satisfying and was just an unbelievable feeling.
Q – How often do people stop you to talk to you about the Final Four?
A – It happens all the time. That was and still is my claim to fame, even in my fifth year as a pro. Whenever I start my season in Europe, whether it’s in Italy, France, or Croatia, guys remember me as the point guard on that team.
Q – What does it feel like to walk into the Patriot Center and see the Final Four banner?
A – Well, I haven’t been back to a game since they put it up, but I work out during the summers in the Patriot Center and I’ve seen it. I don’t think I’ll know the actual feeling until I have a chance to be in a game atmosphere and looking at the banners
Q – What’s been the highlight of your professional career?
A – The highlight of my professional career, I think would be my 2008-2009 season in France. I was voted an All-Star and played my best pro season on a really good team. I’ve had some successful seasons so hopefully I have a couple more left.
Q – Who is your favorite player on the current team?
A – Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m a little familiar with Andre Cornelius and he is a little guy so I gotta say him.
For what it’s worth, Lamar Butler likes Skinn’s bobblehead the best. “It looks just like a little Tony”
Saturday’s contest will be “Patriots Go Pink” Breast Cancer Awareness Game. The sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, Theta Chi Chapter of George Mason is helping with the event with the goal of raising breast cancer awareness and education in the George Mason community. The sorority will be handing out pink beads and pink ribbons throughout the concourse, while also decorating portions of Patriot Center with pink. Fans wearing pink can purchase a discounted $8 ticket at Patriot Center Box Office on the day of the game.
So Mason took a 60-46 win over George Washington last night, and the victory meant a little something extra to the Patriots players for two reasons. First off, it gives Mason bragging rights over the Colonials, whose campus is less than 20 miles from Fairfax. Secondly, it gives the Patriots revenge for last year’s 17-point loss at Charles E. Smith Center.
GoMason Blog asked some Patriots what bragging rights REALLY means.
“They mean a lot especially with two schools so close together,” senior Isaiah Tate said. “We know them off the court; we see them all the time and they see us all the time, especially at different functions school-to-school. And I can say since last year when we lost to them, it hurts seeing them everywhere else, and it’s like ‘Yo, we’ve got to get them back.’ So now that we got the win out of the way, it’s kind of a weight off our shoulders. I guess we got the Orange Line back.”
“I think really what bragging rights is, it’s the upper hand,” senior Cam Long said. “If they would have won tonight, it would have been 2-0. We just couldn’t have that. We couldn’t have that at all. Bragging rights now… last year was last year. They can’t really talk about that. But since we won this year, they can’t say nothing but understand that they lost.”
“I don’t think it’s necessarily bragging rights, it’s the fact that they know us, we know them, we hang out together some times and for us to go there last year and lose how we did, it’s just embarrassing,” junior Mike Morrison said. “So we wanted to do the same to them as they did to us. So I guess it is a little bit of bragging rights, but it’s more so revenge in a way and to get the win that we needed anyway.”
Revenge also played a role in last week’s 26-point win over Radford. Last year, Mason played at Radford and lost by 27 points. So it was a complete role reversal from last year’s performance, much like Wednesday night against George Washington.
“You can’t forget a loss like that, that’s something you’re going to always remember,” Long said. “Especially the Radford game because that was my birthday. I was hurting on that one for real. I wasn’t really thinking about that margin I just wanted to beat them worse. But we got the job done so that’s all that counts really.”
“Honestly, yes (I was thinking about the margin),” said Morrison. “I wanted to beat them by just as much as they beat us if not more. We wanted more. We fell short but we still got the victory this year. So we’re very happy with our revenge set. Now we just have to continue through conference play and do our thing.”
We’ll leave the final words to junior Andre Cornelius.
“They’ve been talking. A lot. Winning this game helped. Now I can talk.”
Here is what the local media is saying about last night’s game:
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Any coach can tell you the importance of making your free throws. When it’s the coach himself actually doing the shooting, though, it’s an entirely different story. Last week, Mason head coach Jim Larranaga took part in the Shots from the Heart tournament which pits head men’s basketball coaches across the country in a tournament-style bracket. The objective of the program is to help to create more awareness for the growing problem of Heart Disease and to raise money to benefit the American Heart Association during the 2010-11-season.
Although Coach L was narrowly edged by Vermont’s Mike Lonergan via tie-breakers, it was an intense competition to the end. Watch video from Coach L’s tournament competition below.
The head coaches aren’t the only ones doing work at the line, as there is also an assistant coaches bracket. Both of Mason’s competitors, assistants Michael Huger and Eric Konkol, were a perfect 25-of-25 from the stripe and advanced to the second round. GoMason Blog will keep you posted throughout the tournament as they try to make another run to the Final Four.
This men’s basketball season, George Mason will commemorate the fifth anniversary of the school’s first-ever Final Four appearance with a special bobblehead giveaway. Each of the five starters from the 2006 team will be featured during a select game this season. The first giveaway is tomorrow night when the Patriots take on George Washington at 7 p.m. at Patriot Center. Folarin Campbell, a sophomore on that year’s team, is the subject of the first bobblehead.
GoMason Blog had a chance to do a Q&A with Folarin, who has played in Italy and Germany since leaving Mason. Here are his responses:
Q – What is your top memory of the Final Four season?
A – My top memory of the Final Four (season) was actually winning that Elite 8 game over UConn and just looking at all of our fans at the Verizon Center just celebrate that victory with us.
Q – How often do people stop you to talk about the Final Four?
A- People stop me every day to talk about that Final Four run. I even get stopped overseas to talk about our amazing run.
Q – What does it feel like to walk into Patriot Center and see the Final Four banner?
A – It is an amazing feeling to walk into the PC and see that banner hanging. That is the first thing I see when I walk into the gym every time.
Q – What’s been the highlight of your professional career?
A – I don’t think I’ve reached a highlight of my career but I was part of a historic game that happened this year. We won a game 103-102 and the historic part of it is that we were down by 28 at half and we came back and won by 1. Great game. I finished that game with a season-high (so far) 21pts.
Q – Who is your favorite player on the current team?
A – I don’t have a favorite player on the team but I wish all of them the best and I want them to have the best season possible. And I also want the seniors to be successful and enjoy their last year of college basketball.
Sometimes a rivalry is created when two teams play every year in important games producing memorable contests (see Mason vs. Old Dominion and Mason vs. VCU). Sometimes a rivalry comes about when two teams play frequently in a short time span in games that become historic (see Mason vs. Wichita State). Other times, rivalries are born when two teams are close together geographically and demographically yet rarely meet. That would be the case for Mason and George Washington.
The Patriots and Colonials have played 11 times but just once this century and just thrice in the past 20 years. Nonetheless, it’s clear that this is a rivalry game for both teams.
Last year, the George Washington Athletics Department dubbed the game “The Battle of the Orange Line.” Even though Mason isn’t actually on the Orange Line, the moniker stuck. This year, a video was put together featuring the mascots of both teams.
Last year, Mason played at GW without a pair of starters and they saw the Colonials use an 18-2 run at the start of the second half to go ahead by 24 points in a game they eventually won by 17. Things turned for Mason after that as the Patriots went 12-3 in their next 15 games playing their best basketball of the season. This year, Mason, which has won two straight while holding the opposition to an average of 53 points in those games, will hope that the meeting with GW will come during their best basketball of the season.
What a huge week for basketball in Fairfax. Over the next five days, four home basketball games will be played at Patriot Center starting with tonight’s women’s basketball home opener. The Patriots, fresh off three road games in barely a week are now home for a pair. Tonight it’s UMBC that Mason will face at 7 p.m.
“We are taking the court for the first time at home to show everybody what we’ve doing,” senior Brittany Eley told GoMason.com yesterday. “We’ve had three away games and it’s prepared us to step up at home and show everybody what we’re about.”
The Patriots won the season-opener at UMass, 60-55 and then dropped a game two days later at Fairfield. This past Saturday, Mason played at Wichita State and after trailing by 15, Mason rallied to make it a one-possession game in the final minute before ultimately losing, 65-59. OK, so it wasn’t as memorable as the last time a Mason team played in Charles Koch Arena (a 70-67 men’s basketball win in 2006 that allowed Mason to be nationally ranked for the first time in basketball while also effectively securing an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament), but it certainly allowed a team to show its character in the early season.
Coach Jeri Porter, for one, is happy to be playing some home games. “Just for the opportunity to not have to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight or some of the crazy things we’ve had to do in the last couple weeks that will keep us in a consistent routine,” Porter told GoMason.com after Monday’s practice. “Sleeping in our own beds, being able to just play in a the gym we’re familiar with. So we’re excited about the opportunity to open up at home and to get these next couple of games at home before traveling again.”
On Wednesday, the Patriot Center will see its first men’s basketball game since the Nov. 13 season-opener against Harvard. The Patriots won that game, 66-53, then followed it up with a 78-56 win over Charlotte in the Charleston Classic. Mason was unable to keep the momentum going, however, losing to North Carolina State and one of the nation’s top mid-majors, Wofford in overtime. Despite that result, Mason is one spot ahead of Wofford in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll. The Patriots are 10th while the Terriers are 11th. Other notables there are VCU in eighth, Old Dominion tied for third (with Wichita State) with Butler in second and Gonzaga in first. The Patriots host Radford tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
Speaking of CollegeInsider.com, the web site is holding a tournament to raise money for the American Heart Association with head coaches and assistant coaches competing in free-throw shooting contests. Twenty-five shots with the first 20 counting as one point, the next four as two points and the final as three points (for a maximum of 31 points if you make all 25 shots). Mason assistant Eric Konkol competed against Colorado State’s DeMarlo Slocum in the opening round and won, 31-28. Yes, the legendary free throw shooter showed his prowess making all 25 of his attempts. Next up for Konkol will be Rick Croy of St. Mary’s who won his opener despite missing three shots (they were all one pointers).
GoMason Blog would say that Thursday will be a day of inaction at Patriot Center, but both teams will practice there at some point on Thanksgiving. On Friday, the doors open to the public again with the women’s team hosting Radford. This will be the first time Porter will face Radford since leaving the Highlanders to take over the Patriots three years ago. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the busy week concludes with the Patriots hosting Florida Atlantic at 4 p.m. That’s the second of five-straight home games for the Patriots. Better catch them during that stretch, though, as after Dec. 8, Mason doesn’t play at home until Jan. 3.
And of course, basketball isn’t alone in competing during Thanksgiving Weekend. The wrestling team will be at the Northeast Duals on Saturday in Albany. Cayle Byers is off to a 7-0 start this season with a tournament title at the Navy Classic and four wins at the Hershey Duals.
One of the highlights of the team’s trip to Charleston was a special guest at Sunday’s pre-game meal — legendary actor and comedian Bill Murray. Murray, who resides in Charleston, spoke with the team about his career, his basketball skills and much more. The actor owns the Charleston RiverDogs minor league baseball franchise and also was a basketball player growing up. His son, Luke, is an assistant coach at Wagner College. Many of the players recognized him from movies like Ghostbusters and Space Jam, but by the end of the meal, all were laughing along side Murray who had a joke ready at every opportunity.
Murray is one of a long line of celebrities who have met with the Patriots basketball team and head coach Jim Larranaga, counting among them President Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, and many others.
Radio voice Bill Rohland gives the GoMason Blog this dispatch from Charleston, taking a look at tonight’s game and more.
A solid win on Thursday night over Charlotte has Mason in position to advance to Sunday’s final here in Charleston, but a bigger and tougher opponent awaits them on Friday night. The Patriots will take on NC State out of the ACC with a 6pm tip off (watch on ESPNU or listen on gomason.com).
NC State is a solid team, but young. Their leading scorers on the season are all freshman and sophomores, so while they are talented, they don’t have the same experience the Patriots. And I’m not sure they go as deep on their bench as Mason has in the early part of the season.
While the first day of the tournament didn’t provide many close games, I am expecting day 2 to be much closer in terms of the games and scores. I don’t expect to see four games decided by double digits today as we did on day 1.
Part of the experience of being at a weekend tournament is having a bit of down time to explore the host city and also hang out with the players and staff on the trip. One of the favorite activities of some of the staff involves very heated, but friendly, card games of spades. It’s been a good week for me so far, my partner, Mike Ouellette (academic coordinator) and I are undefeated, taking down Dan Reisig from communications and his partners Jeff O’Bier (director of Patriot Productions) and James Meyer from the ticket office. Let’s hope Mason can continue their undefeated streak, just as Mike and I have.
The weather continues to be amazing here and the players were in great spirits at breakfast after the win Thursday night. No further issues with Ryan Pearson’s toe and we are expecting everyone to be in uniform and ready to go when Mason tips off at 6pm Friday against NC State.
Did you happen to catch that game in Charleston tonight? We’re guessing you did but in case you didn’t, here is what you need to know. Mason opened an early lead, kept it comfortable until right before the half when Charlotte pulled to within four. But Mason built on its six-point halftime lead slowly before exploding midway through the second half, using an 11-4 run to eventually power to a 78-56 win.
Luke Hancock was the star with 18 points while Mike Morrison went for nine points and nine rebounds. Jonathan Arledge and Vertrail Vaughns combined for 14 points off the bench.
GoMason Blog watched most of the game at Brion’s Grille as part of the Watch Party there and Mason fans (and there were plenty of them there) definitely enjoyed the rout. Early in the game, there was definitely grumbling about the free throw shooting (Mason finished the game 6 of 11 from the line) but that disappeared down the stretch. Fans definitely enjoyed Vertrail’s 3-pointer, Cam’s pull-ups and Luke’s 11-straight points in the second half.
GoMason Blog definitely enjoyed the extended shots of guest blogger Jay Marsh as officials, late in the second half, checked the monitor when the clock stopped working.
Tomorrow we’ll once again hear from Bill Rohland and don’t forget that at 11 a.m. on GoMason.com, there will be a live chat with senior Isaiah Tate.
One of the most familiar faces at George Mason and almost certainly the man who has seen more men’s basketball games than anyone else is senior associate athletic director Jay Marsh. Jay, who played for the Patriots from 1970-72 and has been with the program since, took a moment to share his impressions of Charleston and the trip thus far.
We’ve had great weather and the welcome reception last night was very unique on the USS Yorktown. I’d never been on an aircraft carrier – it was amazing just seeing how big it was. They also have a Medal of Honor Museum on board and that was very interesting to see.
This is the first time I’ve been back to Charleston since we played here in the 1980-81 season. That game was against Charleston Southern (then known as Baptist), who won 84-67.
Travel has definitely changed since those days. Unlike the 1.5-hour flight that the team took, we rode a bus down here. Meals were always with the team, but the quality of meals the team gets now is much better. Our players now have much better overall accommodations. We didn’t have a director of basketball operations back then, so as part of my responsibilities as assistant athletic director, I wore many hats.
This is the third straight year I’ve gone with the team to an ESPN-run tournament after Orlando (2008) and Puerto Rico (2009). I’ve been very fortunate to go to some very nice places and Charleston is no different. You have the opportunity to play some great teams at these tournaments and it is great for the team.
One of the fun things about traveling with a team is getting to know the staff and fans who follow the team religiously a little better. Last night we celebrated the birthdays of academic coordinator Michael Ouellette and one of our most staunch supporters, Kathy McKay.
My wife Carolyn and I have also been fortunate to travel to more George Mason away games than anybody – she has probably attended more than I have!
As for the game against Charlotte tonight, I’m looking forward to it and I think, with our talent, Mason has a good opportunity to win the game. It’s always a challenge to play the last game of the day at a tournament – everybody is waiting all day to get the game in but we’re happy our fans in Fairfax and beyond can watch it live on MASN. I know that if I hadn’t been lucky enough to make this trip, I’d be at Brion’s Grille for the official watch party tonight.
The Patriots joined the other teams along with members of the Charleston community to officially kick off the 2010 ESPN Charleston Classic aboard the USS Yorktown. Watch video from the event below:
Throughout the men’s basketball team’s trip to the ESPN Charleston Classic, the GoMason Blog will feature entries from a variety of Patriots who have traveled with the team to the Palmetto State. And to set the scene for the trip, there’s no better person to turn to than the voice of the Patriots himself, radio play-by-play announcer Bill Rohland.
As the Patriots prepare to play in this year’s edition of the Charleston Classic, many of us will be passing along our experiences of the trip on the blog. I pulled the short straw, so I get to give our first impression of being in Charleston, South Carolina.
One of the best perks of working with the Mason men’s basketball team is getting to travel to different areas of the country, and specifically to different college campuses. Just today, I am able to add two more schools to the list of over 100 colleges I’ve been to with Mason as the Patriots did their shoot around at College of Charleston and then practiced at the Citadel.
The Citadel is an interesting campus, with nearly every building have the same design and look. Some of the players commented on the “castle” look of the buildings and the military uniforms of the students walking around campus. The Citadel has a great place to play their games. A field house style gym with seats right on top of the floor and I’m told it gets crazy loud for games, which makes sense, because attendance is basically mandatory for students.
The guys have looked good during the shoot around at College of Charleston and practice at the Citadel. Lots of good work getting done and even Sherrod Wright, who is out after shoulder surgery, put up easily over 100 shots during shoot around (and yes…the jumper looks great).
Coach Larranaga was able to spend a little time catching up with legendary College of Charleston coach John Kresse after the team’s shoot around this afternoon. Kresse took the Cougars from NAIA to Division I during his 23 year career and won 560 games during that time, including the 1983 NAIA National Title. Coach Kresse is a class act, making sure to shake hands with everyone before talking with Coach L.
Thursday’s game will be a good challenge for Mason starting out this tournament. Charlotte is a solid A-10 program (one of four A-10 teams Mason has on the schedule this year) and will be bigger in the post than Harvard was in the first game of the season. Their guards will be quick and not afraid to shoot the 3, as evidence of their 56 attempts in the first two games of the year. I’m looking forward to the match between two of the quicker guards in this tournament, the 49ers Jamar Briscoe and Mason’s Andre Cornelius. Andre might have a little extra motivation playing the college from his hometown of Charlotte. Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 Thursday and you can watch the game on MASN or listen online on gomason.com.
Remember when you were a kid and you loved to play Mad Libs? Well, GoMason Blog now presents you with a Mason Men’s Basketball Mad Lib. And don’t forget to come back to the GoMason Blog later this afternoon to read an entry from Bill Rohland about the first day of the men’s basketball team’s trip to Charleston.
Come up with the following items than fill it in the text below in order
Ivy League school: _____________
Verb ending with “ing”: _____________
Type of Tree: _____________
Cardinal Direction: _____________
Verb ending with “ed”: _____________
TV channel: _____________
Once upon a time, there was a team from _______________ known as the George Mason Patriots. The team hadn’t been around for too long, but people around the world knew of them because of their trip to the Final _______________ in 2006.
In 2010-11, the Patriots opened the season with a win over _______________. Mason used defense and strong-second half _______________ to win the contest. Armed with the victory, the Patriots headed to the _______________ State to play in the Charleston Classic. A first-round game against Charlotte turned out to be a _______________ affair with Mason coming out on top. That led to a second-round game with _______________ Carolina. After another easy ______________ Mason had a day off during which the Patriots _______________ and relaxed and watched highlights of their win on _______________ .
The Charleston Classic Championship _______________ saw Mason take on one of the tournament’s most dangerous teams but they proved no match for the Patriots. On Sunday night, it was Mason hoisting the _______________ in the air as the team returned home with a 4-0 record.
So there’s one men’s basketball game and two women’s basketball games in the books. What have we learned so far about the 2010-11 season?
The first thing we learned is that the men’s basketball team defense looks sharp. The Patriots played well in the open-court, trapping and even running some scramble defense. The second half saw Mason score 12 points off turnovers.
The offense also showed some versatility, producing in the halfcourt while also thriving off the opportunities the defense presented. The second half was a fine example of that as Mason got 12 points off turnovers with 10 of those coming off fastbreaks. The Patriots scored an additional 14 points in the paint in the half as Ryan Pearson was 5 of 7 from the field in the final 20 minutes, scoring all of his 13 points in the second half.
GoMason Blog has heard Coach L speak about starting with a group of seven – your five starters, a frontcourt sub and a backcourt sub – and building from there. Well, if the Harvard game is any indication, Ike Tate looks to be the backcourt sub and Jonathan Arledge looks to be the frontcourt sub. At least for now.
What was learned about the women’s basketball team is nothing new. Head coach Jeri Porter said that what was missing from last year’s squad was a big rebounder and a shoot-first guard. Against UMass, Evelyn Lewis had 10 rebounds while Taleia Moton had 19 points. Both those players sat out last season after transferring to Mason. Against Fairfield, Moton was 1 of 8 from the field for four points while Lewis was held to just four rebounds.
The women’s basketball team hits the road again this weekend to play at Wichita State before opening up their home schedule next Tuesday against UMBC. The men’s team, meanwhile, travels to Charleston to play Charlotte on Thursday night (watch the game live on MASN) and either East Carolina or N.C. State on Friday (televised on either MASN or ESPNU).
All this week GoMason Blog will have coverage from Charleston including guest blogs from Bill Rohland, and a live chat with a player (any guesses who?). So watch here and on GoMason.com for your opportunity to read about the team’s trip to the Palmetto State.
It’s signing day and that means across the nation, high school seniors are putting their pen to paper and signing National Letters of Intent. GoMason Blog decided to take a look at what went into bringing some of those players to Mason. In particular, Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray, a pair of signees that will join the men’s basketball team next season.
The point man in recruiting both Edwards and Gray was assistant coach Michael Huger. The native New Yorker drew on his connections in pursuing both players, who are each rated top 60 in the nation at their position.
Huger knew Edwards’ father, David, from their days playing ball in NYC in the late 80s. David was from Queens and Huger grew up in Harlem and they faced each other in AAU games. David spent a year at Georgetown before transferring to Texas A&M. While with the Aggies, he set the school’s career mark for assists and steals and when his career ended in 1994, he was one of seven guys in NCAA history with 1,200 points, 650 assists, 250 steals and 400 rebounds.
Huger also had a connection to Vaughn Gray. The New Jersey native plays AAU ball for the New Jersey Playaz, the same team current Patriot Sherrod Wright played for. Huger got a call from their coach Jimmy Salmon, and he told Huger he had a player he need to come see. Both Edwards and Gray knew each other from AAU ball and both came on official visits during Mason Madness.
Needless to say, visiting Mason played a large role in both players committing to the Patriots. And as often happens, landing one often leads to landing another. In this case, signing a pure point guard like Edwards, a player who likes to pass the ball first, score second, certainly helped pave the way to signing Gray.
Want more Mason basketball? The men’s and women’s basketball virtual guides are online today. The men’s guide has some cool shots of freshmen Bryon Allen and Jonathan Arledge while the women’s guide has info on first-year players Ceirra Strickland, Joyous Tharrington and Christine Wiethman.
So, there’s a men’s basketball exhibition game tonight. Not sure if you knew that. Fabulous season preview on GoMason.com, where you’ll be able to join a live blog of tonight’s match. GoMason Blog spoke to Coach L a few minutes ago and he confirmed tonight’s starting lineup would be Andre Cornelius, Cam Long, Isaiah Tate, Luke Hancock and Mike Morrison. Ryan Pearson is out with a sprained big toe.
We also have some breaking news concerning the roster. A walk-on has officially made the team. Thomas Armistead, a 6’6” freshman from Clover Hill High School is on the squad. He’ll be wearing #30. Time will tell if his Facebook fan club can top the 71 members that Jimmy Nolan’s has.
GoMason Blog was curious if tonight would be about getting everyone game action or about establishing rotations, etc., with the season 10 days away. So we asked assistant coach Chris Caputo.
“You’re probably going to get to see a little bit of both,” Caputo said. “We’ll play as much of a game as we can but also hopefully get a chance to see a little of everyone. Even though we’ve played five games, if you include Italy, it’s the first night with the lights on and in our game uniforms and our team in front of our home crowd. Hopefully they will see a great effort and a team that has some experience and has built off our trip to Italy.”